After years of exploring Awareness Through Movement and Functional Integration Chris explained what he got out of the Feldenkrais approach and this was the basis for the following little article written in January 2000:
Ever since I was a youngster I’ve been keenly interested in sports and health. I can say that both would have been easier with more awareness. Many twisted ankles and knees, mainly in connection with football might have been prevented. There was also this desire of playing through the pain. Now, with a little more maturity I would avoid that because it certainly didn’t help. In my thirties I lost interest in football and switched to the hard martial arts, Karate in particular, because I still had the competitive urge to do something challenging. Eventually I also ceased to do those more external martial arts which call for the same kind of fitness and competitive spirit as most sports activities.
If you can’t move efficiently it doesn’t matter how good your lungs are.
Virtually all sports training is geared toward cardio-vascular fitness and sports people tend tp see health as meaning being able to run and improve lung capacity and things like that. But if you can’t move efficiently it doesn’t matter how good your lungs are.
When I understood that, my interest shifted to the more internal martial arts which are much more concerned with how the body moves and tend to link this a bit more with the mind. In the external arts people are pushing themselves all the time. It was amazing to see people doing soft movements in Tai Chi Chuan, generating the same amount of controlled power from something apparently simple. If the body is aligned correctly there is no necessity to keep adding muscle exertion and speed. They just happen as a by-product of good alignment.
Till I began to experience the Feldenkrais Method this alignment seemed elusive to me.
During all my earlier activities in sports training there had been occasional vague references to Moshe Feldenkrais’s book Awareness Through Movement, mainly in the context of being able to increase flexibility – not by stretching but by utilising the mind and subtle movement. As a result of reading Moshe'’ book I got in touch with a Feldenkrais teacher in order to explore the Method more deeply.
My experience of Feldenkrais has brought profound benefits to my remaining main interests, health and Tai Chi Chuan. In particular, the increased awareness of the spine-pelvis connection just gets better and better. This, of course, brings improvements to other limb-movements as well as in clarity of thought.
These improvements are of great benefit in my work too.
As a travelling salesman I was always in the car. Being behind the wheel all the time certainly has a knock-on effect! Towards the end I could even accept traffic jams because I got a lot calmer. There was also the fact that when I got home I could do something to alleviate the strain.
After forty years in the rather stressful retail business, Chris got fed up with the hassle of constantly having to compete and achieve in his job:
Often at the expense of your health and the calm side of yourself. But there comes a stage when you suddenly think This isn’t worth while, there needs to be something that is a bit more fulfilling.
After experiencing the trauma of being made redundant twice, Chris decided to become a postman. He stuck to his decision even when his company wanted him back and offered a pay-rise.
A feeling of ease in everyday life.
I just took the job that allowed me to do what I want to do instead of constantly striving again.
So now I enjoy the current situation and practise both Feldenkrais and Tai Chi Chuan as I am walking with the post sack. Many of my colleagues are caught up in trying to beat the clock. They miss so much in terms of observation, enjoyment, and health. The greatest joy for me is there’s absolutely no hassle! I also tend to move more as a co-ordinated unit these days, which gives a feeling of ease in everyday life. AS I reduce my efforts, change takes place. The knowledge that this improvement will continue is good news for me!
Lessons in Awareness: Benefits for a Sports Enthusiast and Martial Artist