Sunday, July 15, 2007

Pain


"Learning to inhibit unwanted contractions of the muscles...is the main task in coordinated action."
- Moshe Feldenkrais, The Potent Self




The Chinese word 'Song' means relaxation, but not in the sense of eliminating all tension. Rather, it means to cultivate a sense of greater aliveness born of the absence of unnecessary tension. Learning to sort out what is and what is not necessary is the how the process of AWARNESS THROUGH MOVEMENT does it's magic.

I am not my pain. I am not my ego, nor the roles I play. I am not my work, not how much money I make. These are places where we all loose our way from time to time. In teaching ATM to the public, I am constantly amazed and slightly horrified at how much people are willing to live with in terms of pain. These people accept as ordinary, as just the way it is, a level of physical pain that boggles the mind.

It has become who they are. It is their history, the focus of their daily regimen. As such, it becomes their identity. They get tired of talking about it or not. Some talk about nothing else, some just sublimate it, shoving awareness deep beneath the surface just to cope. I either have to gently keep reminding people not to continuously recite a litany of accidents or injuries that explain why they hurt all the time, or I have to get them to admit that they really do hurt, much more than they can say. In the first case, the constant repetition of the 'story' of pain is like a form of self-hypnosis that perpetuates it. In the second, the denial is as fierce as the pride of any serious drunk intent on defying the world to call them on their misery.

One of the most significant ways that FELDENKRAIS works is by helping us to have a more accurate self-image. Following the neural pathways that babies go through during early development, basic ATM lessons help us define how our bodies work. Babies learn to where their feet are by moving them, touching them to things, feeling how they make contact. In the same way adults can pursue FELDENKRAIS ATM as a practice that completes and defines more accurately who they are.

In rolling around on the floor in this slow, relaxed state, observing our experiences without judgment, I learn volumes about myself. I learn what my realistic limitations are as governed by the laws of gravity. I also learn surprising things about the ways I limit myself. I discover how I can move in places where I had no idea that movement was possible. In the most recent lesson I put up as an audio file on http://feed.awarenessthroughmovement.info called 'Low Back Pain,' I learned about the places my spine can move so that my low back does not do all the work.

For every place that hurts, there is a part of the spine or the self that is blocked, that is unfamiliar, unused and not a part of our self image. In the same way that children clarify what they are able to do with their bodies, the practice of ATM clarifies how we can enlarge our repertoire, expand the spaces between our joints and enter the expansive realm of life as a learning rather than life as an ever shrinking prison of pain.

In the FELDENKRAIS Method we do not cure, heal or fix. We change the focus and teach you to move in new places, and to trust your own ability to make improvements. Once you have an injury or a chronic pain, you can never go back to the way you were. But you can become greater than you were, bigger than your problem, if you will. You can LEARN what provokes it, what makes it better and how to move through it. You can trust that learn how to work with your own nervous system's ability to self-correct.

FELDENKRAIS is self-empowering. By working with ATM as a practice you become self-sufficient in learning how to improve how you feel, so that decline is not a fact of life, a belief that propels you into premature capitulation and aging. It gives you a tool so invaluable it is difficult to communicate to others. There is no price that can be put on it because it involves a perpetuation of your own ability to learn. It cannot be patented, and no one else stands to benefit from it but you. Teaching this is a challenge, because it is like leading people on an intimate journey. I can't go with you. I can merely show you the way. The sooner you commit, the sooner you will transform your pain into a new perception of possibilities.

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Comments & questions are always welcome. What are your biggest challenges? Have you had similar experiences? Where do you want to go with your own practice? Share your insights, don't practice in a void of isolation. Consciousness is everywhere!