I started doing Feldenkrais to improve my physical health and mobility. I kept doing it because it transformed my mental health.
Language affects how we visualise the world around us
Traditionally, mental health solutions separate mind and body.
Feldenkrais’ genius is that he realised that there was no separation. That every action has four indivisible parts that happen together: movement, sensation, emotion and thinking.
The connection between physical and mental health
Mind-Body or Body-mind is one thing. We’re a system, not separated parts.
As you can see, this is part of the problem. We don’t have a very good word to describe it. If its hard to describe, it’s hard to conceptualise. (If you can think of a nice new word for the two together, I’d be happy to hear it!)
Soma is sometimes used (the basis of somatic) but that hasn’t caught on. I often end up using “Self” to represent our holistic system of mind-and-body together.
The start of my own journey.
I was living and studying the baroque violin and viola in Amsterdam. I’d gone to the doctor for help with IBS, which I’d been having for a while. The fatigue got so bad that I would go to buy food and have to rest when I got home. In true Dutch bluntness the doctor told me that there was nothing wrong with me physically. He told me I should go and see a psychotherapist. I was outraged at his assumptions, given he’d known me for all of 5 minutes.
He agreed to do all the physical tests, referring me to the hospital. Telling me he knew they wouldn’t find anything.
I had a barrage of tests. And all the results came back negative. Irritatingly, it seemed he might be right, so I started to ask around. I was fortunate that a friend was seeing a therapist, Monieke, who worked with mind and body together. It’s a specialist form, that was more common in France and Holland, and not seen in the UK so much.
As she reduced tension through hands-on work, my digestive system started working. She would use a stethoscope and amplifier, so I could hear the gurgling of my intestines. It would increase as she reduced the tension in my body.
It was a little embarrassing to start with, but I got used to it. It was my first experience of the holistic-ness of our system. That the physical body had as much to do with how we felt as the mental side of things. After each session I would feel more positive, calmer, easier in my skin.
When I returned to the UK, having discovered Feldenkrais at a music course, I began taking lessons. One to one to begin with, and then weekly group classes. They were more financially viable for me at the time. After each class, I would feel more relaxed, calmer, more positive. It’s what kept me returning to the classes each week.
How we hold ourselves is a physical representation of our thinking.
We know this on a subconscious level. We see who looks safe to chat to, or who seems some kind of threat.
We feel this on an internal level too. When we maintain a level of excessive tension, it has an emotional quality.
When we have depression or anxiety, there is a muscular tone that comes with it. We have habits of physical holding, and emotional tone.
The good thing about this is that we can change our emotional flavour physically. Look at our action through the Physical door. It’s the easiest way in. We all move. We can all sense (or learn to sense) ourselves. We can reduce our anxiety, depression, by finding physical resources to help ourselves.
Improve your own mental and physical health
If you’d be interested to work with me, either individually, or in a group setting, please get in touch. We’ll start with a free consultation, online or by phone.
Individually, we can start anytime. In the group setting, I run 10 week courses, which I close once we start. I have a new Reducing Anxiety course starting on the 5th of June on Monday evenings online. I’d be pleased to welcome you to it. For more details, you can go here.
A recent client after their first 1-to-1 hands-on session emailed me.
“It was very powerful yesterday- I feel super relaxed, and my body is refusing to react to my anxious thoughts. I am a convert!”
A recent course participant:
“I found it so helpful. The course relates mind to body directly: both in understanding why our body reacts as it does, and how our thoughts and reactions are influenced by our body.
Through movement directed by Emma, and very gentle observation, we learnt to recognise these relationships. So we could gain more understanding and release and relief for anxiety. Some of it was in talking and explanation and sharing our experience. But the major part was actually doing, moving (sometimes imperceptably to an onlooker). We worked through different aspects of the body and mind in each week. It’s astonishing how different my body and mind can feel.”
It was reassuring to be with others who also want to improve things for themselves. It helps remove shame, and I found the group supportive. “
Would you like more information? Contact me for a free short discovery consultation
Give me a ring (07939277189), or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One thought on “Mental Health Month”
Great article on the connection between physical and mental health, and the importance of holistic approaches like Feldenkrais. It’s inspiring to see how one person’s journey led to a career helping others improve their well-being.
founder of balance thy life