In college, I was fortunate to meet and study with Prof. Carol McAmis in the Ithaca College School of Music. Carol is a professor of voice, but she’s also a teacher of something called The Feldenkrais Method, and that’s what I studied with her. Moshe Feldenkrais was an Israeli physicist, judo master and teacher. He was one of the people who created the field which is now known generally as Somatic Education — that is to say teaching the body. The Feldenkrais Method uses very sophisticated patterns of extremely small, extremely gentle movements to help you to learn at a very deep level how to use your body more efficiently.
So what does this look like?
In a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement class with Carol, we would all come in and lay down on blankets on the floor of a large rehearsal room. Carol would sit on a stool and mostly read sets of instructions for the movements that we were to make. The things that is so amazing about doing this work is that you would lay on the ground, following the instructions, often feeling like you are doing nothing of any consequence. Yet, when you would get up and very mindfully walk around at the end of the lesson, I was often shocked by how different I felt, how much lighter or taller or thinner or fatter or what ever — but very different, and always somehow easier and more elegant.
One of the aspects of this work which I found so amazing is that there’s no right way to do it. Carol would never correct us in any direct way. She might give general clarification about something, but you had to figure out for yourself if what she was saying applied to you or not, everything applied to everyone in one sense, and no one in another. This is one of the key parts of the method, allowing people to have their own experience and process of discovery. It was truly amazing how sometimes the various members of our class would interpret the instructions in such radically different ways, and yet still receive powerful benefits.
You want me to put what where???
Often the instructions would become confusing, sometimes even disorienting, Carol’s response to this was always the same “enjoy your confusion.” This turned out to be an extremely profound statement for me, and one that continues to affect how I think today. By telling us to enjoy our confusion, she was suggesting a number of things. The first is that confusion is okay, and that it was not necessary to try to only many it immediately. It also taught us to stay in the experience, to really experience, accept, and embrace the confusion. It also started a process for me of learning that I could get excited when I hit a point of confusion, because most often that was the state which came just before discovery. This is something that has stayed with me, and which I remind myself of to this day. It’s an incredibly powerful thing.
When I was putting together this blog post I found a YouTube video of Moshe Feldenkrais himself talking about the importance of letting each person have their own path of discovery.
So, the next time you find yourself feeling like you don’t know which end is up, let me encourage you to stop worrying and enjoy your confusion.