We overexert ourselves. We strain and we ignore the messages our bodies send to us to the detriment of our health. Moshe Feldenkrais understood this.
We live in a culture that prizes the ability to grin through the pain. Our heroes are those who can put mind over matter to accomplish something despite any harm that may come their way. This is an admirable trait to have, but is it completely necessary?
Even in our everyday movements, we are told to fight through the pain, not only to ignore any pain that we feel as we walk or sit at our desks but to enjoy it because we need to keep going if we want to move up in life. No pain, no gain.
But there is another way.
I am reminded of what Moshe Feldenkrais wrote in his book The Potent Self:
“From early childhood, we are taught to strain ourselves. Parents and teachers seem to receive sadistic satisfaction from compelling children to make an effort. If the child can do what is demanded of him with no apparent forcing of himself they will put him in a more advanced class or add something to his duty just to make sure that the poor thing learns “what life really means.” That is, trying to do what one need not do in itself, but simply in order to be better than the rest, and one is not supposed to be satisfied unless one really feels the strain of pushing to the limits.”
We are all teachers and we are all children. What we ignore in ourselves, we pass on to the next generation.
My Experience with the Method of Moshe Feldenkrais
There is another way to approach life. As a Feldenkrais practitioner, I have learned that people need to unlearn what they have learned about movement. The people I have worked with over the years have forgotten the concept of ease in movement. Before I learned about the Feldenkrais Method, I had forgotten about ease.
The Feldenkrais Method taught me (or reminded me) that awareness of the body’s efficiencies is necessary for a pain-free existence. When I was 12, I suffered a traumatic ankle injury that ruptured the main ligaments connecting the foot and the shin bone. Though I “healed” and could walk after recovery, my young adulthood was plagued with pain, not in the ankle itself but in my back. I could not stand for more than 10 minutes or walk more than half a mile without back pain.
My pain made me thirsty for knowledge. Yet after two undergraduate degrees and a Master’s degree in physical education and physical therapy—not to mention thousands of hours of postgrad training in orthopedic and manual medicine—I could not find relief from my pain.
When I encountered the work of Moshe Feldenkrais, my world was turned upside down. During my first class, I was lying on my back. The familiar sense of “unlevelness” in my pelvis and back was there. The practitioner instructed me to lie on my stomach and do some unusual ankle and leg movements. Then I returned to lying on my back.
That moment is ingrained in my memory. The pain was gone! Twenty-five years of pain, just vanished!
This is the value of the Feldenkrais Method that I now teach to my students. It forever changed my life, and now I dedicate my life to helping others achieve the same freedom from pain.
Carol is a physical therapist, a co-creator of Integral Human Gait theory, a certified Feldenkrais practitioner, and a Senior Trainer in Movement Intelligence. Focus, Align, Teach and Inspire! These qualities not only describe her work, but they also describe her presence. She is passionate when it comes to reconnecting learning with human function and health. Carol is in private practice at MontgomerySomatics.com in Columbus, Indiana.