The Conventional and Refocusing Paradigms posit very different underlying realities; they explain the experience of living in and interacting with the world in very different ways. The Conventional Paradigm posits that the physical world really is as we experience it, made up of physical stuff with mass and density that responds to forces of various kinds in measurable and predictable ways. It explains my experience as being sourced in the external events I encounter and objects and forces I engage with during those events. If I find myself unable to move when Bob is holding me in place, or feel pain when he is twisting my arm, the Conventional Paradigm tells me that that is because of the physical characteristics of Bob, of me, and of our physical interaction.
The Refocusing Paradigm, on the other hand, suggests that our experience of physical events is at least partly illusory, created not by the physical causation to which we normally attribute it, but by automatic unconscious habits that create the illusion of that physical causation, in the same way that the programming rules in a video game create the illusion of physical causation within the game. At first glance, this sounds absurd, because the Conventional Paradigm seems so strongly validated by both personal experience and societal consensus. But if we look more carefully, cracks begin to emerge in the supporting evidence; it is not as rock-solid as it first seemed. Refocusing is a way of exploring those cracks, and the Refocusing Paradigm, as I am striving to articulate it, provides one plausible explanation. Continue reading Acting by Activating Impulses
Refocusing can be difficult to explain coherently. It revolves around non-ordinary experiences that many people would not believe possible without personally experiencing them, and sometimes not even then. It is based on ideas that seem to violate everyday logic and common sense, and explanations that ignore or violate both our scientific and cultural understandings of physics and how the world works. Nonetheless, I find it relatively easy to convey Refocusing face to face, when I can share the non-ordinary experience that Refocusing makes possible. I can judge how well they are “getting” those experiences as we go along, and reshape the experiences and my explanations as necessary to fit their understanding. Continue reading The Actor and the Character
I find it challenging to write about Refocusing. The explorations that Bob and I engaged in were free-flowing and somewhat inscrutable. We understood what we were about, but had no need to describe or explain it coherently to anyone who wasn’t participating. We developed ways of languaging our experience with each other that were more akin to the private languages young identical twins sometimes create than to coherent adult conversation. You can see some of this in the videos, which also give you an opportunity to at least vicariously experience our process. I’m hoping to make that process more comprehensible, which I find difficult to do without imposing a degree of form and structure. My challenge is to find ways to do that without losing touch with the essentially arcane nature of the activity. I’m struggling with the issue of whether or not I can actually write about the Refocusing process in a way that will make it understandable and interesting to people who have not experienced it directly. I would appreciate comments, pro and con, on whether or not I’m accomplishing that goal. Continue reading Refocusing and Feldenkrais
Even apparently simple physical interactions depend on multiple cascading layers of perceptual/motor choice, producing broad patterns of activity involving the entire self. Most of these choices are driven by unconscious habits acquired over a lifetime of living in and interacting with the world around us. The Feldenkrais Method offers tools to reprogram this cascade to make it more efficient. Refocusing explores deeper unseen layers — dissecting internal experience to expose hidden tricks we play on ourselves and the limitations they create, then reassembling that experience in ways that serve us better. This leads to fluidity and ease where before there had been solidity and effort. It clearly demonstrates how expectations shape experience — how we unconsciously create what we don’t want, but can more consciously create more of what we do want. If you are a Feldenkrais Practitioner, you will find that this can enhance your professional skills as well as your personal life. Continue reading Letting a Ball move you
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