Less Effort, More Pleasure & The Importance of Slowing Down

Hi friends!
We had such a wonderful time at our weekend workshop on walking & posture through a Feldenkrais-lens. I’m inspired to share some basics with you because this work, while in some ways deceptively simple, is, in fact, radical, transformative, profound.
One question we ask students (and ourselves) during movement lessons (and then the rest of life) is this doozy:

How can I make this less effortful and more pleasurable?

In a culture where we confuse trying our hardest (and the accompanying sense of struggle and effort) with “doing our best” – it’s a huge learning opportunity. What if being a good person and being of benefit in the world could be disentangled from a bodily sense of struggle, pain, and huge effort? This doesn’t mean to use no effort. It means pay attention so you can reduce unnecessary effort. And then making that ongoing reduction in unnecessary effort a habit so that we are able to continually weed out what Feldenkrais called “parasitic actions.” You know, those that suck our energy without supporting our intentions? (Have you got any of those in your life? Your bodily habits?)

How could you make what you’re doing less effortful and more pleasurable? Right now? 

I think of it like having an energy auditor come to your home to let you know where you’re wasting energy and precious natural resources. Leaky old windows, an ancient refrigerator…. when we reduce unnecessary waste of energy the whole system becomes more sustainable and works better. You can do this in your own body moment to moment. It requires curiosity and mindfulness that includes your own embodied self.

One of my favorite quotes from Moshe Feldenkrais is something like this:
You can’t do what you want unless you know what you’re doing. And fortunately or unfortunately, it’s far easier to do what someone else tells you to do than it is to know what you’re doing.
Many people choose that path…. asking someone else what to do.
But reclaiming our own wise inner authority is a journey SO worth taking.
Slowing down, not only with regards to our movement habits but also in so many realms of life…
Can we slow down enough to know and feel and sense what we’re actually doing?
(Don’t you wish, as I do, the whole entire world could slow down and live in this question?!?)

I’m remembering a funny thing our friend and late Feldenkrais teacher Denis Leri said. “Go slowly enough that your imagination can catch up with what your lack of imagination is doing.” Words to live by!

So much of this orientation to life that I’m describing was natural and uncontrived for us in childhood. Babies don’t repeat movements that hurt. They’re smarter than that! If something doesn’t feel good, they get creative, try new things, learn, evolve. That’s how we learned to walk! We can reclaim our curiosity and self-presence so that we can do likewise, at any age.
When things aren’t going very well, maybe it’s the universe’s way of conspiring to get us to be creative and experiment.

What if “self-care” doesn’t need to be a big life-reorganizing project, but could be as simple and direct as choosing to feel yourself in this very moment, to reduce effort and prioritize pleasure, along with whatever else you’re up to today?

I’d love to hear how it goes.

Thanks for being a part of our world, and allowing us the honor to be a part of yours!

Wishing you less effort and much more pleasure.
With love,
Erin

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Erin

By training and profession, I am a somatic educator. Over the past 25+ years I have trained in and taught modern dance, tai chi, Indian and Tibetan yoga, yoga therapy (specializing in back pain). I completed a 4-year professional Feldenkrais training in 2007 and a 3-year Embodied Life training in 2014. I also study and work with somatic meditation and the profound practice of embodied inner listening known as Focusing.

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