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.

The Burden of Thought

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.

  • There is a philosopher, I forget who, who has a scale of emotions with apathy and depression on the lower end. Confusion is a very high state. I’ve always thought that questions are much more powerful than answers. We are thrown (like a potter throws clay) to want the answers, but when we have the courage and fortitude to allow ourselves to stay in the question, in the confusion, the Universe opens up for us.

    Thanks for the post and the video.
    .-= Geoff´s last blog ..Post 20 – Myths =-.

  • There is a philosopher, I forget who, who has a scale of emotions with apathy and depression on the lower end. Confusion is a very high state. I’ve always thought that questions are much more powerful than answers. We are thrown (like a potter throws clay) to want the answers, but when we have the courage and fortitude to allow ourselves to stay in the question, in the confusion, the Universe opens up for us.

    Thanks for the post and the video.
    .-= Geoff´s last blog ..Post 20 – Myths =-.

  • admin

    Those are very wise words – though not always comfortable advice to follow… good – but not comfortable.

    I had a spiritual teacher who told me once something a teacher had told her – “if living a spiritual life isn’t turning you upside down and inside out, you’re not doing it right.” That has certainly been true in my experience.

    Thanks Geoff!

    Andy

  • admin

    Those are very wise words – though not always comfortable advice to follow… good – but not comfortable.

    I had a spiritual teacher who told me once something a teacher had told her – “if living a spiritual life isn’t turning you upside down and inside out, you’re not doing it right.” That has certainly been true in my experience.

    Thanks Geoff!

    Andy

  • To me confusion is change. Once your start something no matter what there is a certain amount of confusion. Sometimes is takes a lot to stick with the confusion and see it through to the end. For example: in moving you have the idea to move, make plans which takes you in to confusion of making decisions. Then you have to pack – whoa! talk about confusion. Then you have to unpack, still confusion. Sticking it out results in a new place to live with everything back in order. It is life. It is the ability to get through the confusion that makes us great.

    Sheila
    .-= Sheila Atwood´s last blog ..Optin Campaign – AWeber Gives Top Of The Line Service =-.

  • To me confusion is change. Once your start something no matter what there is a certain amount of confusion. Sometimes is takes a lot to stick with the confusion and see it through to the end. For example: in moving you have the idea to move, make plans which takes you in to confusion of making decisions. Then you have to pack – whoa! talk about confusion. Then you have to unpack, still confusion. Sticking it out results in a new place to live with everything back in order. It is life. It is the ability to get through the confusion that makes us great.

    Sheila
    .-= Sheila Atwood´s last blog ..Optin Campaign – AWeber Gives Top Of The Line Service =-.

  • admin

    yes – I think that’s right Sheila – right on.

  • admin

    yes – I think that’s right Sheila – right on.

  • Christine Rankie

    An especially meaningful piece for me. I had heard/learned about Feldenkrais and been interested in its potential. You inspired me to look into it further and experience it for myself. Thanks, Andy! Christine

    • admin

      Thanks Christine!
      Feldenkrais is great stuff – a lot depends on the teacher you are working with. If you want to start at home, pick up the book Relaxercise: The Easy New Way to Health and FitnessIt’s very easy, still powerful and a great place to start.

      Andy

  • Christine Rankie

    An especially meaningful piece for me. I had heard/learned about Feldenkrais and been interested in its potential. You inspired me to look into it further and experience it for myself. Thanks, Andy! Christine

    • admin

      Thanks Christine!
      Feldenkrais is great stuff – a lot depends on the teacher you are working with. If you want to start at home, pick up the book Relaxercise: The Easy New Way to Health and FitnessIt’s very easy, still powerful and a great place to start.

      Andy