What is Functional Integration? A student responds to a lesson

The Feldenkrais Method, as a holistic approach to improving human learning and wellness, can have interesting and sometimes unexpected effects as lessons influence the entire nervous system (read: the entire person!). This is one of the reasons practitioners resist the label “bodywork” for Feldenkrais. You can read my description of Functional Integration (FI), our hands-on, one-to-one modality right here. But today I invite you to read about it in a student’s own words, in the form of a response from a student shortly after an FI lesson.

Amy sent this email between her two lessons this week (you can read about my prefered way of scheduling–“pulses” of lessons followed by pauses–right here). She gave me permission to share this with you. Enjoy, and check out her photography below!

Hi, Nick.

Just a few quick thoughts tonight since I’ll see you tomorrow (but wanted to get them down while they are fresh).

  • There were a couple of moments toward the beginning of our lesson when I felt a strong emotion; I realized it was a sense of relief. There was a (not completely formed) thought of, “Oh… I can let go. Nick’s got this.” There was a sense of safety and willingness to trust and be vulnerable because of that safety. I really appreciated that and, like I said, felt a deep sense of relief in that moment.
  • As I walked afterward, I noticed how much more of my body was moving with each step. It seemed that the simplicity of movement was a greater integration of that movement throughout my whole body. The same thing tonight while grocery shopping–I found there was a way to hold the cart without extra effort and I could feel the pressure shifting from hand to hand as I took each step.
  • Also during my walk afterward, I had a sense of being able to differentiate my senses more than usual. I recognized this most through my hearing and vision. I was able to hear an insect, isolate that sound from the rest of the sounds, follow it to a specific location on a specific branch of a specific plant, and then clearly find the camouflaged insect. That’s not something I’m typically able to do. I never realized it before, but, in retrospect, often all sounds get “blended together” and it’s not easy to have an isolated focus on one sound. This also extended to when I was listening to music tonight–I had a much richer sense of each instrument in the music and an ability to focus on each part of it in a new way. It is like a quiet but enhanced awareness.
  • My headache felt “clarified” after our lesson–I’m not sure if that makes sense but it’s the best word I can think of. Before our lesson, it was a diffuse throbbing, whereas after our lesson, it was located in a smaller, more focused region (above my left eye, up over the left side of my head, and into my neck and upper back) and it had become more mild and was dull instead of throbbing (though if I bent over and stood back up, I had a short moment of throbbing again in the more focused area). I did not notice this shift happening during the lesson.
  • I came home and took a short nap, after which the headache was almost gone.

Okay, not quite as “quick” as I thought it would be, but good to write it out just the same.

I’ll see you tomorrow.




[Amy is a 30 year old research scientist. She enjoys photography and often takes photos in the woods by my studio when she takes walks after lessons. She gave me permission to share this photo collage with you too! -Nick]


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