Category Archives: Perceptual process

What’s REALLY happening here?

This entry is part 5 of 11 in the series Refocusing.

Refocusing can be a weird and confusing activity — to participate in, to watch, or to write about. I’m finding it particularly clumsy to try to write about Refocusing in third person scientific voice — as an outside observer objectively describing the interaction between Holder and Mover. So I’m switching to first and second person — writing about you interacting with me, and what we each experience. I’m casting you in the role of Holder, the one applying the assault, and me in the role of Mover, who wants to neutralize your assault. As you read this, though, please try to imagine yourself in both roles. This shift in voice makes the writing easier for me; I hope it will make following what I write easier for you, as well.  Continue reading What’s REALLY happening here?

Introduction to Refocusing

This entry is part 1 of 11 in the series Refocusing.

Refocusing is a way of exploring the connections between perception and physical interaction, and the ways that we we unconsciously impose limitations on ourselves. Bob Nimensky, a friend with whom I practiced Aikido, and I developed this approach in the 1970s, as we attempted to understand and replicate the fluidity in movement and apparent untouchability we saw in some high level Aikido players.

Involving each other in physically constraining interactions — choke holds, joint locks, and the like — we would look for ways to dissolve the apparent constraint and move as if it didn’t exist. We found we could do this by attending to and responding to aspects of the interaction that were normally unnoticed. When we were successful, the constraint would melt away, and the person being constrained could move as freely as if the constraint weren’t there. Continue reading Introduction to Refocusing

Teaching “Composing Experience” in England

In May 2008, I presented a five day Feldenkrais advanced training in Composing Experience in Devon, England. The Winter 2008 issue of Functional Information, the Feldenkrais Guild UK Newsletter, included an article on the training and participants’ reactions. A portion of that article is reproduced below. A description of the material presented in that workshop can be found here.
Continue reading Teaching “Composing Experience” in England

Awareness and Attention

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Perception.

The Perceptual Process model describes the information flows we use in the composing experience. I want to shift focus now to look at some of the ways we manage that information. Two major processes through which we do that are awareness and attention. As a simplistic first approximation, we might say that awareness makes information available for use, and attention is how you prioritize that information. Using William Shakespeare’s metaphor that “All the world’s a stage. And all the men and women merely players,” we can think of awareness as how you light the stage, and attention as where on the stage you look.

The terms aware and awareness have many shades of meaning, all of which generally relate to availability of and access to information. Being aware of describes a relationship between an observer and something being observed. You can use information that you are aware of in composing your experience and your actions. That part of the perceptual stream is accessible to you at that moment. The term awareness also refers to the faculty through which you acquire information, as in broadening your awareness to take in more of your surroundings or narrowing your awareness to focus on a particular task.

I’ll use the term perceptual field to refer to the totality of information encompassed by your awareness at any particular time — the field of view, in effect, of your perceptual lens. This field is multi-dimensional, made up of different sub-fields corresponding to different perceptual dimensions, so I’ll sometimes use terms like visual field or proprioceptive field to refer to these sub-fields. Your perceptual field isn’t constant; it constantly changes. The content of the field changes from moment to moment, as the world around you changes and you change your relationship to it. The shape of the field — how much you take in from which different dimensions — also changes over time, as your interests and and your focus change.

Continue reading Awareness and Attention

The Somatic Dimension

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Perception.

So far we’ve been looking primarily at the perception of information impinging on you from the outside world. But human experience involves more than that. You are a physical being, with a physical body that moves through space and interacts with the world around you, physically and in other ways. You assess situations, make choices, and carry out actions. Your experience encompasses all of those things — your body, your movement, and your interaction with the world. Any description of how you compose your experience must take those dimensions into account as well.

I’ll use the term somatic to refer to those aspects of experience that relate to physicality. The term comes from the Greek word soma, meaning body, in contrast to psyche, meaning mind. Its dictionary meaning is “relating to the body as distinct from the mind,” though a shading of its meaning in the direction of “relating to the experience of living in a body” has been coming into common use in recent years. That latter meaning is more in keeping with my use of the term.

Our previous approximation for the Perceptual Process model focused on information coming in from the outside. Let’s now add the somatic information flows within the body and from the body back to the outside world. In the schematic below, these flows are labeled motor stream, proprioceptive stream, and external effects.

Continue reading The Somatic Dimension