“Go gently and be free once more. Go gently and be free of the weight of history, the distortions and the expectations” Unknown
Moshe Feldenkrais often used mathematical concepts to help explain his method. In this blog a few months ago, we discussed Functional Integration® in mathematics and how it is used in The Feldenkrais Method®. This month will explore how the Weber-Fechner Law explains the importance of gentle movement.
German physiologist Ernst Heinrich Weber originally created the law to describe his research on weight lifting. In one of his classic experiments, a blindfolded man held a weight and would say when he felt the weight increasing. When holding a light weight, the man could feel when just a few grams were added. Heavier weights, however, required more additional weight to be noticed.
Years later, Weber’s student Gustav Theodor Fechner, applied this law to measure sensation. He proposed there is a relationship between the magnitude of a physical stimulus and the intensity or strength of sensation that people notice. A candle on a bright sunny day would be hard to see. But it would definitely be seen in a dark room. Use this link to learn more about the Weber Fechner Law:
Feldenkrais knew from Weber-Fechner and his Judo practice that gentle movement increased his sensitivity. This helped him monitor his movements with more accuracy and detail. He could feel what joints and muscles were working and the parts of himself that were assisting or resisting. He could explore and contrast different ways of initiating and organizing a particular function. This expanded his possibilities and allowed him to refine his motor skills. Once a movement was learned, Feldenkrais could effortlessly increase its speed and power.
Let’s do a simple experiment to better understand this concept. Go to the door knob and turn it. How much were you able to sense or feel? How much did your fingers press into the knob or bend? Did your wrist move or forearm rotate? Did your shoulder blades move or your weight shift? Most people will have difficulty answering these questions using their habitual (normal) movement patterns.
Now turn the door knob with the least amount of effort. Go very slowly and gently, so you may find the least amount of force necessary to turn the knob. Is it easier to feel how much your fingers bend or press into the knob? Are you better able to monitor the movements of the wrists and forearm? And how your shoulder blades and other parts of you may contribute to this movement? Moving gently gives you the sensitivity needed to discover and create quality movement.
You may be surprised by how much unnecessary effort you put into opening a door. Imagine how reducing effort may be applied to other parts of your life. There is great power in gentleness. It may be the path to freedom from chronic pain, distorted thinking and unrealistic expectations. Join us at S3NSE.org and bring more gentleness into your life.