Feldenkrais®: The Tables Have Turned

After my interesting experience giving a medical practitioner a Functional Integration lesson, it was my turn to be on the receiving end. When I got to his office he took me into a treatment room and asked me what was wrong with my neck. “Nothing,” I replied. “Huh,” he said, “I see a lot of asymmetries in your cervical spine. You also have really bad posture with a forward head and rounded shoulders, and you slouch, which really surprises me. I would have thought that as a dancer and a Feldenkrais® practitioner you would know better.” He gave me a penetrating look while he said this. Good grief!

To say that his statements were jarring to my nervous system was the understatement of the century. A familiar but long abandoned pattern of negative self-talk began to form in my mind. I felt my throat tighten and tears threaten to well up in my eyes. After all, maybe I really didn’t know any better and perhaps I was a charlatan to even call myself a dancer, let alone a Feldenkrais® practitioner and a PT.

He asked me about any injuries I had, but I was so rattled I couldn’t think of any. Finally, I remembered one. I told him I had an insidious onset of incapacitating low back pain twenty years ago. “That’s not an injury, ” he replied. Gee, it felt like an injury during the two years I spent as a chronic pain patient. But then again, maybe I really didn’t know that, if I didn’t even realize that my neck and my posture was so mucked up. More negative self-talk started to rear it’s ugly head as tears once again loomed behind my eyes.

However, right before I had a major meltdown, Moshe Feldenkrais came to the rescue and saved the day. I suddenly realized that the  practitioner was just administering what he believed was appropriate and effective medical intervention. It was his belief system in this method, and I’m sure it does work well for thousands of people. My belief system is quite different, even though I was trained in this model as a PT, but it never did seem to work for me, either as a therapist or as a patient.

Once I had that revelation, the entire experience took on a different energy. He continued his litany of things that were wrong with me and I cheerfully agreed with him. After all, I know I’m not perfect; none of us are. But that doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with me. It ended up being a pleasant treatment as well as another learning experience for me.

In Feldenkrais® we focus more on what we can do rather than what we can’t do. Just a few days ago I received a lovely text from one of my favorite clients who has become a dear friend. She thanked me for helping her see beyond her limitations, especially since everyone else over the years had focused on what was wrong with her rather than her endless possibilities.

There was no need to thank me. I am just the messenger. The real credit goes to the man and the genius behind this magic method we call Feldenkrais®, who said that what he is after is to restore to each person their human dignity. How lovely is that?

There are 2 comments on this post

  1. Christian Rabhansl
    7 hours ago

    Hi Cheryl,
    isn´t that interesting, that so many people think this linear way. That reminded me to some lines in Moshés books, in which he says that even a disabled person with the weirdest posture is actually able to do magnificent tasks with ease and elegance. So, it is not about posture, it is about acture, what somebody is able to do, when it comes to basic daily things in the first place and when it comes to performance things in the second place. On the contrary, having an absolute erect and straight posture could even be worse, when it is hold with compulsion and all this extra muscular tension, which then really produces mechanical stress.
    Well, at least we know that there is another way out of this conundrum that it “has” to be a certain way. Beyond right and wrong, there is something like optimal, which is different for each individual.

    1. ilovarts Author
      55 mins ago

      Hi Chris,
      You are absolutely right, and thank you so much for your observations as well as the words from the Master of Movement himself! Too often other practitioners put the emphasis on what they think their clients SHOULD do rather than allowing the person to discover for themselves what they COULD do with the structure that they have. It’s all about function, movement, and as you so eloquently stated, there is another way. I absolutely love your last statement “Beyond right and wrong, there is something like optimal, which is different for each individual.” Thank you for your comments!
      All the best to you as well, my friend!


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