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Balance: How do we really learn?

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

Once upon a time, maybe long ago and far away, you mastered the art of learning with both mind and body. In the beginning, you saw, felt, smelled and even tasted both yourself and environment. Gradually, you learned words and concepts for your perceptions. Early lessons came in the form of singing, dancing and clapping. Learning was literally a moving experience: fun and easy. As school continued there would be less moving but more thinking. As you grew into an adult, learning became a predominantly mental activity.

Renowned philosopher and mystic G.I.Gurdjieff believed that knowing is thinking, but understanding involved the senses (moving, sensing and feeling). I could read about a saxophone and know about it. If I never heard, touched or blew into it, do I understand it? The balance of knowing (thinking) and understanding (sensing) would be necessary to play the instrument.

The Feldenkrais Method gives us an opportunity to not only know, but to understand ourselves. You may be familiar with the concept, going in another direction. You probably could think of a few examples. How could you understand going in another direction?

Start by sitting towards the front of your chair. Turn to one side, stop before reach your limit. Notice and remember a spot that is in front of you in this position. Then return to the starting position.

Turn to the same side. Come back a little bit and stay there. Gently look and move your head a little towards the center position. Just do what is easy. Repeat this several times and return to center. Turn to the side again and notice if you are able to turn easier and see further than before. Now you not only know but understand going in another direction.

As you go about your day think of how going in another direction may be useful in your life. One friend became tired of yelling and chasing her family for dinner. She went in another direction by eating quietly by herself. Soon her family joined her and they shared a pleasant meal together. Feel stuck? Know and understand that you always have a choice of going in another direction.


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