feature photo credit, Moshe Feldenkrais and Magic Johnson: feldenkraismethod.com
People want to be self-sufficient. There is an immense satisfaction in being able to pinpoint what is wrong and develop a strategy in how to fix it. The process of correction and exploration can be defined as play — a practice and procedure in doing. Children figure things out during play. It’s not all jovial chaos and demonstrative bliss. It’s learning. As adults, through incident and/or literacy, we seek out others’ strategies. We stop trusting our own process to solve problems and opt for pursuing answers instead. In outsourcing our thinking, we give up our awareness of what’s happening and why it’s happening. Our internal certainty gets traded for external truth.
Thankfully, a collective is beginning to point the compass in another direction. People have begun to look outside the standardized boxes and mathematical formulas presented as the one legitimate way. They are questioning given definitions of success and creating unique goals only they would understand and find use in. They are finding purpose in self-experimentation. In appreciating the personal aspect of the human struggle, there is a likewise appreciation of the personal journey through that struggle. Problems are beautiful puzzles to be solved, and the thoughtfulness in which we approach them dictates whether or not they are perceived as suffering.
We are the masters of our moments. We can feel and be fully conscious of what’s happening. Everyone else offering input is just guessing, or trying to help us reconnect our minds to our bodies.
Awareness is the art of becoming our own expert.
The growing “your gym is a prison” attitude is a by-product of a generation desperate to stop competing in someone else’s game. They’re returning to nature and climbing trees. They’re slowing down and taking the headphones out of their ears. Inundated by noise for so long, they long for the quiet of their thoughts. They want to notice things, to pause and be present. To be cognizant of their breath, and their experience, and the challenge of the day. They’re trying to reverse the numbing and let themselves feel.
The grandaddy of this movement might have been Moshe Feldenkrais. Born in 1904, he was a master of physics and one of the first Europeans to earn a black belt in Judo. Like many who are forced to develop their own methods, Feldenkrais had a problem qualified professionals couldn’t solve – bum knees. He first injured them in a soccer game and suffered further damage during the second World War. When modern medicine failed to offer sufficient relief, he began a process of self-exploration to help restore function and mitigate pain.
Many of his written works are available for free online. Bodily Expressions and A Restoration of Potentiality are two great pieces that give detail into his approach toward building Awareness Through Movement. He echoes all of the current training styles gaining momentum with the same ‘learn by doing’ that kids inherently get through play:
“Organic learning is essential. It can also be therapeutic in essence. It is healthier to learn than to be a patient or even be cured. Life is a process not a thing. And, processes go well if there are many ways to influence. We need more ways to do what we want than the one we know—even if it is a good one in itself”.
We need variability. We need engagement in our practices. We need mindfulness. Moshe understood this almost a hundred years ago. We are wrecking ourselves with our self-imposed rules and rigidity.
Now we have fighting monkeys and functional range conditioners, all finding newer, cooler ways to bring people back to themselves. They are self-limiting, open-ended, and constantly evolving. There are systems and structures in place, but no schedule. No specific end-point means you are free to roam and appreciate what is going on right now.
The wonderfully challenging return to play that is Fighting Monkey.
When everything’s an experience you get so excited to try new things. You know how excited you get when there’s a new gum flavor or TV episode (or Netflix series) available? This joy could be your existence #EveryDamnDay. There doesn’t need to be a reason to define your efforts. You can simply move because it pleases you. If moving is energizing or gives you a sense of fulfillment, imagine if your mind got in on the action and stimulated the body even further. Then think about this action being reciprocal. It’s hard to get bored and/or self-destructive when there’s so many things to investigate and dig into.
As you attempt to navigate what you should and shouldn’t do to get the ‘best’ results, remember that your perception of results is biased by comparison. Your journey and your needs start with your body. It offers you real-time evaluation, instant feedback, and the ability to create the most perfect obstacle to continually satisfy the yearn to learn. Acknowledge its expertise and listen to it.