Edward Bear Goes Bump

Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think about it.
— A. A. Milne

Edward Bear is on the right track. He is asking a question and searching for something else. That searching can be a powerful creative act. It is a first step toward an openness to learning something new.

Am I Doing It Right?

I hear this a lot. I, too, want to know if I'm doing it right. Unfortunately, there is no external concept of right and wrong in Feldenkrais. And yes, everyone gets frustrated by this, myself included, because how do you know if you're doing it right?

Dr. Feldenkrais often talked about obtaining new skills. He didn't mean athletic skills or cooking skills, but skills in feeling and thinking. His method is not modeled on any social, intellectual, or authority-based system in which we have to prove ourselves or earn some kind of grade (much to my chagrin). Instead, it is based on pure exploration with a nonjudgmental feedback mechanism. It takes us back to when we were babies and explored our movement without positive and negative input from the external world.

It's a Creative Act from the Inside

Dr. Feldenkrais also talked about how real growth happens when we engage in this process of exploration. We progress past babies and become adults through exploration. He talks about how a creative act occurs that in some mysterious fashion compiles all the tiny details of all the functions you already know and out of that a new function emerges, rather like babies learning to walk. Babies do a lot of wiggling and experimenting before they can crawl and walk.

It's like building a whole new car out of the engine parts of many old ones. You cannot say the new car is just an improved version of one of the old ones because it is, in fact, a completely new car.

New functions are like that. This is why there is no right way to move in the Feldenkrais method. If you were just improving on a old function I could tell you to move in such-and-such a way and function X will improve. Maybe it would. But you wouldn't own it, and it wouldn't last because it didn't come from your own explorations. What is missing is your own personal creative act, the act that compiles your own car parts in a way that is uniquely you. No one can predict that or tell you what that act will be or what the car will look like.

In both private sessions and classes, Feldenkrais teachers are catalysts for your own creative act of uncovering new functions and changing your life. Feldenkrais practitioners don't put you in a room and say, "now sit there and behave correctly." Instead, they say, "Hey, what happens if this person---with all their habits and unique history and personal challenges---checks out this room over here? What would that look like?"

Edward Bear had it right: it's not about improving how well you bump down the stairs, it's going down the stairs in a whole new way.