Welcome to the blog page of my website. This is where I put my own articles about ABM, Feldenkrais, skiing, and other subjects. This page also acts as a resource page for people who would like to know more about Summit Movement Center and the Anat Baniel Method. I also have a Facebook page, /SummitMovementCenter. Please check that out for updates about upcoming and recent events.
For more information about the Anat Baniel Method, I also recommend looking at Anat Baniel’s website, www.anatbanielmethod.com and her blog in the Huffington Post, www.huffingtonpost.com/anat-baniel. Both these sites give some good introductory information about ABM. For a deeper understanding of ABM, Anat’s books, Move Into Life and Kids Beyond Limits, are well written and explain the Nine Essentials and Anat Baniel’s special understanding of the work in more detail. Call me if you would like one of these books. I usually have a few around.
Anat has also posted a large number of videos on YouTube that show her working with kids with special needs. These are fun to watch because there is such a clear change in the students over the period she films.
If you have any pain or trouble moving please call me to set up an appointment.
Stepping Beyond Limitations
I heard a story recently on the Ted Radio Hour about Amy Purdy, the adaptive snowboarder, who lost her legs to meningitis at 19 and went on to win a bronze medal at Sochi and come in second place in Dancing with the Stars. She said something that resonated beautifully with what I am doing now and with the Anat Baniel Method:
“Instead of looking at our challenges and our limitations as something negative or bad, we can begin to look at them as blessings: magnificent gifts that can ignite our imaginations and help us go further than we ever knew we could.”
We all have challenges. We all have limitations. Some of those limitations are beyond our control, some develop over time as a result how we live our lives, but in either case, we can use them as opportunities to explore our own evolution. That process is one that is unique to each person.
There certainly is no one way to grow or change, and there are all kinds of approaches to that process. The important thing is moving in a way that keeps that process going in a direction that acknowledges what is possible right now and creates more possibilities instead of new limitations.
I was driving back from Dillon this morning and got stuck in a long line of cars behind a front loader. As I moved along slowly, I thought about how the world is always changing. By the time ski season starts, there will be two lanes running each way to Breck. We will have a new road, a quicker, cleaner, faster way to get everyone back and forth from Frisco, but for now everyone gets to wait behind some kind of vehicle on the curvy temporary detour.
Not only does the world change around us, but we are constantly changing to adapt to it. Children change and grow at dizzying speeds, relationships change, buildings are built on lots that had other buildings, construction happens everywhere.
These external events affect us and may seem insignificant, but they are always happening. They happen so much and so quickly that we are hardly the same people we were a year ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago. Certainly there is a continuum of these constant changes. I appear, more or less, like I did a year ago. I can remember events from my past, my friends are still my friends, but I am no longer that person. This is true at a neurological level. My brain is different than it was a year ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago.
Part of change is doing something new, and here I am, putting together the first of my new email newsletters. It is a first approximation, a first attempt. It may not be the most beautiful, but I am trying something new. A new approach to letting people know about the Transformational Movement Lessons and individual lessons that can help anyone change the way their brain works, and make them better at what they do.
Thanks for looking at my new newsletter. Change is all around us and inside us. Come to a movement class or take me up on my introductory lesson and experience a new way of changing that can help you perform better.
The Nine Essentials
Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, a nuclear physicist and judo master, developed his method over several decades. His writing is rich with information and insight into how the brain works and how movement can be used to change people’s lives for the better. His insights are now being confirmed by cutting-edge neuro-plasticity research.
In her books, Move into Life and Kids Beyond Limits, Anat Baniel describes her method of neuro-movement education and makes the ideas of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais more accessible to the general public. In the process, she distilled the conditions that can help anyone achieve a greater degree of vitality, creativity, and awareness. She calls these the Nine Essentials.
The Nine Essentials—Movement with Attention, The Learning Switch, Subtlety, Variation, Slow, Enthusiasm, Flexible Goals, Imagination and Dreams, and Awareness—can be used in every aspect of your life to improve how you learn in the easiest, most effective way.
The Anat Baniel Method uses these essentials to help sharpen and focus changes that can help you overcome chronic pain, limitations, or performance issues. They are the basis for the method and important in the process of helping your brain wake up by learning new things or new ways of doing things. Following these ideas will help you change the way you move, feel, think, and view the world.
If you suffer from chronic pain, the Nine Essentials and the Anat Baniel Method can help you learn to move in a way that may reduce your pain. If you have had a brain injury, a stroke or a TBI, we can use the Nine Essentials to gently reconnect your nervous system. If you have a child with cerebral palsy, or another neurologic condition, we can know that she is fine as she is, and help her continue to learn forever.
Essential 1: Movement with Attention
“Movement is life; without movement life is unthinkable” Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais
Movement is the language of the brain, and movement is involved in all your thoughts, feelings and emotions. When you move, think, see, taste, feel, or smell, your brain organizes trillions of neurologic connections to make that happen. In fact, it makes the action happen, accounts for the pull of gravity, manages your gut, keeps your heart beating, and inhibits all kinds of other actions that would interfere with what you’re doing, There’s a lot going on.
Over time we do the same things the same way. We wash the dishes, vacuum the floor, interact with our kids, ski, bike, or run the same way. We do things the same way to do them quickly, or to do them without thinking about them, or because we don’t know how to change. As we do the same actions the same way, our brain grooves that way of doing the action into how we do it, so we are more likely to do it the same way again.
When you do something and you pay attention to how and what is involved, you learn about what you’re doing. Try paying attention to how you exercise. What parts of your body are involved in whatever form of exercise you like to do? For instance, if you are riding your bike, where is your chest? What parts of you are involved in the action of pedaling? What are your feet and ankles doing? What’s happening in your hips and pelvis? Is there some part of you that is not moving that could be part of what you’re doing and help with the movement? To pay attention, you may need to slow down for a mile or so. You can do this with anything you do routinely: brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, interacting with your kids, skiing.
You might not want to do it all the time because you might not get anything done. Everyone has things they need to do quickly and without thinking. This is ok. But doing the same things, the same way, can rob us of our vitality. A way to begin to change this is to pay attention to how you move and what you’re doing. This can make the things you do new and interesting, and begin the process of enhancing the way your brain works in every kind of action, whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional.
Essential 2: The Learning Switch
“. . . in reality, not a moment passes in the waking state in which all man’s capacities are not employed together.”
Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, Awareness Through Movement, p. 32
Your brain looks for ways to do things in the most efficient way. Your brain’s job is to put order in the chaos by interpreting and giving meaning to the information it receives. Over time we develop and adopt these interpretations of what we experience. Habits become grooved in and actually resist the development of new neurons that would change your habits. “I’m always late,” “I can’t ski,” “That’s just like my mother did it,” “I am who I am and I can’t change it.” These are all statements that are untrue, needn’t be true, and can limit our vitality and ability to learn. The learning switch is the action of telling yourself that you can learn, that change is possible, that you can suspend what you know and accept what is possible and new.
There are three approaches to how information is organized in our brains: academic learning is about acquiring new information, gaining knowledge about a subject that is accepted as fact; skill acquisition is learning how to do new actions or activities; organic learning is anything that brings about personal change, when something is fundamentally new and different in the way we feel inside about ourselves. The learning switch must be on for this kind of learning to happen. The learning switch is an eagerness to learn, a willingness to take risks, a willingness to be vulnerable and be open to change.
There are many habits that keep the learning switch turned off: believing we are right, being critical, doing the same things over and over. One of the most powerful is the self-preservation strategy of freezing and suppressing our emotions and actions. In civilized society when we are under stress, because we often can’t run away or fight, we freeze. We express this in our bodies: our shoulders, pelvis, back and hands chronically contract.
The act of freezing makes us less willing to try new things, learn about people, take risks, because the consequences of freezing again are so painful and uncomfortable. Fear, shame, memories of failure, the need to be perfect, are all habits that keep us from being open to experience. When the learning switch is off we lose our vitality, the sense of ourselves, the inner part of us that can make connections with ourselves and with people around us.
It’s not easy to give up these habits in movement or emotion. They are strong, culturally mandated, and constructed over years of wired-in behavior. One place to start is in how we move. Your brain is an information gathering system. At a neurological level, it doesn’t distinguish between different kinds of information. As information, an emotion is just like a movement or a taste. They are all the same. Just as our emotional state affects how we move, so movement can be used to turn on the learning switch. Going for a walk in the woods, going dancing, playing with your kids, doing a movement lesson can all make us feel better. If we can do these things with an open heart, with the learning switch on, organic changes are boundless.