Simplify Your Life

The paperclip. Simple. Efficient. Enduring. A perfect design.

© B. Parsons

The human organism is also an enduring design that has successfully met the human species‘ objectives (making and raising new humans).

Many people, however, suffer from back pain, depression, stress, burn out, high blood pressure, skin disorders, sleeplessness, tendonitis, headache, or other problems of the body and mind.

That begs the question, is the human body badly designed? I believe not. If the design were bad, then everyone in the same office or with the same job would have the same problems. This simply is not the case. Also, when pain comes, it could be assumed that it would never go away, but in fact people have good days and bad, even when their daily routine remains constant. In addition, a health scourge in one country or at one time, can be almost completely unknown in another culture or at another time. The difference then is not the physical body, its design, but how the body is used – habits and lifestyle.

Seen from the perspective of the individual, how can a person avoid such lifestyle problems and lead their best possible life? Many people with mental or physical health issues may feel overwhelmed, that their life is complicated and difficult. An understandable wish would be for a simpler, more efficient, and comfortable.

How do we go about kicking complexity out and being simple, efficient and comfortable?

Smiling can make you happy. The body influences the brain and the emotions. Scientific research has shown evidence for how the old idea that the brain controls the body in a one-way relationship was a theory whose time is past. Experiments show that the brain and the body interact dynamically with each other. Our actions influence our thinking and our thinking influences our actions. Logically, therefore, if we change and improve the body and how we move, we can have a positive influence on our own mental and emotional health.

huffpost – Read about how facial expressions can influence our moods here.

This is what we do in Feldenkrais®. The Feldenkrais® Method is a mind-body activity that uses slow movement to stimulate awareness. This awareness lets us sense and feel and know what we do. Then, we can stop doing one movement and replace it with a better one. In summary, movement has the purpose of letting in awareness; awareness allows choice, which results in change.

People who do Feldenkrais® recount how it has transformed their thinking, feeling and doing. For example, one of my clients, a violinist suffering recurring tendonitis, was able to practice the violin after class without any pain, and her mood was euphoric. Another client slept well for the first time in weeks and woke pain free, refreshed and full of energy after a series of classes.

What are ‚inefficient movements‘ that can be changed? To give a crass example, some people stick their tongue out writing. Many people hunch their shoulders or hold their breath as they type. Such parasitical actions upset the body bio-mechanics, and waste energy and lead to long term negative effects.

Foto: Kyson Dana @ Unsplash

How do we recognize a simple, efficient movement? The most important sign is comfort. Sitting and typing with the shoulders relaxed is comfortable. Running with soft and free hips and shoulders is comfortable. Picking up a heavy weight with a straight back is a comfortable way to avoid injury. In conclusion, what is efficient will also be comfortable and simple. Efficient, comfort, and simple, are three features of the same thing: healthy, resilient, joyous self-use.

Feldenkrais® helps people to sense unnecessary effort, try out alternatives, and eliminate the inefficient movements. Feldenkrais® can help a person can become more elegant and refined, and less likely to suffer pain and injury.

The physicist and engineer Moshe Feldenkrais who created all the exercises of the Feldenkrais® Method said that movement

„… should be light, comfortable and simple. It becomes simpler to the extent that it becomes comfortable.“

Sometimes is it hard to understand a written explanation. It is best to come to Feldenkrais® 3 or 4 times to experience it and understand how it can help you solve movement and other problems.

“Though human ingenuity may make various inventions which, by the help of various machines answering the same end, it will never devise any inventions more beautiful, nor more simple, nor more to the purpose than Nature does; because in her inventions nothing is wanting, and nothing is superfluous, and she needs no counterpoise when she makes limbs proper for motion in the bodies of animals.”

Leonardo da Vinci
Foto: © IFF, Rosalie O’Connor

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