Mindfulness In Motion – with Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement

Moshe Feldenkrais teaching Functional Integration to a trainee at Amherst

Mindfulness is “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” 
Jon Kabat-Zinn is the man who has contributed most to bring the concept of mindfulness into modern life, and his definition is also a great way to describe Awareness Through Movement in action. Moshe Feldenkrais was way ahead of his time when he began using touch and movement to trigger new learning and healing in his “pupils”. The positive changes we can make to our everyday experience of life by enhancing our “awareness” are becoming better understood with every new development in neurobiology and neuroscience – despite the fact that our sense of  “awareness” is much easier for us to experience than it is for science to define! 

Many wonderful researchers, teachers and commentators are coming forward to spread the word, whether their focus is on emotional, physical or spiritual health – or all three… The most advanced – amazing thinkers like MD and psychologist Dan Siegel for example – are aware that the mind-body-spirit cannot truly be separated, and that true health is always an integrating process. Here is Siegel’s definition of mindfulness…

“Mindfulness is a form of mental activity that trains the mind to become aware of awareness itself and to pay attention to one’s own intention.” 
― Daniel J. Siegel, Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation 

Here is a typical article on a modern mindfulness class, beginning with the writer making the usual complaints about being encouraged to focus their attention on their kinaesthetic self-sensing process, but then going on to give a very clear overview of the wealth of positive research that has led to the level of popularity that mindfulness training is currently enjoying. It is clear that this is a whole-self process; not just mind, not just focussing our thoughts, but body-mind – the melding of mental and sensory attention into one integrated process. What is not always recognised is that using movement as a way to enhance whole-self awareness is a natural way to increase the benefits of your meditative practice and improve your physical health at the same time. One of my favourite quotations puts Feldenkrais firmly in the mindfulness picture, direct from the “horse’s mouth”:

“There is one thing that, when cultivated and regularly practiced, leads to deep spiritual intention, to peace, to mindfulness and clear comprehension, to vision and knowledge, to a happy life here and now, and to the culmination of wisdom and awakening. And what is that one thing? It is mindfulness centred on the body.” 

Gautama Buddha

If you have been to a Feldenkrais class you will recognise that Awareness Through Movement is built on a foundation of exactly this process of connecting the sensory-motor awareness to the present moment of conscious attention, while at the same time increasing your ability to integrate this enhanced self-awareness by anchoring it to a new kind of doing. The new behaviour is designed to replace the older automatic and robotic behaviour that all of us are prone to. These habits of mind and movement are programmed into the nervous system with every repetitive act we engage in – but as soon as you stop practising these old habits and start replacing them with new, better habits then the old neural pathways can be overwritten.

“Old habitual postures and body ‘ignorance’ will retard the best progress and change that psychotherapy can accomplish. I specifically recommend The Feldenkrais Method to support and accelerate the work I do.”

Leslie Cameron-Bandler, Psychotherapist, Co-Developer of Neuro Linguistic Programming

You may have a sore shoulder, back or knee; or a tendency to trip or to bang into inanimate objects, or maybe it takes you a long time to calm down after a stressful experience; the good news is that these are all issues that can improve when you replace old behavioural programmes with new ones. Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement is for every part of you, it is designed to bring your mind-body-spirit together into one fully-integrated, fully-functional self – of course that takes practice, but then doesn’t everything that actually works? At least with Feldenkrais the path to health is varied, and fun – and you don’t have to get very far down the path before you begin to feel much, much better!

Workshops – Spring/Summer 2017:

The Sunflower Centre

Sundays

Feldenkrais & The Freedom Of Allowing:  Internal Pulses, Undulations and Oscillations

September 17th

BodyMindful Allowing - Undoing Tension & Stress with Feldenkrais

November 5th

Awareness Through Movement & The Joy Of Allowing

December 10th

2.00 – 6.00pm     £60 / £50 

Learning to move freely and spontaneously in all dimensions with mindful self-focus and heightened awareness is a wonderful tool for…

Self-calming

Self-healing

Self-awareness – and

Self-development

Become the most self-aware and fully integrated version of yourself – use mindful movement to bring your whole being into unity and harmony. This intimate workshop will be great as an introduction to Feldenkrais or a great way to renew your relationship with this powerful method and reboot your practice if you have had a break from classes or private lessons.

If you have never experienced any Awareness Through Movement you might like to try this short lesson from one of my Australian colleagues – this demonstrates very well how quickly you can achieve improvement using attention and awareness rather than effort and strain:

 

 

…and just rediscovered this brief clip of Moshe talking about learning with awareness, thanks to another colleague, Buffy Owens’ YouTube channel – Conscious Moves:

 

 

 

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