By Jodie Krantz
To improve our mental health we need to become more mindful of what is going on inside our bodies, not just in the world around us. Feldenkrais can help with this.
This week I started teaching a series of awareness through movement lessons for psychiatric inpatients at the Marion Centre, Perth Western Australia. This small private psychiatric hospital provides a rehabilitation service for people experiencing difficulty functioning in everyday life. I’m currently a volunteer at the hospital. I’m working in conjunction with a clinical psychologist and two occupational therapists.
Seeing people at such a low point in their lives has made me reflect on why more people need to know about the Feldenkrais Method. This method of learning to move more easily can improve your mental health as well as your physical health.
Developing skills to reduce stress, manage anxiety and improve mood has never been so important. According to the Australian bureau of statistics forty five percent of Australians experience mental health problems at some stage during their lives.
Anxiety is the most common form of mental illness in Australia and is the leading cause of disability in the world. Depression and mood disorders are also common. People with chronic pain (persistent pain) have a substantially increased risk of developing anxiety or depression.
Group work, relaxation training and various forms of physical exercise have long been known to assist in the management of mild to moderate anxiety and depression. The Feldenkrais Method combines mindfulness, movement and relaxation, all of which can help reduce stress, while improving many aspects of mental functioning.
Much of our lives are spent on autopilot. We respond in a stereotyped and habitual way to daily circumstances. Some of these responses are useful and but many are sub-optimal. Often we’re doing one thing but thinking about another thing. We rush from one activity to the next, desperately trying to multitask in order to achieve more in less time. We think of this as efficiency but the speed at which we live our lives is causing many of us to reach breaking point. Those who are most resistant to slowing down are often the ones who need it the most. Australian poet and cartoonist Michael Leunig has some funny but wise words to share with us on ‘restlessness‘ in Mr Curly’s letter to Vasco Pyjama!
During the course of an average day many of us spend a great deal of time tending to the tasks and demands of everyday life, while ignoring the body’s messages. For example we may go for long periods of time slouching in an uncomfortable chair, wearing a bra that constricts our breathing or shoes that hurt and damage our feet. Some of us habitually continue eating after we are full. Others become so preoccupied that we ignore our need to go to the toilet or get a drink.
“I believe that the unity of mind and body is an objective reality. They are not just parts somehow related to each other, but an inseparable whole while functioning. A brain without a body could not think. ” Moshe Feldenkrais
The thing is, reading about Feldenkrais is like reading about the ocean when you’ve never been there. You really need to experience it for yourself, not just read about it. We welcome you to call or email us today to enquire about a trial class or book an initial assessment. If you don’t live in Perth, you can access our free YouTube videos to begin your Feldenkrais journey.