After feeling numb, feeling more whole can be confusing.
When I write these postings, I share less about my own Feldenkrais practice, not because I don’t find it interesting, but because there can be a kind of daily grind of working with my own self image/body patterns that I am motivated to work with but don’t really want to talk about all the time. That kind of, there I am again, doing me sort of thing. I tend to feel a kind of odd appreciation for how persistent some of my personal coping patterns can be. But last week, the left side of my back woke up.
When I started my personal Feldenkrais journey with local practitioner Tim Rose, I became aware that I had very little sense of myself on my left side, my ribs, shoulder blade, abdomen. That I could sit and sense these things on my right side but my left side was a big blank. I could imagine symmetry, like projecting a skeleton onto my body but I didn’t actually feel any semblance of symmetry. When we came to this realization together, he gently asked me, “How are you now that you know that?” I think he expected me to be upset, unsettled. Instead, I got a glimmer of the kind of body/mind geek I really am. I was fascinated! It explained my uneven performance in aikido. I would learn a technique, really get a good feel for it on my right side and then it was like nothing transferred to my left side – I had to learn it all again.
What do I mean when I say the left side of my back woke up? Simply speaking, I don’t have to imagine my left side, I can just feel it. Not as fully as my right side but I can sense details, like the expansion between ribs when I breathe. Like details of how I bend from side to side. I feel different walking down the street, feeling the ground through each step but on both sides now.
And for a few days, it was really confusing to feel this, like I had an extra shirt wrapped only on my left side – lots of sensation where I was used to not having any. And how I moved started to shift a little. I have a past injury in my right hip and lower back so live with stiffness and less range of motion in my right hip joint than in my left. Typically, I don’t feel it much unless I am doing some deep lunging steps during aikido training. Well, that old injury woke up too!
After feeling absence, feeling more was like walking around in a sensory bombardment, sometimes painful, sometimes pleasurable and very unfamiliar. I had learned how to walk around with half of my back online. All of the actual connections have always been there, but I was unplugged from myself.
What is a girl to do when her back wakes up? Not really sure but what I did do was keeping moving, keeping noticing. And dance in my kitchen.
I am working through a repertoire of Awareness through Movement lessons each week and practice (near) daily internal martial arts practices, so I brought this new, confusing back of mine into those activities. To do the daily grind of awareness in my movement, noticing how this new jolt of awareness was creating new patterns of movement. To get familiar with this development in my body/mind connection. To see what becomes of me.
At a recent online aikido workshop, a teacher who I respect and love, Mary Heiny Sensei said, “The connections are there. You just have to find them.” When I ask myself why is this kind of work important, my honest answer is, “I don’t like living with limits when I don’t have to.” When I live with my back half asleep, I am limited to what I can do. I have the overuse injury on my right side to show for it. The tantrum in my right hip continues for now and I keep moving. And noticing.
I hope that in 2021, parts of you that feel absent or not filled in start to come to life, start to move as part of you again. The connections are there. You just have to find them.
If your issue is not absence of sensation but the presence of pain, check out my free resource, How Can I Move When It Hurts? https://www.kindpower.ca/it-hurts/