A couple weeks ago a drop-in student asked me…“Awareness Through Movement (R) lessons – why do them?”
She continued…”Can I ask you a really blunt question?”
Me: “Sure – of course.”
Student: “What’s the point?!! I mean, where are we going with this? Are there like…10 lessons…like a progression?”
It seemed to me that she was frustrated and exasperated. She was having a lot of chronic pain issues. She used to teach exercises classes. Now she couldn’t. Her pain was too bad. She was suffering. She was doing other therapy. Nothing was getting her issues resolved.
I have to say, I did not do a good job of answering her question.
Partly because, I suspect her words didn’t quite get at what she was really struggling to understand – and I tried to answer the question exactly as it was given. It felt like she wasn’t in any position to understand what I was trying to say. And so, I ended up talking right past her and the real issue.
My answer included things like explaining how when we become more aware of how we’re moving, we have the opportunity to change what we’re doing so that we can move more the way we want and intend to whether that be with…
- less pain
- more ease
- without thinking about it – spontaneously
- more power
- more skill
And as we learn to move with greater harmony and clarity — move better — we almost always feel better.
I can’t remember her response and further question exactly. I think it had something to with trying to understand why moving better was a big deal. I do remember replying with examples about great athletes, great dancers, great musicians — even though they might not have any pain or injury or issue and they might be at the top of their game, the best at their craft, they are constantly learning, working, evolving to get ever better…
So even if you’re not feeling poorly or having pain, you can always move better. (You can always learn to learn better (another great thing Awareness Through Movement offers) but I didn’t talk about that with her just then. Her line of questioning just didn’t create any opening for this juicy tidbit).
Somewhere in our discussion, I did answer her question about “how many lessons there are”. In fact there are hundreds and hundreds of original lesson by Moshe Feldenkrais himself. And there are other lessons that practitioners have developed.
What I didn’t say, and wish I had, was that it’s terrible to be suffering pain to the point at which it stops you from doing the things you love. That it really messes with your self-image. It’s stressful, sometimes scary, and generally just really, really sucks.
And then I wish I could tell her some version of Feldenkrais’ quote: “Everyone is functioning perfectly given their perception of choices” and reassure her that she is doing the best she can given her situation, and that there was something she could do…
And what I really, r-e-a-l-l-y wish I’d offered her was hope.
Every single one of us has blind spots, things we do that we don’t even realize we’re doing; perceptions that are somewhat distorted because of our ideas/thoughts/inability to make distinctions; parts of ourselves that we simply don’t sense and/or include in our movements/actions/behaviours.
But developing awareness of these things, shining a light on these blind spots, developing the ability to make finer distinctions about ourselves and our actions, expanding our repertoire of possibilities for action and thought is very, very doable and for a great many people, very, very effective.
In other words – there is hope.
If she was still with me and wanted to hear more…
…I’d probably hint at the fact that Awareness Through Movement lessons aren’t about being shown The Right Way To Move – because there is no ONE right way to move.
Instead – they’re about self discovery and learning. That they’re to help us to learn many, many ways to do things well — in other words — they help us become more resilient. And in the end, this makes us more capable, more comfortable, and generally happier — yes — happier!
Even if she never wanted to do Awareness Through Movement lesson her entire life, I wish I had a do-over so I could tell her what I feel would have been so much more helpful to her – that there is hope and to gently suggest to her that awareness can heal.
I’m learning every day. In the process, I fail or fall short. It’s a necessary part of learning. Sometimes it still really bugs me and I hate falling short and failing. Other times, I don’t mind at all and it’s all part of the fun of learning.
This experience above is an example of me really disliking falling short. And yet, it’s not all bad. It’s one of the things that motivates me to keep learning. In this instance — needing to learn better how to listen to more than just the words people say, not only while my students and I are engaged in a lesson, but all the time.
But back to Why do Awareness Through Movement lessons?
Instead of reading another word from me….here’s what others say….
“I don’t have to go to the physio all the time to get my neck freed up. I can do it myself with the awareness I gain from these lessons” ~Teresa Vanderzanden, Winnipeg, MB.
“Your lessons are truly valuable to me. I always felt that I was born a Clydesdale horse…. strong and sturdy. But nowadays I catch myself trying out a softer, more fluid way of tackling things. I feel so much lighter! Thanks for everything.” ~L.S. Winnipeg, MB.
“Life is so much better since working with Gisèle. My back is a thousand times better. Not only am I able to return to the activities I love like taking my dogs for long walks and gardening, but also more adventurous things like travel, hiking, canoeing and camping. And I’m also so much more optimistic about growing older. I feel like I’ve got my life back and that the future is hopeful.” ~Val Regehr, Winnipeg, MB.
“What makes the Feldenkrais Method(R) so amazing and unique is that it improves one’s movement, posture, breathing, and mind, WITHOUT TELLING YOU OR SHOWING YOU HOW. Each individual is unique and what works for one person does not always work for another. Everyone must find their own beautiful, perfectly unique way. ~Indira Rampersad, Winnipeg, MB
“I love doing Awareness Through Movement lessons because they give me a “lightness of being” and I need more of that in my life.” ~C.P. Winnipeg, MB.
“This work is so powerful. Again…it gets to the root of the problem. It’s changed how I move and how I live, really. It’s been life changing.” ~Lorraine Mueller, Winnipeg, MB.
“The differentiator is that this work [Feldenkrais Method] becomes my work, I’m not reliant on going to someone else. I don’t want to be dependent on a professional or on pills. Thats not a solution to me – taking painkillers. ~Ditte Cloutier, Winnipeg, MB.
“Gisele’s Awareness through Movement sessions have been a revelation. Actually taking the time to listen to your body and isolate different parts to feel the motions and the strains, it is amazing how many bad habits you discover, and how you will let parts of your body atrophy, making the other parts do all the work.” ~Grant Skene, Winnipeg, MB.
“This is what I have received from you and the Feldenkrais Method:
- Learned where my limitations were physically.
- Funny enough not always where I thought they were. Not all limitations are physical.
- What you think you are doing and what you are actually doing not always identical.
- Its transferable to everything. Physically and in other ways. As I have become more aware this has helped me get back into hobbies I honestly thought were lost to me. ” ~Rick Denbow. Winnipeg, MB.
“[The Feldenkrais Method] is certainly an art that has greatly influenced my taiji, physiotherapy, relationships and child rearing.” ~Rebecca Atkinson. Winnipeg, MB.
If you’d like to get more from your Awareness Through Movement practice, in fact, from anything you’re trying to learn to do better, download my free cheat sheet: