Your Personal Superpower

Moshe Feldenkrais (Credit: © International Feldenkrais Federation Archive/Photo montage by Salon.com)
Moshe Feldenkrais (Credit: © International Feldenkrais Federation Archive/Photo montage by Salon.com)

The newest book by Norman Doidge, “The Brain’s Way of Healing,” has caused much excitement in Feldenkrais circles worldwide.  I’m excited for the Feldenkrais Method to become more widely known because of the book’s popularity. However, I’m even more excited at the possibility that the idea of neuroplasticity – that the brain changes its structure in response to learning – will finally find acceptance among the general public, including those within the mainstream medical community.

I first heard about neuroplasticity in the year 2000, in my earliest Feldenkrais lessons.  I’ve probably thought about neuroplasticity almost every day for the past fifteen years, as I became immersed in the Feldenkrais Method, and began to work with students and clients. With accumulating experience, I have come to understand that neuroplasticity is a sort of superpower that we all have. And, like all superpowers, it can be a double-edged sword.

Neuroplasticity operates whether you are aware of it or not. We humans are built to learn, almost “straight out of the chute.” Our unconscious actions – those that we call “habits” – are constantly causing neurons to be recruited, strengthening neural pathways to strengthen the habitual patterns. This formation of neural pathways is sometimes stated as,”Things that fire together, wire together.” However, this innate capacity can have devastating consequences for some musicians, for example, who spend thousands of hours practicing fine-motor dexterity and agility, only to develop a lack of control and precision, and potentially jeopardizing their careers.

So if you have this superpower, you might as well learn to use it, and use it well. You can’t just assume that it’s going to work FOR you. You have to practice, and pay attention. Think of Luke Skywalker in his first encounter with the light saber. Obi-Wan was undoubtedly a patient teacher (in a short but memorable scene) so that Luke could learn to use this tool with skill and precision to match his intentions.

The Feldenkrais Method and neuroplasticity as metaphorical light sabers? Your Feldenkrais teacher as your personal Obi-Wan? Am I shamelessly exploiting Star Wars for my own literary convenience and amusement? YOU BETCHA I AM.

In lightness and with gentle humor, we learn and grow. There’s more to be said about all of this, but for now, I must practice my light saber. . .

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10 thoughts on “Your Personal Superpower

    1. Thanks for the kind comment, Ilona. I jokingly send my ATM students out with, “As you return to your day, enjoy your [fill in the blank with body part that was the focus of the lesson] and USE YOUR POWERS FOR GOOD.” They always smile, and I think the notion of reclaiming one’s power, and having personal agency in how that power is used — is POWERFUL. Deep stuff, about a whole lot more than just wiggling, ain’t it?

  1. An Obi-Wan here. Except when I’m not. Then I’m Luke Skywalker.

    Love this line “I have come to understand that neuroplasticity is a sort of superpower that we all have.”

    My very own superpower. Doesn’t get better than that!

    1. Adding the capacity for superpowers to one’s self-image will certainly change things! 🙂
      Love your observation that sometimes you are Obi-Wan, sometimes Luke. Yet another universal truth from Star Wars. Thanks, Cynthia.

  2. I share Cynthia’s love for your line: “I have come to understand that neuroplasticity is a sort of superpower that we all have.” and I fully agree that adding the capacity for super powers to one’s self-image will absolutely change things.

    I also think that is crucial to think about that lovely double edge sward…and not take it too seriously. Obviously there are habits we can form that wreak havoc…and being mindful of that can save us all a lot of pain & suffering. But then, there will always be the unknown. Not know exactly which connections we are making or excluding. Not being certain how the different connections will overlap and what power and glory that will bring us….

    1. Thanks, Buffy. I agree with your observation about the double-edged sword. To be respected and accepted for what it is, but not to be feared. I think a big part of the Method is the self-observation that occurs when “the unexpected” occurs. Ain’t life grand?

  3. thank you for the wonderful perspective on the Feldenkrais method. I’m a 3rd year student and am ever amazed at the power this glorious method brings to me and my ATM students.
    Sharing x

  4. Great post!
    May the forces run through you (without shearing, binding, collapsing, dampening or other gastric disturbances).
    Nanu Nantu.

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