Someone commented the other day about how many belief systems there are about the body. The implication was that Moshe Feldenkrais's method was a belief system. I thought about this for a long time. (About five minutes.)
I concluded that the basis of Feldenkrais, which is incontrovertible human mechanics, does not include beliefs. It is a general system of learning that happens to use human movement as it's vehicle. There are many other uses for human learning. This is just one. What we layer on top of our movement is beliefs, stories, labels, boxes, ideas, and hopes.
(I once encountered someone in a social situation who believed that issues on the left side of the body indicate a troubled relationship with one's father. I cannot speak to this belief as it is just one of the many things people believe about the musculoskeletal system. I also know someone who had ribs removed on the left side for a medical reason who had no issues with his father. I have no answer to this. We believe what we believe.)
Focus on Sensory Feedback Without Judgment
The Feldenkrais Method is focused on clarifying sensory feedback, which anyone can do in nearly any condition. This feedback is only distorted because of our lack of awareness, which comes from many sources, including injury, trauma, self-image, and pain. It doesn't matter. What's true is that if we had perfect awareness, we'd all be perfect beings with perfect movement.
More or less awareness comes and goes without judgment. Hence, in Feldenkrais our movement is not given an explanation based on something we perceive as a color, aura, right or wrongness, birth order, size, ability, mental health, spiritual belief, or astrological sign. Nor do we rely on a medical diagnosis, because the same diagnosis shows up differently in different people.
It's just movement. Which of course makes it hard to maneuver because the space of no-meaning, of neutrality, is so vast. My job is to enter that space and provide clients a neutral experience of gravity: one without beliefs, judgements, or stories. In that space people can feel something new and integrate that new experience into their sense of self.
Reinvention Comes from the Neutral Ground
Letting go of old beliefs only happens when we stop giving so much weight to our definition of our experience. This weight is physical as well as mental and emotional. When our experience shifts, the heaviness lifts. We take a relieved breath in the newly lightened space.
We all inhabit our body, and we all look for the meaning of that residence. What does it mean that we feel things? What does it mean that we're injured, sick, in pain, or have a disease? What part of "me" is damaged?
In the Feldenkrais Method we talk a lot about where the "I" resides. Do I reside in my body, my mind, my stomach, my left knee? At what point am "I" present? Moshe Feldenkrais thought for decades about this, and his wisdom is palpable throughout his method.
The Feldenkrais Method creates a blank slate, a neutral ground, from which we can reinvent ourselves again and again. As we become open to our experience, perhaps we feel something outside the given definition of ourselves as in pain, injured, or diseased. I know this is what helped me get through difficult times.
My teacher Dennis Leri told me when I was in the midst of an emotionally wretched situation, "Just get on the floor and do a lesson." This cut across all the looping through my mental landscape seeking meaning and explanations and reasons. There is no reason, just entering the next experience of life.
And sometimes the next experience is the reason.