What we practice
Updated: Jan 11, 2021
I would like to share with you some things about the Feldenkrais Method as a practice. I would do so not from the teacher’s point of view but from the student’s point of view, having both a lifetime zen practice and a 25 years long practice on the Feldenkrais Method and the Hakomi Method. And having both the experience of practicing and the experience of failing to practice, to find that failing the practice is an inherent part of practice itself, light and shadow, gravity and levity…
In a way, from a simple phenomenological perspective, the inquiry of what is that we are practicing and why, relates directly to the over-used, and yet elusive and misunderstood concept, of beginner’s mind and to the basic concept of intention/ motivation.
When we sit in zazen we do not do so to practice counting or to find the right posture or to breath better or even to be happier. We do so because there is something about the familiar regularity of dedicating time and space to it that feels endearing in an elemental sense, like being home.
There is an arising quality that co-emerges with the practice that has to do with a way of relating to ourselves and to our environment and others that seems a bit less compulsive, may be freer, easier, more graceful; less reactive, more responsive. And even just a glimpse of that can give you a taste so to want to do it again, over and over and over, in the same way a painter paints or a singer sings or a dancer dances.I feel this applies to every practice including the Feldenkrais Method.
The word practitioner is interesting cause we so quickly interpret it as a performing of a skill on others, and that throws us out of center immediately. "Practitioner" is the one that practices. What is the practice? A way to attending to ourselves, to be curious, to explore the organization of our experience embodied in acture, to discover where we are at each moment, how are we relating to space, what are our most innate biases, to enact ourselves yet to be open to possibility, to re-encounter ourselves in making contact with others, to trust others to be our environment and commit to be their environment.
Suzuki Roshi once said we sit with our back to the world because we trust the world. We could say from the Feldenkrais perspective, we lie with our back on the ground because we trust the ground, not just as the place from where we arise, but as an enlightening kinesthetic mirror, given that we are not just moving randomly, repeating the movements that we already know, but that we have a Method. A Method to embrace what we do, what we could do and what we want to do, to master gravity and levity not as a skill to arrive to but as a practice, moment by moment, as we breathe the world in and out on each breath, as life not just happens to us but as we live it.
I grew up watching my brother’s Judo classes. I wanted to be in them but they would not allow girls so I would just watch. The teacher was quite old in my eyes. My brother, still in Buenos Aires, just happened to reconnect with him, almost forty years later. He was still teaching Judo. My brother asked him: “How is that you are still driven to teach at your age?” He responded: “Because when I die I want to be alive!”
Because when I die I want to be alive. That’s it in a nutshell.