Up A Word about Pain

  Maureen McHugh, Feldenkrais Practitioner          Relief from Pain                        703-751-2111

    When you have pain, it hurts and it interferes with your life. My goal is to help reduce the pain and to help get your life back on track.

In the view of Practitioners of the Feldenkrais Method, these two are intimately connected. We don't see pain as an isolated experience. Instead, we see it as an expression of something that is not "functioning-as-designed." Our  approach is to help you find your way back to "functioning-as-designed." From this shift, the pain resolves itself.

In this process, we follow three routes: cultivating an inner awareness of self, refining the coordination of body parts, and making room for inventiveness.

Cultivating Inwardness

The origins of pain are often multi-layered. Sometimes the cause is completely outside the control of the individual and sometimes there is an element of personal responsibility. For instance, many times in traumatic accidents, inattention plays a role. You were talking and not paying attention to what you were doing, and so you tripped and fell.

Another type of inattention leads to chronic problems, such as the wear and tear on muscles and joints from habitually using too much force.

By taking training in the Feldenkrais Method you practice the skill of noticing yourself. You bring your attention inward. This helps you to become more aware of unprofitable patterns and cultivate better ones. This is similar to training in mindfulness.

Most physical training in the Western culture focuses on externals: "How far did you hit the ball?" "How fast did you run?"

While keeping all the benefits of externally-oriented training, it is possible, desirable, and sometimes completely necessary to add a layer of attention to your inner experience: "How do you feel while doing that?" "Do you breathe while doing that?" "Can you feel where you shoulder blade is?" "Could you do the same thing with less tension?"

This inward shift adds depth to movement, and to life. It also adds comfort, efficiency and safety.

 

Refining Body Part Coordination

There are better and worse ways to coordinate your body.  The worse ways lead to pain, and the better to comfort, flow and joy. As children we learned these better patterns naturally, but, for many of us, unfortunately, in the process of growing up, other, worse patterns have become layered on top.

By participating in the Feldenkrais Method you can learn how to regain the patterns that young people enjoy so much.

The main activity during one of my Feldenkrais classes is the study of these patterns of coordination. I give one example on this website in the Sample Lesson. Our study, over and over again, and in a great variety of situations, is how the body parts relate to each other to make a smoothly, coordinated movment. In particular, the torso needs to be enlivened in its relationship with the limbs, including the head.

I was working recently with a 15-year-old who suffered a sports injury to her right arm. In the midst of the fourth private lesson, I showed her a certain pattern in her legs. It made her arm feel better! So, thinking I was being tricky, I asked her, "Why did that work?" She was completely unfazed as she responded, "Because everything is connected."

 

Cultivating Inventiveness

To be an adult is to be a specialist, and, today, mostly, a specialist in sitting. The body and the psyche were not designed for this! We were designed for variability. To be healthy we need to regain a greater freedom of action.

During a Feldenkrais lesson, you are likely to take movement patterns that make you wonder, “Hmmm. Why are we doing this?” Part of the purpose is to get the brain going along new routes, and part is to give the body the experience of something new. 

In quiet conditions, we consciously cultivate an enlarged repertoire. Then, at the moment of action, the body, subconsciously, will make a better choice.