It’s called Feldenkrais.
“Felt-in-Christ? Falcoln Crest? Felden-what?!”
What is it exactly? It’s different enough and deep enough that it can’t be summed up in a sentence or two. Here are explanations from several different angles.
• You know that thing you do all the time that you can’t seem to change? You know, the way you: clench your jaw or squint your eye or crack your neck, slouch at your computer, shuffle one foot when you run, hold your breath when you concentrate on certain parts of your dance choreography, hold one shoulder fixed as you play your instrument, are always surprised at how you are tilting your head in photos, (or fill in your own blank here). It could be that there’s a correction that your yoga teacher gives you every week, but you spend a few moments on it and it’s back the next class too.
You know what the habit is, you know that it most likely relates to the pain or limitations you experience but you can’t seem to change it – it almost feels hard wired in your system. It isn’t hard wired at all, just a well-practiced habit and it has become an area in your life where you’ve lost your ability to have free choice. You can try the strong-arm approach and vigilantly stop yourself from doing whatever it is, but in the long term that method doesn’t work so well – the habit has a way of sneaking back, like water seeping through the cracks. You can plug up the holes you can see but if the water-pressure doesn’t change, it will find another way through.
Feldenkrais classes and private sessions help you go to the source of these issues, to change the habits that are limiting your life. In fact, in a private session you feel the practitioner zeroing in on your habits of holding and of movement with detailed questions and with hands-on touch and movement. You feel that someone is connecting and deciphering a part of you that is murky for yourself, thereby clearing it up for the both of you. The clarity of feeling on such a subtle level what it is that you are doing, give you the key to let go of the almost compulsive habit and new choices for posture, movement and perhaps much more become available to you.
•Maybe there’s something more serious than a habit causing you pain. What if it’s something you were born with or was a result of an accident. Scoliosis or a shattered pelvis, surgery to fuse part of your spine, or you were born with club foot. Or it could be neurologically based such as multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy, or a chronic issue which western medicine doesn’t offer much help for at this time such as fibromyalgia. Feldenkrais work can help on many levels. Often students (not patients!) are surprised to find that I begin with looking at what they can do well and helping them improve that. For those of us who spend a lot of time with the medical community focusing on what we can’t do, it can be incredibly powerful to focus on what can be done right now to improve what is already there. Also, though it may seem counterintuitive to some, beginning with what works well helps us improve the areas that aren’t working as well too. Feldenkrais can’t change the vertebrae that a surgeon has fused, but it can help you improve the movement of your spine. It can’t take away the MS, but the changes in your awareness and the real understanding it gives you of the interconnectedness of your body, can make it possible to walk with more coordination and ease and to expand the movements that are possible. Feeling that growth and improvement can be a potent antidote to the psychological difficulties which often come with facing a degenerative condition.