Personality and Posture:
A Philosophy of Movement
[Body and Self-Image] [How These Lessons Work]


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Some Philosophy of Movement

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"Faulty posture always expresses the emotional stress
that has been responsible for its formation."
    --Moshe Feldenkrais

Body and Self-Image

We know that the optimal trajectory of motor development in children, the one closest to the several million years of human evolution, is broad, exploratory, and open-ended. This is very different from what happens in contemporary, industrialized, urbanized culture.

Infants and children are pressured to develop faster than their natural pace, and motor learning is often incomplete or already contains elements of effort and tension associated with pleasing parents' expectations. The effects of these imbalances may not appear as motor system dysfunction or discomfort for many years. But by the time we are in our late thirties or forties, most of us have begun to feel the effects of all these years of misuse as chronic or recurring discomforts in our muscles and joints.

Faulty posture usually originates in childhood with extraneous, excessive, and conflicting muscular tensions around issues of dependence and insecurity. Our psychological and emotional histories manifest outwardly in the world in the ways we stand, move, feel, express, respond, and create. Our habitual tensions reflect our childhood defenses against being shamed, punished, abused, ignored, or abandoned.

Incomplete learning, self-criticism, and emotional defenses inevitably take us even further from the balance, ease, and grace which are the real hallmarks of both good posture and balanced living; compensation is not correction. Over the years these early imbalances are exacerbated by emotional stress, physical injuries, disease processes, and distorted self-images. Our bodies become prisons of a sort, seemingly with minds of their own.

Neurosis is the inevitable result of conflict between irreconcilable inner imperatives. Stuck between opposites, we manifest these conflicts as patterns of muscular tension that interfere with movement, breath, and basic bodily functions, and as dysfunctional, incongruent, and often compulsive behavior.

"Neurosis is the inevitable result of conflict
between irreconcilable inner imperatives."

How These Lessons Work

Getting more comfortable in our bodies means learning new attitudes about ourselves and the world as well as new muscular habits--in short, an entirely new self-concept based on an expanded awareness of the self. Based on the Feldenkrais Method, Flowing Body movement explorations pick up learning at the crawling stage of infancy, and lead you through (again!) the kinds of developmental, exploratory movements you did as a baby, clarifying and improving your motor skills, with respect and patience. These improvements carry with them an underlying personal sense of improved potency for living the life you want.

Flowing Body, Flexible Mind lessons work in a very direct and simple way to improve your enjoyment of life. By attending mindfully and compassionately to how you move, and focusing your awareness on how you actually translate movement intention into action, you can learn to make new distinctions about the quality of your movements, and how conflicting intentions lead to conflicted movements. You learn to recognize and value ease, comfort, and enjoyment. And this experience of new dimensions of physical comfort, in areas where you have learned not to expect it, will change how you move through your life.

The movements in the lessons are only a language for having conversations with your unconscious. Yes, you can do the lessons and hopefully learn to be more comfortable, in a very mechanistic, physical sense, and that is certainly a very desirable and wonderful thing. But also the unconscious makes a connection that familiar discomforts have something to do with the way we live or work or think, and our back is really saying, "This is too much, I don't want to do it anymore." Once we experience improved comfort, we are compelled to create the conditions to have more of it.

So don't be surprised if, a few months after you've been through these lessons a few times, you find yourself making surprising, out-of-character changes in your life, from wearing different clothes, to changing your job, to engaging in enjoyable activities you would never have imagined or allowed before...behavioral and attitudinal changes are an almost inevitable result of doing these lessons. You think maybe you'll paint the bathroom, and decide to move to Hawaii instead. So watch out! You will become more committed to a life you can enjoy.