unpolished thoughts 6/18/19
“If you know what you’re doing, you can do what you want.” – Moshe Feldenkrais
What does it mean to know what you’re doing?
It’s a relative thing. Because you can’t know what you don’t notice.
For example, I don’t know whether my inhale is longer than my exhale, or the other way around unless I stop and pay attention.
Of course, I don’t walk around asking myself a question like that – unless I am intentionally engaged in awareness practice.
Still, sometimes what I feel makes me stop and pay attention, for example, when I feel that I can’t breathe as I wish to. In that moment, I may pause in my activity and listen to my breath.
In other words, I can’t know what I don’t feel. So sometimes I have to make room to feel more.
“It is better to make all of the possible mistakes except to deceive oneself – Moshe Feldenkrais
I am quite capable, however, of thinking that I know what I can’t feel.
I “know” that I turn more easily to the right – “because I’m right-handed” or “because it’s always been that way.”
But what about right now, in this moment?
Suppose that I turn myself further to the right than I do to the left, but I don’t feel that I hold my breath, shorten my spine, and allow my head to fall to one side. It might be closer to the truth to say I turn more easily to the left.
Do I really know what I think I know?
Or do I suppress anything I feel that might contradict my version of the truth?
It’s inconvenient to contradict my version of the truth because when I do, I run the risk of noticing how I’m sometimes living a lie.
I’m faced with the fact that I have other options than pronouncing that “this is just the way it is.”
Sometimes it feels inconvenient to face the fact that the quality of my life is my responsibility.
What I’m after isn’t flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I’m after is to restore each person to their human dignity. – Moshe Feldenkrais
Here is one thing I know I can do in order to be able to do more of what I want:
I can practice knowing what I do.
I can take the necessary time to notice what I’m doing.
I can ignore the thoughts that bubble up from the past claiming to explain the present moment.
I can listen to what I feel.
When I find the thing that I can’t feel, I can take even more time or come back to it again tomorrow.
I can become aware of when I’m following what I know in my body and when I’m following what my mind claims to be true.
I can practice being more honest with myself.
I can discover the choices I didn’t realize I had.
I can do something new, or not – but I can know what I’m doing.
Supposing that I can feel this to be true, I still need to decide one more thing.
What do I want?
The object of this learning is to remove outside authority from your inner life and eliminate the old habit of listening to others about your own comfort and convenience. – Moshe Feldenkrais
To know what I want, I need to know what I’m feeling.
Am I feeling what fulfills me organically in the depths of my soul?
Or am I feeling the ideas that others have put into my head?
This too I can test.
I might have the idea that I’m doing what I want.
But do I really want that?
For example, do I really want to hold my belly in at all times?
The only way for me to know is to make an experiment.
I can slow down and truly listen as I do what I’ve always been told to do
I can slow down and truly listen as I do something different.
Then I can make a real comparison.
What do I feel in each instance?
When do I find it easier to breathe? When do I find it easier to reduce the tension in my jaw?
I’m beginning to discover something about what I want – whether I want to fulfill my own organic desires or check off the boxes I’ve come to believe I need to check off.
“Not everyone succeeds in occupations that society considers important to the degree that enables them to live a satisfactory mask-life.” – Moshe Feldenkrais
Not long ago, I asked myself if I was doing what I was told to do or what I really wanted – but on a larger scale.
Do I really want to be in this line of work?
Do I really want to be in this marriage?
Do I really want to keep feeling this way?
These are the hardest questions to answer – not because the body doesn’t give a clear answer, but because the mind tries so hard not to listen.
But when I found the answer to these questions, that’s when the largest changes happened, and I took the largest steps forward on the path towards living the life I want to live.
With each step I take, my confidence in the wisdom of my body deepens.
Every once in a while, even my mind has to admit the logic of this approach, where you always orient towards the pathway that makes it easiest to breathe.
Are you aware of the contours of the mask that you were taught to wear by your family, your school, your culture?
Would you like to live a mask-life or show the world your true face?
Movement and deep body listening can be a vehicle to get clarity about how to navigate towards a more meaningful life.
If you’d like to experience that, check out my upcoming online program, Connecting Insides & Outsides. We start July 1.