Improvising with Movement as Metaphor: The Creative Practice of the Feldenkrais Method

How do you define creativity?

My own experience as a practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method, a transformative somatic movement practice, has taught me that creativity is one of the central components of the experience of being human.

I think of creativity as the ultimate gift of being alive, the ability to recognize the elements of any moment that can be reimagined and reorganized to create a new experience – and the courage to do so.

Here’s my personal conviction:

If you are a human being, you have a deep natural wellspring of creativity that is your greatest resource for vitality.

. . . And I can’t think of anything that will universally improve all aspects of your life more than increasing your understanding of how to tap into this power.

You may have already heard that the Feldenkrais Method is a good for you if you have aches and pains of various kinds. While I agree with that idea, I think it promotes an unfortunately narrow understanding of what this practice is all about.

In my mind, the Feldenkrais Method is most fundamentally about rediscovering your inherent creativity and learning to apply and embody it in each moment.

Meanwhile, I’d also say that your creativity is your most potent tool for diminishing your aches and pains!

. . . So if you are recovering from surgery, suffering from exhaustion or depression, or feeling stuck in traumatic memories or current dysfunctional relationships, I still recommend that you try the Feldenkrais Method – because when you face those kinds of challenges, that’s when you’ll need your creativity the most!

Practicing the Feldenkrais Method can help you open creative channels and, subsequently, open doors you might have thought were permanently locked. It can make it possible for you to feel things you never thought you would feel, and do things you never thought you would do.

If you follow this creative path to the end, ultimately you will realize that you are the sole author of your own story. And if you come to that place, you realize that you don’t have to write any other story than exactly the one you want to live.

When that happens, your entire experience of life shifts and you gain access to creativity on a whole new level.

What I’m describing right now in general terms is the story of how my own life was changed by Feldenkrais practice. This is why I have never been comfortable with telling people that the main benefits of the classes I offer are increased flexibility, improved balance, and easier movement – some of the features most commonly associated with this work.

While I have certainly witnessed time and again how people receive those physical benefits by taking a class or receiving an individual Functional Integration session, what I’ve come to see over time is that the much deeper reward of this practice comes when we begin to understand how that kind of transformation is achieved.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer you a different description of the benefits of the Feldenkrais Method than you may have previously heard. The unifying feature of all the items on my list is that they all relate to tapping more deeply into your natural human creativity.

Here’s (some of) what I think you can expect to gain if you practice the Feldenkrais Method:

[please note: text in blue = links to other blog posts that explore these themes in greater detail]

A higher level of sensitivity to the signals of your body and your environment, consequently increasing your capacity to recognize and manipulate the subtle elements of what is present at any moment to make very large differences in the quality of your experience.

A deeper experience of sensuality, naturally flowing from your newfound sensitivity, which creates the opportunity to make peace with your body and give it the respect and care you deserve. This transforms not only your sexual nature, but your enjoyment of all your senses.

The ability to reimagine any situation in multiple ways in order to create variations, solve problems and invite endless possibilities. Over time, developing this skill will boost your confidence because you will be less likely to go into paralysis when you feel “stuck.”

Greater autonomy, beginning with the permission to constructively redefine your definition of competence to discover more sustainable pathways for learning – rather than being constantly demoralized by other people’s definitions of “success” and “failure”.

More comfort with being uncomfortable, a skill that creates the possibility for you to safely discover and test your limitations and assumptions, thereby gaining access to interesting people and experiences that live on the other side of your imagined limitations.

A deeper understanding of how you connect to the outside world, an awareness that lays the basis for recognizing the ways you wear a mask to hide your true self, and eventually moving beyond that habit to make meaningful social connections that will further nourish your growth.

A greater talent for improvisation, making it possible for you to more confidently, authentically, and spontaneously express your truths – whether in the midst of creative performance or simply within the rhythms of your everyday experience.

The permission to be playful, so you can revisit the magical experience of childhood when nothing was impossible, and bring that inspiration back into your adult life (a change that, among other benefits, will help you deepen your relationships to the children you love).

A growing recognition of your habits and blind spots, sometimes sobering, but always the basis for understanding how to create more choice in your life, and to clarify where you need to place your attention and efforts to increase your overall potential.

– A tangible experience of transformation, first, in your body, in an unbelievably short amount of time, second, in your life as a whole, when you understand how the creative process of intentional improvisation can be applied to any area of your interest – not just “movement”.

When you hear about these benefits of practicing the Feldenkrais Method, does it give you a different sense of why you might give it a try?!

If so, please leave a comment! I look forward to your feedback.

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Click here to try one of two free online workshops – “Finding Your Voice” and “Movement as Metaphor”, both hosted by my colleague Tiffany Sankary and her Movement and Creativity audio library (which contains over 100 recorded Feldenkrais lessons, including many of my own, available for a monthly subscription).

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This post represents my first attempt to redefine my own Feldenkrais practice in a way that opens the doors to new participants who may not have previously recognized themselves in the language that currently surrounds the Method. I will outline this perspective further in future posts.

In 2018, I will be developing new classes and programs based on the idea of Improvising with Movement as Metaphor.

The movement of our bodies is a metaphor for everything else in our being. It cannot be separated from our perceptions, thoughts and emotions – it is simply more visible and available to work with. That is what you will be working with when you work with me.

I will sometimes teach the “greatest hits” of the Feldenkrais Method so often found in public classes, but will also be including more of the lessons usually only taught in practitioner training programs which sometimes offer greater challenges to our bodies and our ability to pay attention.

Above all, I will be inviting all who join me to engage in movement explorations to make a conscious connection between this practice and the possibility of bring more creativity in all aspects of life.

One feature of these programs, not always found in Feldenkrais classrooms, will be an emphasis on building a community experience of learning through frequent discussion and the inclusion of partner and group movement experiments.

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