Thank Feldenkrais!

A road much travelled, but on no ones road map – Cerebral Palsy found me when my son was born – we might have prayed to Buddah or to the universe but we Thank Feldenkrais everyday! This is our journey.

we want fun

If it’s fun,
Bringing us joy,
Feelings of achievement and success,
Then we what more of it.

This is my own personal experience.

After ten years as a stay-at-home mum,
A special needs mum,
A mum driven to be the best she can be,
Always putting her children’s needs first,
A life bursting with constant demand,
It didn’t leave much room for fun.

So to now be back playing the sport I love,
That genuinely brings me so much joy,
Laughter,
And social interaction,
Playing an instrument that fills up my creative void,
That for longer than I can remember had always had an outlet;

I feel rejuvenated.

I feel appreciative.

I feel purposeful.

I feel happy.

My body is moving,
My brain is engaging,
And I’m more myself than ever.

Now this is pretty crucial,
When I think about Isaac’s development.

While I don’t have a brain injury,
The same driving factors are at play.

Our brains both recognise pleasure,
The sense of joy and achievement,
The waves of satisfaction,
And recall upon it like a drug.

And while I can go out and join a tennis club,
Or pick up a flute,
For Isaac it has been a finely facilitated crafting,
A process of recreating,
Reinventing,
And discovering ways to tap into that level of satisfaction,
Albeit mostly through guided movement initially,
But subsequently through more and more self directed play with every passing year,
The outcomes of pure joy at our own physical successes,
Are parallel,
And drives the craving for more,
All the while fuelling the brain with skills,
Of new pathways to movement,
To creativity,
To self.

I now see clearer than ever,
Just how much of Isaac’s Feldenkrais journey thus far,
Has been about play.

About having fun.

Never about therapy.

And yet,
His developmental growth,
Improvements,
And capabilities,
Just keep reaching further and beyond.

And I’ll never be more grateful for our Feldenkrais Practitioner,
For the past ten years of always thinking,
Of ways to bring everything into play.

Beyond the FI (Functional Integration),
Hands on guided work she does biweekly with Isaac,
She has so effectively found access to Isaac’s missing links,
Through play.

Constantly creating,
Finding,
Inventing,
Games and activities,
That seek out what’s unavailable,
Or hindering current function,
And draws it out,
In play,
Giving Isaac access to it,
And adding it to his repertoire.

And the more I see of this approach,
I credit it also to the mindset biproduct,
That he carries,
That HE CAN.

And more so that HE WANTS TO.

And through our practitioners expertise,
And all the experimentation,
She can make sure the particulars of a game or activity,
Like the weight of a bat,
The texture of a surface,
The placement of a ball,
His starting position for any given movement,
Are advantageous,
Not making things more difficult,
Before he’s even begun.

We want the thrill of the game,
Without the overload of too much challenge.

We want the success,
And drive for more,
Without reaching fatigue.

It’s a balance,
That doesn’t exclude,
Or isolate him from participation,
But rather encourages and enhances participation,
Through seeing and knowing,
His efforting-patterns,
His movement organisations,
And putting them together as best he can,
In play.

We don’t want perfect,
We want easy.

We certainly don’t want to be precious,
We want confidence.

We want invaluable variation,
We want having-a-go,
And we want fun.

It can range from big movement high energy games,
Like balloon tennis,
To quiet board-games,
And everything in between,
Extending from his Feldenkrais lessons,
To home,
And into the school curriculum,
Because everywhere is an opportunity for growth,
For inclusion,
And most importantly for fun.

And EVEN to the Roller Skating Rink.

I mean why not?!

And the excitement and joy it brought with it,
Was priceless.

(Not to mention the mind blowing skill of independently roller-skating with his walker)

Next up,
Power-wheelchair tennis,
HOORAY!

Stay tuned folks!

pausing

“Pausing creates space for something”

-Nerum Ankti

Quote from The Intention To Pause

Find the video at Movement and Creativity Library — Movement & Creativity

ten

For every moment during the first year,
I clung on for dear life,
I barely remember much more than the knot in my stomach,
The beat of my rapid heart,
The hypervigilance of my fear,
And the heavy blanket of disbelief.

But I do remember his smiles.

And the few years that followed,
I grew into being his mum,
Claiming my place amid the white coats,
My voice amid the noise,
Gaining confidence to find our way,
To travel down the unknown road that lay before us.

And all the while he smiled.

By the time he donned his third birthday crown,
I began to really see the sweet little boy behind the Bambi lashes,
His single spoken words music in the songs of conversation.
And while our journey,
That never seemed to travel straight,
Continued to rock wildly with turbulence,
The pull of so many shoulds,
Powerful and daunting,
The path was now firmly paved by The Feldenkrais Method.

And by now his smile had captured hearts around the globe.

And every subsequent year,
He kicked goal,
After goal,
As The Method gave him continually expanding access to himself,
Which gave him access to his surroundings,
Which gave him access to interaction,
Which gave him access to learning,
To life.
And gave us,
Access to the wonder that is Isaac.

Always,
With a smile from ear to ear.

And now he is ten.

Ten years of Isaac.

And the tapestry that weaves his ten years,
Wraps and twists around so much love,
Support,
And generosity.

Ten years that has given me an insight into myself,
I don’t think I ever would have found.

Ten years that while at times seeming like a lifetime,
Splashed with impossibilities,
Has arrived in the blink of an eye.

And all the heartbreak,
The impossible times,
Seem far from insignificant,
But somewhat distant,
Because of where it’s lead.

And while the hard times are still present,
And without doubt ahead of us still,
The unchartered path before us doesn’t seem so daunting,
Because Isaac is leading the way more definitively in his chosen direction.

And more and more,
I get to stand back,
And marvel at his choices,
His intentions,
His take on the world.

And the foreverness of Cerebral Palsy,
Of disability,
That almost crushed me alive,
Ten years ago,
Doesn’t seem so hard,
And quite possibly instead,
A gift,
Looking into this bright smiley face everyday.

Happy birthday my darling boy xox

how much we learn

I pause for a moment,
As I watch my daughter quite elegantly backstroke her way down the length of the lap pool,
And I’m reminded with a jolt of affection,
Astonishment and wonder,
That she’s only six years old,
That she’s only been learning for a minuscule six years so far.

And yet,
Look how much she’s learned!

The sheer magnitude of what’s been possible for her in her very short life so far,
Suddenly takes my breath away.

And certainly extends well beyond the pool.

It’s like I forgot to pay attention.

Because with a healthy brain,
I didn’t need to question her development.

I simply took for granted that she knew how to learn.

And just now,
In this moment,
A soundtrack of bustling afternoon swim lessons,
And the stench of chlorine filling every space of the enclosed aquatic centre,
I am humbled by the acknowledgement of how incredible learning is.

And how lucky we are to learn.

And fascinated further still,
By the wonders of how it takes place,
Neurotypically with seemingly little awareness,
And for those with an acquired brain injury,
Condensed with awareness.

And yet,
We can all still learn.

There is no deadline.

There is only time.

And if we choose to use our time well,
With particular consideration to movement,
We can all learn how to learn,
Or keep on learning,
And how much we learn is continuously,
Blissfully open-ended.

For my daughter Camilla,
I’m forever proud of you.

variation

And to have variation,
Is to generate differences on purpose.

Interlude.

intentions for a new year

Image

Artwork by Tiffany Sankary

where do we go from here

The Ocean Alley song lyrics,
“Where do we go, where do we go, from here”,
Always swim around my head when we appear to arrive at a junction of importance,
Particularly the end of a calendar year.

I fill with a nervous energy,
Slightly panicked,
That we didn’t quite accomplish what we set out to,
And that what’s not finished,
Feels to grow in weighty importance.

While a new year does,
Sit,
Shiny and appealing in it’s newness,
It’s blank canvas of possibilities,
I have begun to feel a shivery haunt,
Of passing over the in-progress,
Into it’s open expanse.

And the direction in which to take,
To reach the finish line,
Feels impossible to decipher.

And then,
As I blast Knees through the house,
Because I’m sick of the sound of my own rendition,
Feeling completely awash with uncertainty,
I realise,
That it’s just that,
The element of unpredictability,
The unknown,
And my own impatience.

And I’ve never done well with unpredictable.

I’m hardwired for the comfort of the familiar,
And a need to know,
Immediately.

I mean,
I have certainly lived and grown with a huge unknown,
Since the birth of Isaac,
And balanced out my responses in varying degrees of success,
During his journey within mine,
But it doesn’t seem to get any easier.

And every time something pops up,
There’s a setback,
Or an unforeseen outcome,
It feels brutally personal,
Sickeningly unfair,
Or pure ecstasy,
Depending on the situation.

And don’t for one second misunderstand me,
Isaac has smashed-it-out-of-the-park,
He’s broken-the-mould,
Outdone himself,
At every stage of his diagnostic expectations,
But on this merry-go-round,
One thing always takes,
From another,
And seemingly he can’t just have it all.

And that,
Can be very discombobulating.

It’s not ever about being disappointed with Isaac,
Not ever,
But the injustice of it for him,
Just breaks my heart.

But as I’m repeatedly told,
That’s the nature of beast that is brain injury.

And the rotating energy pool that Isaac has,
That us neurotypicals,
Don’t have to contend with,
Therefore cannot completely appreciate,
Or understand,
How real the limits are,
And just how much time it takes to replenish,
Re-set,
Re-fill the energy-tank,
And how there’s only so much that can be actioned in any one moment,
At a certain reduced speed,
And for a certain diminished length of time.

Particularly when something is new,
Or there’s a drastic change in circumstances.

And what’s both new and drastic for Isaac,
Is that he is walking,
The integration of his legs into his self image,
Has been huge over the past year,
Then furthermore,
The added variable of having ankles that move and wobble,
Without the fixed structure of an AFO,
Has vastly increased demand on his system,
And mixing all that together with the increased expectations of school,
Social interactions and life of an almost ten year old,
Suddenly the reverting to slurred incomprehensible speech,
The return to excessive drooling,
The reappearance of the relentless chicken-wing right arm jutting behind him,
And lake of progress to his upper limb function,
Makes a whole lot more sense.

Even though it still isn’t fair.

But as always,
I’m thankful,
Because despite yearning for a different outcome,
I have the privilege of seeing it from this perspective,
A gift of the Feldenkrais Method.

And while I’m still first and foremost a mum,
Prone to the ferocity of maternal claws in protection of my babies,
The need to fix things,
To put the Band-Aid on,
Making everything better,
I cannot fix this.

Isaac is not broken,
He has a nervous system that needs the gentleness of a mothers kiss to the forehead.

And the continued kindness of the Feldenkrais Method.

And I’ll just have to keep singing Ocean Alley,
Knowing,
That the Method always knows where to go from here,
And the rollover of one calendar year to another,
Is nothing more than an invisible line,
To the same place we already are.

The End of Chapter Thirty.

one year on

We’re one year on,
From that cool autumn November 12th day in California when Isaac walked independently for the first time.

And it still gives me goosebumps reliving the footage,
The overwhelming sensations running through my system,
As palpable as the moment it took place.

And twelve months on I still can’t quite believe it,
I know it’s real,
But even now it feels like a daydream.

The moments when I catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye,
As he wanders past my open bedroom door,
All nonchalant as if he’s been walking his whole life,
Stops me,
Every,
Single,
Time.

And as we meander down a bush track,
On the other side of the world from where it all began,
In the heat of pre-summer Australia,
A year later,
I continue to be awestruck by what he has been able to achieve.

But it prompts me to reiterate,
Isaac didn’t get to where he is today with his walking by walking practice.

I do credit the SPML procedure in August 2019,
For without I’m not sure he’d have found the ease in which he now has,
The reprieve from the ever-pull of solidified myofascial tissue,
Constantly demanding all of his systems attention,
Sabotaging the potential of certain organisation,
Ready and waiting in the wings.

But mostly I thank Feldenkrais.

For Isaac got to where he is,
By finding the access to everything else,
That are the components that add up to the entirety of the movement that is walking.

Walking,
Like all action,
Is the sum of all its parts.

And we keep on adding to his sum total,
Lesson by lesson.

More pelvis.

Differentiation through the torso.

A moveable middle.

A head.
A head that can nod.
Eyes.

Legs.
Hip joint.
More pelvis.
Spine.
A chest that can soften and fold.

Hips.
Legs.
Feet.
Resting arms.

The ability for all of our self to connect.
That effortless transition of movement from one part,
All the way up,
Down,
Across,
Sideways,
Front,
Back,
To the other.

All continually uncovered,
With a plethora of variation.

That is how Isaac is able to walk.

And his smile tells a thousand words.

and these are the questions

If we wake up in the morning,
Asking the right questions,
We’re already stepping closer to the possible.

And these are the questions Feldenkrais has taught me to ask;

How does our movement permit transmission?
How does it allow the transfer of movement into other parts?

How minimal can the force be,
And feel like it travels?

What is the least amount of preparation,
To get to where I want to go?

And when we move,
It becomes a question of,
What’s the rest of me doing?

What is my opposite side doing to allow me,
Or to help me create the movement?

Is it rolling over on a surface,
Is everything following,
Or getting stuck?

My own awareness is patchy,
And habitual patterns dominate,
Making it unclear most of the time,
Where parts of me actually are in space,
What is moving and what is not,
Exposing my need for more Feldenkrais lessons.

But I watch Isaac,
And I can now see the flow,
As movement travels through his entire system,
In a soft gentle wave of effortlessness,
Under the right circumstances.

And in contrast the glitches,
Where movement stops abruptly,
A blockade in the road,
Where awareness breaks down,
Due to an overload in demand,
In less than ideal circumstances.

And over the past nine years,
I’m not suggesting he has been consciously asking himself such sophisticated questions about his movement,
His organisation,
No child learning to move does,
But through continual Feldenkrais lessons,
His practitioner has been asking these questions to his body,
Through movement,
To challenge brain injury,
Creating that which neuro-typically happens without intervention.

And so as time goes on,
As we’re already seeing,
Isaac can ask the questions,
And by way of answer,
Make his own choices,
In what way he chooses to move,
That is easier,
That feels successful,
And in turn let go of what isn’t.

We see it now in the changes to his habitual patterns,
The changes in ways he approaches a task,
The freedom,
The confidence,
In how he holds himself,
His self initiated action,
As he moves himself from place to place.
Less crawling these days,
Less seeking out assistance,
Or permission to go from dining table to bedroom,
Or Lounge room to bathroom,
It’s all found its flow.

And by always meeting him where he is at,
There’s always more possibility to how far he’ll go.

And for now,
We meet him at his great difficultly with arm function,
With speech,
And saliva control.

He loves writing,
Playing the piano,
And with determination undresses and dresses himself daily,
Gosh knows he’s got a lot to say,
To positively contribute,
And the drive to socially shine.
But the writing is illegible,
The piano is mostly played with a fist,
Dressing is often extremely challenging on his own,
And he’s still mostly misunderstood by other,
Misses the opportunity to have his say,
Therefore left behind socially,
And all of which trigger profuse drooling.

But nothing has ever stopped him,
Nor I.

It allows us to ask the questions;
Why is it invoking so much effort?
Where is the effort coming from?
What’s the rest of him doing as he attempts that action?
What’s stopped moving?

And so right now,
We need to help him establish enough support in his lower half,
So that the effort in the top of his body can vanish,
Then there’s greater possibility for the transfer of movement,
And function to improvement.

Because things seize to be braced,
To be clinging on for dear life,
And instead can just do less,
Work with the rest of the system,
Not against it,
And basically just do the job it was intended to do.

And the key being,
That upper limb function must be grand before it can be intricate.

His speech needs to be quiet before it can be loud.

Everything must be slow before it can be fast.

His system must be at ease,
Before it can perform under pressure.

This is still most problematic at school,
Where everything is fine motor oriented,
Everything happens quickly,
Peers are loud,
The pace is fast,
His system in constant overdrive.

And where continual strategic modification is required,
Of which unfortunately we still have not found an ideal solution,
Yet.

But once again,
We’re asking the right questions,
And the questions will never stop,
Nor will the answers always present obviously or easily,
But half the victory is simply in proposing them.

And as we’ve discovered thus far,
The Method always gives us options,
And a place to continue looking.

And the perspective to look back,
And be so darn thankful.

more than movement

My intrigue,
My pondering,
My elucidation,
Swell with every unfolding word,
Ears delighted,
Head nodding in affirmation,
Heart singing with what is our truth,
As I indulge in More Than Movement,
A enlightened offering from The Australian Feldenkrais Guild Online Summit 2020.

And as I have begun to absorb more deeply,
Just how true its title;
The Feldenkrais Method,
Is so much more than movement.

It’s “human maturation,
A process by which we become more human,
And more ourselves.
An intertwining idea of the uniqueness of each individual,
And the belonging to the human community.”

“Which is expressed through the Method,
(By allowing us) to discover who we are as unique beings”.

“The Method is reshaping the environment within which we are situated.
So that the environment becomes orientated as an invitation to our flourishing,
Both as individuals,
And as human beings.”

“Then if we experience that invitation,
We can give it to other people.”

“A big invitation!
To give up effort.”

“To stop attempting to control yourself,
Surrender,
We don’t belong just to ourselves,
We belong to something bigger than ourselves.”

As I soak in these words,
I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude,
That Isaac was given this invitation,
So early in his life,
And through him,
The invitation was given to me.

On a practical application of the Method,
“It’s always relational,
This ethos,
And how it informs the practice.”

“Our intention matters,
(You ask yourself) what do you think you are doing when offering a lesson?
Guiding our intentions,
Inviting people to explore the difference between their limited condition self,
And this potential authentic self,
That is an opening to infinite possibility –
But that is always in relation to their uniqueness of being.”

“I’ve got to teach differently (to each student) don’t I,
If I think like that?
There is an ethos and ethic to our Method”

And it truly is open to all.

And I invite you.

Come join the journey.

Paraphrased quotes from interview

Anna Yeatman PhD and Zoran Kovich MSc

Day 6 Australian Feldenkrais Guild Online Summit 2020