Feldenkrais(R) Training: The eyes of a practitioner….

I used to have headaches. Blinding, incapacitating, vice-gripping, put your life on hold for three days kind of headaches. I don’t have them anymore, but they used to be unbearable. For some reason, when I was in my Feldenkrais Training, my headaches got much worse before they got better. However, it’s interesting that eventually they went away completely.

One of the worst headaches I’ve ever experienced was in the middle of my second Feldenkrais Training segment. I woke up with the familiar pain gripping my head, neck and shoulders. I couldn’t turn my head, and I wondered how I was going to drive to class that morning. I had stabbing pain deep in the middle of my thoracic spine, and I thought blood was going to shoot out of my eyes. Even my hair hurt. It was promising to be a long, miserable day.

I could have stayed home, but I didn’t want to skip a day of training. After all, today might be the day that the “mystery of the method” would be revealed. I don’t remember how I managed to safely drive across town to the training venue, but as soon as I got there I knew I had to leave. I gathered my things and painfully crept toward the door, hoping to make a quick get away without anyone noticing. I almost made it, too, when I heard a familiar voice ask me where I was going. I turned to see one of my favorite practitioners standing next to me. I explained I had a horrible headache and was leaving for the day.

He offered to help me, but I refused. I just wanted to go home. I politely excused myself and again headed toward the door. He walked with me, talking the entire time and blocking me from making my escape to sweet freedom. I wanted to clobber him, but I was in too much pain. Suddenly, I realized he was touching me while he was talking to me. Very softly and gently, he was doing a plucking motion of his fingers, right on the middle of my thoracic spine. Funny, that’s exactly the spot where my headaches seemed to come from. How could he know that? He kept talking and touching, until finally he said, “Getting rid of this might make you feel better.”

Irritated, I turned to snarl at him when he said, ” Yikes, here’s another one, even bigger than the first!” I was too surprised to yell at him, so he continued, “This one’s got jagged edges on it. Here’s another one…it looks like it’s been here a really long time!” In spite of my misery, I had to smile, and I got in on the game as he continued to pull the knives, arrows and spears out of my back. He even made clanking sounds as each one fell to the floor. A few days later he remarked how much lighter I looked without the excess hardware. Every time I crossed his path, he would cup his hand to his ear and say,” They’re falling out on there own now. They’re getting smaller, too.”

Over the course of the next four years of the training, I must have eliminated enough metal to start my own scrap iron shop. By year four, the clanking diminished until they sounded like acupuncture needles landing on carpet. Then one day, they were completely gone. Oddly enough, my headaches slowly but surely decreased in severity, intensity and frequency.

I don’t know what prompted that practitioner to pull the knives out of my back that day. I couldn’t possibly understand that he was looking at me through the eyes of a practitioner, and seeing things that most people wouldn’t even notice. I understand it now, and I really am glad I didn’t clobber him that day. I would have missed out on a great learning experience. As well as the knowledge, understanding and the feeling of what sweet freedom really means to me.

Wishing all of you sweet freedom!