The Feldenkrais Method®
Of Movement, Mindfulness, and Learning
Kinesthetic Edge's Digital Press Publications provide you with in-depth, experientially-based learning. Each publication explores the Feldenkrais Method, through the lens of a special topic or activity.
Following is an excerpt from Kinesthetic Edge for Golfers. Written by Andrea Higgins
It doesn't have to be like this...
Your golf swing, at its most fundamental level, is simply movement. Movement that you practice over and over again becomes habit. Therefore, we could say that your golf swing is a habit of your mind that is expressed through your body. Ideally, you want your body habits to reflect an intelligent thought process. Oftentimes, however, our movement is simply a series of repetitive patterns that formed at some point in our past, and which were successful enough that we started to repeat them.
The way you move today is a combination of the very early patterns that developed as a result of the experiential learning you did as an infant and toddler, and how you applied those earliest of movement patterns to the skills you acquired later. The problem is that once we learn a physical skill, let's use walking for example, we tend to do it automatically without any attention to what it feels like.
In a commencement speech at Kenyan College in 2005, writer David Foster Wallace (1962-2008) began his speech with the following story, which calls to mind the question Albert Einstein once posed: "What does a fish know about the water in which he swims all his life?" He said:
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?" (Wallace)
Like the fish in water, we are creatures of habit and gravity. We walk multiple times a day without experiencing how it feels. The experience of walking eludes us.
Of course, it is not practical to get lost in the sensory experience of every walking (or waking) moment. If we tried, we would probably forget where we were heading and what we were supposed to do once we got there. However, reconnecting to our sense of movement through Feldenkrais training is a very powerful and effective way to selectively bring sensory awareness back into focus. The ability to do this is a skill. It is an essential skill if you want to be able to intelligently examine your movement patterns.
In the book, Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind: 16 Essential Characteristics for Success, authors and educators Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick identify key attributes of intelligent behavior. They include metacognition (or thinking about thinking) as one of these key behaviors. Moshe Feldenkrais proposed that movement is an essential component of the experience of thinking. In his lecture "Mind and Body," printed in Your Body Works, Moshe writes:
I believe that the unity of mind and body is an objective reality. They are not just parts somehow relegated to each other, but an inseparable whole while functioning. A brain without a body could not think; at least, the continuity of mental functions is assured by corresponding motor functions. (73)
If we consider the concept of meta-cognition as described by Costa and Kallick, through the perspective of mind body unity offered by Moshe Feldenkrais, we realize that it is possible to examine the working of one's mind through the felt and sensed experience of the body in movement. What does this mean for you? If improving your golf swing is your goal, first you need to understand how your mind senses your golf swing through your body.
A lot goes on in the body during the golf swing, far too much to be aware of in the moment. It is possible, however, to examine one small part of it at a time. The audio Feldenkrais lessons in this program will help you to break down the multiple sensations of the golf swing, so that you can more easily sense the underlying patterns of movement that combine to make the whole. As you bring awareness to one movement pattern at a time, you will start to feel the way each pattern integrates throughout your body. Once that happens, you will be much more likely to embody those patterns during your golf swing.
[End of excerpt]
©Andrea Higgins. All rights reserved..