This Feldenkrais Mentor and Lifestyle Coach has a growing awareness of how hidden learning patterns can eventually lead to reduced mobility through the spine.
Over time I have observed how reduced movement through one’s spine can have an enormous impact in one’s physical, mental and emotional health.
Examples of Hidden Patterns that contribute to the loss of flexible rotation through the spine
I encourage you to consider the following prior to shifting your focus to environmental influences, physical expectations and focused learning styles that I believe contribute to the loss of flexible rotation through the spine:
Observe yourself while reading this and pause to check in for your style. Do you take information in in a left or right brain way.
For example, do you mentally compare this information to what you have stored in your memory already or immediately seek references? These two actions are left brain focused. If no, then do you receive information with an open investigative quality? Exploring is different than solving and this qualify activates the somatic experience. Let’s call this right brain experiencing.
I encourage you to read this from a quality of investigation versus analysing or seeking comparisons. In the introductory article, Feldenkrais and early learning for aging well, the focus is on how observing human functioning through a variety of ages and backgrounds where all students demonstrated similar functional limitations. Limitations that can only have come from hidden patterns of learning. These constraints disappear when these same students experience new information to integrate into their functional patterns. Students from 15 to 94.
All of us are born with similar abilities for learning to increase function and create habits as the building blocks to further development. We all are born with an inner learning system. Critical thinking comes later in our development process. As a Feldenkrais Practitioner my focus is completely on tapping into this first inner exploring ability to take a student into experiencing if they can do more than they think they can. There is no diagnosing, no judgments, no comparisons, no analysing and no fixing them with solutions.
My unspoken question is, “What can you do differently?”
Environmental Design Patterning
The ability to rotate increases counter balance, resilience and flexibility throughout life
ROTATIONAL REMINDERS IN PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENTS
Prior to studying Feldenkrais I spent time uncovering the elusive qualities and corresponding effects in one’s surroundings. Here are three examples of how design can be an elusive influence for learning bad habits.
- Example #1 in architectural design:
Two straight lines come together to create a sharp edge or point.
This is called a secret arrow and it can be agitating for those experiencing it for extended periods. If you are kinesthetic your may feel the differences of the points and round container in this picture. It is an example of how a felt experience can be created by what one can see. Without the rounded container placement these points would stimulate warning senses. Two recommendations are:
#1. remove any furniture away from the aim of a corner
#2. place a distraction in front of the point like in this picture
Rounded corners would be prefered to sharp corners for all young children, parents and educators during formative education years. Physical movement is rotational. It is not linear. The environment is an elusive model for learning patterns. My recommendation is to shift the somatic experience of sharp edges and straight lines by installing stimulus that connects the outer experience with inner function.
What I notice in later teens and in adults of all ages is that they all walk in a linear pattern. Their early counter rotation has completely disappeared. I am suggesting that the linear lines in homes and schools are being demonstrated through to their actions. This is more evident in the next example.
- Example #2 in pathways or hallways:
Hallways become the model for linear movement at an early age. How much time does a student spend in hallways and aisles growing up? The visual stimulus of straight lines in architecture, roadways and sidewalks become the structural model or container for children during formative years as they begin to focus their attention. Emphasis is on staying within the lines.
Straight lines are needed to focus direct attention however not at the expense of curved line experiences. Curved lines are need to balance the escalation of too much stimulus by the reminder that movement is rotational, playful and joyful, not square and ridgid.
This concept is important now due to COVID design measures of organizing. How can you soften the edges of this experiences for children to remind them they are resilient and flexible.
Furniture and Placement
In the perfect classroom the teacher’s desk would be along the wall with the entryway and exits.
However in most classrooms the teacher faces the door forcing children to sit with their backs to them. Unfortunately this elusive placement stimulates a reactive quality of danger in the children. This will stimulate their flight, fight, freeze brain center guaranteeing many distractions.
If you entered a traditional Buddhist learning environment with this placement, leaving the students backs unprotected, a person would be placed at the door. This persons placement would settle the students sensibilities and create a safe place for being present to learn.
Desk to close together or shared
The safety, privacy, independence and autonomy of the child is lost with two or more per table or if they are close together. Younger children would not understand this intellectually yet they would experience it through inner reactions. These reactions become habitual throughout a lifetime.
The desk experience can be an integral step to learning what boundaries are, yet this is mostly a lost opportunity due to its elusive nature. The crowding of desks is a strategy for an adult problem. In the process of fixing this adult problem the lost opportunity for the children is the potential to learn though simple dialogue modelling. The reason is that in the process of fixing a problem there is usually no consideration for outcomes or of how participants will process the experience. This creates the following question for me. Why do adults leave children to process their own reactions without guidance? I have witnessed the lack of an empathetic listener and guidance of spoken word patterns for children to process an experience. In the case of overcrowding with desks there is an expectation that the kids fit into the model without any acknowledgement of how this is for them and then letting them hear back the need for it. This small interaction is the first step to empathy. It all starts with dialogue that includes exploring what it’s like for the student and then giving them the opportunity to understand the need for it. It doesn’t mean the configuration changes. It simply means that it is no longer an elusive distraction.
When desks are too close a question that arises is, “how can a child focus if they aren’t emotionally safe in their own learning space?” Another is, “At what age is a child compared and judged for their appearance, learning materials and how they complete tasks by their own peers?” These are normal conditions and I am sure we can all agree on that they are going to be a part of life. However, I am suggesting that their learning model can accommodate consideration for making the elusive obvious by slowing down and considering the influences to their learning. Sensing and emotions are stimulated by environmental influences and can only be fully released when they receive acceptance and understanding. Environmental influences include relationships, verbal dialogue, body communication, expectations and directions, and the actual physical surroundings.
Remember that a pattern of words can be learned to express boundaries.
- Sharp corners
As mentioned earlier, sharp corners increase agitation and add to the distraction in students. Ideally the corners on desk and tables would be rounded.
The only way to change is action
Effective Movement Posture with Feldenkrais integrating Awareness through Communication and Awareness through Space
1st Level – Getting Started (Introduction & Pattern)
2nd Level – Getting Intouch (Experiencing & Connection)
3rd Level – Integration (Embodiment)
by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP @ Inside Awareness, Living in Natures Love Blog
Copyright 2014 – 2021 Renee Lindstrom, GCFP
Feldenkrais®, Feldenkrais Method®, Awareness Through Movement®, Functional Integration®, are registered service marks of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America. Feldenkrais Method®