Movement is Not the Same as Feeling


Feldenkrais is a mirror for our habits.

Sometimes we don't want to look in that mirror as we don't like what's reflected back. Then we just engage with our habits and we end up learning what we already know. When people overdo it they are in a state of ambition around their habits and not a state of curiosity or learning.

Even dancers or facile movers are confronted with relearning to feel. As habits let go, we are faced with the feeling of the original defense--some might say the original wound is present--as the bracing we do to hide our vulnerability and function in the world no longer serves us.

In Feldenkrais we are developing the skill of taking responsibility for our sensations and feelings, which can be scary territory. I can guide students to pay attention, but how they do it is their own personal process. I encourage people to take responsibility for their own comfort and make adjustments and listen to themselves and do less. Not everyone does.

It takes time to embrace learning instead of muscle contractions as the goal. Innovation means altering one's repetitive movements, and not everyone wants innovation. Most of us are firmly rooted in our habits. But it's a skill one can develop, if one wants, and we are all on our own path of listening and learning. Feldenkrais is a unique process to facilitate this.

Innovation is Key

"It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory."

--W. Edwards Deming

Because I am curious about innovation, one of the most famous innovators of the last century, W. Edwards Deming, caught my eye.  He was a mathematician and statistician who helped Japanese companies rebuild after WWII. He has what he calls a "system of profound knowledge" in four parts:

  1. Appreciation of a system: understanding the overall processes

  2. Knowledge of variation: the range and causes of variation

  3. Theory of knowledge: the concepts explaining knowledge and the limits of what can be known

  4. Knowledge of psychology: concepts of human nature

His work has been used in many contexts. He writes that, "The first step is transformation of the individual. It comes from understanding of the system of profound knowledge. The individual, transformed, will perceive new meaning to his life, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people. Once the individual understands the system of profound knowledge, he will apply its principles in every kind of relationship with other people. He will have a basis for judgment of his own decisions and for transformation of the organizations that he belongs to."

Innovative responses to old habits can be scary, but like in post-war Japan, necessary to survive and thrive.