Moshe Feldenkrais said ‘I am after helping people make the impossible more possible, the possible more pleasant, and the pleasant more elegant’.
Nancy came to me as a client several months before a planned total knee replacement. She wasn’t sure what ‘this Feldenkrais stuff’ was all about but was referred by a couple of her teacher colleagues who had seen me in the past.
She wasn’t really trying to not have the surgery but was eager to figure out how to go in and come out of surgery with a new understanding of what she could do on her own to avoid further surgery to her other knee. I agreed that change is always possible at any given moment.
Nancy, like so many people who walk through my door, didn’t really know or understand how the principles of The Feldenkrais Method can impact anything and everything we do, think, and feel. In fact, that is exactly what The Feldenkrais Method is about. How do we think, feel (emote), sense and enact ourselves from one moment to the next?
Nancy was a bit of a skeptic at first. A skeptic on several levels. First of all, skeptical that she had the skill or even the capacity to notice small, slow and subtle changes in how she moved. How she moved both her body and her attention.
Secondly, a skeptic on how the process of cultivating nonjudgmental direct sense observation of how she moved could ever make a change to her comfort and ease. She, like so many, believed she needed only to find the ‘correct’ way to move and then effortfully will herself to hold that particular pattern in place at all times.
Thirdly, a skeptic that her body could possibly change enough in order to actually prevent a second surgery.
Nancy also innately carried qualities that all humans possess. Curiosity, wonder, kindness, commitment, and the ability for subtle sensory discernment. Nancy was a teacher and had been so for many years. She cultivated these very qualities in herself relative to her time with her students. She also was very comfortable with the idea of fostering certain sets of conditions to allow these qualities to be noted by her students. Even in situations where things were challenging—-in fact, especially then.
Nancy came weekly for Feldenkrais Functional Integration (FI) lessons. FI lessons are performed with the student fully clothed and utilize very precise movement explorations in order for the student to learn over time to discern the difference between more effortful and less effortful movement patterns. This can only be understood in the moment to moment direct sense unfolding of each movement exploration. One must ‘feel’ to ‘understand’.
Nancy learned slowly to discern how to support her small, short frame fully when sitting and not collapse into her supporting surfaces. She came to discover many relationships of how movement is always dynamic. It is a verb, not a noun. She learned that the more easily she allowed weight bearing movement forces to translate through her pelvis, ribs, chest, shoulders, and neck was directly impactful to the comfort of her knee.
At first Nancy was quick to criticize herself and label herself ‘someone who can’t notice that level of subtlety.’ Over time she began to slowly ‘surprise’ herself as she allowed more kindness and curiosity to show up in her moments of noticing. This allowed her body’s innate wisdom to show her how she could find more ease, proper support and more smooth mobility in all of her movement tasks.
Nancy did indeed have her knee replaced and made a very wise decision to keep attending Feldenkrais lessons after her surgery. She is successfully navigating new movement patterns in her thinking and in her body movements. She is also clearly moving in a direction to not have surgery on her other knee!
In Nancy’s own words, “Go see Carrie! You will learn a ton from this gifted teacher, your body and mind will be challenged to make many new discoveries and you will find yourself with a greatly increased awareness of how you move through the world. My entire relationship with pain has shifted; now I see it as a guiding reminder to slow down and consider my body position and movement, which in turn, leads me to move with more ease and comfort.”
Nancy continues to stay involved with regular although less frequent FI lessons and attend group Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) classes at times. As the years go by, she has been able to cultivate more and more ease in her life. Navigating both those moments she likes and those she doesn’t. This is true health–finding equal ease or moving more towards equal ease in all we think, feel, sense and do.