This question came up in my last MU session, and I wanted to address it here. This one is the crux of many questions I’m asked.
Feldenkrais is an experiential learning method:
Which is what’s tricky about explaining it. I can describe to you what a mango tastes like. But no matter how detailed my description, you don’t know what a mango tastes until it’s in your mouth.
But here goes:
Feldenkrais is a learning method: teaching you how to learn. How to unpack your habits to discover which you need to keep, and which habits no longer serve you. Everyone has an innate ability to learn new ways of doing things. Which is what we do in each Feldenkrais lesson.
Feldenkrais is about improving action: And action is not movement alone. It’s always combined with three other strands: sensation, emotion and thought. Every single thing we do we accompany with those 4 pieces of the “Action pie”, whether we’re aware of them all or not. We have habits in all of the strands, again, whether we’re aware of them or not.
Feldenkrais about improving efficiency and efficacy; the effectiveness of everything you do. Because, at the end, everything we do is movement. We move to perform any kind of action.
Which is why it’s effective for so many things, but also why it’s difficult to pin it down. We could say Feldenkrais is about better posture, or Feldenkrais is about flexibility, but it’s much, much, more than that too.
As it’s about movement, it has many applications:
We move to do everything. Even lying still – we’re still moving, we have to move, to breathe. So on one hand, we can teach Feldenkrais for rehab. On the other, it can be high level performance enhancement. We can use it to help people recover from strokes, or for improving child development.
I’ve used it to help musicians improve their technique and comfort at their instrument/voice. For people with childhood abuse or trauma to feel at ease in their bodies again. Or people who have had lots of operations, gain self-acceptance and self-confidence. I also use Feldenkrais for reducing anxiety levels on or off the stage. So my students can be more of themselves in the world, and feel comfortable being that.
The question in Feldenkrais is How can you improve what you’re doing? How can you improve how you’re doing it? How can you learn to do less, so you can sense more? When you can distinguish betwen movements of different quality, then you have more options. With more options you can make better choices.
At the same time, it’s the best way I’ve seen of improving the quality of our aging. There’s an assumption that as we age, we have get physically ‘rusty.’ But some of that deterioration isn’t necessary if we’re prepared to look at how we’re doing what we do.
It’s a self-improvement method for ourselves, based on science-based strategies:
Through Feldenkrais, we can also explore the space between our human potential and limitations we’ve added. Often, ones that aren’t, or are no longer necessary. i.e. Where’s the gap between objective reality and our subjective reality? Feldenkrais practice can help us discover these things, and lessen the space between what we think we’re doing, and what we are actually doing.
In brief: it’s mindfulness in action. Whether that’s playing a violin, keys, singing, or any everyday activity.
What can it do for your playing/singing?
- You’ll develop science-based strategies to learn what virtuosi just ‘do’.
- Change your movement patterns and improve your playing
- Address your habits of moving and thinking, and create space for new ideas.
- Make choices with awareness whilst practicing
- Begin having greater choices, and less compulsion.
- Learn how doing less can get you more
- Better co-ordination, focus and comfort with yourself, your instrument and onstage.
- Feel how the smallest movement in one part of your body changes the whole body.
If you’re a member of the MU, you can come to the Friday MU sessions, via the MU events page.
Otherwise, you’d be very welcome to join my weekly online classes. See the group classes page for details. If you’re looking for something more bespoke, go to the Individual Lessons page, and let me know what you’re looking for.
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