Surgery and Recovery: 
Stories and Strategies
December 4, 2020
In This Issue
From the Editors
Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

As the year 2020 draws to its close, we reflect on the challenges and the changes we have all made, utilizing our creativity and resilience. Within the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education, we use movement to learn how we respond to constraints on what we wish to do. We learn how to find new options, adapting and discovering possibilities we had not before considered, providing a means to focus and move forward, even in the most unexpected conditions. 

Most people experience surprising situations at some point with their health, and this month we asked Practitioners to share their applications of Feldenkrais teachings in the context of pre and post surgery experience. Vicki Robinson writes about how critical it is to find appropriate support for the nervous system in order to access the body's healing systems. Becky Behling provides compelling insight into the role of neuroplasticity and Feldenkrais within her personal experience as a two time arthroplasty patient. Vida Dolin recalls meaningful lessons that gave her confidence in her own healing resources, and Rich Goldsand recalls stories from his work with athletes and other clients in the interview below. 

Remember to check out the lesson and other resources provided by our writers this month and from previous issues in the Resources section. 

Wishing you the best possible holiday season and closing of this incredible year. 

Lavinia, Mary and LeeAnn
Healing well: On Surgery and Recovery with the 
Feldenkrais Method®
Photo by Hasmik-ghazaryan-olson on Unsplash
We're designed to heal; it's how our system works. The majority of people heal well from surgeries, and are able to move forward in their lives. There are also times when a past severe injury or surgery experience can continue to cause problems.  

One example is a client 'Tom', who suffered from panic attacks 30 years after a bad car accident where he had to be resuscitated back to life. Another client had chronic pain after he woke up in the midst of a surgery. How might a somatic education approach support a person in healing? 

Starting out confident and relaxed prior to surgery can support our best healing outcome. Going into surgery with high anxiety and dissociated nervous system states may possibly affect the anesthesia dosage.  Working with a practitioner of The Feldenkrais Method® can help you prepare you for your surgery with tools that help facilitate relaxation and deeper presence within your body...

Vicki Robinson began her Feldenkrais practice in 2001 and continues to see clients and teach classes in Seattle, Washington. In 2013, she expanded her toolbox by becoming a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. (SEP). She's also taken numerous advanced trainings that specialize in the healing of surgical, complex and developmental trauma. She gains great satisfaction supporting her clients and students to have optimal movement and connection to their bodies. Everyone should have the opportunity to feel safe and at home within themselves, and free to optimally move through life.

A Role for the Feldenkrais Method® with Joint Replacement

By Becky Behling 

Photo by Aditya Saxena on Unsplash

This is a personal account of my experiences as an arthroplasty patient. In no way is this intended to be medical advice or substitute for the care of qualified medical professionals.*

Arthroplasty, also known as joint replacement, is among the fastest growing elective surgeries in the United States. Most commonly replaced are hips and knees, and more  frequently in women than in men. These procedures are expected to increase greatly  over the next decades as technology improves and the population ages. Although people age 60 and older have been the primary recipients of such prosthetics,  replacement surgery is now being offered to younger and younger people.  

For me, the first sign of trouble was chronic soreness in my thighs which was different from typical "delayed onset muscle soreness" from exercise. The second sign was intensifying pain especially when I would bend to retrieve a fallen item from the floor or standing as I exited after driving my car.... 

Becky Behling is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner® and a certified personal trainer in Austin, TX. She has taught group exercise classes since 1987, most recently at Lake Austin Spa Resort. Becky has developed and presented continuing education workshops on wellness and exercise for fitness professionals and for the public. She taught musculoskeletal anatomy to massage therapy students pursuing LMT certification. She has a BA in physical education, MS in athletic training, and 42 PhD hours in kinesiology/health and human performance. 

You can contact her at [email protected]

The Feldenkrais Method®, Self-Knowledge, and Healing

By Paulette Dolin 

Photo by Davide Castaldo on Unsplash

In my perfect world, anyone going in for surgery would be surrounded by supportive, skilled, trusted people including medical professionals, family and friends. Based on my experience it doesn't always work that way. At those times in my life, practicing the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education gave me the confidence to advocate for myself while I was in excruciating pain, or when they told me to get up when I knew I couldn't, and vice versa. 

So I have suggestions for pre/post surgery gleaned from years as a practitioner starting with my once teacher, now colleague, Ralph Strauch, whose hands during informative hands on sessions called Functional Integration® 30 years ago prepared me for knee surgery due to a ski injury.
First suggestion, use your imagination. The Feldenkrais Method is rich with lessons from using the mind's eye to visualizing oneself to imagining movements without doing them. I'll never forget one Awareness Through Movement® (ATM®) lesson during my training. To the best of my memory, I was told to put a mini me inside my lungs and look around. No one had asked me to do that before! 

Paulette Dolin, GCFP
Neuroplasticity & Comfort Coach
650 815 8520

Paulette Dolin was fortunate to have the transformative experience of providing Feldenkrais lessons to cancer survivirs are Stanford Integrative Medicine to Cancer Center. She currently has a private practice in Northern Colorado and teaches Fun Functional Fitness and Strong Bones, Powerful Women zoom classes as well as ATM.

How Does the Feldenkrais Method® Help with Recovery? 

Rich Goldsand  of Scottsdale, AZ discusses how he helps students improve, shares some memories, and talks about what inspires him about his work. 


What is a simple way to help oneself while lying in bed recovering from surgery or injury? Try this short mini-lesson from Paulette Dolin, referenced in her article above.


To learn more about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) go to:

From Vicki Robinson: 
Preparing for Successful Surgery by Belleruth Naparstek. (Used at Kaiser).

From Becky Behling:
Norman Doidge, The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries  from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity, Chapter 5, pgs 160-196; Viking Publishers, 2015 

Jane Brody, "Trying the Feldenkrais Method for Chronic Pain."  New York Times, October 30, 2017

From Paulette Dolin:
Dennis J. Jaffey, PhD. Healing from Within: Psychological Techniques to Help the Mind Heal the Body; Knopf, 1980

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