The Feldenkrais Method(R) and the power of “no”….

I learned a lot during the four years of my Feldenkrais Training. However, the most valuable thing I learned was from one of my favorite teachers when he veered off course during a group discussion. He did that a lot. He told us a story about an incident that happened when he was a guest teacher at another training program. I love stories, so I settled on my mat in that semi comatose Felden-fog that I would get during training segments.

He told us that after the first few days of teaching he was aware of some grumbling and the undercurrents of a rebellion brewing. He gathered the class together for a ‘family talk” and to give everyone a change to express their concerns. He went around the circle and listened to their complaints, most of them which were directed at him personally.

My teacher, the ultimate professional, patiently listened as the complaints against him grew exponentially as they went around the circle. It was as if each student was trying to out do the previous one, and the list of infractions took on a life of it’s own. Finally, they got to the end of the circle. My teacher said, “Okay, but I’m not sure everybody had a chance to say everything they wanted to, so let’s go around the circle again.”  The students really ripped into him the second time.  He thanked them for their feedback. You have to know this guy. I just love him!

The rest of the two week training went without any further mutinous activity. The students even seemed to warm up to him, but it did take awhile.  At the end of the training, the students told him how much they enjoyed having him as their teacher, how much they learned from him, and asked him to come back for another segment. He just looked at them and said, “No! Forget you!”

Okay, that’s not exactly what he said, but you get the point. It certainly was enough to jar me out of my dream like state. I bolted up to a sitting position and just sat there, in jaw dropping, eye blinking stunned astonishment. He continued, “Why would I subject myself to that kind of abuse after the way you disrespected me? I don’t need this stuff in my life.” (Once again, I did some family friendly editing).

Light bulbs flashed in my brain as a smile slowly came to my face. What a concept! Saying no, setting boundaries, and making decisions based on what you want to do rather than what someone else wants you to do. Did I mention that I love this guy?

From that moment on, anytime I was in a situation that wasn’t working for me, I remembered that story. I would smile as I imagined myself repeating my teacher’s exact words before I simply said, “No.”

At graduation, I hugged my teacher and reminded him of that story and told him that the most valuable thing I learned in the four years was that magic phrase and the power of “no.” He hugged me back and said, “Isn’t it interesting how we all get what we need from Feldenkrais, and at the precise time that we need it?” That’s just one of the many things that I love about Feldenkrais. I just love this Method, and I still love my teacher. I also love the freedom that I have from that one little lesson, the silly little story that taught me the power of “no.”

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

Child’s play….

I went on vacation last week. I know, this doesn’t sound like earth shattering news or a life altering event, but it was for me. I haven’t had a vacation in six years. The reasons aren’t important. Let’s just say that personal responsibilities were a priority. During that time I had to leave my practice for weeks on end. Afterward, all my time, energy and effort was directed into rebuilding my practice. If you’re self employed, you know what I mean.

Vacations were a distant memory, and I wondered if I would ever see a beach again. Then my youngest sister invited us to go on vacation with her and her family. I hesitated, but she said, “Aww, come on! You really need it.” It sounded like a good idea, but I worried about being away from work for that long. I’m so used to continuous hard work, sitting on a beach for a week seemed like the epitome of self indulgence. I was afraid I’d be bored.

I wasn’t bored, I was busy doing something that I hadn’t done in a long time. I played, and I played all day long, like I did when I was a kid, with no goal or objective in sight. I played everywhere, and I played with everyone, including my niece, nephew, sister, brother-in-law and my husband. I even tried playing with a sand crab, but he wouldn’t cooperate. Party pooper. No wonder why they call them crabs.

We played in the ocean, in the pool, on the beach and in the sand. We played Ninja games and paddle board. I stopped playing when it came time for football and volleyball. That’s where I draw a line in the sand, so to speak. I’m just not that kind of athlete. I challenged my niece and sister to a cartwheel competition. My niece taught me how to do a round-off, and I practiced handsprings in the sand. I failed miserably, but that’s not the point.

On the other hand, maybe that is the point. Like most of us, I had forgotten how to play. We lose that part of ourselves and our spirit of playfulness in the world of adult responsibilities. My sister was right. I really needed that vacation. Not only was it fun, relaxing, but a huge learning experience for me.

During that week, I learned how to play again, without any goal or objective, but for the sheer joy of movement and self discovery. I learned that I still don’t have to play football and volleyball to be a good playmate. I learned that sand crabs have really funny faces, but they make rotten playmates. I also learned that it’s important to listen to a younger sibling, because sometimes they are smarter than you think and they know you better than you know yourself.

I’m looking forward to the next vacation. But, in the meantime, my handsprings can use some work. Ooops, I mean play.

Be healthy, and playful!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

A moose on the loose….

    I heard a frightening story a few days ago about a local woman hiking in the mountains with her dogs. They rounded a corner and surprised a moose with two calves. The moose charged, head-butted the hiker, knocked her to the ground and stomped her. Yikes! The woman is okay and the dogs are fine. There’s no further update of the moose, but I’m sure she’s forgotten all about it by now.

    Two years ago my husband and I tried to hike that exact same trail. It was early in the season, and the place was abandoned. My husband was excited because there wasn’t another soul in sight. I was nervous for the exact same reason. There might not be any other people in the area, but I couldn’t say the same about the wildlife. Especially the bears.

    I allowed my husband to talk me into a short hike. My unease escalated as we made our toward the trail head. I wondered out loud about bears wandering around with their cubs. The silence in the wilderness was deafening. Soon we came across a large sign at the base of the trail educating hikers about the slim possibility of coming across a bear, and what to do if that happened.

    Somewhat reassured, we continued toward the trail when we heard a loud crash. I froze like a deer in the headlights. My husband looked over my head toward the sound and whispered, “Holy (expletive)! It’s a moose!” In all our years of hiking the Rocky Mountains, we have never seen a moose. Awestruck, we watched the huge animal as he ate a tree.

    It was one of those moments where you are completely one with nature. You feel honored, humbled and overwhelmed to be in the presence of such a creature. He was only about 25 feet away from us and my husband whispered again, “He doesn’t even see us!” We stood in quiet reverence as the moose continued to eat, effortlessly snapping branches that were as large as a man’s arm.

    Finally, he turned his head and looked at us. Excited, my husband whispered, “He sees us! He’s checking us out now!” Uneasily, I asked, “Mike? Do moose charge?” Dead silence. Finally, he answered very slowly, “I….don’t….know.” That was good enough for me. We slowly stared walking backwards. Then we turned and ran like hell back to the car, realizing the folly of trying to out run a moose. I kept waiting to hear the pounding of hooves behind us, but apparently the tree was more interesting than two bumbling hikers on a trail. And to think I was afraid of bears.

    There are a few life’s lessons in these two stories. First of all, life is full of surprises. It’s also full of adventures. You never know who or what you’re going to come across when you venture out into unknown territory. Sometimes you get knocked down and trampled on, but it’s important to get back up again. Sometimes you need to go out on a limb, as long as no one is eating it and you can keep yourself safe. Also, what you are most afraid of might not be the actual threat. But, you’ll never know unless you step out of your comfort zone.

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP