perceptual flexibility

Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash

unpolished thoughts 2/21/2019

How flexible is your perception?

Try this:

Put your right hand on your right leg and explore your leg with your hand. Where can you touch, without stretching or straining?

Once you have some idea of what’s possible for you right now, stop and think about what you just did.

How would you define the limitations you encountered?

Was this simply a test of flexibility?

If so, what kind of flexibility?

When you thought of your right hand in this exploration, did you include the back of the hand and the side of the hand? Did you allow other parts of your arm to touch the leg such as your forearm, elbow or armpit?

Did you assume that the leg had to be passive? Or did you allow it to move?

Did you focus all your attention on the hand touching the leg? Or did you also notice the leg’s experience of being touched?

When you touched the front of the leg, did you do that only by reaching forward, or did you also try reaching around from behind?

Did you allow yourself your head and pelvis to move? Did you consider that you could change the entire position of your body – from sitting, to lying on the back, the side or the belly, or standing up?

What happens now if you try again?

Explore your right leg with your right hand? If you like, include another option: also explore your right hand with your right leg.

Did you discover something new?

Does one side of your body feel different than the other now?

Any change you feel now is the result of becoming more flexible in your perception as much as it has to do with any particular movements you have just done.

Everything you do is based on what you perceive. If you only see one side of things, it places limits on how you can imagine new actions.

This was one of the chief concerns of Moshe Feldenkrais, creator of the Feldenkrais Method, who once said, “I am not after flexible bodies. I am after flexible minds.”

Where else in life might there be room to expand your perception?

If you’re willing, take the experiment one step further:

Plug your left ear with a finger of your left hand and close one eye.

Now, like this, spend another minute or two exploring your right leg with your right hand.

Pay attention what you hear and what you see.

What else did you discover? What else is new in your experience now?

What I have outlined here is an experiment based on an Awareness Through Movement lesson I often teach.

But you could do an experiment like this in a completely different situation.

How do you go to work each morning?

Can you imagine exploring all the ways you could do that? What limitations would you come up against? What kind of flexibility of mind would you have to introduce in order to find new options that feel comfortable to you?

How well do you know your partner or best friend?

Can you reimagine key components of a typical interaction in order to stimulate new outcomes? What variables could be manipulated? How might the relationship change if you expanded your definition of what it encompassed? How far do you want to take it?

Making experiments can be messy, but it can also be fun.

If you are in charge of the experiment, you get to decide when it begins and ends and how far it goes.

So why not dip your toes into the waters of something new?

Can you think of at least one thing in your life that could stand a little reinvigoration?

What happens if you mess around?!


I will be leading a free class on Monday, February 25, 2pm EST where we will explore perception and movement together through the vehicle of Awareness Through Movement.

Click here to sign up for the class.

(If you are unable to attend live, you will still be given access to the recording)

This class is a preview for my 2019 online classes.

The ¡Reimagine Yourself! program will teach you how to construct a movement practice to rewrite the story of how you move through the world.

Click here to learn more


You can receive my unpolished thoughts in your email on a daily basis when you subscribe to my mailing list.

*New subscribers also receive a series of welcome emails which include two free full-length Feldenkrais audio lessons.*

Click here to subscribe

(and make sure to check the box to get the unpolished thoughts RSS feed just below where you enter your email address)