Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body


Hello and welcome to Spring! We have a late Spring in Boulder, Colorado. I can't wait for green, yellow, and purple to replace brown and white.

A client asked me the other day if Feldenkrais helped with stress and anxiety. I responded with a resounding “Yes!” In fact, it's what I care most about in the method.

So this week I'll talk about chronic, unconscious tension because it's closest to my heart.

Why is that?

Because chronic, unconscious tension impairs our ability to feel what's good for us. And we all deserve to feel what's good for us.

Many years ago, I couldn't feel what was good for me because I was living in a haze of numbness, pain, and stress. So I get how much it matters for quality of life—and heart—to let go of chronic, unconscious tension.

Letting go: the building block of what we desire most

Today I got an email from someone in the Netherlands about practicing Feldenkrais. He commented how hard it was to let go of the idea that he should be able to do a movement.

It’s funny how we tell ourselves we should be different. We all do it, and by demanding that we be different, we don’t hear our actual experience. “Shoulding” is like living in a land of lack and not-good-enoughs. We only hear what we can't do, not what we can.

What is so scary about our actual experience? Well, it could confirm our worst fears. Sensing our inner world means self-reflection and brutal honesty. What if we don’t like it?

It's hard to let go of our exquisitely balanced inner model of what we think we should feel, how we think we should move, or what we think we should control.

Then, life throws a curve ball that splits us wide open: an injury, an unexpected diagnosis, the loss of a loved one. Normal patterns are upended. The inner model cracks. The scaffolding that kept our best face oriented to the world tumbles down.

We now have to rely on our less-than-best face. At this point, the ego part of us that says, “I should be better at this!” quiets down.

What’s left is what we desire most: self-compassion.

Self-compassion doesn’t happen by magic

The trick is allowing the scaffolding to fall and trust that it will be okay.

Self-compassion is the practice of meeting yourself in the space of confusion, frustration, and pain and letting go, over and over again.

It's not letting go into nothing.

It's letting go into choice, freedom, and new abilities. It is ceasing the feedback loops of ruminating and contraction. It's no longer holding onto that scaffolding for dear life.

It's a discipline to sense your experience and allow it to be what it is.

Don't assume your fancy, well-educated, pre-frontal cortex knows anything. In this domain, your nervous system is smarter than you.

Fail well

Many Feldenkrais lessons require a high level of spatial orientation, self-awareness, and self-direction. They can be puzzling, brain-scrambling, and head-flipping.

This is where Moshe Feldenkrais says, “Fail well!” What he means is:

  • Experiment with abandon!

  • Let go of being perfect!

  • Try something different!

This shift in attitude is what is closest to my heart. By listening to myself in this nonjudgmental way, I move along a continuum toward what's possible.

Pushing hard just moves me toward what's not possible.

The listening

Have you ever been somewhere so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think? It’s the same with your nervous system: Too much background noise and you can’t hear yourself feel. Tension and stress create a lot of background noise.

The listening is what allows choice, freedom, and new abilities to emerge. The movement shifts. Life shifts. Believe me, it does. You, too, can do this.

Nonjudgmental listening is what brings you to a safe inner place.

That safety is what allows you to move toward releasing chronic tension. You cannot circumvent this step.

Being seen

Another client said this week how much she appreciated being touched in this way. It’s not like medical, massage, or therapeutic touch. It’s just being met where you are.

It’s so calming to be held without anyone asking something of you or requiring you to do or feel something different.

The power of being seen is what Feldenkrais practitioners bring to clients, and it is what you can bring to yourself.

Whether you are challenged by back pain, a knee replacement, a frozen shoulder, chronic fatigue, emotional trauma, or a midlife crisis, it's the same: When you feel supported, then you can let go.

It’s about meeting yourself where you are, in this moment, and asking, “who’s there?”

I help people do that. That’s the sum of my work.

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.
— Elisabeth Kubler-Ross