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Feldenkrais and Your Mental Health

May 22, 2012

It’s been 20 years ago that I left a women’s therapy group to take a Feldenkrais training, knowing that I needed the deep sensorimotor experiences that the Feldenkrais Method offered. I knew I needed to learn new ways of behaving in the face of lifelong patterns. I had done some fabulous work with a therapist and would be forever grateful for what I’d gained, but I knew I needed to deepen my learning by using those skills in new ways. With that I joined my training.

After I graduated from my Feldenkrais training, enthused and excited about my new life, I got divorced, traveled in Europe, started a PhD program across the country, dropped out of the PhD program, moved back to the northwest, volunteered in Bosnia, moved back to Oregon, met the love of my life and married him, figured out how to stay married to him and be part of a remarriage with children, and most recently began the journey of escorting our various parents to doctors, and so on and so forth and so goes a life.

The journey through letting go of my old patterns was a process; a slow, completely unglamorous, gradual, unsexy, chaotic, sometimes joyful and sometimes excruciating moving toward health of spirit and mind. In fact, it’s ironic that I would have never described myself as anxious until a decade ago. I was so used to how I felt it was simply the way I was. It took me the study and dissection of some of the deep patterns of behavior in my family to really unravel the root, and that root was anxiety.

These days, I’m convinced that the single most important thing a human can learn is how to soothe the self. I’m convinced that without the ability to self-soothe we will behave in ways that keep us searching, needing to know, fighting the situation, and bracing for what will come. Regardless of whether your health is compromised by your anxiety, depression, anger, or mania, which we all have in different doses on any given day, self-soothing will keep you in your skin, in your spirit, and in your life.

Learning to soothe is a process and it’s our human work. It’s why I never balk at folding the laundry. It is not a chore, it is a soothing. Some days, walking the dogs is what soothes. I cannot control war or the latest election outcome, but I can make this moment something that makes sense to me. It’s my work to make these soothing moments happen in my life. And, this is what I teach my students.

We may never know what is coming around the next corner of life. We may never know whether we are truly okay. We may never feel completely welcomed or loved or wanted or needed. Because of that, we need to be able to soothe.

If I could urge you toward one thing, it is the learning of soothing of the body, mind, and spirit. Learn how you get in the way of that soothing for yourself and how you can get out of the way. Then, you can stand in the face of anything and simply be.

  1. Kim, what a beautiful “read”! It starts a morning in the South Downs,UK. Some one else will sooth me, with reflexology this morning. Soothed myself with a couple of walks. I love your writing, thank you. Linda

  2. Coincidence, I’m also headed for a reflexology appointment later this morning. Right along with our self-soothing skills, we need to shore up our abilities to be self-sufficient in that area. My personal observations tell me you’ve got a good handle on both…….enjoy the rest of your trip!

  3. pamela granata permalink

    Great article to read first thing this morning. Thank you!

  4. kim, you ROCK!!! i love how you write about your journey… totally agree with you on your choice of description as “to soothe”….. soothing our mind and heart being the key to abundant well being. slowly shifting out of my old patterns has been greatly assisted by feldenkrais classes over these many years (). so happy gayle introduced me to YOU and your classes in pdx.
    it is always such a joy to be in your friday class. thank you for choosing to teach.
    see you this friday. cathy

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