Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Correction is perceived as error

After class this week Helen told me a story.

Helen is in her mid-thirties. She sits at a computer all day. A year ago she came to me for private lessons because her hands were numb.

In a few sessions, I was able to show her that the problem in the hands came, in the first place, from her neck. When she looked at the screen, she craned her head forward. Secondly, she was collapsed in her torso, and this also brought the head forward. The misalignment was cutting off the blood supply into her hands.

With each session, the tensions eased, her alignment improved, and circulation returned to her hands.

After a while Helen shifted into the group class. Week by week she felt herself relaxing in her life and better able to sustain good posture on the job.

Within this context Helen told me the following story.

“This past weekend," she said, “I was at a party. I was standing quietly by myself when I noticed a very pretty woman, about ten years younger than me. Her smile was so beautiful. And she had the most amazing upright posture.

My own posture has improved, Maureen, but I know I still hunch, somewhat.

As I observed this younger woman, something funny happened. My body slowly straightened up. I could feel it happening. It was like my body was following a cue she gave. For a moment I just stood there, taller and with a lift chest. I was looking around me from a higher place. It felt a little odd, and also good. It was like I was trying something on. Then a voice inside said, ‘But that’s not you.’ Slowly the better posture collapsed – I could feel it! I returned to what felt familiar.”

“Oh, my gosh!” I said to Helen. “This is what Feldenkrais meant when he said, ‘Correction is perceived as error.’

Sorry, Helen, the phrase is a little stiff. But what he meant was that the new thing, although one could agree, objectively, that it is better, feels wrong. It feels like ‘not I.’

“Just continue,” I said. “From my own experience, I know that with repetition, gradually, to the new and better way, that little voice inside will say, “This is me.”

1 comment:

Lynette Reid said...

Hi Maureen,

This is such a great story. It becomes so concrete working with Feldenkrais, doesn't it, how attachment to "identity" is part of what maintains us in our habits. It can be a feeling of wrongness or of complete irrelevance to sense something so distant from "who we are."

Great blog!