Reflections on Feldenkrais and Health

Deborah Bowes, DPT, GCFT

For the past 5 years, I've been working both at the Feldenkrais Center 2 days a week and at a primary care clinic called Stanford Coordinated Care for the other 3 days. This clinic specializes in working with people with chronic conditions. I've been reflecting on what I've learned from my patients about how the Feldenkrais Method helps to improve and maintain your health. I'll be leaving my Stanford position in April to return full time to the Center.

My physical therapist training and license, along with 30 years as a Feldenkrais practitioner, makes me uniquely suited to help people with complex and challenging health conditions. I am also very comfortable working in a medical setting that has a bio-psycho-social orientation.

A bio-psycho-social model of medicine considers the experience of the whole person. Treatment in this model recognizes that your health is influenced by many factors, such as: your biology and genetics, your psychological make-up and resources, and the culture in which you grew up and the one in which you live now. In most ongoing health conditions, there isn't one cause nor one solution.

Feldenkrais Method is a bio-psycho-social model for improving human function. The following ideas are congruent with this model. These ideas are part of the 'mental furniture'* for my work as a Feldenkrais practitioner.

  • Healing happens within a relationship. Trust is essential for this relationship to work. Listening is essential for trust to develop.
  • Each person has their own goals and my job is to help guide towards these goals.
  • Awareness of the body is essential to know how something is affecting you, either positively or negatively. No one has perfect awareness of what they are doing, everyone can develop greater awareness.
  • Poor movement coordination and lack of awareness leads to pain. Everyone can improve coordination and awareness.
  • Breathing, good posture, changing positions, and knowledge of how the body - how it actually works, can lead to big improvements in the sense of well-being, and having greater function and less pain.
  • Small changes in how you move lead to big changes in how you feel.
  • Many people have been injured by health care providers who did not listen either with their ears or with their hands.

  • Getting stronger is not the only answer. Improving your ability make sensory-motor distinctions will improve your comfort, help you to pace yourself, and basically stop doing what is hurting your body.

  • Each person has the desire to feel better, they just may not know what to do, or have learned the skills needed to get there.

I will write more in the next Newsletter. Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have about my reflections.

(*The term 'mental furniture' was coined by Feldenkrais Trainer, my friend, the late Dennis Leri)

Copyright, Deborah Bowes, April 2017