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“Rest and Recharge” is December’s Zoom Class Theme

UPDATE: now that December classes are over I’ve posted details about each week’s lesson at the bottom of this post.

Rest is rest. Action is action. Learn the difference.

Yikes! This no-nonsense phrase coincidentally arrived in my Facebook feed as I was thinking about our next Zoom class theme. It was shared with me by a one-to-one Feldenkrais student of mine from long ago.

While I agree with the sentiment, I read that line and immediately wanted to hear about HOW to learn the difference between rest and action.

After the next sentence in my student’s post I was taken aback. She told me that I said this to her five years ago! Though I cringe now at my forceful, bone-dry words, she said it was a very useful one-liner for her at the time.

But let’s unpack that a little, can we? I can’t believe that usually long-winded guy put it so baldly!

A few weeks ago I asked our Zoomers what they were interested in studying in December. I quickly heard back variations on a theme: letting go of 2020 and resting after its struggles, in preparation for an eventual safe, happy return to the more “normal” activities we all hope and pray for in 2021.

So, in my December classes we’ll study the potency of rest as preparation for effective action. We’ll learn to sense the difference between rest and action by exploring their actual sensations, feelings, and imagery in our bodies and minds.

Among the many people in the class who suggested versions of “Rest and Recharge” one colleague mentioned hibernation. She reminded me not to think “that nothing is going on while animals hibernate! There is a lot happening in the realm of digesting, letting go and yet preparing. Going underground. Really slowing down.”

  • So at times this month we’ll rest a little more, go a little slower, and steep in the sensations that help us make deeply restful mini hibernations out of those delicious neuroplastic pauses of Feldenkrais lessons.
  • At other times we’ll explore how to prepare for powerful action.

Taken together, slowing down and preparing are a restorative, focusing combo. One student pointed out how valuable this juxtaposition might be for us when the days/weeks/months of the pandemic have blended together into a shapeless anxiety.

  • Speaking of which, in some lessons we’ll work directly with the somatic anxiety pattern that’s been a persistent presence this year. We’ll practice resting back into the unruffled, pervasive awareness that is our birthright, always close at hand.
  • Finally, to improve our quality of rest AND action, in some lessons we’ll get to know our boundaries better. We’ll practice clarifying and defending them simply and safely, without emotion.

As one student said, “These months have shown me that I have burned way too much energy in my life doing otherwise, and I want to take some new skills into the world as we emerge” from the pandemic. She was noticing she tended to maintain her boundaries in an emotionally exhausting way, often agitated by her own work to keep herself safe as others made poor choices.

This student and I – and I bet you, too! – deserve a healing wind-down of 2020, and a renewed sense of strength to welcome 2021. Hope to see you for any or all of our Zoom Feldenkrais lessons as we Rest and Recharge together, all five Tuesdays in December at 9:30 AM US Central time. Newcomers are welcome any time, and whether you attend live or not you will receive a recording.

Stay safe, stay kind,

Nick Strauss-Klein

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Here’s some more detail about our December lessons. We alternated more and less active lessons, and within each lesson we worked toward learning to prepare for action AND settle into rest more skillfully. 

  1. Dec 1, “Differentiating Action and Rest”: Learning to feel the difference, sensing greater dynamic detail while beginning and throughout both rest and action.
  2. Dec 8, “Working with the Anxiety Pattern”: Getting to know common aspects of the human anxiety pattern and their effect on our actions and quality of rest.
  3. Dec 15, “Chanukia Remix”: Twisting the arms and shoulders creates a more distal version of some of last week’s explorations, and larger movements help us dive a little deeper into learning how we can sense and hold our boundaries over time with equanimity, and feel them shift when it’s safe.
  4. Dec 22, “Parasympathetic Toolkit”: A workshop-style lesson, weaving together different strategies for evoking parasympathetic dominance in the nervous system (parasympathetic means “rest and digest”; sympathetic is “fight or flight”)
  5. Dec 29, “Twisting the Arms”:  This time in long-arm configurations (not like Chanukia, but complementary to that lesson), we touched on all four bullet points above.
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