„Sometimes nerves get stuck to the walls of their tubes, like microscopic velcro. You don’t want this happening to your nerves any more than your cat wants tape on its paws.” – from Quite a Stretch, by Paul Ingraham
You might have noticed that I don’t talk much about functional anatomy, biomechanics, and sports science. This is a blog about movement learning, and yet, where is the talk about strength, about flexibility, and about safe ways to achieve more of these two?
Also, consider this: in the 17th century René Descartes, the French born Philosopher, addressed the mind-body problem stating that the mental can exist outside of the body, and the body cannot think. A lot of money has been made ever since. Just yesterday I received a text from a fellow Youtuber who was happy to share that he ranks first on Google with the keyword „nondual” and that as of recently his numbers have been skyrocketing. Good for him. Good for them.
Viewed from on outside perspective, by law as a private teacher, I’m doing this: I’m skilfully leading clients through carefully crafted movement sequences. There’s no stretching, no adjustments, no cracking. But there’s learning goals, understanding, and meaning. First at a physical level, and then at an intellectual level, if you care to make this distinction. You first see the clouds, smell the rain, and then learn they are made from water and how all that works. As a side effect, and not necessarily part of my job, clients will resolve chronic pain problems that nobody else could help them with. Scary problems that threatened them to lose their jobs, their lives, their minds (in alphabetical order apparently). I help them feel themselves again. I’m a pretty clear cut diamond, in between sessions I read and think about movement, learning and teaching, all day. I neither think nor talk about meditation, not about mindfulness, and certainly not about the mind-body problem.
There’s a story of Moshé Feldenkrais that goes like this: „Moshé Feldenkrais was once seated opposite a man on a train who was reading from a book held upside down. After a few moments of bewilderment, wondering if the man was crazy, joking, or only pretending to be literate, Moshé Feldenkrais asked him why his book was upside down. »Upside down?« the man replied. »How can a book be upside down?« It turns out the man had gone to a school in a small village where there was only one book to a class. The children sat each day in a small circle reading their book from all directions.”
Maybe I have learned to read the book from all directions, too. Maybe when I was in class all the good seats have already been taken. Or maybe I just didn’t have the elbows. Now, with Internet, Google, Skype, Zoom, and eBooks everyone gets the front-row centre seat anyways. And you get to choose what you read. To some degree you even get to choose what you want to wear, what you want to eat, drink, which language you speak, which thoughts and emotions you have, who you interact with, how you feel, who you want to be. And at the same time, while you do all that just mentioned: how you rest, sit, stand, walk, how you transition between all of those. Btw, you know that, right? Are you making those choices? Or do you go with the default settings instead?