Tuesday, June 14, 2005

What Is Somalogic?

Anything worth learning usually takes a long time to learn. Musicians take years to develop their skills. Usually, the learning comes from working with others who have taken the same path. Unfortunately, when we are born, the human body does not come with a book of instructions. We have to learn how to survive in a confusing and complex world. Posted by Hello

Often, we settle for what we already know, as long as it's enough to get by. Yet, the heart knows intuitively that more is possible. It yearns for a deeper level of meaning. But what we don't know is inaccessible. How can we reach past our blind spots into a world where more is possible? Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc., discovered a way to use movement as a doorway into learning beyond what is merely enough. With this Method, you can stimulate dormant abilities to quicken into fulfillment in ways you might never be able to conceive of on your own.

Why is learning so important for humans as a species? Well, for one thing, it has a direct relationship to self esteem. Kids who know how to do things feel competent. Notice I did not say, 'Kids who know things.' Kids, or adults, for that matter, who 'know' things often fall into the trap of having massive egos. On the other hand, we all know people who know a lot but have relatively low self esteem. But people who are capable at doing things are usually too busy getting stuff done to sit around and grapple with self esteem issues. And they often lead very interesting, stimulating lives, rich with experiences that elude those with less skill.

Moshe Feldenkrais had a very unique take on learning. Over the years, he collected some forty definitions of learning and found that every one of them related to some form of intellectual learning. To his mind, something was definitely lacking in this view of learning. Not that intellectual learning is bad. It's how we accomplish most of the major advances in technology. It's how we verbalize our process. It solidifies our thinking into concepts that we can relate to each other. Most of what is important to us as a society, is related to some form of learning that has been passed down from one generation to the next. We are dependent on each other, and on the generations that went before our own, for the learning that has created the lifestyle to which we are accostomed in any culture.

Moshe said in his lectures that it would take a gorilla a life time to learn what 'a human idiot' could learn in the first three weeks of his life. He also pointed out that birds not only sing without instruction, they cannot learn any song other than the one that is hard wired into their brain genetically. A major distinguishing factor in human learning is the ability to learn a variety of ways to do the same thing. Animals governed by instinct generally just do what they do. Dogs, for example, don't sit around and wonder if they should bark at the neighbor's truck driving by or if they are too depressed to bother this morning. If they don't like your neighbor's truck going by, they bark no matter what. Sometimes, they bark no matter what you do to stop them. When it's almost impossible to train them not to, we are talking about a compulsive behavior.
In his book, The Master Moves, you can read transcriptions of some of his lectures. In one, he talks about what he considers to be the most important function of learning: the implementation of free will through choice. He says, 'Thus, for anything you do; speak, write, sing, if you can't do it in two different ways, you do not have free choice. And therefore, the truly important learning is to be able to do the thing you already know in another way. The more ways you have to do the things you know, the freer is your choice. And the freer your choice, the more you're a human being. Otherwise, you are like a computer that is switched on and can do very clever things, but only one way.'
Another way to look at learning is to distinguish intellectual learning from skill. Even intellectual learning can encompass skill if it's in your head. Skill or knowledge is what you have access to right here, right now in this moment. If you have to look it up, you don't know it. You just know where to find it. Currently, in the information age, it's increasingly acceptible to know where to find it or how to look it up on the internet, how to figure it out on a calculator. What if a flood took out all the electrical circuits that power our electronic toys? Where would we charge our batteries? If you have to plug it in to figure it out, it's not ingrained. It's not 'organic' learning like riding a bicycle. It's not something you will ever really forget because it has become a part of you.
When learning is done via kinesthetic experience, you learn by feeling it. It becomes a part of you. AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT (ATM) is the Method Feldenkrais developed that teaches people how to access learning somatically, which means it has taken hold in your entire being. It's like learning to ride that bicycle, it's a kind of learning you never forget. Once you learn how to learn in this way, you can apply that skill to anything you want to learn.
So ATM is not just about learn how to move better. It has global applications to learning in general because it teaches you how to take information and make it real for yourself. It teaches you to be creative with finding anchors in your own experience to make learning stick. It teaches you the value of systematiclly discerning differences using all your senses. For a blind and deaf person such as Helen Keller, the world became infinitely more profound once she was able to learn how to use her senses to speak, read and write. Why? Because not only could she express what she was feeling and be understood finally, she gradually gained access to the cumulative learning of her own culture. By her own testimony, her life became fuller, richer and more vivid. Imagine how much more full, rich and vivid your own life could be if you spent some time learning how to learn in this way, using your tactile senses to jump-start the latent potential of your brain. That's somalogic.

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