Wendy Kann: COVID Changes Relationships With Time, Space

Alert — and active — “06880” reader Wendy Kann writes:

It’s too early to say how the COVID-19 pandemic will change us as a community. But as a local body awareness teacher, I already see an impact.

It’s not just the Trader Joe’s ballet and Sherwood Island shuffle as we navigate with a new kinesthetic awareness of 6 feet. Something more is going on with our physical relationship to time and space.

Self-isolation has locked us in, certainly. But those walls haven’t stopped the entire world from exploding in through our screens. Business meetings, courses, virtual cocktails, play rehearsals, cooking classes by a master in Morocco, violin lessons from a virtuoso in Timbuktu!

Wendy Kann, and …

We attend church in our pajama pants! Do we really think David Brooks or Trevor Noah will want to go back to the studio after this taste of working from their cozy dens?

And instead of mulling over exactly what Aunt Maude said at the virtual family reunion, we can watch a replay of the whole thing at 2 am.

Yet without physical contact from people, this Pandora’s box of possibility leaves us profoundly unsatisfied. If we don’t have real eyes looking at us, real hands touching us, we begin to feel disoriented. We begin to lose that feeling-sense of who we are; of where we begin and end.

In this time of isolation, I see a hunger to find our physical selves. Perhaps it’s because this pandemic threatens our mortality. But I think it’s mostly that we need the anchor of our own flesh and bones.

Many movement disciplines — fitness, dance, yoga, qi gong — are fully aware of this and have taken their classes online. We all know how important it is that people stay in touch with their bodies during this crisis.

Feldenkrais has been particularly easy to teach virtually. Students Zoom in, then lie on their living room floors and close their eyes.

Watching carefully to make sure my instructions are clear, I verbally guide them through easy yet sophisticated movement sequences based on bio-mechanics and human development.

An hour later they stand up with a more refined awareness of their own skeletal support, and (depending on the lesson) of how softer ribs allow the easier turning, or how more flexible ankles can positively impact a troublesome back.

… with friend.

Feldenkrais is basically mindfulness through the particularly potent portal of our physical feelings and sensations.

My son is in isolation in Brussels; my daughter is locked down in Los Angeles. As a mother, I worried. What if they got sick? How would I take care of them?

Then my son asked if I would teach him a Feldenkrais class every other day. His friends in Brussels joined.

My daughter and her friends joined. Their friends invited friends. My friends invited friends. We found a time (3:30 pm EDT) that comfortably spanned 4 times zones.

It’s been more than just a way to check in on my kids without technically “fussing.” As an immigrant from Zimbabwe, I always knew that geography and walls don’t matter. As long as you can feel yourself — really feel yourself — you are home.

(To sign up for a Feldenkrais course with Wendy, click here. For more information, email wendykann@gmail.com).

Feldenkrais, via Zoom.

7 responses to “Wendy Kann: COVID Changes Relationships With Time, Space

  1. Interesting that we may see a shift in our physical relationship to time and space.

    I was thinking, rather, it will be short-lived, like a blip in earth’s history, as testing, anti-viral treatments and eventually a vaccine are readily made available?

    Now, there could be other events later which could result in impacts, but COVID-19? Pandemics have been going on forever. Small pox, etc. I think COVID-19 is most akin to the Spanish flu… think what life has been like over 98 years … from 1921 to 2019.

    Not that people won’t continue to use technology at an ever increasing rate, but that’s been happening steadily for awhile now.

    • Tim, I could not disagree with you more. I think the effects of COVID-19 will be seismic, and long-lasting. We Americans will look at everything through a different lens, when this is finally (in a LONG time) over. We will see education, government, entertainment, the environment, relationships — you name it, all of life — in a vastly changed way. I don’t know what that is, but all of us will be profoundly changed. And that’s not even factoring in the economic carnage. In addition, young people growing up now will carry this with them forever, just as those who grew up in the Depression and Holocaust did. The changes we made after 9/11 will seem like hiccups, compared to this.

      • I found interesting the point about a shift in our “physical relationship to time and space.” I’m unclear what in your reply relates to that.

        • When you said “Now, there could be other events later which could result in impacts, but COVID-19?” it sounded like you were referring to all impacts of the pandemic.

          • No, I was solely focused on thinking about how our “physical relationship to time and space” may or may not permanently change. Pandemics and epidemics have long marked and morphed our existence in multiple ways, but I don’t know about the topic of physical relationship to time and space.

  2. Diane Johnson

    As a big fan of Wendy’s, I highly recommend her Feldenkrais classes! I always walk away feeling more aware, settled and limber. And now, even more so, I find them to be a wonderfully relaxing escape from current worries.

  3. Wonderful words, thoughts, and images to guide to sensation! Well done, Wendy. Home is where the self is present.