What do I mean by the concept of “allowing” as applied to The Feldenkrais Method? An Awareness Through Movement class is the ideal place to learn to sense directly all those parts of us that are clenching, and bracing, and straining, and pushing – physical sensations so unpleasant that most of us simply train ourselves to ignore what we are doing, and begin to accept persistent discomfort as the norm.
In class we lie on the floor, gently surrendering to gravity, and begin instead to remember and relearn the art of softening, and freeing, and releasing, and letting go, re-awakening our awareness to all the bio- and neuro-feedback* that comes to us constantly from our various internal and external senses, but that we have been unconsciously been tuning out, or may even have switched off completely. As our ability to move into unfamiliar patterns and sequences develops, we are also learning to shed our muscular corsets, and access new ways of moving in everyday life that are fluid, and rhythmic, and pleasurable to experience; an outer, visible expression of our expanding sense of equilibrium. In time we become more responsive to what is going on, tuning in to the vibrant world around us, fully resonating with life, easily integrating all the different parts of ourselves into a natural whole, so that we can be fully present and fully ourselves, even when we are surrounded and buffeted by the other strong personalities in our lives…
Allowing in this context is a kind of physical and mental surrender, a way to accept what is: to give up fighting for breath and simply breathe; to give up striving for achievement and discover what you really would like to be doing instead; to rediscover that life is supposed to be enjoyable; to let go of constant haste, and embrace slowness and unforced patience; to free ourselves from a state of constant yet pointless anticipation, and instead approach the future in a state of easy readiness – knowing that we will have all our resources to hand whenever we need them, and that we do not need to spend our lives walking around encased in muscular armour. Dr Moshe Feldenkrais was a physicist and engineer, but he was also a life-long teacher of Judo who embodied the physical and mental readiness and potency of the highly skilled martial artist. It is this fully potent state of being – truly human being – that he aspired to produce with his teaching method, the method he continued to expand and hone throughout his life.
“What I’m after isn’t flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I’m after is to restore each person to their human dignity. ”
- Moshe Feldenkrais
One of his original students, Ruthy Alon – now in her 80s and still teaching Feldenkrais around the world – coined the term “Mindful Spontaneity” (long before mindfulness became so fashionable) for this return to the state of Integrated functioning that we accessed while we were learning to move and coordinate ourselves in our early years.
She is another Feldenkrais practitioner who embodies the Method wonderfully; here she is in her sixties, revealing her very individual take on The Feldenkrais Method:
“Through human motion we can challenge the non-supportive habits that reside in our subconscious minds. In such a way we can awaken in the nervous system that innate primal wisdom which enables it to correct its own actions. This is a process of reeducating adults neuromotor functioning towards restoring innocent grace, efficiency and ease.
The process of updating habits is inherently rejuvenating. Limitations, degeneration and pain give way to an organic knowledge of coordination in an ever progressive path of self development.”
Mindful Spontaneity – Ruthy Alon (1996)
Many of us are so used to living in a state of compulsive muscular resistance that we cannot remember what moving with ease feels like. In these Art Of Allowing Workshops you will be learning to stop bracing yourself against the unpredictabilities of life, to stop holding yourself down, like a cork held underwater, and instead to let yourself bob up to the surface and enjoy the sensation of floating effortlessly, carried along easily by a skeleton that can move freely, unimpeded by unconscious constraints. With the adaptable strategies of Feldenkrais we unravel these unconscious muscular tensions using carefully designed movement sequences – not exercises, much more like the explorations and playful discoveries of the developing toddler – as a very natural way to lower muscular effort throughout the whole self, but the long-term aim is greater ease in every aspect of life. Every time you can catch yourself in the act of tensing back up again, you learn a little more about yourself, your true feelings, and your suppressed desires. Once you start to get a handle on what is making you so resistant and wary and armoured against those around you, then it becomes possible to begin to truly renew yourself.
Workshops in London
As you can tell “The Art of Allowing” is my current favourite way to describe the fluid, playful, alternative way of being that Feldenkrais is designed to help you master. Of course mastery is a slow business, and we all know that the most valuable skills repay the commitment we make to explore and develop them: these workshops will include simple-to-follow practice notes, and ongoing support from me, so there will be no reason not to get the maximum benefit possible from the new way of being you are learning to embody.
Click on the links for more information about each workshop and venue. Contact information here.
All Workshops: 2.00 – 6.00, £60 / £50
Loose and Lively Limbs–The Art Of Allowing in Motion
…Focussing on increasing freedom and mobility in the joints of our arms and legs – weightless, integrated arms; strong, resilient legs; intelligent, supple hands; elastic, durable feet – great lessons for anyone who would likes lots of movement – after this session you will be able to reach better, crouch and squat better, walk better, and play better!
Breath, Heart & Spinal Column–Boosting Your Inner Fire
…Revisiting February’s project to re-integrate our inner core of natural strength and easy vitality – this workshop will feature some of the most intense and powerful breath-work Feldenkrais has to offer, with the bonus of improving the alignment of the neck and spine. This will also enable us to develop our breathing to improve heart awareness and switch on our rest-and-recuperation (parasympathetic) nervous system. The day will be ideal for anyone wishing to increase their available energy, and improve their stamina, their ability to meditate, and the ease of their meditation sitting posture. This will also function as a taster for my 2 day workshop in October, more details here…
I am using the concept of the Art of Allowing, to describe the ability to achieve the fluid, playful, spontaneous way of being that Feldenkrais is designed to help you master. Of course mastery is a slow business, and we all know that the most valuable skills repay the commitment we make to explore and develop them: these workshops will include simple-to-follow practice notes, and ongoing support from me, so there will be no reason not to get the maximum benefit possible from the new way of being you are learning to embody.
*I tried, but could not find a useful link explaining that neuro-feedback is what we are all constantly receiving from our nervous systems constantly – apparently if it can’t be copyrighted it isn’t worth describing – I will keep looking and update!