One of the things we talked about this weekend was this idea central to Feldenkrais, of stripping back. We used to play this version ofpass the parcel in my family when we were little. The parcel would be wrapped in many layers of wrapping paper, sometimes with chocolates between the layers. When the music stopped, you could take off one layer. Over the round of the game, perhaps 10 layers of wrapping paper would be undone before getting at the present inside. We didn’t know how big the final item was, so you didn’t know if you had one layer left or five. Whether now was the best time to have the music stop when you had the parcel! There was a moment of discovery! And in many ways, Feldenkrais is a little like that. We’re undoing. Chipping away at the extraneous. the habits given to us by others, that don’t fit us. Perhaps a little like the creation of a statue too.
Chipping away at everything that isn’t you.
As stone carvers chip stone away, they strip back what isn’t necessary for the statue. There’s an urban myth that Michelangelo said, when asked how he made his David statue, that he got rid of everything that wasn’t David.
It turns out it was rather G.F. Pentecost in 1883, writing about a sculptor he had met in childhood. In their dialogue the sculptor had just acquired a large block of marble.
‘I asked him: “Mr. M., what are you going to make out of that?” Looking up kindly into my face, he said: “My boy, I am not going to make anything out of it. I am going to find something in it.” I did not quite comprehend, but said: “Why, what are you going to find in it?” He replied: “There is a beautiful angel in that block of marble, and I am going to find it. All I have to do is to knock off the outside pieces of marble, and be very careful not to cut into the angel with my chisel. In a month or so you will see how beautiful it is”. ‘
Whether it was Michelangelo or not, there’s something clearly in it that is transferable to our process in the Feldenkrais Method.
Letting go of what’s no longer useful
Over decades we pick up habits, some of which are truly ours, and many of which are imposed upon us, through school, through simply being social creatures – it’s somewhat inevitable. But what we can do, is let go of those habits which no longer serve us. Let go of thoughts and beliefs that are no longer useful, “so we can live our avowed and unavowed dreams”. Moshe Feldnekrais went on to say that healthy humans are able to take action. His idea of good posture (which you’ve probably heard me say before) is the ability to move in any direction, without preparation or hesitation.
When we let go of excess tension physically, our skeleton can do its job more simply, with less energy expended, with less power, where it isn’t needed. Leaving us feeling simpler, better organised, or as so many of you tell me at the ends of sesssions, more relaxed. When we let go off thinking patterns that exhaust us, that stop us taking action, or imbue our actions with fear, we can act from a more neutral, restful place.
Each lesson is a hour to unwrap yourself a little further, to chip away at the thoughts, feeling and actions that get in your way.
When we know what more relaxed feels like, then we can find it again. When we have a neutral, our emotions, thoughts, tensions have a reset button.
If you’d like to come and work with me, do get in touch.