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!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org).