The short answer is no. Less simplistically, and more importantly is to answer with the question: Does it serve your intention?
Life can be lived on automatic pilot, where we can lose track of our deepest desires, dreams and intentions. When we lose sight of our intentions, when we become unable to hear the quiet inner promptings, our life becomes flat, dull, and repetitive. To live an intentional life is to live with awareness of ourself and our surroundings, to respond to each moment with what is most needed just then. In order to live in this way, we need to be able to ask ourself: Is this serving my intention? When you find yourself in an argument with a loved one, is engaging in the argument as you are (the tone and volume of your voice, your body language, your choice of words…) in service of your intentions? When you are working at your computer and find your back aching, is your way of organizing yourself (holding your breath, protruding your chin, sinking your chest, holding your belly, clenching your jaw, furrowing your brow..) serving you?
As we become aware of “ourself”* throughout the day, we begin to see where we get pulled into habitually ways of acting that are so ingrained, so automatic that we have no choice for an alternative. Here the habit has become compulsive. Compulsive actions are like addictions - we can’t help ourself. But this isn’t the end of the storey. Human beings have profound capacities for adaptation, and learning. There is a way out of these patterns that limit us from being our truest, most natural, free self.
In Feldenkrais® work we use movement as a tool for learning how to unlearn what does not serve us, and for learning how to learn new ways of being. Most of our responses to life are learned behaviours, and as learned behaviours (vs. relexive), they can be unlearned. One of the most significant areas of ourself that needs to be developed to take advantage of this wonderful adaptability is to develop our attentional capacities and open to our capacity for limitless awareness.
In Feldenkrais lessons, the outward movements of our limbs, trunk, eyes…are significant, and in and of themselves, are not the method. I often to say to my students that the movement of their attention is at least as important as the outward movements. Certainly, as we reorganize our outward movements to be more in harmony with our nature, we become more comfortable and are able to be more responsive to life rather than reactive. And, when we discover the value and learn how to use our attention and expanded awareness, we find ourself* more and more able to adapt our outward movements with greater and greater efficiency and ease. We no longer need to do hours of lessons to learn how better to serve our intentions, and all of life becomes a lesson, and we begin to find ourself thinking and feeling and moving better. Better in that our actions are serving our intentions more and more spontaneously.
The movements in Feldenkrais lessons are concrete AND metaphor for life. Tapping into this when doing lessons makes the experience deeply interesting and meaningful, and nurtures the process of consolidating whatever learning we have from the lessons.
*The use of the word ourself is intentional. Language falls short in so many ways, and here is one example. How many selfs are you? Consider that you are one, whole and complete self. So, when speaking about you and me, perhaps the word ourselfs would be even better…
Feldenkrais® is a registered service mark of the Feldenkrais® Guild of North America
By Gisele St. Hilaire Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner (GCFP), BMR(PT)-physio
All rights reserved. Any reproducing of this article must have the author name and all the links intact.