July 9, 2020, 8:48 a.m.

Why Feldenkrais?

Rose Mitchell

Nine years ago, my son was born. While I had an uneventful pregnancy, the birth sadly, was not.

Isaac arrived after a 12-hour labour, blue, without a sound.

He had suffered Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy– deprived of oxygen during delivery causing brain injury.

Subsequently he was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy  .

Life would never be as we had imagined. And thus, would begin our journey with The Feldenkrais Method. By luck, or fate, or whatever you’d like to call it, once discharged from hospital after many weeks with our little boy bundle, my mum thought to reach out to an old family friend, whom she recalled was practicing a type of movement therapy, to tell her what had happened to our dear little Isaac, express how completely out of our depth we all were, how scared we all were, and could what she was doing be of help to him?

That movement therapy was The Feldenkrais Method, and her answer, Absolutely YES!. I did not know it at the time, or begin to truly reflect on it until many years after, but that phone call changed everything.

"I did not know it at the time, or begin to truly reflect on it until many years after, but that phone call changed everything."

Isaac begun lessons at sixteen weeks of age, 2 to 3 lessons a week, with added intensives here and there of one to two-week blocks, and we have never looked back.

Isaac is now nine years old. And his life would have looked so vastly different.

So dramatically more limited.

It still sends a shiver down my spine.

The typical “system” on offer to Isaac, as a child diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, which we also remained within confused and desperate for the first 3 years of his life, then purely on a need-to-medical-basis thereafter, was consistently letting us down by the lack of offerings, the box-ticking procedures, the measuring, the scoring, the categorising.

I could never understand why there was virtually no hands-on therapy, how they could predict a child’s outcome, and yet offer nothing in return to challenge it – they were effectively setting his limits from the outset.

They could never sufficiently answer my endless questionings and my but why not? I felt suffocated by the limitations; the narrow frame of mind.

They certainly were never offering the possibility for him to discover his ability to learn.

Then there was our Feldenkrais practitioner. And I will be forever thankful for the vast contrast we had in her.

The way she was providing a very different point of view, an answer for every question, for seeing the potential – explaining a way to access it, of always meeting Isaac where he is at, irrespective of the age- appropriate-milestones, fervently ignoring the should of, could of, would of.

We are all in a position to learn more, find more, access more, be more at ease with our movement, our mind, and even our reason for being.

She taught us how to be with Isaac on his own trajectory, while taking every opportunity to teach him there was always a way to more, what pieces to his neuro-puzzle, we needed to help him find, in order to fill in themissing parts, so that progressing beyond current limitations were possible. 

We were literally facilitating the putting-together of a more complete idea of self.

An idea of self in terms of Isaac having available to him more parts of himself than he would otherwise have had – directly translating into functional ability.

And that functional ability is gloriously ever-changing and acquiring. Isaac walking independently for the first time at eight-years-eight-months of age, among so so many more accomplishments may just be the tip of his learning iceberg.

And beyond this I have always marvelled at his emotional endurance, his positivity, his self-confidence, his pure joy for life, but it absolutely makes sense when I think about it – because he’s applying The Feldenkrais Method almost daily, and it makes people happy!

I have discovered this personally through my attendance to Feldenkrais Fundamentals workshops, and Awareness Through Movement (ATM) classes, while barely scraping the surface, the overwhelming positive sense of self I have felt as a result is phenomenal.

We can’t begin to know how much further Isaac will go as a result of his Feldenkrais journey, but I know we are both in it for the long haul, and I’m just so thrilled, and genuinely excited for the future because of it.

By no exaggeration, It has given Isaac a future of possibility, and therefore given that also to me as his mum.

The benefits of The Feldenkrais Method for Isaac, for me, for anyone – neuro-typical or not, are endless. We are all in a position to learn more, find more, access more, be more at ease with our movement, our mind, and even our reason for being.

Blog Figure
The author, Rose Mitchell, with her son Isaac in a recent picture.
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