01 January 2014 - Moshe Feldenkrais

Thoughts on pain, habits, awareness and health

If a movement is painful, the body is telling you to stop or modify the movement.

The small of your back is painful because you are a lucky human being. The pain is showing you that if you did another few improper movements, you would make such a dreadful problem in your spine that you would not be able to straighten your legs and would suffer a paralysis. We are so constructed that we have pain first. The whole structure of the brain, spinal cord and spine in general is such that the sensory nerves are outside and the motor part is inside of the vertebrae. Between each of the vetebrae the motor and sensory roots join together and make the nerve. The pain causes you to inhibit your motor roots so that you cannot make the painful movement and damage the motor part of the nerve. If it were inverted, you would first have the paralysis, and then the pain. Pain shows you the way to improve, so that you can eliminate pain for the rest of your life.

… the point of my work is to lead to awareness in action, or the ability to make contact with one’s own skeleton and muscles and with the environment practically simultaneously. This is not “relaxation”, for true relaxation can be maintained only when doing nothing. The aim is not complete relaxation but healthy, powerful, easy and pleasurable exertion. The reduction of tension is necessary because efficient movement should be effortless. Inefficiency is sensed as effort and prevents doing more and better.

Habits are useful for actions where thought is not required, but they need checking every now and again so that they do not become bad habits involving superfluous actions. If an old habit returns, it is often a warning that something is regressing and detrimental to you. Therefore pay attention to such warning signs. Be aware — so that you can make a choice before you make a decision.

Finally, self-knowledge through awareness is the goal of reeducation. As we become aware of what we are doing in fact, and not what we say or think we are doing, the way to improvement is wide open to us.

Feldenkrais is the most sophisticated and effective method I have seen for the prevention and reversal of deterioration of function. We’re condemning millions of people to a deteriorated old age that’s not necessary. Margaret Mead, Anthropologist