Feldenkrais Is So Much More Than Movement

by Buffy Owens

I LOVE reading The Elusive Obvious!

The book is only available in Hardback format; which brings me a special kind of sensorial gratification. As I hold the book in my hands, I can feel the strength of the binding and the subtle texture beneath my fingertips. The simplicity of the firm black and white cover delights my minimalist spirit as the title begs me to delve into a koan-istic approach to moving and learning.

As I flip through the dense and fibrous pages, I digest each word of somatic wonder. My mind starts to bend towards a deeper realization that this work, The Feldenkrais Method®, is so much more than movement.

Feldenkrais Is More Than Movement Mug

“There is practically no limit to the quality of performance that Awareness Through Movement will not transcend. The process of self-direction is being improved, and not any particular movement. The particular achievement is incidental and is a prize gained for better learning.” (pg. 110)

Reading the above quote, I reflect on my own experiences doing Awareness Through Movement as well as those that I've observed in others. I am reminded that learning is a gift of life, and one of the most powerful kinds of learning is that of knowing oneself.

How We Move

I love how the ways we work with ourselves in class begin to reverberate throughout our lives. For many it means moving more slowly, doing less and sensing more! For most, this is something new.

For others, it means moving more— moving with more variety, moving with more grace, and moving with more spontaneity. It means tapping back into one’s inner compulsion to move when there’s been too much stillness and rest when there’s been too much action. It means getting back to knowing one’s self and trusting the cues we receive from our internal landscapes.

How we move can bring us pain or pleasure. How we move can help us to satiate our more primitive needs like eating and procreating. But how we move can also bring us more into the moment and deeper into our experiences of ourselves and our world.

How We Engage

How we engage with ourselves impacts how we engage with others.

Now to be forthright, I’ll admit that I am bringing all of my past experience and interests into my Feldenkrais practice — personally and professionally. Long before I became a Feldenkrais Practitioner®, I began meditating. What really enticed me about the Feldenkrais Method was that it seemed to be an expression of meditation in motion. To be clear, I  mean more than simply sitting on the cushion, just as I mean more than movement. These forms of practice offer direct ways to understand how we, as individuals, engage with life. 

One thing that has become abundantly clear, is that continuing to explore Awareness Through Movement® can help us to embody the principle of Non-Judgement while refining our ability to discern — our sensations, what feels right for us, and the delicious subtleties of each engagement with life. As our judgement decreases and our discernment grows, we become more curious.

This curiosity seems to soften our edges somehow. Before we know it, our relationships change and a general sense of freedom begins to permeate our lives.

Learning is a gift of life & one of the most powerful kinds of learning is that of knowing oneself. -Buffy

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How We Change

Before my meditation and Feldenkrais practices, I often found myself doing things I didn’t want to do, just out of habit. Even if I wanted to change, I couldn’t figure out how to do it easily. In fact, and I hate to admit it, in my twenties a big part of “personal development” was the game of “Find what’s wrong with yourself and fix it” repeated over and over again.

That perspective was damning for two reasons. First, personal growth felt like a struggle. Frankly, I am sure that my belief at the time was “if it isn’t hard, it isn’t worth it" ...or some b.s. like that. Second, this perspective sets the stage for always looking for what isn’t working. YUCK! And perhaps at a more subtle level, viewing growth through this lens was an extension of a deep-seeded belief that I was somehow broken. OUCH!

Fast forward through several years of Meditation and Feldenkrais explorations and something big shifted. I WAS NO LONGER CHASING THE FIX. I no longer looked for what wasn’t working, but instead celebrated what was working and started seeing the brilliance in all that I did — even honoring those pesky ‘bad habits‘ as strategies that served me well at some point in time. More than that, I started to see myself as whole and no longer broken.

I am not sure exactly when this change happened. I imagine it was more of a gradual change over time…but a BIG change nonetheless.

So do tell, my fellow meditator or mindful movement maker…What changes have you discovered within?


About The Mug
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Photo Credit: International Feldenkrais Federation Archive, Robert Golden.

  • Bruce Blander says:

    Wow. This post blew my mind. In particular, Buffy’s opening up, giving us a glimpse of her past experiences and tendencies, was brave and is something I can very much relate to. Dealing with pain all of my adult life, it is reassuring to know that Buffy has been there, done that as her struggles led to her discovery of The Feldenkrais Method. I may be off to a late start (3 years and counting), but surely better late than never. I am beyond fortunate to have discovered her and Feldenkrais since both have positively changed my life for the better in countless ways. Now, for example, when I get caught in the “Find what’s wrong with yourself and fix it” habit, I have so many options besides anger, frustration and self-blame. I see it as an opportunity to learn and try new and wonderful ways to accept and move past those feelings and discomfort. Thanks for sharing, Buffy.

    • My pleasure Bruce! I am so glad that my past BS is coming in handy :). No really, I am so happy that you are having such wonderful shifts in the way you explore yourself, your life. I totally smiled and did a fist pump with a hushed, “YES!” when I read your bit about “Now, for example, when I get caught in the “Find what’s wrong with yourself and fix it” habit, I have so many options besides anger, frustration and self-blame.”

  • Cynthia says:

    We had this wonderful rich discussion this morning on break in the Bones for Life training. As the conversation around the differences between wave and axis, flow and power, we came to discussing the political factions and what these states have to do with our current polarization. What does it mean to be pathologically stuck in axis/power or flow/wave? And how are we perpetuating this pathology with our own pathology?

    “What really enticed me about the Feldenkrais Method was that it seemed to be an expression of meditation in motion.” Indeed. It is the process of life which we are improving life. If more of us expressed ourselves as meditation in motion, how different would our protests and facebook posts look?

    Thank you Buffy.

    • Just re-read your comment Cynthia and I am now dreaming of a day when we all live life more as a “meditation in motion’ vs a knee-jerk reaction…especially in the realm of posts and politics. Thank you for this nugget.

  • Kim Wise says:

    With great excellence of understanding of the Feldenkrais Method, I see. Love what you say and how you say it, and have sent on to my students. Thank you. xox

  • Matthew Henson says:

    Concrete recent example: at the end of the first segment of Feldenkrais training (London 3, started this summer) two people told me they had avoided being drawn into family arguments. The triggering was no longer compulsive, and both have kept that progress.

    I had asked my usual teacher before we started if I should take some psychotherapy training so I could cope better with people who wanted to talk about their trauma. Probably no need she said. Beginning to understand now!

    • Matthew,

      What a wonderful thing to witness! It is truly amazing how powerful this work can be. That said, I think it is important to continue to learn about Trauma, even if it’s just casually. Personally, I have a few body-based psychotherapists I refer people out if feel that what they need is beyond my scope of practice. I’ve found that clients that utilize both the body-based psychotherapy and the Feldenkrais Method find the combination to be VERY POWERFUL!

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