The following first appeared as an October 2019 newsletter for the Feldenkrais Project email list. You can subscribe right here.
It’s nearly Halloween, but bones aren’t just spooky!
I had a kind of ‘a-ha’ moment. It was like ‘wow – my bones are alive!’ Like a realization that they are a living part of me.
– Lori, 54, psychologist
Lori is a longtime Feldenkrais Project listener and Patron-level donor. She sent a fascinating email to me last week, which you can read below.
In Feldenkrais study we’re often working to develop a clearer skeletal sense of ourselves. I want to share Lori’s description of her growing skeletal awareness as an example of the Feldenkrais learning process, in hopes it will help you understand and articulate some of the things you may be learning when you enjoy Feldenkrais Project lessons!
First, here’s a lesson that’s great for organizing your bones. They’re the anti-gravity structures of our body, designed to bear our weight all day, effortlessly (bones don’t get tired!). When we organize our skeletons to more elegantly counter gravity, it frees many of our largest muscles from being tied up in resisting gravity, a battle they can’t win and weren’t designed for.
Countering gravity with bones, not muscles, enables us to do what we want in the world more easily, effectively, and comfortably. In this potent lesson below, you can learn what a more buoyant, anti-gravity skeletal clarity feels like. Encountering these new sensations of weight-bearing with less muscular effort will help you find and improve on this organization again and again.
October’s Featured Lesson:
Back-lying, knees bent. Some modified side-lying. We can’t beat gravity, so let’s get organized to oppose it effortlessly with bones (instead of muscles).
For the curious, there’s more skeleton-related learning in the Curiosities tab, and also some interesting discussion in the listener comments, so be sure to explore the info below the audio player!
Logged in donors (both Members and Patrons) will also find more lessons which are particularly useful for developing skeletal clarity in the Related Lessons tab.
OK, back to Lori’s email:
Note: The featured lesson above is available to everyone. The lesson Lori mentions below is part of our additional content for Patron-level donors only. Everyone can take a peek at the titles and descriptions of these Straight from Class lessons. It’s a rich and rapidly growing collection. To gain access, please consider donating at the Patron level if you haven’t already!
This morning’s weekly practice felt significant so I wanted to share my experience. The first observation seems like it would be obvious, the other not as much.
I chose the “Walking with your Sternum” lesson today. Somehow toward the start of the lesson I had a kind of “a ha” moment. It was like “wow – my bones are alive!” Like a realization that they are a living part of me. It struck me how I have had this impression of them as dead (kind of understandably given the skeletons we see depicted around us). This has led to a sense of disengagement from, a fear of, or distancing from my bones. Of course, none of this has been fully conscious, but I believe how we hold these things in ourselves can significantly impact our relationships with our bodies, so it feels important – an opportunity to welcome my bones into the living whole of me.
The other observation is much more subtle. In the part of the lesson where we lift the weight off of our right heel, I noticed that what happened naturally was that the back of my left hip pushed into the ground. This shifted to the right hip pushing down as you guided the lesson, but it wasn’t the first inclination. When I lifted the left foot, it was also the left hip that took the weight. This was clearly the natural inclination and not just because my body had learned from working first on the other side.
When I got up to walk I spent some time with this, and it is clear that it’s different on both sides – when I lift my right heel, the left hip goes back, when I lift my left heel, the left hip goes back. From a more thinking perspective, if the left hip is doing double duty somehow, it may make sense that it is the one to complain to me at times.
Thanks for creating the opportunity to do these lessons at home. I am always so impressed with how you use language to guide movements so clearly. If I hadn’t experienced your descriptions I would have assumed it would be extremely difficult to follow a lesson I couldn’t see!
I love this peek into Lori’s ongoing learning process. I published the whole email, including her discussion of the asymmetries she encountered, because I think all of us who study ATM lessons have realizations like this, and we can relate.
We can even learn from Lori that it’s normal and healthy to discover and get curious about asymmetries! Notice there’s no alarm or forcefulness as she notes the asymmetry, just curiosity. Her new insight will be helpful for her in lessons and in life going forward.
When I contacted Lori to ask if I could publish her email, I expressed how profound I thought her reflections about her skeleton were, both the old “dead” image and her new “alive” one.
She was happy that I thought her email could help others. She said, “You know, you don’t think about how you think about things.”
I love this line! I offered that it sounded like a shift in her self-image, which is what Feldenkrais study is all about. When the self-image is enriched, everything can improve.
We’re grateful that Lori wrote. We always welcome your emails and comments, and we read every one of them!
Wishing you happy studies and a renewed sense of your bones this October!
Do you believe that more people doing more Feldenkrais makes the world a better place? We do! That’s why we give away all our primary lesson content so anyone can study, and simply ask our listeners to donate. Even a few dollars a month really helps us fulfill our vision! Plus there’s awesome “thank you” benefits for donors.
Please support us with a Member-level or Patron-level monthly donation.
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