Starting and Stopping

Typical brands of Potato Chips at a superstore.Image via Wikipedia

We all know it’s true: with many things in life, starting and stopping are the hardest parts!

Hard to start: cleaning out the garage, relationships, waking up (or going to sleep!), new projects, a diet
Hard to stop: eating potato chips, sliding downhill, having a good time, quitting smoking

How much never gets accomplished because you just can’t get started, or can’t stop? You might even say that you are “Stuck in ‘Neutral.'” Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion states: “objects in motion stay in motion; objects at rest stay at rest.” We find it easy to obey that law!

However, you are not an object. You are a human being. The key difference is that you are capable of having an intention.

The Feldenkrais Method offers a unique perspective on that pesky “Neutral gear” that just might help to get you un-stuck. Rather than seeing the neutral state as worthless, where nothing is happening, you can see it as a place of infinite possibility. Your neutral gear is your own potential, waiting to be fulfilled.

When muscles are “in neutral,” they are neither flexed nor flaccid. They are poised, and ready for action. Muscle pain will occur when the muscle is pre-occupied with another task, and then is asked to take on additional load. If your muscles “idle in neutral,” they are not slackers! They are ready and able to help you move with ease, grace, and power, rather than with pain, awkwardness, or ineffectiveness. Muscles awaiting their cue in neutral will engage with coordination and a feeling of balance throughout your whole body.

The false limitation of choices, Stop or Start, is clarified by the addition of this third option, which is Neutral, or perhaps Get Ready. You could also add “Just A Little Bit” to each category, and you see that even more choices emerge. Many possibilities will fall along a spectrum, increasing the chances that you’ll find a choice you like, and will take action.

Moshe Feldenkrais demonstrated that many choices, with clear distinctions, are better than a few. He said that having only one choice, and acting on it repeatedly, is compulsion. Two choices are an ultimatum. In the presence of three or more options, we can be fully human. We exercise not just our bodies, but our intentions.

I think most people never fulfill their potential because they haven’t FELT it. They’ve thought about it, have ideas about it, been told about it, have emotions about it. But they haven’t used their SENSES, their bodies, the physical feeling of being poised with possibility. Habitual busy-ness drowns out the sensations that could be most informative, useful, and valuable.

To learn more about starting, stopping, and infinite options in between, find a Feldenkrais practitioner near you!

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One thought on “Starting and Stopping

  1. Great post. I am a dancer and my main research is in a somatic practice called contact improvisation. This subject matter totally applies. The bit about 1, 2 and 3 or more choices is so beautiful…my fave Feldenkrais-ism yet!Thanks.

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