Awareness Through Movement® – A Truly Slow Movement
S-L-O-W…. slow food, slow money, slow parenting, slow travel, slow art and slow body movements are just a few examples of a new trend which Wikipedia defines as a cultural shift toward slowing down life’s pace. Our current life style is hurried, busy, with lots to do. Our advances in technology continue to speed us down the fast lane. This isn’t necessarily all bad but we do need balance and the slow movement may have much to offer.
Moving our bodies slowly with awareness through such modalities as tai chi, qi gong, yoga and the Feldenkrais Method® have been shown to be beneficial for dealing with stress. There are also a growing number of pain clinics and Integrative Health centers that offer slow movement, awareness-based modalities for pain including pain caused by cancer and cancer treatments, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions. “Some experts suggest that these slow methods…increase the parasympathetic relaxation response which in turn reduces the stress response, promotes immune function that inhibits inflammation and stimulates healing…Slow movement is like Slow Food in which all acts related to eating – shopping, preparing, ingesting, and digesting – are done with awareness and presence.” (Slow Movement with Awareness: Better than Exercise? by Alan Fogel)
The Feldenkrais Method® group classes called Awareness Through Movement® is slow movement. In these classes you are encouraged to move slowly, to take time to feel how you are moving and assimilate it. The movement sequences that are taught are unusual or novel. This encourages you to break free from the habitual ways that you move. It also encourages you to feel how you are moving in order to become aware of yourself.
Moving slowly also allows you to notice if you are using unnecessary effort, what I refer to as parasitic action. A simple example of this might be holding your breath while you are learning a new movement or activity, or even tightening your jaw, or clenching your fist.
Research and evidence suggest that it is not only moving slowly that is beneficial—but it is moving slowly with awareness. Awareness of how we act is essential if we are to change. The Awareness Through Movement® aspect of the Feldenkrais Method® helps us to actually use movement to become aware of our thinking, sensations, feelings and how we move (It’s not Awareness OF Movement, but Awareness THROUGH Movement). The way we act/move can change once we are aware of what we are doing. That was one of the brilliant realizations of Moshe Feldenkrais over 50 years ago that led to the development of the Feldenkrais Method®. With ample research now supporting this understanding, perhaps the Slow Movement Movement is ready to gather momentum.