Who are we? When any of us speaks of "I" or "me," what do we mean? Most of us identify with our consciousness. We see ourselves as an synthesis of what we think and how we feel emotionally, coupled with the perception we have of the world through our five senses. It is our consciousness that gives us a sense of autonomy, of control over our own actions, our sense of free will.
Consequently, many of us limit what we identify as "me" or "I" to what we take in or produce through conscious action. What if you were "bigger" than that? More than just your consciousness? What if there was a creative, immensely capable part of yourself that you left unacknowledged, its power unused, simply because it resides outside your consciousness? Worse, what if leaving this power center's potential untapped caused it to atrophy and lose its ability to help you?
I'm writing of the potential power of your nervous system as a whole and, particularly, the part of your subconscious mind that organizes your movement. This power center resides within every human being but most of us never realize even a small portion of the ability that this aspect of ourselves has to contribute to our health and wellbeing.
Let's back up for a moment and think just about human movement. Even as adults, most of the time, we think of movement much as we did when we were babies. We think of movement not in terms of how it is done—what muscles are contracted in what sequence, timing and power level—but rather we think of movement in terms of what we want. Stand up. Sit down. Take a box off the shelf. Turn to see what made that noise. Walk to the car. Dial the correct combination to the padlock. Run to catch the bus. We rely on this untapped power center—our nervous system—to do the job of translating our desires into action, of directing the appropriate musculature to fire in just the right sequence at just the right time and with just the right level of contraction (and that is a gross simplification of what actually takes place) to move our body as our desires have requested. And most of us do only a small fraction of what we are capable of to improve the functioning of this part of our brain and nervous system.
Every Feldenkrais lesson provides food, in the form of information, for this aspect of our being, improving the functioning of our nervous system. But some lessons provide more direct input than others. These are the lessons through which we come to know our physical selves with greater and greater clarity and detail. In essence, these lessons provide pure and undiluted information to your nervous system that helps it (you) to do a more "informed" and efficient job of the movement assembly process outlined above. When your nervous system has better tools to work with, it will improve its (your) ability to assemble the details of how you move in a more efficient manner, resulting in greater comfort and pleasure in movement.
How does improving your movement improve your sense of self? Moshe Feldenkrais saw the human organism as an integrated system. If a change is made to one part of the system, a response is generated throughout the rest of the system. A positive change in one aspect results in a positive change to the whole.
The types of Feldenkrais lessons that contribute most strongly to the nervous system's ability to sense itself and the body in which it resides require much more mental effort than they do physical exertion. These lessons can be mentally taxing, sometimes frustrating, but the effort expended in concentration and attention generates great rewards. As with all Feldenkrais work, the benefits can be immediate and profound. Moreover, the more of this type of work that is done, the more those benefits accrue over time. Whether or not a change or improvement is felt right away, these lessons provide very powerful input into the amazingly competent information processor that is our nervous system. And as one's physical self-image becomes more detailed and complete, one's self-image (in the larger sense that encompasses our thoughts and feelings as well) also expands and improves. The result is that we feel more confident, more powerful, more secure and more comfortable in the world.
I invite you to begin or continue, as the case may be, your journey toward finding a "bigger," more confident version of you, one that includes all of yourself and is no longer limited to just what your consciousness brings to your attention. This is what we'll do at my three-hour workshop, Improving Your Sense of Self (click here to register), on Wednesday, October 10 at 6:30 pm.