Pain, willpower, and skill


Moving Out of Pain starts Oct. 14

We all experience pain. It’s a natural and essential message from our nervous system, designed to keep us safe and tell us when we need to rest and heal. Sometimes it seems to take over our lives. Whether it’s brief or chronic, mild or severe, physical or emotional, research shows that it’s how we relate to our pain that makes the biggest difference in our ability to perceive the causes and make the changes we need to find relief.

Unfortunately we’ve all heard too much cultural programming: “Push through the pain.” “No pain, no gain.” “Good pain.” These point to a willpower-based response to pain, where our experience is denied and we try to “tough it out.”

Anyone who has struggled with pain for a long time knows meeting pain with an iron will is a dead end. A favorite teacher of mine once told me, “Willpower is what we use when we lack skill.”

So how can we relate to pain differently? How can we become more skillful in encountering our sensations–unpleasant and pleasant–and learn from them to guide our own healing and improvement?

Moshe Feldenkrais taught us that curiosity is the foundation of skill. Once we find a fascination with the details of what we sense, how we move, how we handle ourselves in the world, our natural curiosity nudges us to find our own solutions. New, less painful movement options become available. Using Feldenkrais’s ingenious movement lessons, we can restore our curiosity about ourselves, even when we start from a very painful or limited situation.

In a few weeks I’m offering my most comprehensive introduction/refresher course in the Feldenkrais Method, called Moving Out of Pain. This five-week, 90-minutes per session Tuesday evening class is focused closely on these principles of pain, willpower, curiosity, and skill. The class will use a textbook, and includes lecture and discussion, and beginner Feldenkrais lessons designed to be accessible for people with significant pain or movement limitations. Many lessons will be done in simple chair-seated positions.

I’ve gotten very enthusiastic feedback each time I teach this course. Here’s one example of a student’s process as she encountered Feldenkrais Method for the first time in my Moving Out of Pain course:

“Body movement awareness has been outside my consciousness–frankly, it has never occurred to me that I could engage in such an impactful and intimate relationship with my body–that is, to actually tune in to it, to observe how I move my body or how it moves me, or even consider that being conscious of body movements could be therapeutic, or that I could experiment with the movements and modify my habitual way of moving in the world.”

I’m pleased to be offering Moving Out of Pain at The Marsh, in the West Metro, for the first time. Please click here for full information. Feel free to be in touch by email or phone (612-412-8060) if you’re wondering if this course is appropriate for you.