Movement through awareness

The power of letting go

Most of us have an idea about how we want our lives to go but when things are not going to plan, finding acceptance can be difficult. If we are making new plans, it can be like stepping out onto a precipice. Moving out of our comfort zone is bound to bring up some fears and uncertainty. 


We all need a feeling of security, familiarity and safety in our lives. But could a time come where familiarity and security become a habit so firmly entrenched that it becomes difficult to move somewhere different in our lives and we start to feel stuck?


It’s not easy to see how much we try to control our lives and the people around us. Most of us feel more comfortable when outer circumstances fit our view of the world. There certainly are behaviors that will increase the likelihood of our lives going to plan such as eating well, caring for others, being driven and organised in carving out your life. Still how many times have we seen our lives and others lives, descending into chaos due to unexpected illness or loss of loved ones, or a job.


Letting go is something we are strongly encouraged to practise because of world-wide events. The world around us is certainly changing. Technology is advancing at a pace in which many people and our environment cannot keep up with. Our world-altering health pandemics have irreversibly changed our way of life. It is a harsh truth that we don't know what turn our lives are going to take. We can increase the probability of a good life and security but it's no guarantee.  From my own experience grieving is like a slow process of letting go of a loved one that has passed away. So we may be forced to let go through a process of grieving or we can practise letting go, giving up control and creating space a little each day. 


Letting go of our expectations of how things should be can make the changes in our lives easier to cope with. We can fearfully cling to the past, security or fixed ideas or we can be open to new possibilities. I love the idea of learning to step back, create space for others, as some people might say getting out of our own way. Stephen Nachmanovitch is an improviser who wrote the book ‘The art of is: improvising as a way of life’. He describes the process of ‘stepping-back and creating space’ in movement and musical improvisation as analogous to how we teach ourselves as individuals and as partners in relationships to be human beings. He observes that wonderful things happen in the creative space when he as a teacher nurtures rather than leads or controls.


Beta brain waves range from 13-40 HZ and are associated with everyday activity. Beta brain wave frequencies in the highest range are associated with the stress that is endemic in our world.  Wanting to be in control is more likely to create stress and many believe control of the outside world is impossible anyway.


In contrast, mindfulness meditation has been linked to lower-frequency alpha waves in a study by Cahn and Polich in 2006. Alpha brain waves range from 8-12 HZ are dominant during quietly flowing thoughts, rest, calmness, mind/body integration and learning (Brainwaves Neurotherapy). Methods such as `Awareness through movement’ in Feldenkrais produce similar alpha states which help improve the mind and body connection and learning. 


Isla Klasing was a CEO of KFC in Germany in 2016 who struggled significantly after a horse-riding accident.  During her long recovery she had no choice but to give up some control in her life, and not without difficulty. She describes how rather than suffering, her team blossomed, which increased KFCs’ marketplace success significantly. Klasing said learning the power of letting go also made her happier in her personal life.

According to Klasing, the power of letting go has three parts. First, trusting that benefits can come from letting go, secondly, switching off our phone/digital-detox gives us the freedom to let go of the outside world and third, adopting breathing / mindfulness techniques) to quieten your busy mind.


We have all had the experience of having change forced upon us and the discomfort it can bring. Twelve years ago I was separating from my first husband. It was December and some girlfriends and I were camping on the North-East Coast of Tasmania. One morning I woke up early and decided to have a short meditation in the bush. As I sat there I was looking up at a tree nearby. I noticed this tree had a branch that was falling away. It was a difficult time emotionally, so I could see myself in the broken, messed-up branch. I can still remember the image of that branch. 


Then I noticed the tree as a whole and could see its potential and beauty. I could see my life journey as being like the trees’ journey. Even though it was a time of upheaval I would keep growing, and have new branches. The scar of that broken branch could heal over. It was the beginning of my ability to let go of my marriage and know that my identity and value extended beyond the life I knew at the time. My ex-husband and I are amicable to this day.


So letting go is tied to renewal, knowing we can move beyond our perceptions about the life and our identity we are holding now.  Plus we might be surprised by the future.


The Dirty Hand Print

All dancers know the feeling of freedom, when you confidently dance the steps embedded in your muscle memory, enjoying the music and the feeling of being in present moment. When I was a bit older, I did improvisational dance, where there are no memorised steps. I was stunned by the multitude of choices that presented themselves in any given moment. It took a great deal of courage to trust my chosen movement decisions and responses in a performance setting.

It was interesting to see how this improvisation experience used to flow into my everyday life. Improvisation reminded me that in any given moment in our lives there are different ways that we can move or act. It highlighted to me that we must habitually act throughout much of our life, forgetting about all the choices that we have. We might get out of our car in the same sequence. Or our manner of walking may not change, whether we are moving on sand or concrete.

My husband is a builder, and often he comes home filthy. On our tiled bathroom wall, we both noticed a dirty handprint that had been built up over time. I asked him is that where you lean when you are removing your clothes for your shower after work? He said yes. What’s curious is the handprint built up in the same spot.

It’s efficient to have habits, we can’t be constantly checking our every move. But overtime when these habits become repetitive our bodies can become tired and worn from being held in similar positions and moving in a limited range.

Simply having the awareness that we are making a choice, in each moment, and don’t always have to do things the same way is enough to provide a sense of freedom.

Moshe Feldenkrais said, “When you know what you are doing, you can do what you want.”

Luckily Feldenkrais is not as confronting as improvisational dance. In my first Feldenkrais workshop, it felt like I was being handed the possibility to move in ways I had never done before. As a person who had done many different types of dance and movement, it felt like a rare gift.

In an `Awareness through movement’ lesson you are safely guided to experience a range of movement options. Feldenkrais gives you a map of uncharted territory. It’s a map of you. It’s the ultimate adventure to explore places you have never been before. Like any travel, it wakes you up, makes you feel different, and afterwards you can experience the world differently.

If you are curious and like an adventure with an internal feeling of freedom, then learning about a new range of movement options through the Feldenkrais Method can be very rewarding.