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.”
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP