When I was practicing a lot of Yoga, I became immersed in a world of bodies and movement. I would watch video's of incredible feats of movement. Some people were powerful and strong. Others incredibly flexible. Many were beautiful beyond description.
One of the qualities that impressed me the most was a certain fluidity. An ability for people to move like water - flowing across the floor as though they had been poured that way. It always brought up delicious feelings of ease in my body...
This liquidity is something that I was vaguely familiar with. It used to show in my movement from time-to-time. Perhaps it would arrive during a qigong class. Or maybe in a small part of the dragon form. But it was never steadily reproducible.
Oh how I longed for those timeless moments of juicy melting flow!
As I have gone through my feldenkrais training, I have learned how people create this quality of movement. I have also learned how to create it for myself. It started with rolling on the floor like a baby, then learning to do a judo roll.
Now it is seeping more and more into my every day life.
And it all relies on one key understanding...
The most important thing to know is that you never get anywhere
Firstly, recognize there are infinite ways to move. Your human body is capable of an unlimited number of patterns. You have already learned a large number of these, but the vast majority of movements are still just a potential for you.
So if you do happen to learn one more pattern, then you're one step closer to where? The end of the never-ending path?
You see, getting somewhere makes no difference. Wherever you go there's always more to go!
Now that might feel disheartening to you. You might say "well what's the point?" The point is that this isn't about your outcomes, it's about the process!
Warning! Warning! Are you about to read on without fully drinking in that last point? Let me repeat. It's IMPORTANT!
This is about the process!
The outcome is great, but if you aren't feeling the juiciness of the process then you aren't feeling the juiciness of life.
I've been surprised and humbled many times by my 3 year old daughter who has a stronger handle on this point than I do. When I take her on walks through the forest, she is regularly "distracted" by beautiful and interesting things. An insect, a rad stick, or some sloppy mud.
And there I am - getting frustrated, trying to get to the destination, while missing the beauty of the process!
To Improve Your Movement You Need To Check What's Real Based On Your Own Experience
Improving your movement is actually a learning process. To go from a movement which is jerky and uncomfortable to something that is smooth and pleasurable requires that you learn to do something different to what you already know. And all learning requires that you get feedback about what is real, true or authentic.
When I was about 17, my class at school went for a trip to the zoo. Afterwards, one of my teachers asked me what I thought of the trip. I don't remember my words, but I do remember expressing 2 opinions which were in complete opposition to one another. It sounded really dumb. My teacher's face contorted as though his brain had just short-circuited. I felt really stupid and tried to end that conversation as quickly as possible.
Afterwards, I started questioning myself. Why did I say something which sounded so dumb? What I discovered was that I had actually just been regurgitating other peoples opinions about the zoo. And they just happened to contradict each other. I had taken on their opinions for no good reason other than I liked the person or thought they were cool.
That was an embarrassing lesson for me. But it has served me well. Now I feel like I'm an expert bullshit sniffer. I'm highly attuned to whether something is true or real for me. If it doesn't pass the test, I either keep it in the "possible pile" or throw it away completely.
I see this a lot in the world. People have these crazy idea's which they live their lives by and it's pretty clear there hasn't been a thorough investigation of whether it's true or not. It's a case of taking doctrine as truth.
How do I know whether something is true for me? Check against my own experience... My whole self is constantly giving feedback about life. My body gives sensations, my gut generates feelings, I think thoughts and feel emotions. These all help to guide me towards what's authentic for me.
If someone tells me that to improve my posture I should hold my shoulders back and straighten my back, my whole system feels icky inside. I can feel this information is regurgitated. There may be elements of truth in it, but it's mostly unhelpful.
If someone tells me that I was a thief in a past life, I can check in with actual real-time feedback from my system. Is there any evidence? How does it feel? What sensations are present. In this case, it goes into the possible but mostly unhelpful pile.
In a moment I'm going to share some principles of learning. These will all help to increase the quality of feedback that you get from yourself. They are a way of checking in with your own experience to see what is true for you. In essense, they help you to learn from your own experience rather than taking dogma as truth. They are critical skills to know to improve the quality of movement (and life) that you experience.
Principles to improve the process of learning movement (or anything)
Here are the principles of how to learn movement. These are powerful guides to improving your process of life and learning. They might seem quite simple, but it is no easy task to implement them all. I am still working on all of these myself.
Each item (will eventually be) a link to a page which describes the learning principle in more detail.
- How To Improve Your Movement By Using Your Breath
- Improve Your Movement Habits Quickly By Avoiding This One Trap
- Discover Beautiful Flowing Movement By Using Less Effort
- How To Use Questions To Improve Your Movement
- Stay out of pain
- Give yourself time
- Rest frequently
The best way to learn these principles is by using them
You can start to apply them to things you do in daily life.
Explore deeply - How do you get out of bed?
Can you do it while maintaining continuous breath? Or is there some point in the movement where you hold your breath and heave-ho to get over the hump. How can you use less effort? Could you perhaps slow down and sneak past that moment where you begin to tense up? Could you move like water and pour yourself out of bed?
If you come along to a feldenkrais class then these are the principles you will learn how to work with. You'll be guided through many different movement explorations which train your ability to focus on the process instead of progress.
And in doing so, you may find that you begin to move with more beauty, ease and fluidity.