Insane view of the Flatirons from this parking lot! Yes, this is after my spill.
I’m just back from Boulder. What a beautiful place!
I hiked, walked, and took an electric bike tour. The bike ride gave me a fabulous opportunity to do what I’d been learning with Feldenkrais®. Coming around a curve, I saw gravel on the path. No time to go around, knew I’d skid. Fell beautifully! I caught myself on four points: both hands and both knees. Yes, my left knee was skinned. But I broke my fall and my forehead hit only lightly. You bet I was wearing a helmet! (Note to self: when the guide offers to take your back pack, accept!)
How is learning different from doing?
How could I fall so well? I’ve spent hours learning. Going slowly. Pausing frequently. Allowing a gesture to unfold piece by piece. Failing repeatedly, in as many ways as I could think of. That’s what a Feldenkrais lesson is. So when the rubber met the road (or not, in this case), I was ready. I could shift from learning to doing without hesitation. “In life an act must be accomplished at the right speed, at the right moment, and with the right vigor.” (Moshe Feldenkrais, The Elusive Obvious)
Ready to discover how Feldenkrais can help you meet whatever life brings? Join us for weekly classes!
“For successful learning we must proceed at our own rate. Babies repeat each novel action clumsily at their own rate until they have enough of it. This occurs when the intention and its performance are executed so that they are just one act which feels like an intention only.” —The Elusive Obvious
A recent study showed that children who tend to go barefoot have better motor skills than those who habitually wear shoes. The barefoot kids had better balance, among other advantages. When you consider how many shoes restrict the foot‘s ability to move, the results make sense.
Also, I wonder, do barefoot children just tend to move more in general?
Clients often ask me, “What kind of shoe should I wear?” My answer, “The one with as little support as is comfortable for you.”If you’re currently using arch support or orthotics, don’t suddenly stop using them.
Could you practice walking at home, five minutes at a time, barefoot? Or in flat shoes with no built-in arch? Or can you practice walking with your orthotics, without collapsing your feet into them, but using them as a point of reference to organize your feet around?
And yes, we can practice using our feet and entire skeletons so that your arches awaken. I was diagnosed with flat feet as a child. I can now distinguish support in my two longitudinal arches and the one transverse arch; of course, that’s clearer with one foot than the other.
One simple movement to play with: stand with your feet slightly further apart than usual, barefoot if possible. Shift yourself a little left and right. Imagine that your whole skeleton is like a pendulum above your feet, so you lead with the crown of your head.
Feel how you’re using your feet. Do they collapse as you shift weight? That is, does the contact of the standing surfaces of your feet with the ground change as you shift from side to side?
Imagine now that, as you shift your skeleton left, it’s your right foot that sends you. As if you’re distancing the crown of your head from your right foot. Let your left foot send you right.
Do this a few times. Stop and observe yourself. How did your awareness of your feet change?
We humans are experts at learning. We don’t need to show babies how to learn. As soon as they’re born, they begin.
Movement is key to learning. The Feldenkrais Method® works by inviting us to attend to small differences between movements and assess which are preferable: which use less energy, are more direct, and feel better. At any age we can notice these differences, learn, and improve.
Neuroplasticity: More than Just a Buzz Word
Literally our brain grows new neural connections: dubbed neuroplasticity, this ability of our brain to change has become a buzz word. Buzzy or not, it’s still true we can learn and improve. It’s pretty darn cool.
Feldenkrais teacher Rich Goldsand just produced a nice video demonstrating with several clients how the method helps them. Watch it below.
“When I practice getting up and down off the floor, I’m building resilience in my musculoskeletal system. Being able to get up and down off the floor is an essential movement skill. It is not only one of the first things we learn as infants; it is one of the last things we want to lose as we age. In fact, the ability to get up and down from the floor is associated with greater longevity. People who do this regularly are counteracting the long-term effects of gravity and maintaining their proprioceptive abilities that are part of maintaining upright balance and navigating the world with less risk of falling.”
Proprioception is how we sense where we are in space, and the speed and intensity with which we’re moving.