Health comes in movement • 08.02.09
I woke up thinking about this topic again (I wrote this originally at the beginning of this year):
I borrowed a book from my good friend Ahmis, Awareness Through Movement by Moshe Feldenkrais. There is a lot of fascinating material in this book… but some of the very first words in the book made it difficult for me to go any further. While I read more, I wasn’t really able to take in more. Apparently, I’m having to deal with first things first.
It started with these two sentences:
We act in accordance with our self-image.
Each one of us speaks, moves, thinks, and feels in a different way, each according to the image of himself that he has built up over the years. In order to change our mode of action we must change the image of ourselves that we carry within us.
Feldenkrais is talking here from the context of the educational system he created called the Feldenkrais Method. I know next to nothing about it… but what I’ve gathered so far is that how we move can influence how we are and who we are. There is a level of awareness about our lives that becomes available to us as we become aware of how we move physically. The method is used by athletes, dancers, artists and those simply interested in personal development.
Back to the two sentences above and let me add one more:
It should further be realized that as changes take place in the self, new and hitherto unrecognized difficulties will be discovered. The consciousness previously rejected them either from fear or because of pain, and it is only as self-confidence increases that it becomes possible to identify them.
I told Ahmis in an email today… after read this, I was impressed with three things:
- We are whole and every way that we eat, think and move influences our minds and spirits… and vice versa.
- We can be transformed in being aware. Feldenkrais is teaching about doing this through physical movement. I am struck that movement needs to be present in all aspects of ourselves… physical, mental and spiritual.
- Journey! It’s all a journey and it’s good. There is no sudden arrival, quick fix, magic bullet or what have you. It’s a journey. I resist that idea, because I want instant results and transformation. At the same time, coming to grips with that truth, I can see an incredible amount of freedom and peace.
This has me thinking about where I am today. When I look at my health, my flexibility, fitness and agility (or lack thereof)… I see so much how my self-image has informed and created where I am today. When I look at my creativity and spirituality, I see clearly how I have acted out my self-image. It’s a make-me-sit-down-in-my-seat kind of realization.
I’ve allowed my self-image to sit in the corner, unattended to and neglected. Even worse, I’ve abused, shamed and humiliated it. I’ve been unaware and without movement. My health and my weight, my lost teeth and my lack of physical fitness, my tentative and squandered creativity, my lack of spiritual connection… it’s all clearer to me why these things are what I’ve become over the last 10+ years. I’ve chosen to not have a life of movement (in the literal and figurative senses). It has allowed me to avoid certain fears and pain, but at a deep cost.
It’s interesting. I started working out again 3 days ago after being away from it for a very long time. My muscles are oh-so-sore and my body aches. What kick started me back into exercising was a small but startling experience. I was cleaning our kitchen and wanted to hop up onto the counter to clean the window box behind the kitchen sink. I mentally began the hop and then physically felt my body say, “No. It’s not going to happen.” I might of been able to do it if I tried again. I don’t know. I was just so shocked that I couldn’t do it on impulse. My body couldn’t physically support what I wanted it to do. I haven’t been moving and so I couldn’t move. I haven’t been practicing movement that allows for strength, flexibility and grace.
Your difficulty and my difficulty and the difficulty of every individual who ever desired to achieve something worthwhile, comes in the movement.
- Peter Nivio Zarlenga
I don’t think I would have seen it for what it was, had I not read what I did. What happened right there was the physical truth revealing the spiritual one. The literal became the knife that sliced clean through the stiff hoary hide of my self-image’s creation and what it has wrought. I wouldn’t have seen it had I not been made aware. My movement, even my inability to move, made me aware. And now it has, as Feldenkrais said it would, brought up a whole new set of difficulties. But these difficulties, these are the ones that make a difference (inside and out) as to what my life will be. A part of me is both hesitant and daunted. Yet, a larger and greater part of me feels excited… that excited you feel when you’ve bought your ticket, you’re buckled in, and you are at the tippy-top and you know the real ride is about to begin.
Embrace Love and Life. Embrace Your Health!