The act of participation

Alternative titles: The movements and being in movement. The WHAT and the HOW. Ideas and execution. The rules and the actual game. A thought and the spoken word, the pen and the sword. The mind and the body. Making something imagined become real.

In the springtime of 2019 I assisted in a Feldenkrais professional training program in the south of China. In the role of a teacher I tried to learn about the students. How are they doing? How are they learning? What are their strategies, what are their ways of participation?

For example, there was this one student, a famous Pilates teacher and personal trainer (from and) in China. He was obsessed with understanding and writing down the movements. Instead of deeply engaging in a conversation with the movements, in movement, after each and every instruction he would reach for his phone and type down the instruction, thus building his own database for his own teaching. This movement does this, that movement does that, he wrote. All the while knowing perfectly well, that all lessons are recorded in both video and audio, and that he will receive the recordings at no extra costs after the training. Since he didn’t fully invest himself, I asked him “Don’t you have the feeling you’re missing out?” To which he replied, “Not at all. I’m just using my time more efficiently than the others.” I didn’t argue with him, I merely liked to learn about his thinking and approach.

Contrariwise, I found the following comment on one of my videos just yesterday. Comment by Sylvia Bahr, on the video “Learn how to roll easier | Rolling into deep”,

“For me, the degree of ease of rolling movement was a direct result of the relaxation session in the first part of the video. If the quiet time was shortened, then I think that my movements would have been impeded. This is now one of my favorites. Thank you for your patience with making videos.”

Sylvia invested herself fully. She accepted my pacing of the lesson and instead of skipping forwards or taking notes she practiced. Instead of just shortly assessing the movements, instead of looking at them with mostly her intellect, she immersed herself, applied herself, allowed herself to move, rest, to experience the movements fully. Maybe that’s why some Feldenkrais people like to call themselves practitioners, rather than teachers.

Of course- the movement instructions are important. They are the pieces in the game. But how we move, how we apply ourselves, to observe how we learn, how we are making progress, how we are conscious… to become more conscious, to accumulate consciousness so the speak (or maybe not), and all that, et cetera, is just as important. These things are not something reserved for the grand masters of the Game of Chess (or Mahjong in China), or something for the fans to observe and rave about. These things are just as important, they make up the game: the actual practice, the act of participation, the practice of being alive.