IT’S A MATTER OF AWARENESS
If you’ve attended any of our classes or even spoken briefly with our practitioners you’ve probably heard us use the word “awareness.” Do you know what we mean by awareness, and why we don’t use the term consciousness? For many the terms conscious and aware are used interchangeably but, in Feldenkrais, we see them as very different. You’ll find many people are conscious of their movements, but very few people are aware of their movements; let me explain.
CONSCIOUSNESS VERSUS AWARENESS
When it comes to movement you can think of “being conscious” as knowing what you’re doing, and being aware as knowing how you’re doing it. For example, have you ever seen someone off in the distance walking toward you and based on their general shape you think “is that my friend ____________?” You watch them coming toward you and recognize them by the way that they walk? Well you couldn’t do that if we all walked the same! Walking is the what, but you identified your friend because of how they walk! What then, do you know about how you move? To be aware of how you walk ask yourself, “how does my pelvis move when I walk,” “do my ankles flex and straighten,” “do my arms swing when I walk,” “does one arm swing more than the other?” There are hundreds of questions we can ask about how we walk and about every way in which we move.
BRIDGING THE GAP
The next question we must ask ourselves is how do we get from knowing what we are doing to how we are doing it? Think of your current profession. What is the difference between a new hire and the person with most seniority? More likely than not, those with seniority have a better understanding of the workings of the company brought about by experience, right? These individuals, generally, do things faster and more efficiently. In these two sentences we’ve touched on the keywords that separate conscious movement from movement awareness; experience, understanding, and efficiency. You’ve been moving throughout life for how many years now, but do you understand movement enough to do it efficiently (hint: this means easily with no pain or discomfort)? For most the answer is no. Feldenkrais uses small movement variations to give people experiential differences and thus help develop their understanding of movement and in turn their awareness. Once you have this tool, a world of possibilities opens. And where you once saw a limitation, you now see the springboard for further awareness and new options!