“Which comes first — the motor pattern or the feeling?”


Which comes first — the motor pattern or the feeling? [A “motor-pattern” is any neuromuscular organization of the self: an action, a tension, etc. A “feeling” as Moshe uses it here is an emotion.] The question has been the object of many famous theories. I stress the view that basically they form a single function. We cannot become conscious of a feeling before it is expressed by a motor mobilization and, therefore, there is no feeling so long as there is no body attitude.

-Moshe Feldenkrais, Embodied Wisdom, pg. 30

Feldenkrais Resources treated me with that succinct quote yesterday. Moshe was very good at making himself clear in a few words. He’s just often hard for us to hear because he was decades ahead of science in what he intuited about being human. His ideas chaff against our notion of having both a body and a mind (he might instead say that we are a self).

But science is catching up! Also yesterday (a great coincidence) a student in my Tuesday morning class put this Wall Street Journal article in my hands, which included this:

New research is also demonstrating links between body position and mood. It has long been known that depression can lead to a slumped posture. But new evidence suggests the reverse is also true—that slouching can spark negative emotions and thoughts.

The article is worth a quick read for its discussion of what our seated life is doing to our standing and active life. I think there are better ways to sit and to learn better posture than what’s presented in this article, but there’s some good info.

It’s great to see in the mainstream press the idea of our physical and emotional manifestation being one and the same!