Feldenkrais(R) Training: Rolling the ball….

By the third day of my Feldenkrais Training, I was exhausted. I wasn’t sure I would make it through the day, let alone the rest of the week. But, true to form, my incomparable stubbornness kicked into high gear. I’d push forward, even if it killed me. It’s who I am and how I do things. I guess you could say it’s part of my belief system.

That morning I set up my personal little camp site for the day and waited for my favorite phrase, “Lie on your back.” Instead I heard, “Roll to your front side.” Uh-oh… I wasn’t prepared for that. I hate lying on my stomach. It hurts my back, kinks my neck, and makes my entire body ache. To make matters worse, I was lying on a thin mat over an ice-cold hardwood floor. Yikes!

The lesson began. We were guided through the experience of imagining a small but heavy ball slowly and firmly rolling from the back of one hand, across our arm and eventually to our shoulder. I tried to follow the ball, but all of my attention centered on my discomfort. I held my breath, wiggled, squirmed, and tried to get comfortable.

“Roll onto your back and rest.” Thank goodness! While we rested, our teacher began to read excerpts from a lecture on self-image from Moshe Feldenkrais. There they go again, talking about self-image. I didn’t want to hear about image of self, I wanted to hear about Feldenkrais. I gave a mental eye roll as I rested on my back.

“Roll onto your front again.” I groaned silently. Okay, maybe I groaned out loud. The ball continued to roll, and suddenly I felt the weight and the pressure of my imaginary ball gently making an imprint of my arms and legs, shoulders and hips into the floor. I forgot about my discomfort. I even forgot that I was lying on my front. Were my shoulders really that soft? Were my legs really that long?

“Now rest on your front side.” Uh-oh, I can’t possibly rest on my front. I started to squirm, but then I noticed something strange. The floor didn’t feel nearly as hard and cold as it did just a few minutes earlier. Instead, it felt warm and yielding. I wondered who changed the floor, and how did they do that without me noticing? I listened as the words from the lecture continued to flow over me. Deep sigh. I felt myself sink deeper and more comfortably into the floor.

Tears of relief filled my eyes as I rested on the floor and listened to the words of the lecture continue to flow and roll over me, much like the ball had during the lesson. By the time the lesson was over, I had pulled myself together so no one would ever know that I had been brought to tears. After all, I had an image to uphold.

After the lesson, I mingled with my classmates and eventually made my way to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror and saw the mascara streaks around my eyes. So much for keeping my emotions to myself. That’s when I realized that perhaps my belief system had been keeping me from finding a way to be comfortable lying on my front in the first place. I  wondered what else my belief system had been keeping from me over the years. And that’s when my self-image began to change. Slowly, slowly, one lesson at a time.