Lying on the floor, belly button up, soles of the feet standing, the instruction is to tilt my pelvis “back” so that my low back gets closer to the floor. Then to tilt my pelvis “forward” so that my belly button gets closer to the ceiling and my low back get further from the floor. Slowly. S l o w l y. I know how to do this. I’ve done this movement in a class of some sort a zillion times.
Then the instruction is to push the floor away with my heels (without lifting any part of the foot and without actually going anywhere). Next, push the floor away with the balls of my feet (again, without lifting any part of the foot and going anywhere). I got this too.
Now, go back to the first paragraph of instruction and do it quickly and lightly.
Go the second paragraph and do it quickly and lightly.
Yea. Got it. Wheeee!
But wait, am I pushing and pulling with my feet? Or am I creating these little rocking movements out of habit – I know how to do this? Am I rocking my pelvis using the muscles around my pelvis and abdomen? Am I using the muscles in my legs (’cause my adductors – inner thigh muscles – are jumping)?
Do I really know what I do? Especially when I know how to do it?!
During that particular Feldenkrais lesson, I found it very easy to slip into habit – into automatic pilot. Sure, I was producing a pelvic rocking-like movement, but was I producing the movement I was being asked to produce?
To truly and deeply improve how I move, I have to do more than look at the movement. And I sure have to do more then mindlessly repeat a movement 4 gazillion times. Repetition will only reinforce the habits; repetition will only reinforce what I’m doing and will not change a anything (unless I develop an overuse injury, which is often the change that gets my attention).
One of the juiciest places to peek into is how I initiate a movement. Getting this split second in time to reveal itself often take a few shots. I’ve got to slow down. Waaaay down, and the only place I can be is in the body part producing the movement – not the movement. My attention is fully on the part of my body in which I want more information.
Next, how can I do this movement differently? What if I initiate it in another way?
Another brilliant question: what am I doing that gets in my way of moving fluidly, easily and gracefully?
How do I get in my own way?
Where do I resist and create tension so that the movement is more difficult than it has to be?
Where do I stop breathing as I move?
This is a practice that opens the doors to how I do what I do and it shows me that I have a choice. Choice really is the bottom line. A healthy, abundant movement vocabulary.
The next time you move, slow it down and treat it like a new toy.
Feel the texture of the move (is it smooth or bumpy and jagged)? It is relaxed or tense? Can you easily reverse it? Is it more difficult to move more slowly?
Approach this practice with curiosity. Avoid boxing yourself in by “trying” it with a specific goal in mind. Your body doesn’t care about your goals, but it will share a wealth of information if you are willing to listen.
Want to move better? Want to feel better moving? Want to quiet your nervous system, increase your ability to focus and stay relaxed?
Consider it a movement meditation. After a little practice you’ll do it as a new habit. You’ll catch it when you’re movement doesn’t feel quite “right”. You’ll notice when you’ve been doing the same thing the same way and tweak, adjust or change it.
If you haven’t done this before, do it. Do it often. Make it a regular part of your movement practice. If you don’t have a movement practice, let this be the start of one for you.
Slow down to speed up.
Photo by Bonniejean Hinde Alford