Thoughts, "Felts" and Movements

Moshe Feldenkrais figured out how movement is directed via the brain and the nervous system. He also recognized that virtually all human movement is learned. Unlike other animals in which movement is "hard wired", human movement develops over a long apprenticeship after birth. Our movement patterns are formed through trial and error, and by copying others, most notably our parents. A lot of things can influence the learning process.

If you wore a brace as a child, or had a serious illness, or suffered some sort of trauma, your movement habits could very well be influenced, and remain to a certain extent, even after recovery. These experiences are incorporated into our habit patterns. The patterns become unconscious and automatic, i.e. we lose awareness of them. Once your brain learns a pattern, it doesn't want to change as it has important new things to attend to. This can happen throughout our lives and isn't limited to childhood.

As an experiment, interlace your fingers and note how you do it. Is your left thumb or your right thumb on top? However you do it, switch and do it the other way. What is your experience? It probably feels wrong, and you will have the urge to go back to your habitual way. And if I asked you which thumb would be on top before trying it, you probably would have to guess as it's something you never thought about before.

So in this sense our "movements" are built on our past experiences. The same is true for "thoughts" and "felts". They all point to the past and the unconscious habitual responses we have learned.

Awareness Through Movement and Functional Integration are designed to improve how we sense movement in the present and begin to recognize how we do what we do. To make the unknown known and to experience how that feels. So in this sense I am defining "moving" and "feeling" and "thinking" as being in the present, as opposed to "movements", "thoughts" and "felts" as the habits formed in the past.

How then can we begin to explore these patterns built on the past, and explore new options? The method is designed to do just that. Moving and thinking and feeling are interrelated, so moving in new ways can trigger new ways of thinking and feeling. In this way, new options for moving can influence us in profound ways.

The neuroscience research is confirming all of this, and changes in the way we move can actually cause biochemical changes. Watch Amy Cuddy's Ted Talk about the "confidence poses".

A great deal is being learned about how the brain and nervous system operate and how mindfulness practices can literally change the brain. I would say that the Feldenkrais Method is definitely a mindfulness practice, so check it out. What have you got to lose except some of those old habits that are weighing you down?

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