Have you really experienced the Feldenkrais Method®?

I talk to friends, relatives, and acquaintances who are in pain.  They are doing many curative modalities, or even headed to surgery. I’m not sure if it is the apprehensive look on my face, or if they just assume what I am thinking as if I am screaming it. Truth be told, they are usually right in assuming that I am thinking, “Why don’t you do the Feldenkrais Method® instead?”

Then, to my dismay, many say, “I’ve done the Feldenkrais Method® and it didn’t work,” or even, “I go to a practitioner and I attend classes, but it doesn’t help.”  I compose myself and usually move on to talk about something else. What they don’t know is that I am watching them.  I observe, quietly, unobtrusively.

Most of these people have two obvious factors in common that jump out at me.  Number one is that they expect to be cured. They are waiting for someone, anyone, to swoop in and save them, make the pain go away, so they can go back to their life. They just want to be back to “normal” as soon as possible. They don’t see their part in it. They are waiting for someone on the outside to fix them. That is not what the Feldenkrais Method® or my work is about. As we age, our bodies change, inside and out. It is a matter of knowing yourself, of being aware of what is happening, not what is wrong that can be fixed. If someone comes in and “fixes” one part, sewing it up, cutting it out, stretching it, or strengthening it, this doesn’t do anything for your whole body or for the way you do your daily activities. I provide a laboratory where people can learn to be aware of how they move and strategies to join the injured part back into their life. What they can do, rather than an “expert.” I teach people how to become an expert on themselves.

What I notice next when observing is related to the previous issue.  A person might come to individual sessions or classes, but they don’t carry what they have learned with them when they leave. I am not talking about a home exercise program.

One example is my friend Pat.  I was recently traveling with Pat, who has been my friend for 56 years. She has a knee issue and has pain most of the time. She is rather stoic and does not complain. She does her exercises and uses ice and pain medication. She also goes to a Feldenkrais Practitioner® for individual sessions recommended by me, someone I know and who is an excellent practitioner.  So, why is she not getting better?  When we were leaving the hotel, we needed to wheel our bags to the parking structure across the street to go to brunch. I suggested she get the car and come to the hotel and we have someone help us lift our bags. If she had agreed to that, we wouldn’t have had to walk with the “bag behind us gait” or lift our suitcases into the trunk. She refused my suggestion.  She is very independent and does not like asking for help. What difference does that make, you ask?  When you wheel a weight behind you, use your legs differently. It is not like everyday walking. Lifting a heavy weight also puts stress on a hurt knee, or hip, or back. This is a very small example of a person not allowing her knee to rest and putting extra stress on it.  I love my friend and I am not trying to tell tales. However, I completely understand why her condition is not improving. She is not better than when she started doing the Feldenkrais Method.® It has not become part of her life, and her time in a session does not guide her in the outside world.

Back to my first question: Have you really incorporated your sessions into your life?  Have you really experienced the Feldenkrais Method®?

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