We Salute YOUR Independence
July 3, 2020
In This Issue
From the Editors
In previous years, you might have anticipated the 4th of July holiday with weeks of planning. Perhaps an out-of-town getaway, a weekend at the beach. Not this year. Parades, family reunions, picnics, to say nothing of large gatherings to view festive fireworks -- not on the agenda for now. 2020 has been filled with disappointments for many, as we realize the importance of the personal connections and ritual observances that organize our lives and provide meaning. Although we practice adaptation, improvisation, and experimentation in every Feldenkrais® lesson, we long for the comfort of habit. Sometimes it is wise to rest.

In each Feldenkrais lesson, one has the opportunity to be free of long-standing habits of self-limitation. Whether acquired during our early upbringing, as a result of training in an art or sport, or in response to physical or emotional trauma, our habits shape not only our movements, but also our sensations, thoughts, and emotions. Many feel liberated when they discover a different, better functioning, more sustainable way to do the things they have always done. Some experience a sense of renewal as everything old is new again. Freedom from unconscious rules (for example, I must always keep my lower abdominals engaged), beliefs (if my pelvis moves when I walk, what will others think of me?), and a self-image based on what we already know (I had no idea these parts of myself were connected) can be both a "heady" and embodied experience. With new freedom and new possibilities comes the sense of being a mature individual, acting with agency and integrity.

In preparation for this edition of SensAbility, we reflected upon themes of Independence, self-reliance, individualism, and agency. David Zemach-Bersin shares suggestions for what to do in those interesting moments right after a lesson, so that you can make it your own, integrate the learning, and receive the maximum benefit from the lesson. Mary Keenan Rudd brings us her personal story of COVID-19, and how the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education helped her to recover. We also offer an essay about "the other side of the equation." As Independence, self-reliance, individualism, and personal agency develop, how does that change our relationship to our environment? What are the implications for how we relate to each other in our families and communities? 

We wish you a happy and safe holiday weekend.

-- Lavinia and MaryBeth
by D avid Zemach-Bersin, Founder Feldenkrais ®  Access.

As a Feldenkrais® Teacher, I often hear, "I feel great after that lesson! How can I make the improvements last and maximize the benefits?" To support the benefits of a lesson, first consider this: Awareness Through Movement® lessons do not  end  when the movements stop.

For approximately an hour, as we do an Awareness Through Movement lesson, our brain has an opportunity to sample new options. Old, habitual patterns become flexible, and our brain has a chance to learn something new. New neurological pathways begin to develop, which allow for better posture, easier movement, and better organization. But those new pathways are unfamiliar. If you stand up after doing a Feldenkrais® lesson, and immediately start rushing around or grab your cell phone, you will miss the potent minutes--or hours-- when the lesson's effects are the easiest to feel, and the most easily integrated.

Your awareness immediately following a Feldenkrais lesson is very powerful, and helps to ensure the lesson's effectiveness. Give yourself sufficient time to . . .

David Zemach-Bersin opened Feldenkrais Access to the public and the professional Feldenkrais community in early 2019. He studied directly with Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais for over ten years in Europe, Israel, and the US. David has trained nearly a thousand new Feldenkrais Teachers, created many Feldenkrais-based audio and video programs, and co-founded the Feldenkrais Institute of New York and the Feldenkrais Foundation. David has been in private practice for over 40 years and is the co-author of Relaxercise (HarperCollins). He lives with his wife Kaethe, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. www.feldenkraisaccess.com
Illustrated by Ron Morecraft
Opening and Closing: 
A Coronavirus Story 
By Mary Rudd, GCFP (In collaboration with Donna Ray, LMFT and Feldenkrais® Trainer)

In March 2020, I became ill with COVID-19 while caring for my husband, Rick, who had been suffering from symptoms of the disease for five days. Earlier that month, we had returned home to Kentucky sooner than planned from a trip to California, following the advice of our state officials. Since we had been traveling, we followed local protocols for self-isolation. For nine days, we carried on as usual with our lives: exercising, doing yard work, working from home, and walking in the neighborhood. As we are in our mid-fifties and both dedicated to a healthy lifestyle, neither of us considered ourselves at risk for a serious bout of this disease and doubted that we were carriers. We had taken all recommended precautions on the flight home. 

But one evening, more than a week after arriving home . . .
Mary Rudd spent 30 years as a teacher, administrator, and literacy and leadership consultant in Kentucky. Mary now devotes her professional life to somatic education, which she views as a natural progression in her passion for the science of learning, teaching, personal growth and wellbeing, embodiment, and contemplative studies. She resides in Danville, Kentucky and works with groups and individuals using the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education in her studio, WiseMoveStudio.

You can visit her website at www.wisemovestudio.com
Photo by William Phipps on Unsplash
Individualism and Self-Reliance:
The Elusive Obvious
by MaryBeth Smith, GCFP

The memory is vivid. I remember those intoxicating early experiences after an Awareness Through Movement® lesson, when I marveled at how much change was possible. I soon began to notice my smallest habits: which leg went into my jeans first? Which shoe did I put on first? In a parking lot, did I choose the empty spot to the right or to the left? Then I started "shaking things up," creating variations and new options, discovering that there was more than one way to do most things. I also realized that my habits had prevented me from exploring many challenging ideas. After about nine months of private lessons, I entered my Feldenkrais® teacher training program. At the end of the first month, I traveled home with the realization that, despite years of psychotherapy and in-depth internal work, I had only begun to scratch the surface of understanding "Me."

I recall several instances where Moshe Feldenkrais either said or wrote that if you can get a student to like themselves -- perhaps even love themselves--  then you have provided them with the most valuable experience of their lives. During that Falling in Love period, the feelings grow stronger if you discover your own . . .
MaryBeth Smith is director of the Feldenkrais Center of Houston, and Director of Communications for the Feldenkrais Guild of North America. www.feldenkraishouston.com

Article originally published on  SomaQuest blog.

Resources Resources

Once described by Ladies' Home Journal as an "anti-anxiety fix", the pulsing of the bell hand calms the nervous system by sending an "all clear signal". It is a great way to focus your attention in an act of self-compassion. This mini-lesson can be done anywhere. 

How does the Feldenkrais Method help us feel independent and free us from unnecessary anxiety. Enjoy this podcast from Movement and Creativity: Choice in Performance and Life: A Podcast interview with Aliza Stewart, Feldenkrais Trainer Listen Here

Annie Thoe offers a plethora of somatic advice for dealing with life in the time of COVID: Watch Here

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Header Image Credit: Photo by Kyle Johnson on Unsplash
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