Friday, May 29, 2009

Feldenkrais Therapy

Part III of What is my Body Telling Me

I picked a clump of celery and some stalks of rainbow chard, and rinsed a forkload of freshly dug carrots. Then with half and hour to spare, I turned the Land Rover’s nose east along the old coastal road, past the limestone cliffs of Aphrodite’s birthplace, through the scrublands and vineyards, and up the winding village road to Barbara’s eyrie high above Pissouri Bay. It was my third visit.

My right hip had hurt for the last four days – so badly sometimes that I could not lift my foot to put on my socks and shoes without a grimace.

“I suspect it’s something to do with the treatment,” I added after answering Barbara’s ‘How are you feeling today?’ “So I’m not too worried about it, just inconvenienced,”

She nodded. “It’s just your skeleton learning how to fit together in a different way.”

This time she did Feldenkrais therapy – a treatment developed by an Israeli engineer and martial artist. Treatments involving non-invasive touch and the therapist’s verbal instructions help people to use their own innate abilities to heal themselves and improve their body use.

I lay supine on the table and she positioned herself at the top of my head and started the session by ‘re-engaging’ my upper back. Sliding her hands and forearms under my shoulders, she moved and kneaded the muscles on each side of my spine. The left side was tighter; the right, almost floppy. “That’s because the left side is doing all the work of balancing your head,” she said. “You carry your head slightly to the right and your right shoulder tends to droop, whereas your left has far more tension.”

When she brought her hands from under my back and began to work around my collar bones, I noticed that her palms and fingers were burning – strong contrast to the ‘long, cool fingers’ that had done last week’s Bowen work. “I use different parts of me for different healing methods,” she said when I commented. “And, yes, you would notice a difference in the energies.”

I asked her as she worked about auras and energy fields. “Well, I could tell you, but there’s no point in talking just a bit,” she answered. “If there’s enough interest, I can do a workshop at Turtle and Moon,” -- a friend’s community-oriented art studio in the Paphos village of Trimithousa where I had recently helped to install an organic vegetable garden and was planning to establish an Amnesty International letter-writing group. “Learning about things like that is always better in a group situation, as people can work with each other.”

Then Barbara moved to my legs, explaining the relationship between the body’s three girdles: the jaw, the shoulders, and the pelvis, and how an imbalance in any one always reflected in the others.

“Am I easy to work with?” I asked as she gently moved my hip joints.

She gathered her thoughts. “Your issues are complex, about daily use, and I think that as we progress you will make some interesting discoveries about how you use your body. You’re very trusting – for instance now, you’re giving me the whole weight of your leg.” She bent my knee, a supporting hand under my calf. “Many women won’t do that – they see their legs as too heavy for me to hold, reflecting their image of having big thighs, being overweight. You have none of those issues, and you’re alert and curious about this process, which makes you a pleasure to work on.”

Moving around to my other side, she hooked my right knee in the crook of her elbow, and bracing herself against the table, gently pulled upwards. I felt the head of my femur move in its socket.

“You use an enormous amount of energy just keeping your head balanced,” she continued. “When you learn more efficient use, you’ll have a lot more energy to spare.” She replaced my leg on the table and did a little jig, hands waving. “I don’t mean bubbly energy, but grounded energy. You’ll be capable of a lot more in a more substantial way.”

That should be interesting.

At the end of the session, I noticed that I stood solidly on the ground, without having to compensate for my collapsing ankles. My weight was more evenly distributed between and over my feet than it has ever been in my life – all without my trying.

Barbara looked at me critically and made an adjustment to my shoulders.

“Now I feel as if I’m leaning to the left,” I told her.

“But you’re not,” she replied. “You feel like that because you habitually lean slightly to the right and your muscles have accustomed themselves to that feeling. Now, you’re straight. Experiment with how you feel when you stand or use your body in different ways. Know how it feels to be straight, but don’t consciously adjust yourself. It will all come together.”

I drove home marvelling how, in only three weeks, the landscape had changed. The sky had lightened from cerulean to Wedgewood; the meadows and wild-land acquiring the golden tinge of ripening grain, and new wild flowers replacing the old. The vines had grown their full coat of foliage, and cistus splashed pastel pink along the verges.

In the shadow of the mighty rocks where, according to legend, Aphrodite stepped ashore from her scallop shell, the first tourists of the season shook out their towels and anointed themselves with sun cream. Summer is coming.


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  2. Hello:

    I saw your web-blog. I think it is excellent. Iam from Cuba, but I live in USA. I would like to changes links. I have 2 blogs...

    I hope you respond soon...