Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Do You Know How Much Damage Faulty Sleep And Movement Habits Can Cause?

princeton |  I turned to Feldenkrais because a friend I respected a lot suggested it as a solution to my hand and arm pain (RSI). I went to ATM classes and took FI lessons from a local teacher in Princeton NJ. Though these whetted my curiosity, they did not solve my RSI problems.

I found an excellent teacher, Angel DiBenedetto, during a 5-month stay in Seattle. She learned from Moshe Feldenkrais, and is herself a trainer of other Feldenkrais teachers. Eight lessons from her (over a 3-month period) completely changed my view of my body. My hand was much better but still not 100%. Also, I sensed the tremendous potential of this method and wanted to go further. So I took 8-9 Feldenkrais lessons with another amazing teacher, Anat Krivine, during a subsequent 4-month stay in Israel. Anat is also a trainer of Feldenkrais teachers. It was very useful for me to learn from multiple teachers, since  no two teachers have the same perspective. One important thing that Anat finally made me realize and give up was my tendency to ask for "the best way to do X" which I think was limiting my learning. Furthermore, unknown to me, she had a special interest in scoliosis (sideways curve of the spine) which turned out to be relevant to my problems. By the end, my hand problems were completely gone and my scoliosis (which the medical profession thinks of as a skeletal problem, with no cure) much reduced. (See the links below for an explanation of scoliosis and the Feldenkrais approach to it.)

So what can you expect when you get Feldenkrais lessons from a good teacher? The immediate sensation is one of calm that you have never known. You may realize that you have lived in a background of muscular tension that you had never noticed until it went away. (Kind of like the change in background noise level you might notice if you moved from Manhattan to Montana.) This can be a powerful, even emotional experience. It is a good idea to  savor this calm right after the lesson, and to take a nap. You may feel great, but avoid the temptation to go out and do something strenuous. (Skip your usual exercise routine for a day or two.) The calm may dissipate over the next few hours and days, but in future sessions it will last longer and longer, until it becomes part of your everyday state.

The FI's implant new ideas into your body, and over the next few days and weeks it will slowly imbibe them and change. Do not be surprised if you find yourself doing things differently.

Another thought that might occur to you is that much of what you have known about pain is wrong. You will learn that often pain is caused by faulty movement patterns, not any kind of damage to the body. Thus pain can be produced and taken away at will, using simple change in movements. This knowledge is extremely empowering for people who have suffered from chronic pain.

(Update Aug 2008): During the year since I first wrote my page, I have continued to do ATMs every week, and felt continuous and noticeable improvement. However, I also slowly became more and more aware of the asymmetries still left over from my scoliosis. These were interfering with my enjoyment of activities I had newly started (Capoeira, rollerskating, and running). In Summer 2008 I got a few lessons from another excellent teacher, Reuven (Robbie) Ofir, in Manhattan. (I heard of him from a friend.) Robbie is also a Feldenkrais trainer and a former  head of physical therapy at a leading NYC hospital.  Robbie helped me work out some deep asymmetries and tensions  in my body. Robbie also taught me do ATMs at an even slower and gentler pace that I used to, which has taken my learning to a higher level. I feel truly great now.  But Robbie has helped me appreciate that there is no end to the process of improvement with the Feldenkrais method. (Encouraged by this, I also took my aged parents to Robbie for a few lesson, which helped them a lot. They are from India and Feldenkrais is unlike anything they have experienced.)  I plan to get an occasional FI or two in future years to continue this learning. In particular I plan to explore the use of the method in voice and music.