Monthly Archives: November 2020

What Triggers Anxiety

A despairing human figure sits surrounded by question marks.We’re living in extraordinarily unsettled times, no matter where we are. It seems there’s little that we can control right now, except the way that we choose to respond to this chaotic world. Yet it can feel as if we don’t have choices, as if circumstances trap us. Moshe Feldenkrais suggested that believing we have no choice creates anxiety.

Feldenkrais also lived in unsettled times. He lived through pogroms in the Ukraine. He fled the Nazi invasion of France. The method he developed is his response: to cultivate self-knowledge through movement.

In the Elusive Obvious, Feldenkrais writes:
“When choice is reduced to only one movement or act without any alternatives, anxiety may be so great that we cannot even do the only possible movement. . . Anxiety can be a positive, useful phenomenon. It assures our safety from risking what we feel would endanger our very existence. Anxiety appears when deep in ourselves we know that we have no other choice—no alternative way of acting [emphasis mine]. . . . Without learning to know ourselves as intimately as we possibly can, we limit our choice. Life is not very sweet without freedom of choice.”

I teach and practice the Feldenkrais Method® for many reasons, not least of which is, to help us discover and expand our range of choices, both physical and mental. So that we aren’t forced to dwell in the shape of anxiety. So that no matter what comes, we have ourselves to rely on.

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As a specific antidote to anxiety, here’s a lesson for you: Focus on Your Tanden, available to download or play for the next few weeks.