The Value of Attention
“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
― Mary Oliver
It’s spring! Our senses are stimulated by the changes that happen everywhere. The temperature is changing, the light, the colours, the sounds…and we find ourselves spontaneously paying more attention to the environment. Sometimes we are able to find a quietude and experience a kind of expansion where, simultaneously, we can easily include several things in our attention. When that happens there’s a different taste of one self, a feeling of clarity and dissolution at the same time…a vitality! Do you relate to that? What do you feel in yourself in moments of connection with Nature?
Much is being written these days about the role of attention in learning, distinguishing different kinds of attention and their functions. Attention is also essential to what we do in the Feldenkrais Method. It is actually the most important thing! It is not the movements that we do during the classes, but our self-observation in action - which is while we move - that gives the chance to the nervous system to discover new resources in oneself and make changes accordingly. The result is an improved and more fluent action accompanied by a similar feeling of clarity and vitality as when we pay attention to Nature.
To share a bit more about the kind of attention required in this method, I find nothing better than Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais advice, in his book “The Elusive Obvious”:
“Do not concentrate, for this means literally not looking around. Concentration is a useful principle sometimes in life, but in learning, attention must be directed alternately to the background and the figure. In learning, you have to know first the trees and then the forest where they belong. The shifting from figure to background and vice versa becomes so familiar that one can simultaneously perceive both, without any bothering or striving to be efficient.”
The kind of learning that Feldenkrais is talking about is organic learning, not academic learning. In another chapter of the same book he explains:
“Organic learning is lively and takes place when one is in a good mood, and works at short intervals. The attitude is less serious, and the spells are more erratic compared with a day of academic learning or study.”
This spring time I wish you to feel inspired to immerse yourself in Nature, wherever you can find it, and also to practice some Feldenkrais - I guarantee you that both processes are highly organising and restorative of life energy!
Thank you for your attention:) I’m looking forward to seeing you in class.