"If you know what you do, you can do what you want," Feldenkrais instructor Ruti Gorel quotes Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais.

The Feldenkrais method prescribes gentle, mindful exercises. While doing them, I become deeply relaxed. Afterward, my posture improves. The method focuses on self-awareness.
Ruti explains the above quotation, saying: "Awareness is the first step to change." She means by noticing how we move our bodies, we can learn to move more efficiently
Similarly, self-awareness and self-reflection can help improve our relationships with ourselves and others. By carefully focusing on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, we can make positive changes that help create more meaningful connections.
Are you thinking, "Feelings are feelings, and we cannot change them?" Therapists tell us, "Feelings aren't right or wrong; they just are, so we should accept them."
Is that true?


Yes, we should accept our feelings. And we can change them. As any cognitive behavior therapist will tell you, we can often change how we feel by changing our thoughts or behaviors. 

For example, Bev might feel upset with her husband Paul for being inconsiderate. She thinks he's selfish. She usually cooks dinner but worked late, so he took over. Paul baked fish with a hot sauce he likes, but it's too spicy for Bev's digestion. She's told him spicy foods don't agree with her more than once. Because Bev thinks Paul is selfish, she feels frustrated and resentful. If she acts on her feeling, she will accuse him of not caring about her, which would not be constructive.

Instead, Bev thanks him (behavior) for making dinner and tells Paul she won't eat the spicy dish because it doesn't agree with her. She'll eat the rest of the meal, just not the fish. "Would you be willing to make something less spicy for me next time?" Bev asks. Paul apologizes and agrees. He says he can add the spicy sauce only to his portion of the fish in the future.


Had Bev not spoken up, she might have continued to resent her husba nd. Here's how Bev recognized her feeling (self-awareness) and dealt with it proactively:

First, she recognized her upset feeling: she was feeling upset.

Next, she addressed her concern and took action (behaved) constructively: she did what she wanted to do.

Her emotions changed; after she expressed herself and her husband responded kindly, she felt warm toward him again.


Words are powerful. I'm extra sensitive to how we phrase things. For example, I've been seeing a couple for several months. The husband, "John," often says he "should" do something different, usually doing less placating and more self-assertion. I frequently ask him if he "wants" to do what he says he should do. If he says yes, I ask him to change "should" to "want." He's gradually catching on because he knows how different should feels from want.

John is gaining self-awareness. He sometimes catches himself saying, "I should," and changes it to "I want to." "Should" can feel controlling. No one wants to feel bossed around, even by themself! We're more likely to break out of a negative pattern when we "want to" than when we "should." Now John is more likely to say things like, "I want to change a complaint into a request," a worthwhile goal for many of us. Like John, we can do more of what we want to do when we notice what we're doing.


Ruti could see my mind working overtime during the Feldenkrais class, and my smile as associations popped into my head while lying still. When I said I liked Dr. Feldenkrais's quote and might write about it, she reminded me to stop that thinking. We're supposed to let our brains take in the new, more efficient ways of moving, not wander off somewhere else. We should try to be present in the here and now. It will allow more change and improvement to occur.
Ruti's right, I thought. I "should" try to be present in the here and now, let my brain take in new ways to move. I wanted to keep happily spinning these thoughts in my head, but I did my best to follow Ruti's directions. So I set those ideas aside during the class, made room for awareness, and let my brain create new pathways for change and improved movements while continuing to exercise my body. 

Because in Feldenkrais and life, awareness is the key to learning
Photo by Liza Summer

Author's Bio: 

Marcia Naomi Berger is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist specializing in couple and relationship counseling. She is the author of MARRIAGE MINDED: AN A TO Z DATING GUIDE FOR LASTING LOVE. https://marcianaomiberger.com/e-books-2/books/ and www.marriagemeetings.com