Home Concepts Managing Stress & Challenges Oiling the Tin Man’s Armor and Healing His Heart III: Reich’s and Feldenkrais’s Treatment

Oiling the Tin Man’s Armor and Healing His Heart III: Reich’s and Feldenkrais’s Treatment

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Self-Organizing: Feldenkrais’ perspective of appreciation relates to yet another concept that is prevalent in contemporary organizational (and systems) theory. This is the concept of “self-organization” (that is the fundamental building block for the science of chaos. For Feldenkrais (and Grabher) there is an important element of trust that comes with their work in facilitating movement. They trust the ability of their client’s body to make appropriate adjustments (self-organization) when any one part of the body is moving during a treatment session. Grabher (2010, p. 54) speaks of this as a gentle way of working with a client—on behalf of the “natural” self-organizing tendencies and capacities of the human body:

In one lesson Moshe Feldenkrais gave the following advice: ”Do it more gently at the points where it is difficult. Do not try to push more, but at the points where it is difficult, do it more easily, a gentler movement, more slowly. Then, slowly it will-organize itself.” He does not say, “then, you will be able to organize it” or “then you will know how to do it”.

The key phrase here is ”then it will organize itself”. It is the nervous system that organizes movement. And a healthy nervous system will always try to make the best possible choice, given the information and possibilities available at the time.

Remarkable! If our nervous system is healthy then it will self-organize the entire body in an appropriate manner. As in the case of an appreciative perspective regarding organizational functioning, the adjustment being made are self-reinforcing. The nervous system becomes healthy because the body is moving in a nature way. The body moves more naturally and in a self-organizing manner because the nervous system is healthy.

Similarly, individual behaviors and patterns of behaviors that are appreciated are likely to not only occur more frequently, but also in a more skillful manner. Many years ago, Carl Rogers put it this way. People are least likely to change and improve if they are being asked to change and are most likely to change and improve when they have received positive regard–what I would identify as appreciation.

Appreciation of Individuality: The engagement in appreciation extends in yet another direction for Feldenkrais and his followers.  There is appreciation for the distinctive way in which each of us moves in our world. We walk and talk (and relate to other people) in a manner that is aligned directly to our distinctive sense of self-identity. Alfons Grabher (2010, p. 22) puts it this way:

In Feldenkrais classes we approve of a person as who this person is, and we try to show variations and choices. We don’t blame someone for what others would perceive as not good or wrong (e. g. if one shoulder appears to be higher than the other, if someone holds his/her head in a pecking position, if some muscles are too weak, if someone slouches while sitting, if a posture is not in alignment with a school or technique, or if someone’s breathing appears to be too deep or too shallow or in the wrong places, etc). Instead, we enable a person to notice what is possible for her/himself and acknowledge that a person is always trying to move to the best of her/his ability.

This a strong statement about honoring diversity and both accepting and fully appreciating the positive and purposeful leaning of all of us into a distinctive future.

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