A New Path Out of Anxiety

Aggression is a behavior, not an energy. There is no such thing as dammed-up aggression that relieves pressure when it is expressed. Although an unrestrained expression of aggression does have a relieving effect, this is due, in my mind, not to the reduction of the pressure, but to the amount of confidence the person has gained through exercising the function in which he or she is impotent.
— Moshe Feldenkrais

A healthy, mature person will have confidence in the full range of human behavior.

Take getting aggressive or pissed off, for example. An example would be the person who hits a wall because they cannot express anger. Feldenkrais suggests there is a correlation between the amount of relief one gets from expressing aggression and the ability one has to choose anything else, i.e., the more relief one gets from aggression, the less one is able to function any other way.

Until we are confident in the full range of behaviors that are available to us as human beings, we will continue to overreact. For myself, I think I'm mature, but I've sure gotten stuck in that place where I want to do something different and instead I rely on the behavior that lets off the pressure. When I don't have confidence in a different behavior, I cling to the old pattern because I think it will make me safe, even if I know otherwise.

The question for a Feldenkrais practitioner is, what behavioral functions are excluded from this pattern? It is here that the work begins. To create real change means to create a wholly responsive use of the self.

Anxiety and Support

Fear of falling is one of the most basic and fundamental of human fears, and the foundation onto which most other anxiety responses are built. In fact, one of the major ways we construct feelings of anxiety is by pulling ourselves up and away from the ground. A sense of physical support from the ground, then, is basic to any sense of emotional security and well being.

Try this: Pressing Heels

Stand comfortably without shoes. Walk around a bit. Feel your feet on the floor. Locate the sensation of the heels, the balls of the feet, and the pads of the toes.

Then stand still and bend your knees and hips. Your rear end will go backward and down and your hands will drop toward the knees. Your upper torso will lean forward a bit. Bend the hip joints and knee joints an equal amount. Then push downward with your heels to erect yourself. Find the force through the heels. Do this four or five times. Notice, do you hold your breath? Breathe. Walk around again. What do you notice?

Try this: Almost Jumping

Stand again. Organize yourself for jumping off the floor, but don't leave the floor. Do a kind of "Hup!" motion as if to jump, but don't. Find the heels in your sensation as you do this. You don't have to bend your knees unless it helps. Try it four or five times. You might find that your chest is higher and your spine is resting over the hips. Let your shoulders hang. Walk around.

Whenever you feel anxiety coming on, find your heels. Push down. Organize as if to jump, but don't. If you train yourself to sense the connection through your skeleton to the ground, anxiety will decrease. Learn how to be responsive in your own skeleton and use that to your advantage.