Updated: Mar 2, 2022
Feldenkrais believed that human behaviour is firmly based on the self-image we have made for ourselves. Such an image is mapped on our nervous system, and is made of shapes and relationships of bodily parts, as well as their associated movements, emotions and thoughts.
In “Awareness Through Movement” he wrote - “In reality our self-image is never static. It changes from action to action, but these changes gradually become habits; that is, the actions take on a fixed, unchanging character.”
As we become adults we tend to fix our self-image. In childhood that image is quite dynamic and changes frequently, but in fact the way we are educated to meet the demands of society trains us to use only a small part of our capacities. Our self-image is thus smaller than our potential capacity, because it is built up of only those parts of ourselves that we actually used.
In a mutual relationship, our muscular patterns are following the maps in our brain, which were created by habits formed since early in life, and the earlier they were formed the more difficult is to change them. So we go through life reacting to our environment and external situations with habitual ready-made patterns. Many of those patterns are actually useful for our every day functioning, whilst many others are harmful as they result from organic needs that have been repressed and therefore inhibit aspects of our growth. Often we are left with very little choice because we don’t have other patterns available to respond with. Often we find ourselves, compulsively, even doing the opposite of what we intended to do.
However, the good news is that scientific research confirms that life-long change and transformation are possible because, contrary to what was commonly believed, our brain’s connections are not rigidly fixed but are malleable - and given the right conditions, also capable of regeneration, just like other parts of our bodies!
Our work here is to complete and clarify our self image by paying attention to the different parts of ourselves and how they relate to each other, which can bring about self-knowledge, life-long growth and change. Gradually, we assume responsibility and take charge for our individual evolution and, ultimately, of our collective evolution.
Thank you for your attention. I’m looking forward to seeing you in class.
FELDENKRAIS, Moshe,“Awareness Through Movement”, 1972, 1977.
“Embodied Wisdom” - The Collected Papers of Moshe Feldenkrais, edited by Elizabeth Beringer, 2010.