Gaining Awareness

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By Jacqueline Rubinstein

The pinched-nerve in my neck was a slow-oncoming injury. At first I just felt discomfort after a long day at the office. I would stretch it out and the pain would ease. But it slowly got worse and worse.

In a very stressful week with a big project deadline and a disagreement with my boss, the pain in my neck became a big problem. Suddenly, I had burning, shooting pain down my arm and up my neck.

I went to a physical therapist, who would pull on my arm, giving me relief for about an hour. Then the burning would creep back. It was especially intolerable when I was at work, using the computer and doing paperwork.

I was extremely lucky to stumble onto a free Feldenkrais Method workshop. Through a few simple group exercises and some one-on-one sessions, I came to understand that my head was sticking out way in front of my body. My shoulders were incredibly slumped forward and my chest caving in. I was curving my lower back, instead of the natural arching position.

That was the first step! Finding the root of the pain. Empowering myself with a real sense of where my body actually was in space. This was mind-blowing for me! After a lifetime of dancing, I thought I had great “body-awareness.” Turns out I only had great imitation skills, not feeling myself skills.

“If you know what you are doing, then you can do what you want.” –Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais

If you always injure the same parts of yourself and/or you have chronic pain, it’s easy to think of that part as weak or broken. Try noticing the bigger picture. Check in with how you stand, sit, and lie down. The first step to recovery is gaining awareness of where you are right now. I mean really feeling it, not just relying on someone else to tell you. Then you have the information to make a change.

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