finding your fiddler’s arms

Photo by Michel Catalisano on Unsplash

unpolished thoughts 6/12/19


That’s what someone says at the end of the recording of the Awareness Through Movement lesson that I use for my morning practice today.

The lesson, known as the “Fiddler’s Arms” is one of my all-time favorites.

You learn to move the arms in relation to your chest and spine in ways that are unknown to most of us. Nearly all the movements are done with the arms crossed. Sometimes the fingers are also interlaced. At times your arms take the same shape as Eagle asana in yoga.

It’s one of many lessons where Feldenkrais asks you to create a peculiar constraint in your shape, and then explore how different parts of your body can touch, connect and come to know each other without undoing the bind. This particular lesson invites the head and arms, the elbows and neck, the chest and fingers, all to become more acquainted with each other as you explore one incredible pretzel-like configuration after another.

Sometimes the lesson asks you to do things that feel impossible.

But then it asks you to do them again in another orientation – sitting, lying on the back, or lying on the belly. In other words, you are invited to experience the movements with and without engagement of the muscles along the front or the back of your spine by varying the demands of gravity.

Feldenkrais’ creativity helps to reveals yours in a way that you might not have previously known how to tap. Your spine discovers agility it never previously imagined.

On another level, the experience is an invitation to continuously rediscover your understanding of where you are in space.

Again and again, one part of your left side encounters another part of your right side and you are asked to slither between the gaps in the space in ways that confuse your brain – until you have aha moments and begin to feel which side of your back in that moment actually needs to work and which side needs to rest in order to progress to the next destination of this crazy adventure.

Finding your “Fiddler’s Arms” renews your sense of what’s possible – what you in particular are capable of.

It refreshes your sense of wonder about being alive.

It demonstrates how the wisdom of your body can run so much deeper than your verbal mind.

It reminds you of the brilliance of childhood when you didn’t begin with the assumption that certain things are out of reach.

My work is all about bringing more of these experiences into the world.

How could I fail to love my job?!