Embodiment - Connection - Empowerment

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What is an Advanced Awareness Through Movement lesson? Try it!

Listen here:

Lengthen the Hamstrings without Stretching – Advanced Awareness Through Movement lesson


You may ask.

If Awareness Through Movement is supposed to be all about moving slowly, without ambition or instant gratification or accomplishment – in order to recognize your habits and discover new things – then how could a lesson be advanced?

I’m glad you asked 🙂

For a beginner, it is important that Awareness Through Movement lessons are simple and straightforward and that you are given suggestions for what kinds of feelings to look for: ” Do you notice any change in your breathing as you are doing that movement?” Or “see if you can feel what changes in the space of your low back as you…”)

As you get more familiar with the practice (and the feeling of listening for increasingly more subtle changes) you will be able to follow a lesson with more sophisticated or more vague instructions and with less guidance or less suggestion. As you progress with your understanding of the Feldenkrais Method, you will feel more empowered to trust your own experience and exploration and depend less on the structure or instructions from the lesson to guide your learning.

What is Feldenkrais?

The Feldenkrais Method® is a neuro-muscular re-education system. It helps people find new healthier, easier and more comfortable ways of moving and being in the world.

The method uses 2 applications: group classes called Awareness Through Movement® and one-on-one personalized bodywork sessions called Functional Integration®. Each approach works with the sensory-motor part of your nervous system. They are part of an ongoing process of  clarifying your sensory self-image to develop a more integrated sense of whole.

What is an Embodiment Practice?

An embodiment practice is a method of using the unique sensations of our body as a tool to develop awareness, stay present, self-regulate, feel whole, find balance, feel connected, know ourself, love ourself and be empowered.

We can learn to recognize our strength, power, softness, uniqueness, vulnerability, truth and love as sensation with embodied or somatic practices such as Somatic Movement and Feldenkrais Method®.

→ An Embodiment Practice cultivates Self-Knowledge.

“Without learning to know ourselves as intimately as we possibly can, we limit our choices. Life is not very sweet without freedom of choice.”

– Moshe Feldenkrais

Our culture, how and where and when we were raised, who our role-models were, the kind of education we received and our physical activities as well as our personal preferences, language, temperament and constitution all contribute to the mental and physical habits we develop as adults.

Some habits become rigid confines that limit the possibilities for how we do things, how we move, how we think and how we behave.

As we develop our awareness in the way we feel ourself – our whole human self – because of – and regardless of – the events and circumstances we have encountered in our life – we become empowered.  When we are empowered we are free to choose – how to live, how to think, how to be.

→ An Embodiment Practice helps us experience personal freedom

As we improve our awareness of the distinct and changing sensations in our body we can also become aware of the way we are moving, thinking or behaving is causing us pain, strain or not serving us. Embodiment involves listening to sensation without an objective which leaves us open to discovering new unusual, easier, healthier or more comfortable possibilites.

→ An Embodiment Practice fosters self-love

Becoming aware of our sensation is as intimate, vulnerable process. We can become aware by learning to listen to physical sensation – breath and movement and the sensation that determines our emotions. As our sensations become more familiar we can begin to recognize them as part of our integrated whole self. Recognizing ourself as whole – the good and bad parts – is an integral part of self-love. As we cultivate self-love we learn to be less dependant on external forces (people, objects or circumstances) to supply meaning, balance, contentedness or happiness in our lives.

How to do Somatic Movement 9 Steps

● 1) Be Curious

When we are  curious our minds are like that of a child – open and ready to learn. We can experience the childlike enthusiasm about seemingly simple things. When we are curious we are more apt to allow ourselves to imagine – our creativity can excavate our deeper potential.

Variation is food for the brain. When we are curious we are more likely to deviate from our habits and try new things. Our brain gets the information it needs to create new possibilities in thought, behavior and action.

● 2) Go Slowly

Time is an important tool for learning. We need time to clearly asses ourselves and understand not only what to move, but how to move.

Easy and efficient movement is found when we move away from strain, parasitic action or exertion. We need time to learn where we are holding unnecessarily and it is impossible to learn in a rush. Fast action at the beginning of learning creates strain and confusion and makes learning unpleasant.

Imagine you were sprinting down a street, all you could see would be what is immediately in front of you. Whereas, if you were taking a leisurely stroll you would be able to take in your surroundings, hear the sounds, smell the scents and see the colors and textures around you.

● 3) Embrace Subtlety

Intensity negates sensitivity. The objective of Somatic Movement is to refine our ability to listen for -then to – sensations, feelings and thoughts. If we listen to the loud banging of strong, powerful movements, we are unable to hear the whisper of subtle sensation.

If we were to carry a heavy box and a butterfly landed on it, we would be unaware of the butterfly. If we are holding a feather and a butterfly lands on it, it’s subtle presence could be  felt.

When you practice Somatic Movement, periodically do less than you can, make movements smaller, sometimes even stop completely and simply imagine the movement.

● 4) Enjoy Yourself

Pleasure relaxes our breathing and relaxed breathing is pleasurable! Pleasurable feeling is fertile soil for cultivating self-discovery.

● 5) Don’t Set Goals

When our movements become driven by achievement our ability to remain curious about learning and connected to easy, non-purposeful movement is disabled.                                         A striving mind is not a relaxed mind.

When we are focused on achieving something we often begin repeating the same actions with greater force.

● 6) Embrace Your Own Movement Style

Grace and fluidity will develop naturally as our nervous system improves how it organizes itself.

Focusing on the appearance of the movement will take us out of the actual experience

● 7) Be Easy

When we focus hard and singularly it can produce excessive effort and/or can impede easeful breathing and create tension.

Let attention be easeful, sweeping and light

If you are unable to detect any kind of change or improvement in a movement remember that the objective is first and foremost improving our awareness. Seeing that we cannot see is still seeing!

● 8) Pause

When we take small rests between movements or variations we give our mind a break.

For most people engaged in any kind of learning, if we attempt to consume too much information too quickly we get oversaturated and are unable to retain.

Savor the rare opportunity to do a movement and then be able to listen for its influence.           The pause is when our nervous system registers the changes and learning.

● 9) Make Friends With Your Monkey Mind

Practice being patient and kind with yourself (as you would a friend or a child) by observing the fluctuations of your mind.

Somatic Movement is an opportunity to LEARN HOW YOU LEARN.

Listen to when you get distracted, bored or check out. When do you get frustrated or agitated and when do you feel clear, comfortable and at ease?