Our Little Dips explore a theme of Feldenkrais learning, then illustrate it with one or more lessons. They always include at least one free lesson. Most Little Dips are first published in our newsletter.


People often wonder why Feldenkrais lessons have such a profound calming effect on an anxious mind, why they can even lighten painful emotional states. It’s tempting to think that working directly with our own thoughts or emotions – not the body – would be the fastest way to change them.

But most people experience something very different. If you’re like me, when you think about how you’d like to change your thoughts or feelings, you usually just get stuck in anxious loops.

Feldenkrais lessons are very different. They lead us to inquire deeply into our somatic experience. They invite us to think about body sensations, movements, and images, and to watch closely as tensions melt and habitual actions yield into novelty. For most people this process reduces anxiety and calms the mental landscape faster and more reliably than “working on” our thoughts and feelings directly.

So why does Feldenkrais help our mental state?

We’re one whole being, our body and mind all run by one nervous system. Our different aspects are integrated, not isolated, even though we label them with separate words. When we change one, they all change.

Feldenkrais Trainer and meditation teacher Russell Delman goes deeper in his answer. In a workshop I attended many years ago he explained with a metaphor why the body is such an ideal entry point for improving the mind. It went something like this:

Thoughts are like air: always moving, impossible to grasp. Emotions are a little more substantial, like water, but they too slip through our fingers and swirl with a life of their own.

But our sensations are like earth: they are tangible. We can work with sensations most directly and easily, and when we do we change our thoughts and emotions.

While all Feldenkrais lessons guide us in exploring our moment-to-moment sensory experience, some types of lessons do seem to settle the mind even more than others.

Below you’ll find six specific lessons I recommend to reduce anxiety, lift your mood, or simply feel more whole. Below that, in the user comments, you’ll find more lessons our listeners recommend for calming your nervous system.

Enjoy!

– Nick

PS – Have you found other Feldenkrais Project lessons that you particularly value when you’re anxious? Post a public comment below (first name or initials only are welcome) and let others know!


Six Lessons for Anxiety


 

Two FREE for all users

Please share!

Freeing Your Breath and Spine

(16 or 37 minutes)

As a long time meditator, it’s fascinating to feel grounded and full in a new and different way.

– Rashmi Ripley

Relaxing Your Neck and Jaw

(39 minutes)

I appreciated how calmly soothing this exercise was.

– Julie Hall

 


 

Two for Members & Patrons

These lessons are hidden gems from a series of donor events recorded early in the pandemic, now published as part of our bonus video content for all donors.

Softening the Hands and Eyes

(55 minute lesson + Q&A)

Changes in the hands and eyes have a particularly direct soothing effect on the mind.

Smoothing the Movements of the Jaw and Eyes

(46 minute lesson + Q&A)

Helpful for improving TMJ troubles and easing the neck, chest, and shoulders, improving visual acuity, calming the nervous system and reducing anxiety, and more.

 


 

Two for Patrons Only

Calming the Nervous System, Integrating the Hands and Eyes (unlocked for all until July 23)

(37 minutes)

Specifically designed for self-regulation and shifting us away from “fight or flight,” toward “rest and digest”. From the lesson comments:

Thank you Nick. Wonderful. So soothing and rich.

– Alex

I did the bell hands at the dentist last week while getting a tooth drilled and a filling put in. It was the most relaxing dental appt I’ve ever had!

– Lauren Robertson

Rotating, Interlacing, and Integrating the Hands, into Palms Lengthening Overhead

(60 minutes)

Reduce anxiety and organize your nervous system by refining simple, pleasurable actions of your hands, arms, and shoulders. Integrate them better with your head and eyes. Eventually expands into lengthening your whole self, with surprising effects on stability.

 


3 Comments

  1. Nick Strauss-Klein on June 18, 2024 at 6:41 pm

    If you post your favorite anxiety-busting Feldenkrais Project lessons below (scroll down until you see “Leave a Comment”), I will turn their titles into clickable links so others can find them easily.

  2. Tomaseen Foley on June 20, 2024 at 1:13 pm

    Nick, after many years of experimenting I have found that the lesson Softening the Jaw, Chest and Shoulders (Patrons) works astonishingly well for this – it’s practically a drug!

  3. Nick Strauss-Klein on July 7, 2024 at 1:29 pm

    Here are links to more lessons our users have called calming or anxiety-reducing. (Check out the user comment, then scroll up for the audio player.)

    Length Without Effort (36m)
    Easing the Jaw, Neck, and Shoulders
    The Ultimate Self-Hug
    Simple Twisting
    Softening the Ribs
    Holding Your Breath, in Awareness (15 or 39 min, Patrons)
    Breathing for Liftoff (35m + 25m, Patrons)
    Differentiating the Pelvic Floor (Patrons) Part 1 and Part 2

    Please keep the suggestions coming! Leave a comment below.

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