Tag Archives: learning

Perfecting Appreciation of Imperfection

A young woman practices Awareness Through Movement.

© International Feldenkrais® Federation Archive, Robert Golden.

Learning demands that we make mistakes repeatedly. It’s impossible to improve without error. It sometimes seems counter-intuitive, but to approach perfection, we must embrace imperfection. How many times does a baby fall before her first step?

But it’s SO hard to allow ourselves fail. Many of us are perfectionists, or were raised by them. We’ve been punished for failing. Or we punish ourselves. Negative self-talk can be a constant companion.

Show & Tell

Feldenkrais and violin teacher Lisa Burrell recently wrote a moving reflection on the value of modeling imperfection. She shares an anecdote about one of her students struggling with demanding parents and teachers.

Lisa’s own mistake in playing a passage became a pivotal moment in a lesson. “I was kind of dumbstruck that the simple act of admitting my mistake would be so powerful in this relationship.” The student’s demeanor changed markedly.

Lisa writes: “In this world of increasing competition and emphasis on getting the right answer, we need more than ever to be guides to what real learning is, not just in our language, but by sharing our own ongoing processes and revealing our own powerful vulnerability.”

Read Lisa’s complete blog here.

How Change Happens

Several times in the last week, the subject of change has come up.

We all come to the Feldenkrais Method® because there’s something we want to change about ourselves.

Maybe it’s an ongoing problem—I had shoulder and neck spasms that wouldn’t go away.

Maybe it’s something about we want to improve. For example, I’m working with someone right now who’s training for a half-marathon. We’re focusing on efficient running.

Moshe Feldenkrais demonstrates.

Moshe Feldenkrais demonstrates.

Moshe Feldenkrais himself created the method because he injured his knee. He taught himself how to use it again, and then re-injured the same knee. And again taught himself to use his knee differently.

One of the things we’ll discover, if we commit to the Feldenkrais Method, either through private lessons (Functional Integration®), group classes (Awareness Through Movement®) or both: change happens in fits and starts. We learn, and then we assimilate that learning.

I remember a particular lesson with my Austin practitioner Allison, when I was having neck spasms. I sat up after the FI. She asked me, “What does your neck feel like?” I said, “I can’t feel my neck.” My head seemed to be floating effortlessly.

She said, “Remember what this feels like.

It was a delicious feeling. And it was comforting. My neck spasms returned a few days later. But now I knew what it felt like to be without them. I’d experienced the sensation. I knew that I could find that feeling again. I felt hopeful.

In the preface to Awareness Through Movement, Dr. Feldenkrais writes:

. . . the learning process is irregular and consists of steps. . . there will be downs as well as ups. . . . We must not become discouraged. . . if we find we have slipped back to the original condition at any time; these regressions will become rarer and return to the improved condition easier as the learning process continues.”

The good news: we can all change and improve the ease, grace and pleasure of our self-use, if we choose. We have more available to us than we are currently using. And the more we learn, the easier and more efficient the learning process becomes.

What are you waiting for?