There is inevitably an awkward moment at social gatherings when someone asks me the question: “What do you do?” When it happens, I ponder how much they really want to know.
What is it exactly that I do? I’m a Feldenkrais® method practitioner working in Paris. If you’re thinking “Felden-WHAT?”, don’t worry, you’re not alone! A friend once asked: “What’s that thing you do again, Freakin’-christ?” Well, it doesn’t have anything to do with Christ, but it does have a lot to do with being human.
Feldenkrais® method helps people learn to move their body and mind beyond a range of difficulties. It is based on neuroscience and uses movement to give new information to the brain. We can say that movement is fundamental to life: without it, our hearts do not beat, we cease to breathe, we cannot feed, clothe and shelter ourselves, cannot find a lover or mate, or act on our intentions. When we have or develop difficulties in how we move – whether it be tension, pain or a serious neurological condition –it affects everything we do: not only our movements, but also our thoughts, feelings, and perspectives on the world.
Many of us are taught that we must push ourselves to change and improve, we must struggle and make a constant effort.
In the Feldenkrais method we look for ease, and use gentle movement explorations to help people learn to change habitual movement patterns that create, or perpetuate, difficulties. By learning to create more choice for yourself in how you move, you can literally learn to move beyond your limitations.
I discovered Feldenkrais at a time when years of dance training had left me with many chronic pain issues that I felt were deeply connected to my emotional and psychological life. I felt at the mercy of dysfunctional patterns of movement and behavior.
I was looking for a method to help me move my way out of these difficulties. From my first experience, I knew Feldenkrais was what I had been looking for, and quickly made the decision to take it further and train as a practitioner. I now live free from these chronic pain problems.
I find my work immensely rewarding. That doesn’t mean that it is always easy. In helping people to overcome challenges, I am presented with my own. When I set out on this path and began my Feldenkrais training, I was living in New Zealand, where I was born and raised. I had returned there after several years living in London and, despite completing undergraduate and postgraduate arts degrees, my four-year Feldenkrais training, launching a career as a theater writer and director, successfully growing a private Feldenkrais practice, and having a happy network of friends and colleagues, I still couldn’t shake my long-held dream of a life and career in Europe.
At the age of 31, I packed up and moved to Paris alone, with no job, no apartment, and practically no French. As the realities set in, I began to wonder if I may well have ruined my career dreams, and possibly my life! Fortunately, five years later, I have the life and career I always dreamed of. Feldenkrais helped me to achieve this in more ways than one.
Empowering adults and children with chronic pain, neurological problems, special needs and more…
I have seen the benefits of Feldenkrais empower many people with a range of physical limitations, including: chronic or intermittent pain and tension, postural problems, coordination difficulties, herniated discs, sciatica, problems arising from injury or surgery, or neurological problems such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, or recovery from stroke.
I also work with people who want to improve performance: actors, musicians, athletes, dancers, surgeons, and even executives wanting to improve how they present. Many clients simply want to improve their well-being: to sit more easily at their desk, or rediscover ease of movement. I work with adults, children and babies, and specialize in working with children and babies with special needs, or learning or behavior difficulties.
Learning new ways of moving has also helped me to learn new approaches to life, and I feel privileged to have a profession where I help others to do the same. It has empowered me to create more choice not only in my movements, but also my actions and behavior, and to develop my resilience and potential. It empowered me to take a leap and land in Paris, and to overcome the many challenges I faced. I don’t always tell that part to people at social gatherings, but it’s there in everything I do.