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24th September, 2010

Yes, it's continuing! This term's theme is Rhythms of Life 3. It has been such a rich and rewarding series and there are still lessons coming so we are continuing this general theme till the end of the year.

The rhythms of walking and breathing are central to our action in all areas of life. It becomes clear that the rhythm of breathing is constantly changing, with different movements, with changing emotion, as perception and sensation modify action. Movements in the world are like conversations between people, real pleas of forgiveness, expressions of anger, courtship, planning, and learning and don't occur at precise clips of a machine. Rhythms swell and contract, speed up and slow down, to pause, to reflect, and to express relationship and meaning.

These lessons take us into movement and balance upright in the field of gravity. The lessons lying down give us the sense of 'Ahh! I can feel the floor supporting me.' And give us a surface on which to explore new movement patterns. BUT we live most of our lives in a vertical orientation and discoveries in standing and walking help add new ingredients to activity in a direct way.

Please wear shoes that would be appropriate for an outdoor lesson. As the room is small, we will take class outdoors to the arena if the weather and mosquitoes allow. This worked well with one group last term and adds another dimension to sensing yourself in action. If you haven't been to the early lessons, don't worry, you will find it easy to join in just where you are.

Classes are on Tuesdays at 6pm and Wednesdays at 11.30am and 6pm and will start on 12th and 13th October, 2010.

Check out this website on Feldenkrais: http://thenext25years.tumblr.com/.

19th July, 2010

Last term's walking series was enthusiastically received and everyone found interesting refinements that can be used in everyday life.

In the last few weeks I have noticed several programmes which have stimulated my interest in exploring rhythm in movement and in life.

There are several lessons which have been on my teaching list for some time which fit into this theme. So I am inviting you to join with me to explore Rhythms in Life. As preparation, you may wish to consider how you sense rhythm and cadence in your life. The horse riders will already be thinking of applying this to riding!

What is the difference in the good and the not so smooth times? Does your the way you connect your breath with whatever you are doing make a difference? How do you use music in your life? What music do you intuitively put on when you are feeling low or happy?

One of the sources I have enjoyed recently is the ABC Radio National Into the Music programme - you can listen to this online.

The Nerve Episode 1: Wired for Sound (Music and the Brain)
This compelling six-part series exploring music and the human experience begins by showing how we are wired for sound and by investigating the physics of music itself.

3rd May, 2010

In the first term of this year, over 8 weeks, we explored the quality of self-direction by thinking, feeling, sensing and moving. Every movement lesson linked Feldenkrais ideas to presentations at the Mind and Its Potential Conference and my study around these themes. Many of you asked for follow-up information which is below.

Several of the lessons came from Moshe Feldenkrais’ book, Awareness Through Movement (1).

Professor Susan Greenfield referenced the study done by Pascual-Leone in 1995 (2) with adult volunteers who learned five finger piano exercises. The controls stared at the piano for five days, with no observed changes in neuronal mapping. Brain scans for the other two groups showed changes in the mapping of the trained hand, which were almost identical whether the practice was actually performed or simulated.

Martin Seligman (3) discussed the growing science of happiness and well-being. As the father of Positive Psychology he is refining and differentiating what we mean by happiness and how it can be developed and taught.

Paul Ekman (4, 5) has been researching facial expression and emotion since the 60’s when he did seminal work confirming that humans all around the world have a common understanding of the facial expressions which express basic emotions. These are described by Ekman as sad, happy, angry, surprise, fear, disgust and contempt.

Emotions are major choreographers of action allowing us to move quickly and surely. They include subjective, autonomic and behavioural components. Emotions are a signal to others and to ourselves about how we are feeling, and maybe what to expect next!

Once triggered an emotion colours our perception. Ekman describes how in the grip of emotion we pay attention to evidence which confirms our current world view. Sometimes we discard information which runs counter to our prevailing mood, which at other times would be useful - our reality is warped and yet we don’t notice.

Interestingly, New Scientist published an article in February (7) about “five emotions you never knew you had”. They are elevation, pride, gratitude, confusion and interest. Feldenkrais rests frequently in the stimulation and development of curiosity. All were considered and included in class.

Alan Wallace (6) is a Buddhist teacher and meditator. His book The Attention Revolution describes the Buddhist method of regulating attention.

Finally ‘How much is enough?’ is a question I often ask in class. At the conference Arun Abey asked just this question, but in a different context, in his recent book (8).

In this series I used Feldenkrais movement lessons to make tangible the concepts and ideas about which I was talking; to translate the idea into a sensory motor experience, as movement is the basis of awareness. Our rich experience of the quality of movement gives us ways to observe, modify and regulate ourselves.

  1. Feldenkrais M 1972 Awareness Through Movement, Harper Row NY
  2. Pascual-Leone A 1995 tmslab.org/includes/alvaro_1.pdf
  3. Seligman M www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu
  4. Ekman P www.paulekman.com
  5. Ekman P (Ed) 2008 Emotional Awareness, Holt Paperbacks NY
  6. Wallace A www.alanwallace.org
  7. New Scientist 2010 www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527431.300
  8. Arun Abey www.howmuchisenough.net

22nd January, 2010

Happy New Year! I hope you had a happy and healthy holiday break and are ready for more Feldenkrais adventures this year.

I spent the time catching up on reading; much of the motivation came as follow up on the Mind and Its Potential Conference. There are many ideas that connect with Feldenkrais thinking. Now there is research and evidence for the sound foundations of lessons as well as new information which increases our understanding.

I have read or reviewed books and the conference proceedings of Allan Wallace, Paul Ekman and his presentation of research on facial expression and emotions which can increase emotional awareness of ourselves and others. Martin Seligman has renewed my interest in positive psychology – especially after he outed himself as a pessimist and talked about how he has been working with children at Geelong Grammar.

There will be classic Awareness Through Movement lessons as well as references to my recent study. Feldenkrais is movement education and education through movement; "the accent is put not on which movement you deal with .... but on how you direct yourself doing it."

I have just returned from Melbourne where I attended a week of the first Australian run Feldenkrais Professional Training Programme (see www.feldworks.com for more information). This was an opportunity to revisit some of the material as well as catch up with other Feldenkrais practitioners, including my study buddy Sarah from Perth (feldenkraisperth.com).

We will start the term on 9th February to give everyone time to return from their holidays and get into the new school year. If you attended last term, there is a place reserved for you; as the class days and times have changed, please reply as soon as possible with your preferences by Tuesday 2nd February. I will then do my best to choose the times you have requested and will confirm with you by email.

28th December, 2009

The Feldenkrais Sydney class term finished a little earlier this year with Catherine attending the Mind & Its Potential Conference at Darling Harbour in Sydney in December.

I attended with excitement! I was able to see and hear the ideas of the Dalai Lama, Allan Wallace, Paul Ekman, Martin Seligman, John Ratey, Susan Greenfield, Dan Siegel etc etc in the flesh. I have already read many of their books and was so interested in what they had to say. Many of the ideas will echo through our sessions next year.

The Australia Feldenkrais Guild took an exhibition stand at the conference. This gave us the opportunity to take our ideas to a wide audience. It was also an appreciative audience, many of whom had heard of Feldenkrais, and we found much to talk about with each of the delegates who visited our stand. We avoided reams of paper which would inevitably end up in the bin by taking our information online. Check out our blog at www.mindinaction.wordpress.com. A special thank you to Chris and Marlene who came to help with the recording of the MP3 lessons.

Here's an excerpt from the conference description:

'Science is only just beginning to understand the extraordinary capacity of the brain to change and develop. The implications for how we learn, work and care for one another are profound. Mind & Its Potential will explore the amazing revolution in our understanding of the brain and the benefits for all walks of life -both personal and professional.

How do we learn? How should we teach? How do we overcome adversity and disability? How should we live our lives?

Mind & Its Potential brings together for the first time the best and brightest minds from Australia and internationally to explain how to apply the new science of the brain in education, medicine, business and our lives.'

Check out their website www.mindanditspotential.com.au

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