The Eyes Have It
It was at a time when I was experiencing a lot of eye strain that I discovered some Feldenkrais® eye relaxation exercises. They were incredibly simple to do and only took only 5 minutes but they enabled me to continue with my work which involves a lot of reading and writing.
Until then I hadn’t realized the number of muscles surrounding the eye (front, side and back) that enable the eyes to focus and increase/decrease the width of the pupil.
Once I had the strangest experience. Once morning, as Alan was driving me to work, I was fighting to keep my eyes open, they felt so tired. So I started doing my eye exercises, releasing the tension, and by the time I arrived at work 15 minutes later, I was wide awake and rearing to go!
Just a Hop, Skip and Jump Away!
When Ruthy Alon, an internationally recognized Feldenkrais® trainer said that we would all be hopping, skipping, jumping by the end of her workshop, I thought Yeah, right! I knew with my bung right foot I for one wouldn’t be! Three days later I was totally gob-smacked to find myself skipping, running and even hopping. Using Ruthy’s fabric ‘harness’, I was able to align my whole body properly and feel perfectly safe doing what had earlier seemed impossible. Proof of Dr Feldenkrais’ maxim: “The only thing permanent about our behaviour patterns is our belief that it is so.”
And More Flexible Than Ever
I have now done Feldenkrais® classes for 15 years, although only on a regular weekly basis since 2009 when Alan qualified and I started going to his classes. What I have noticed over that time is continuing gradual improvement. Which is why Feldenkrais® can sometimes feel like watching paint dry! Yes, there can be spectacular changes (as there was with my lightbulb moment), but for the most part the change is gradual.
So, for example, at 63 I’m much more flexible now than I was 10 years ago: I can get up and down from the floor easily, use a dustpan and brush to pick up kitchen crumbs without effort, and more. Now when I get up in the morning I walk about without pain. Over the last year I’ve even noticed my stride has lengthened.
Over the years my brain has changed – yes, truly!1 Most importantly I know if I’m feeling pain, I’m doing it all wrong. So then I slow down, observe what I’m doing and start experimenting, try this or that strategy, see how it feels … and within a few minutes the pain goes.
1 Only in the last 10 years is science beginning to catch up with what Dr Feldenkrais fully understood. Canadian neuroscientist Dr Lara Boyd researches what makes for successful versus unsuccessful rehabilitation. In her TED talk she identifies the big difference is learning which leads to structural changes in the brain. Not just repetitive exercise but focused learning which can be effective at any age.