Wednesday, September 16, 2015

honor culture conduces to both politeness and competence

feldenkrais | Improvement of ability 
The lessons are designed to improve ability, that is, to expand the boundaries of the possible: to turn the impossible into the possible, the difficult into the easy, and the easy into the pleasant. For only those activities that are easy and pleasant will become part of a man's habitual life and will serve him at all times. Actions that are hard to carry out, for which man must force himself to overcome his inner opposition, will never become part of his normal daily life; as he gets older he will lose his ability to carry them out at all.

It is rare, for instance, for a man over fifty to jump over a fence, even if it is quite low. He will look for the way around the fence, while a youth will jump over it without any difficulty. This does not mean that we should avoid everything that seems difficult and never use our will power to overcome obstacles, but that we should differentiate clearly between improvement of ability and sheer effort for its own sake. We shall do better to direct our will power to improving our ability so that in the end our actions will be carried out easily and with understanding.

Ability and will power
To the extent that ability increases, the need for conscious efforts of the will decreases. The effort required to increase ability provides sufficient and efficient exercise for our will power. If you consider the matter carefully you will discover that most people of strong will power (which they have trained for its own sake) are also people with relatively poor ability. People who know how to operate effectively do so without great preparation and without much fuss. Men of great will power tend to apply too much force instead of using moderate forces more effectively.

If you rely mainly on your will power, you will develop your ability to strain and become accustomed to applying an enormous amount of force to actions that can be carried out with much less energy, if it is properly directed and graduated.

Both these ways of operating usually achieve their objective, but the former may also cause considerable damage. Force that is not converted into movement does not simply disappear, but is dissipated into damage done to joints, muscles, and other sections of the body used to create the effort. Energy not converted into movement turns into heat within the system and causes changes that will require repair before the system can operate efficiently again.

Whatever we can do well does not seem difficult to us. We may even venture to say that movements we find difficult are not carried out correctly.

To understand movement we must feel, not strain
To learn we need time, attention, and discrimination; to discriminate we must sense. This means that in order to learn we must sharpen our powers of sensing, and if we try to do most things by sheer force we shall achieve precisely the opposite of what we need.