This weekend has been quite full on for me. What you might not know about me, is that I’m part of a group of international Feldenkrais teachers who facilitate continued development for my professional colleagues, and am doing an online workshop over the weekend looking at a tool for assessing our work. As I write it, it sounds a bit dry, but the reality was very interesting.
In yesterday’s session, we were given a task to see how we collected information, planned and organised together. In hearing how other people do things, you can see their planning and thinking. And what was fascinating from what emerged was how differently we all thought.
We’re good at different things- some people are good at thinking about structure, others theory, practice, the big picture or details, to name a few. Interestingly, it was also what they needed to think about in order to help them organise their thoughts.We all have habits of how we think. Alone, without comparison, we can’t see that these are our individual habits. Just like when we’re younger we think every family must be like ours.
The first time I had a Christmas away from home was at a Dutch boyfriend’s in a small town near Rotterdam. They don’t do Christmas in the same way at all. Presents are a thing for a completely different day, Sintaklaas, at the beginning of December. Christmas Day food was still about spending time together as a more extended family, so that was similar.Christmas Day lunch was rabbit, and when I brought in a burning Christmas Pudding, there was zero interest. So little interest, I actually had to do it twice, much to my chagrin! And then most people hated it. Steamed pudding is not a Dutch thing. The Stilton was also sniffed at, how could they eat a mouldy cheese! And the only thing of real interest was the port!!!
And of course, none of that was wrong. It was just different. They weren’t wrong not to like it, rather I had brought my habits to the party. As had they, and they were pretty different. They preferred the dutch style of cheeses, without blueness, and cake that was light and fluffy.
Without exposure to other ideas, received openly, (also presented in a palatable way that we can learn), our thinking becomes more habitual as we age. We need an outside view, new input, something we aim to create in a Feldenkrais lesson, where we’re asked to move in directions, in different ways, that we might not choose without outside input.The more options we have, the more choices we end up with.
The more we understand ourselves, the more we accept ourselves, the easier it is to understand and accept other people’s differences. To understand what each person brings to the table that is different from what we can bring. Our self learning can continue our whole lives, but we do need input to help us grow.
As someone who never felt like they fitted very well growing up, it has been a pleasure getting to know a community that celebrates individuality. Our aim as Feldenkrais practitioners is to help people become more of themselves, more individual, more complete. More accepting of all of themselves- both the shiny surfaces we want to show to others, and the less comfortable, more shadowy aspects of ourselves that we prefer to keep hidden away. To like themselves a little more; love themselves a little more.
When we can celebrate difference, and not need people to be the same as us, we work together in more interesting constellations. When we’re able to validate and evaluate other people’s ideas from a non-defensive standpoint, we can learn and grow.
As a musician, I know playing alone, I can play exactly as I please. Playing in a group, I hopefully get the arena to try out my plans, but also will discover different musical ideas from others, (some I usually discover preferable to than mine). Over time we all get richer for being open to new ideas, and taking on other people’s musical shoes. The pleasure of working, playing, and over time melding together in a chamber group is a highlight in my musical life.
One of my favourite proverbs from Africa: alone we go faster, together we go further.
How can you widen your aperture to grow more understanding of yourself and others? How could you learn to like yourself a spoonful more this week?
If you discover something, have an opinion, or would simply like to share your thoughts on the matter: comment below, I’d be pleased to hear from you.