It can be tempting to work with the problem.
Like, when my neck hurts, I keep feeling this urge to work with my neck, to massage the sore places, and to tweak things. While this might give temporary relief, it doesn't seem to resolve the issues. Sometimes it even makes things worse.
Pain in my neck is more successfully worked out in my whole system, by working with my breath, spine, hands, ribs, eyes, jaw. These areas don’t usually seem painful. So, how can they be the key to neck pain?
As a dancer, I know how to keep my torso very still and stable, (imagine the breath disfunctions that might carry over into my everyday life!). In order for my upper body to be still--focusing on the computer, for example--my neck has to do extra work. That extra work results in pain, and injury. If you bend a long wire across its whole length, the stability remains. If you bend a wire only in one place repeatedly, that place becomes hot (inflamed), and eventually breaks down.
Our strengths and our difficulties are both integral to how we are organized. In Feldenkrais Method, the approach is to focus on, and increase the skillfulness we already have. In this way, we can use our strengths as the key to disrupting patterns of pain.
So my skills are in keeping my torso stable, immovable. That is a talent! Lessons that help me become more intelligent about how much I tense, how and when I tense, actually help me learn to do the opposite. (Paradox!) I learn to find movement in my upper ribs and torso, so that the movement of my neck becomes more integrated and I have less pain. In this mini-lesson, we move all as one, stable and together, and then begin to differentiate parts. Try it out and see how it impacts your sense of yourself on the earth and in standing.
Feldenkrais Method Movement Meditation (guided recording below)
1. Lie on your back, and map the imprint you can feel yourself making on the earth.
2. Stand your feet, bend your knees. Cross your legs comfortably, arms long with palms together (or in a hug around, with one arm under, one arm over. Play with rolling to one side, keeping your eyes, sternum, hands, knees, all aligned! Follow the sense of the movement in each direction--stay with the one side only.
Less is more--that means, a movement that allows you to have NO MOMENTUM, NO FORCE, GLOBAL AWARENESS.
6. Play with staying rolled to the side, balancing--in this shape, relax everything possible while staying rolled a little to the side (like in the photo).
8. Let your arms, legs, body continue to roll to this same side, but let your eyes, head, and nose go opposite!
Play with the timing, staying in ease. Less is MORE! That means, one movement done smoothly is worth more than many repetitions.
9. Try it on the other side!
10. SENSE YOURSELF ON THE EARTH. Feel the difference of your imprint on the ground. Sense yourself also in standing. What's new, more available, more present in your sense of yourself?
Want to deep dive? Here is a recording of this lesson.
If you choose to follow along with this lesson, or if you choose to try the moves on your own, remember that nothing should ever increase pain. Read this HOW-TO for more information.
Other free and low-cost resources?
Annie Thoe's Sensing Vitality offers short video lessons. My recommendation would be to do these at a much slower rate (they will already seem slow to most of you). Find a lesson that seems completely unrelated to your difficulty, and see what happens.
Taro Iwamoto has a video every Wednesday with mini-movement explorations that can be challenging, playful. Stay within your comfortable range!
Jill Aldridge offers bi-weekly, donation-based/free classes weekly in Hanna Somatics, a related field of movement work. Clear some room on the floor, and possibly have a chair nearby.
Want something longer? Something guided, and created just for you?
Schedule an online Feldenkrais Session with me--these are $60/an hour (40% off regular rates) or meet with a Feldenkrais Method Practitioner near you. Need resources? Ask! I'm happy to spend some time connecting you to all kinds of people who do online movement or healing work in many modalities including Reiki, Shamanic work, Somatic work.
With love and gratitude, Heather
Heather Danso, now Heather Emanuel, is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Method® Practitioner, Restorative Yoga teacher, LMT, and Awareness Through Movement® facilitator.
As an artist, she playfully explores work in Acrylic, printing, and multimedia, creating portraits and abstracts that explore expression, playfulness, identity, and the possible. Her CV is here.