Feldenkrais Lesson of the Month #59 (3/05)

By Rich Frye
For safety and best results, read instructions before doing lessons!

Smile part 2

The muscles of the face are unusual in the most of them have primarily a social/communication function rather than "doing work." Habitual carriage of these muscles tells us and others much about our histories, feelings, and beliefs, and also echo patterns of holding in the rest of our body.

Works with:
Muscles of the face, head, eyes, jaw, neck, throat

   1. As in Part 1, begin by looking at your "neutral" expression in a mirror...notice pattern of tension and expression...what is this face saying to you and to the world, even in neutral? Then lie on your back on the floor (alternative: sit comfortably on firm chair), and close your eyes...notice how body makes contact with the floor...notice feelings and sensations around face, neck, head, and eyes...notice expression on your face, and the quality of feelings in that expression.

2. Same position...eyes and mouth closed softly, and become aware of your face...what does “face” include?...ears?...scalp?...throat?...neck?...temples?...hair?...just notice the boundaries between “face” and “not-face”...and then let yourself smile slowly, and then return to neutral...do it a number of times, noticing how much of your face moves with the smiling...and then just rest a moment.

3. Bring awareness to the space between your eyebrows...and rest the tip of your index finger on your forehead just above the brow ridge and between the eyebrows...and gently explore furrowing your brow and releasing it, and feeling how that moves your finger around...do it a number of times...and then explore arching your brows, and again feel each movement with the finger...and then go back and forth, furrowing and arching...you don't try to make the movements big, you try to make them easy and smooth...and then let it go and rest.

4. Same position (either on back on floor or sitting on bench or front of straight chair) ...place index finger as in #3...and applying just enough pressure to be able to do it, move the skin in different directions with your finger...up, down, right, left...and notice which directions are easier...and rest.

5. Same position...do same movements as #4 a few times...and after you have become familiar with that, let yourself smile, and notice which way this point under your finger wants to move...and use your finger to support that movement a number of times...you smile, and return to neutral many times...and then explore using your finger to resist that "smile" movement a few times...it's like a little stretch...how does that feel...?...repeat it several times, and then do the opposite, so you furrow the brow, and feel the movement of your finger as the skin moves it, and a number of times you support the movement by pushing the skin under the finger in the same direction...and then a number of times resisting the direction of movement of the frown at this spot...and then let it go, and just rest on your back.

6. Again finger on the same spot...now add little more pressure so you can feel move all of the tissue between your skin and the underlying bone of your forehead, and then move the finger slowly in a small circle...actually maybe a bit more like a circle and a quarter...and then release back to the original spot and repeat...what do your eyes do?...what kind of movement is evoked?...leaving them closed, let the eyeballs follow the movement of the finger in some way, if they seem to want to do that...and reverse it and repeat in the opposite direction...attend to your breath...and let it go and rest.

7. Find the spot on your forehead known as the "third eye," right in the middle of the forehead, and place your finger there...and from this position, repeat the movements from #4, #5, and #6, resting as appropriate...take plenty of time for this...and then just rest, and observe the the changing qualities of sensation in your face.

8. Find a point on the right side of your face, on the line between the corner of your eye and your ear, just below the temple, and rest your finger there...slowly open and close your jaw and feel what happens under your finger...and then several times open your jaw as wide as is comfortable, and several times use the finger to push the tissue in different directions, stretching the skin over the cheekbone with the movement, against the movement, and across the movement...and rest.

9. Repeat #8 on the other side.

10. Reach up to your hair somewhere between the crown of the head and the forehead, and grab a handful of it between your fingers and the heel of your hand, so you have a firm grip...and slowly, firmly, and gently pull the hair to move your scalp forward...and back to neutral...and repeat...and then try it in different directions...it is an enjoyable stretch...which direction is the easiest?...and then try taking this part of your scalp in a little circle by pulling the hair...and let it go and rest.

11. Move your hand to a different part of your head, grab the hair there, and do the same exploration as in #10...do that in a number of different places on your scalp, wherever you think it might feel good: top, both sides (use easiest hand or both hands), back...follow your curiosity, and take plenty of time with it (it feels pretty good!)...then just close your eyes and rest...notice the sensations in your face and head.

12. With eyes closed, very, very softly place tip of finger on eyelid, with the smallest amount of pressure needed to be able to use the finger to delicately move the skin of the eyelid a little bit over the eyeball...and from that position, very slowly move that point on the eyelid a little right and back to neutral...a little left and back...up...down...and in a little circle...and in the opposite circle...notice as you do that how your eye responds...maybe the eye wants to move in some way as you move the skin?...relax your whole eye as much as you can while you do it...and maybe do the same thing at a couple of other places on the eyelid...and then let it go, rest, and compare the sensations in the two eyes.

13. Repeat #12 on the other side.

14. Rest palms over eyes so all light is blocked out (easiest way has fingers crossing on forehead), and spend a couple of minutes like that, noticing how black is your field of vision, and imagining it blacker and blacker...what is the blackest thing you can think of...(a black cat deep in a coal mine on a dark night?...black ink at midnight in a deep cave?...??)...what is the blackest thing you can imagine?...just imagine it while your hands make it as dark as possible for your eyes...and after a couple of minutes, let the hands down and rest...notice the sensations around your eyes, face, and head...very slowly open your eyes...roll to your side and stand up...and become aware of the expression on your face, and notice in what ways it feels different from when you started the lesson.