Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Review: Move Into Life

Many people ask me about the differences between Hellerwork Structural Integration and The Feldenkrais Method. My short answer is that structural integration approaches a change of movement patterns by addressing the body’s connective tissue, which then affects the rest of the body including the nervous system. The Feldenkrais approach seeks to reeducate the brain and nervous system for improved movement patterns that affect the rest of the body. Several new books use the Feldenkrais approach and one of the best is Move Into Life: The Nine Essentials for Lifelong Vitality written by Anat Baniel.

It’s easy to see why people find it difficult to differentiate the modalities without having experienced them. Baniel’s nine essentials are oh-so-compatible with structural integration and especially with undulation. Here’s a brief summary of the essentials for vitality, but I encourage you to explore more for yourself.

  1. Attention – Awareness is the first step in any change (please see my previous blog post) and Baniel explains why. Awareness increases brain activity, which makes new patterns possible.
  2. The Learning Switch – Fight or flight and freezing caused by stress have turned off the learning switch for many of us. Regaining beginner’s mind can turn it back on.

  3. Subtlety – We’ve been conditioned to force being the path to accomplishment, but it blocks the intelligence of intuition. Subtlety is needed to find all movement between the extremes.
  4. Variation – Up to this point in the book, I’ve been nodding my head in agreement, but here is where I start to say out loud, “Yes, YES.” Variation in movement increases brain synapses, decreases rigidity and allows for dramatic transformation.
  5. Slow – When we move fast, there is no room for new experiences, railroading us into unproductive patterns. Moving slowly is counterintuitive, but better for harder tasks.
  6. Enthusiasm – Although it seems as though enthusiasm is something that comes from without, Baniel asserts that it is a skill we develop from within. In Hellerwork, we call this inspiration and maintain that it is fundamental to wellness.
  7. Flexible Goals – We’re back to undulation here. Baniel suggests that we try three different ways to accomplish a goal. “Getting off course” is often just what we need to expand our capabilities.
  8. Imagination and Dreams – Brain patterns are equivalent when imagining and doing things in real life. Playfulness creates a more flexible brain. It’s strange that we use less imagination and have fewer dreams when we get older, when we need them the most.
  9. Awareness – This feels like an extension and deepening of the first essential, attention. After adding subtlety, variation, enthusiasm, flexibility and imagination, the reader is able to be more aware, bringing all nine essentials together.

    Baniel includes a couple of useful movement exercises in each chapter and dozens of examples that make the reading easy. If you get this book, please let me know how it affected you.

No comments: