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
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
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
In this post, I’ll talk about why I find Refocusing to be a valuable experience. I’ll also share a video exploring how we make ourselves solid in preparation for interaction with another person, and what can happen when we inhibit that solidity.
A colleague at the Rand Corporation once remarked about a paper he was working on that “When I get this written, I’ll know what I really think about this stuff.” I thought that was a profound observation at the time, but I’m really appreciating it now. Bob and I evolved a rich intuitive familiarity with the experiential territory we were exploring, with no need to articulate it in any formalized way. But to share it, as I’m now attempting to do, requires a semantic framework. I have to clean it up and regularize it, at least somewhat, but I don’t want to clean it up too much. I’m using raw video from our practice sessions rather than a more polished presentation of the same ideas because I want to convey the chaotic and irregular adventure that it was for us. I want to encourage you to wander along similar paths of discovery, rather than just to show you what we discovered. Continue reading Making Yourself Solid
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?