Feldenkrais(R) Training: My spine is fine!

After my little romantic interlude with the dance floor on the second day of my Feldenkrais(R) training, I started to loosen up a little. My nervous system was ready for the next learning experience. Or so I thought.  We were told to partner up, and just gently feel along each other’s spine. We were instructed to explore the shape of our partners spine, without judgment, but with a spirit of interest and curiosity, just like I did with that remarkable floor earlier in the day.

I got down on the floor first. My partner, like myself, was a physical therapist. She was really smart, and she had a lot of experience. Apparently she also had her own interpretation of this exploration, because she had a lot of judgment about my spine. And, she found a lot of things wrong with it. “You have a subluxation at T7 with a rotation at T8 and a counter rotation at T9. Wow, this is really bad! I’m having a hard time not correcting this.” I was put on the spot as I felt myself trying to explain why I was so messed up.

She found a lot of things wrong with my posture, too. “You have a scoliosis and a significant thoracic kyphosis, which explains your poor posture including your forward head position and round shoulders. I can’t believe you can walk around like this , let alone get through a ballet class! You must make your teachers crazy!”

The truth was, I did make my teachers crazy, and I still do, but not for those reasons. I stopped trying to explain myself and fought back tears as familiar and negative “self talk” started in my head. I felt like she was exposing some deep and shameful secret deep within me that was manifested through my defective spine and horrible posture.

All of a sudden our teacher was beside us asking if we understood the assignment. I vigorously shook my head “NO” as my partner listed her clinical findings of my dysfunctional spine and postural faults. Then she began to describe how she would “fix me.” That’s when I almost bolted out of the room.

Our teacher said, “Well, that’s one way of looking at it. Here’s another way.” She began gently feeling along my spine. That’s when something changed. I felt myself relax under her gentle touch. I felt the length, strength and shape of my spine that made it uniquely mine. That’s when I realized the truth.

My spine was fine.  There was nothing wrong with me, my spine, or my posture. I wasn’t the one with the problem. That was a little pearl of wisdom and a revelation that still resonates with me today. Actually, that one little truth was worth the price of tuition for that entire segment. And just think, it was still only the second day of a 2 week long training. However, I was pretty certain I had learned enough for one day!