We are born with a limited number of “hardwired” reflexes – our abilities to move, speak, and think come from a learning process. When we are born most of our nervous system is unpatterned, not yet connected, so that each of us can learn to function to meet the demands of our surroundings. We are imminently adaptable, thus must learn to do almost everything that we do.
We have a great freedom, a potential for adaptability, and with that comes the responsibility to learn to function well. To a large extent, we create ourselves.
This is one of the core principles of the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education. Feldenkrais is a subtle method of rewiring the neural structure of the entire human being to be functionally well integrated, which means being able to do what you want to do and do it well. This ‘rewiring’ takes place through moving with awareness – awareness of the feeling and the result of the movement. It is a learning process. We can continue learning, and thus rewiring our brains, our entire lives.
As we grow we learn particular patterns of functioning, many of them work well, some do not. With age and injury, these patterns of functioning fall into dis-use. It is now becoming well known that when we don’t use the neural pathways that control particular functions we lose those neural pathways. Some injuries, such as stroke, can destroy entire networks. It is our great good fortune that just as we learned to ‘wire’ our brains as children, we can wire them again. There is plenty of brain matter available to take over for damaged areas and there is a growing body of research findings that show we can generate new neurons when needed through a process called ‘neurogenesis’.
Neurogenesis and creating new neural networks using existing brain matter both come from moving to fulfill an intention while experiencing the feeling of the movement. That is all it takes, moving with ever more finely differentiated awareness. Feldenkrais Functional Integration® and Felkenkrais Awareness Through Movement® Lessons are highly evolved methods for doing that.
Copyright© May 2015 Jeff Bickford, All Rights Reserved, Unfettered Movement
This post draws upon “The Brain’s Way of Healing” by Norman Doidge, MD. I highly recommend it!