Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The whole system

One of the axioms of the Feldenkrais work is that the whole body is a system.

As an idea, this may seem simple, but to make it effective in practice takes detective work.

Claire, a professional woman in her 50’s, came in this week and said, “Oh, thank you, Maureen, for last week. I have been remembering to stretch out my left ribs, and my neck feels so much better.”

I was glad to hear it.

Do you know what’s the connection?

The previous week Claire had come in and after the briefest hello, and while rubbing the right side of her neck, had reported, “Maureen, this weekend was so bad. My neck just seized up.”

She shared that after a full work week she had taken a long drive to spend the weekend with family. On Saturday morning there she was having fun with everyone, except that her neck was killing her. Over the course of the next few days, some of the tension eased up by itself, but now, home and back at work, she still hurt.

What could I do about it?

I asked Claire to walk. I saw my clue right away.

Claire was holding contraction in the left ribs. It wasn’t extreme, but the desired fluid shift among the central muscles was missing. The contraction naturally pulled the head to the left. But Claire didn’t want to walk lopsided. So, something inside – some part of the brain – automatically pulled on the right neck muscles. They brought her head to the middle. But the tactic overworked the neck muscles, and they hurt.

I asked Claire to lie down on my table. I explored what was happening in those left ribs. The muscles were tight! They were happy to let go! When Claire stood, she felt that she was taller and that her neck was fine.

Over the next week, the left side contraction would come back in again. But Claire noticed it. She could move in a certain way and let it go.

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