Calming the Nervous System, Integrating the Hands and Eyes (37m, unlocked for all until July 23)

Back-lying, using a "bell hand" movement to differentiate and integrate the hands, eyes, and breath. This lesson is a powerful tool for self-regulation and reorganization, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and shifting us away from "fight or flight" and toward "rest and digest". Begins with a 2-minute introduction to this lesson’s particular bell hand movement (see photos below the lesson notes).

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Recorded live in a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class, this lesson is copyright Nick Strauss-Klein, for personal use only.

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Your elbows and upper arms are always on the floor in this lesson. When your forearms are “standing vertically in the room” their weight rests in your elbows which are on the floor, like columns standing on the ground.

It’s best to leave your eyes softly closed throughout this lesson. When rolling your head you’re often asked to do it “as if to see your hand,” but in fact I intend that every time. So, whenever you’re asked to roll your head, imagine your gaze coming to rest on the hand you’re turning toward.

After the lesson if you explore the bell hand movement in other situations (such as before sleep) your arm can be in any comfortable position where your hand can move freely.

On a subsequent listening try reversing all my lefts and rights. It’s useful to experience the asymmetry of the first part of the lesson on the left side instead.

After doing the whole lesson at least once or twice, you can have a refresher and a chance to reset your nervous system in only 10 minutes or so! Start at about 7:45 and do only the most basic variations.

So what’s the “spell” we cast on the nervous system with this movement and these relationships? To learn more about the parasympathetic nervous system — including the vagus nerve and much more — check out this article and video or this article and graphic.

 

This lesson is found in Patrons Monthly, our always-growing collection of new lessons (one or more added every month) for Feldenkrais Project Patron-level donors.

It also appears in our Deep Dive courses called The Illusion of Isolation and The Pelvic Floor: Less Is More, and our “little dip” called Lessons for Anxiety.

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forearm vertical, softly open hand, “unclosed”

bellhandunclosed

droop your wrist, bring your fingertips together

bellhandclosed

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14 Comments

  1. Susan Mayer on February 14, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    Love this lesson! This will be one I return to regularly.

  2. Alex on February 18, 2022 at 2:21 am

    Thank you Nick. Wonderful. So soothing and rich. At some point during the lesson the idea for a “bell/e foot” variation came to mind. Just by analogy, allowing the foot to gently open and close, softening at the ankle joint, letting the toes gently come together and apart. I am thinking about following along this lesson and simply replacing the word hand by foot? Maybe lying on the belly instead, with the lower legs vertically balanced? Or would you advise against messing with the eye-hand coordination by turning this into an eye-foot experiment?

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on February 21, 2022 at 9:26 am

      I love that you thought of this foot connection spontaneously! No reason not to “mess with” any ATM that you like: as long as the movements are serving your learning and curiosity you’re on a good Feldenkrais track.

      Since you’re encountering this lesson when it was unlocked for all listeners as a “peek at Patron perks” I have to mention another lesson: the Related Lessons tab above points to our other two bell hand lessons, including One Bell Hand / Two Bell Hands…and Feet (Patrons). Sometime if/when the time is right to sign up for a month of Patron benefits you should definitely try that lesson!

      I may borrow “bell/e” sometime…that’s useful! Thanks for listening.

  3. Richard Fancy on March 13, 2022 at 3:57 pm

    After doing this lesson, I felt completely inert, deeply relaxed.

  4. Lauren Robertson on March 26, 2022 at 9:48 pm

    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!

  5. Spyridoula Ntella on May 13, 2022 at 8:10 am

    I realized when I was breathing in while my hand was opening I would breathe through the chest while the opposite way I would breathe through the belly.

  6. KIna MeurleHallberg on May 20, 2022 at 7:50 am

    I had some problems with loggin in .I got phantastic ,rapid help with my questions
    about how to manage the computer from Nick and Eileen! Thank you so much!!.
    I could really enjoy this lesson which I consider ingenious.I am happy to be able to login in easily now so that I can really incorporate this lesson. I will need it!

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on May 20, 2022 at 8:37 am

      Excellent! We try to keep our technology running smoothly for everyone so you can simply enjoy the lessons. I love this one too! Glad it connects with you.

  7. Joan Oliver Goldsmith on October 11, 2022 at 11:07 am

    just checking. When the hand is “unclosed,” the palm is facing the wall beneath my feet, not the side wall on the other side. Yes?
    I fell asleep the first time, but it was a lovely nap. Looking forward to the second time doing it.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on October 11, 2022 at 11:23 am

      Yes: palm facing the wall beneath your feet is usually the most neutral position for folks for “unclosed” hands. That’s what we’re looking for.

      And yup, this type of study is particularly soporific! Some folks use it in the middle of the night for insomnia.

  8. Ellie Rollins on June 20, 2023 at 1:44 am

    What an interesting lesson! I found my right leg, which is biased toward extreme external rotation, spontaneously moves to a straight more internal rotation in kind of a subconscious “herky jerky” movement while exhaling/closing my right hand. Like an auto correct. How cool!

  9. Brigette on December 12, 2023 at 2:45 pm

    This is a very interesting lesson. The hand gesture reference when the fingers tips are all touching is also a called the Semana Mudra or the Semana Vayu Mudra in yoga. The mudra is said to balances the flow of energy in the navel region, improve digestion, absorption, and the functioning of the stomach and the intestines. I’ve been studying yoga for a handful of years now and as soon as my finger tips touched together I was able to feel the subtle energy of this mudra on my digestion and in my nervous system. When we think about the parasympathetic nervous system going into the rest and digest mode, this hand gesture made a lot of sense to me from a yoga and ayurvedic point of view. It’s also the gesture of the hands when eating (without forks) so taking in nourishment. I found myself wanting to draw my head toward my hands as well.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on December 12, 2023 at 5:25 pm

      Thank you for sharing all that! I’m sure I won’t be the only one who finds that very interesting. What a wonderful natural connection yoga makes with this gesture!

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