track to effortlessness

by thankfeldenkrais

Like a broken record,
I bark,
Don’t squeeze,
Relax,
That’s too tight,
Stop using so much effort,
Don’t try so hard.

Easier said than done,
But gosh Isaac is blissfully obliging,
And tolerant of my nagging,
And eager in his child’s innocence to please.

I can’t begin to imagine how he must feel,
And I hate myself for being so hard on him.

We can easily identify when something is too challenging for Isaac,
At least,
Because he clenches his entire body,
Right from his toes,
To his jaw.

And everything is less effective,
From movement,
To speech.

And while the ability to remain soft,
Has been a constant through our Feldenkrais sessions,
The effort rears its ugly head ruthlessly,
Relentlessly,
And at times we’re powerless to stop it.

Dystonia,
They label it,
But labels like his GMFCS score,
Are useless,
When it means nothing to Isaac.

And it suddenly becomes even clearer,
That in fact Isaac,
Just like telling him he’s dystonic,
Asking him to relax,
May as well be spoken in a foreign language,
For he doesn’t know what being relaxed is,
Let alone how to order his body to perform it.

But if we can work out a way of showing him,
It might just be the key to everything,
Improved function,
Improved speech,
Less fatigue.

But frankly I am no example.
I’m the polar opposite in fact.
Wound so tight I just might snap at any given moment.
So I too have a lot to learn.

We use the ongoing walker trials to determine,
In walking what requires him to stiffen,
In undue effort,
An anterior Kaye walker weighing more than Isaac himself,
Was a prime example,
The sheer force required to move it around is all effort invoking,
And clearly counter productive,
Erasing any of the benefits,
That being up on his feet,
And walking may offer his development.

With his little yellow crutches,
He’s miles more relaxed,
Partly from the positioning of our therapist behind him facilitating as he goes,
Prohibiting him throwing his head back into extension,
But also because it’s a much more natural stride,
Swinging the arms with each step,
Rather than them being held in position,
And asked to direct an entire heavy apparatus.

Yet he’s a long long way off independent walking with crutches,
And our walker options are so limited,
And clearly do not take into account the idea of ones use of effort.

My frustration with the current model,
Compounding.

Of course it does come down to positioning,
And tailoring tasks to encourage confidence,
A feeling of security,
Of being capable,
In turn reduces effort.

And in sitting on a little chair,
With a table in front of him,
We do see it,
The use of very little or no effort.
For all the work we’ve done for his hip and pelvis,
Now allowing him to maintain good pelvic tilt,
Giving him freedom to move forward and back,
Shift his feet around the floor,
As he angles himself to pick things up,
Post toys down a postal tube,
Easily,
Securely,
With zest and grace.

So we know we can instill a quietness,
In him,
A sense of softness,
And perhaps when he’s at an age,
Where we can explain the idea of relaxing to him in words,
Or demonstrations,
We might be able to extend it into standing and walking,
And see a big leap in function.

But as always his willingness,
Outweighs a lack of comprehension,
And with the help of Feldenkrais,
We remain on the right track to effortlessness.

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By simply understanding that it’s a domineering factor,
In anyone’s ability to move effectively,
And even more so for someone with a brain injury,
Has us miles ahead of the game already.

(Thank Feldenkrais!)

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