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Thousands have found renewed health and increased sensory awareness through the Feldenkrais method as explained in Awareness Through Movement. Here is a way for people of every age to integrate physical and mental development into a new, invigorating wholeness. Feldenkrais provides a modern-day, practical program for the perennial ideal of a healthy mind in a healthy body. His down-to-earth method carefully avoids any mystical component and never obliges any pupil to master abstruse theories. Exercises for ...
Thousands have found renewed health and increased sensory awareness through the Feldenkrais method as explained in Awareness Through Movement. Here is a way for people of every age to integrate physical and mental development into a new, invigorating wholeness. Feldenkrais provides a modern-day, practical program for the perennial ideal of a healthy mind in a healthy body. His down-to-earth method carefully avoids any mystical component and never obliges any pupil to master abstruse theories. Exercises for posture, eyes, imagination, and more will simultaneously build better body habits and focus new dimensions of awareness, self-image, and human potential.
Awareness Through Movement written by Moshe Feldenkrais provides a modern-day, practical program for the perennial ideal of a healthy mind in a healthy body. Feldenkrais directs in a way for people of every age to integrate physical and mental development into a new, invigorating wholeness.
The dynamics of personal action
Each one of us speaks, moves, thinks, and feels in a different way, each according to the image of himself that he has built up over the years. In order to change our mode of action we must change the image of ourselves that we carry within us. What is involved here, of course, is a change in the dynamics of our reactions, and not the mere replacing of one action by another. Such a change involves not only a change in our self-image, but a change in the nature of our motivations, and the mobilization of all the parts of the body concerned.
These changes produce the noticeable difference in the way eachindividual carries out similar actions—handwriting and pronunciation, for instance.
The four components of action
Our self-image consists of four components that are involved in every action: movement, sensation, feeling, and thought. The contribution of each of the components to any particular action varies, I . just as the persons carrying out the action vary, but each component will be present to some extent in any action.
In order to think, for instance, a person must be awake, and know that be is awake and not dreaming; that is, he must sense and discern his physical position relative to the field of gravity. It follows that movement, sensing, and feeling are also involved in thinking.
In order to feel angry or happy, a man must be in a certain posture, and in some kind of relationship to another being or object That is, he must also move, sense, and think.
In order to sense—see, hear, or touch—a person must be interested, startled, oraware of some happening that involves him. That is, be must move, feet, and think.
In order to move, he must use at least one of his senses, consciously or unconsciously, which involves feeling and thinking.
When one of these elements of action becomes so minute as almost to disappear, existence itself may be endangered. It is difficult to survive for even brief periods without any movement at all. There is no life where a being is deprived of all senses. Without feeling, there is no drive to live; it is the feeling of suffocation that forces us to breathe. Without at least some minimum of reflex thought, even a beetle cannot live too long.
Changes become fixed as habits
In reality our self-image is never static. It changes from action to action, but these changes gradually become habits; that is, the actions take on a fixed, unchanging character.
Early in life, when the image is being established, the rate of change in the image is high; new forms of action that had only the previous day been beyond the child's capacity are quickly achieved. The infant begins to see, for instance, a few weeks after birth; one day he will begin to stand, walk, and talk. The child's own experiences, together with his biological inheritance, combine slowly to create an individual way of standing, walking, speaking, feeling, listening, and of carrying out all the other actions that give substance to human life. But while from a distance the life of one person appears to be very similar to that of any other, on close inspection they are entirely different. We must, then, use words and concepts in such a way that they will apply more or less equally to everyone.
How the self-image is formed
We confine ourselves therefore to examining in detail the motor part of the self-image. Instinct, feeling, and thought being linked with movement, their role in the creation of the self-image reveals itself together with that of movement.
The stimulation of certain cells in the motor cortex of the brain will activate a particular muscle. It is known today that the correspondence between the cells of the cortex and the muscles that they activate is neither absolute nor exclusive. Nevertheless, we may consider that there Iis sufficient experimental justification to assume that specific cells do activate specific muscles at least in basic, elementary movements.
Individual and social action
The newborn human can perform practically nothing of what he will carry out as an adult in human society, but he can do almost everything the adult can do as an individual. He can breathe, eat, digest, eliminate, and his body can organize all the biological and physiological processes except the sexual act-and this may be considered a social process in the adult, for it takes place between two persons. In the beginning, sexual activity remains confined to the individual sphere. It is now widely accepted that adult sexuality develops from early self-sexuality. This approach makes it possible to explain inadequacies in this field as a failure in the development of the individual toward full social sexuality.
Contact with the external world
The infant's contact with the external world is established mainly through the lips and mouth; through these he recognizes his mother. He will use his hands to fumble and assist the work of his mouth and lips, and will know by touch what be already knows through his lips and mouth. From here he will gradually progress to the discovery of other parts of his body and their relationship to each other, and through them his first notions of distance and volume. The discovery of time begins with the coordinating of processes of breathing and swallowing, both of which are connected with movements of the lips, mouth, jaw, nostrils, and the surrounding area.
Posted March 23, 2011
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The title of this review comes from four lines In Alexander Pope's 1709 "An Essay on Criticism": "A little learning is a dangerous thing;/ drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:/ there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,/ and drinking largely sobers us again." *** I cautiously transfer Pope's advice to potential readers of Moshe Feldenkrais's 1972 classic of healthy movements, AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT - EASY-TO-DO HEALTH EXERCISES TO IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE, VISION, IMAGINATION, AND PERSONAL AWARENESS. This is a deep, provocative, sometimes counter-intuitive book about how to shock your old bad habits out of their ruts and replace them with new good habits. *** The book's title coincides with the official name of Dr Feldenkrais's method to improve bodily postures through minutely attentive self-consciousness: Awareness Through Movement, acronym "ATM." He prefaces 12 Lessons of exercises on posture, breathing, carriage of the head, how eyes organize body movements -- and more -- with a series of mini-essays. One is on the human person as he evolves from his genetic givenness through societally imposed education/training in conformity, into fully self-conscious self education and freedom to choose between options. Another essay tackles three "layers" of the human brain and how they relate to muscles, ligatures, bones, lungs, memory, imagination, self-image, the human will and the dangers of trying to change bad habits by sheer grit and aggressive will-power. *** Dr Feldenkrais uses metaphors and similes well in explaining how we can change through noticing things we often do not, e.g., as centuries ago men were so happy to be able to keep reading after sundown that they didn't pay attention to the soot and heat poured out by their lanterns. Similarly, how often to we notice that we are unnecessarily grinding our teeth when we are lying on our backs exercising scissor kicks? Or do this mental experiment: imagine that our skeleton is held together entirely by ligaments, not muscles. Think of our supine or prone bodies then as rag dolls or marionettes and how they would be lifted to standing erect by a string attached to our head. Ideally, that is the same pattern we should follow when standing up aided by our muscles. We can learn from lowing like a cow. For normally when we talk, we make sounds while exhaling and "emptying" our stomach (raising our diaphragm). But we can learn something new from lowing like a cow or roaring like a lion and lowering our diaphragm. And on and on. *** Let me conclude by quoting a representative passage from AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT. It may attract you to want to read more. If you take a Feldenkrais (ATM) class with a trained practitioner, you will listen to his continuous instructions, shrug a shoulder, breathe into the right side of your lungs, or whatever you are told to do. You may repeat a tiny motion 25 times. Then you rest. Before reading the book, I was content and happy just to take a relaxed "breather" in class. But Feldenkrais says that there is more: "When you rest after a movement carried out without much effort, it is not in order to regain strength, but to study the changes that have taken place during the action. It takes a minute or two, or even longer, before it is possible to observe these changes." (Part Two, Lesson Eight.) -OOO-
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