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S3NSE: Uncaging the Ribs

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Once upon a time, each of us lived in a world where words had no meaning and our potential was limitless. Many Buddhists refer to this state as beginner’s mind. Once words take on specific meanings, our thoughts, behaviors and actions are affected and become limited.

Rib cage. What thoughts or pictures come into your mind? To most of us the rib cage is a stable structure that protects the heart and lungs. This self-image determines how we will use it. Because cages are thought to be strong and immobile, there is a tendency to keep the rib cage rigid. When the ribs do not contribute to movement, vulnerable areas such as the neck, shoulder and lower back are isolated and stressed.

Many Feldenkrais Practitioners tell their students to think of the ribs not as a cage but a basket. While a soft rib basket is an improvement, we can do better. Our ribs do more than just hold and protect the lungs and internal organs. They expand and contract with our breathing. They also have the ability to flex, extend, rotate and side bend. Therefore, ribs act more like an accordion than a basket. Once you learn how to play your rib accordion, life becomes more harmonious.

Do not let the limitations of language constrain your life. For most of us, the rib cage is unexplored territory. When one learns how to integrate this part into their whole, aches and pains disappear. Do not live in a cage, join this month and set yourself free.


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