“Not only does the brain send signals to the body to influence it; the body sends signals to the brain to affect it as well, and thus there is constant, two-way communication between them.”
“. . . the brain has evolved, with sophisticated neuroplastic abilities and a mind that can direct its own unique restorative process of growth.”
– Norman Doidge, The Brain’s Way of Healing
Do you enjoy learning?
I mean the act of learning itself – not “gaining knowledge” or “getting smarter” – but the actual process of traveling over that bridge between confusion and understanding, even on the occasions when you don’t make it to the other side.
I mean the impulse to act to satisfy your curiosity whenever you ask yourself a question that you can’t immediately answer. I mean the process you go through when you ask that question and then stop to ask yourself if that is the most important question to ask.
Do you enjoy the company of other people that enjoy learning?
I mean curious people – not “smart” people, highly accomplished people – but people with questions like yours who don’t make you feel embarrassed for asking, the kind of people who sometimes even thank you for a question since they were wondering the same thing.
I mean the kind of people who are often more comfortable in the company of children than adults. I mean people who are never satisfied with the way things are right now, and are always wondering how things might be done differently tomorrow and what changes that might bring.
Do you enjoy moving?
(I mean every kind of movement you can imagine…)
If you’ve read this far and you’ve heard some bells ringing, I want to invite you to a gathering of like-minded people, the 3rd DC Feldenkrais Festival, Saturday March 21 at the Chevy Chase Community Center in Washington, DC.
This event will be a celebration of the Feldenkrais Method, which, in turn, is a celebration of the distinctly human process of learning through the experience of movement. During an Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class or an individual session of Functional Integration, you have permission to reconnect with the joy of learning by moving yourself through space with intense curiosity.
At this festival, you will be encouraged to think as you did when you learned the most fundamental properties of existence in the first year of your life: What is this part of me for? How does it connect to the rest of me? How can I use myself in order to do what I want? How can I make this fun, and not a struggle?
If you suffer from an injury or condition that limits your ability to move freely, it is worth your while to try the Feldenkrais Method. If you are performing artist or athlete seeking to develop a more efficient and spontaneous connection between your intentions and actions, it is worth your while to try the Feldenkrais Method. And if you are open-minded and naturally curious about the untapped potential in yourself and the world around you, it is definitely worth your while to try the Feldenkrais Method!
The way people experience this work can be highly individual, so it might be foolish for me to predict what kind of experience you might have at the Festival. But as one of the main organizers, what I can tell you is that our primary goal is to give you the opportunity to have this experience.
Following the example of Moshe Feldenkrais, whose discoveries about the human nervous system led to the method that bears his name, we are teachers whose primary goal is not “to teach”, but rather to create an atmosphere where you can “learn how to learn”, and find the answers to the questions that are the most important to you.
Before his death, Feldenkrais worked intensely to train the people who would carry on his work. But rather than trying to define every aspect of how it would be practiced, he instead insisted that each practitioner should develop their own individual “handwriting.” At the 3rd DC Feldenkrais Festival, we will also celebrate the possibilities embodied in this invitation to embrace our unique nature. Festival participants will have the opportunity to experience the personalities of over a dozen different instructors throughout the course of the day.* (see below for a complete list)
After lying on the floor for an hour doing simple movements and using their attention, many people in ATM classes feel a dramatic boost in vitality because they have finally discovered how to let go of long-term habitual muscle contractions that serve no purpose other than to limit their freedom of movement. Some people literally experience disbelief at the improvement that they feel. At this moment, it’s certainly tempting to go into a sales pitch: “now you can see the amazing benefits of the Feldenkrais Method . . . ”
. . . But in fact, I think it’s more important to take this opportunity to recognize what is truly amazing: the capacity that each one of us has to heal ourselves by engaging our brains and bodies – our whole selves – in the restorative process of acting out our curiosity.
If what I’ve written here hasn’t brought you any closer to feeling that you understand the Feldenkrais experience, that’s OK – that wasn’t my goal. Indeed, most of what you can gain from this practice can’t be easily captured in words – so, if you’re curious, just come and give it a try!
But what I hope is a little bit clearer now is that the potential of the Feldenkrais Method to open doors for you is solidly based in those same unique qualities that make you human.
If you can keep your schedule free on March 21, you could discover a community of people who share your interest in living a richer life. The schedule of the day not only includes private sessions and multiple group classes, but also many unprogrammed blocks of time designed to allow you to meet the “teachers” on hand and many other enthusiastic learners like yourself.
That’s because we think that our community has something to offer that can benefit many more people than we are currently able to reach. So we intend to build it!
*Teaching staff of the 3rd DC Feldenkrais Festival: