by Mary Rudd, GCFP
I am preparing my potted plants for their big move from the back porch to indoor life this winter. They have thrived and delighted us in their little corner of the back yard since May, and I am unsure of how they will do once I bring them inside.
I am new to this level of commitment to plants, choosing to overwinter them rather than to start over with completely new crop in the spring. I have read that they will likely go into shock during this transition due to the changes in temperature, light, and quality of air. They will need my attention, care and patience as they adjust to their new environment. I am hopeful that they will remain healthy and will continue their beautiful life well into the future.
As the leaves turn their color and evenings get cool, I am reminded that we, like our plants, could use some special attention and care during significant changes, adjustments, and transitions on our life journey.
There are times when we are keenly aware that something significant is changing. We find ourselves viewing life from a new vantage point, and sometimes those perspectives shock our system and bring unexpected feelings, thoughts, and challenges. We have the sense that there is an ending of some kind and we do not quite know what follows.
Such seasons of change are the times when we need to turn a little more inward, gently breathing and moving our way through change. Our culture might send a message that we should simply move on and skip the depth and personal growth that such times offer. When we find ourselves experiencing what feels like new "territory", we can help ourselves balance the uncertainty with stabilizing action. Classes in movement awareness are a great way to concretely experience the dynamic process of balance.
Trying something new that will engage your curiosity and help you pay keen attention to yourself might be a useful way to move through a transition. Consider engaging in the rejuvenating, supportive and gentle learning practice of the Feldenkrais Method®.
A few benefits from doing so include the following:
1. Sense what is solid, simple, reliable, and always available. Paying attention to what you sense as you move brings you in touch with the solid support of your bones. Engaging in playful, nurturing movement teaches you to notice and use your connection with the ground. You feel that connection through your entire body and shift your state of being as a result. You will learn to inhabit your body with the confidence that comes with not getting lost in thoughts and emotions.
2. Learn healthy new options that you can draw upon when you are in challenging situations. Most of us have been taught to power through difficulties, with little emphasis on cultivating nuanced approaches to puzzling times. In Awareness Through Movement® lessons, students safely engage in movements that can be a challenge. Not because they are so difficult that students cannot make the movements, but because the instructions go against their deeply ingrained ways of doing the movement. In these circumstances, students learn to develop new ways of using themselves and find that they have more creativity, more resources, than they sometimes realize.
3. Help yourself return to your vitality even in a time of struggle. In classes and private sessions, we experiment with shifting speeds and rhythm in movement, observing its effect on one's overall sense of coordination and skill. We play with the natural ability to hold something in the background of our attention while we zoom in closer to something in the foreground. As you play with the impact of where and how you pay attention, you develop more awareness of yourself, and you learn to notice how to make a moment easier.
4. Gently explore the habits and patterns of how you move, act, and carry yourself forward in life--and consider adding to your repertoire. Maybe you will suddenly realize that you really can dance. Perhaps you will find yourself having that heartfelt conversation with someone that you have been delaying. Is it possible that you actually could take that active vacation you've wanted to take now that you feel more freedom in your back, hips, and feet? We cannot predict what kind of new options will emerge within an individual’s Feldenkrais practice because we are not aware of the unconscious ideas that we carry about ourselves. With time, curiosity and support, each person finds the meaning in this work for themselves.
5. Learn to notice yourself with kindness, and to appreciate subtlety. As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “Those little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” In a Feldenkrais session, you will learn to notice things like which shoulder you hold higher and how that impacts your lower back. As you explore movements that undo limiting patterns, you learn to sense what causes strain and what causes more comfort and ease. We are intentionally light-minded and playful, tapping into curiosity. In this way, you will gain confidence in your ability to improve yourself in any given moment, and that is empowering. Gradually, you can expand these experiences to other aspects of your life. Some of my students have shared with me that their learning to choose options other than what causes physical strain has carried over to making different choices in their relationships or work decisions as well.
In preparing my plants for the coming shock of winter and indoor living, I am also preparing myself for changing my own routine. I will learn how to notice my plants more often and in different ways. This shift in my own winter way of life, in my own patterns of what I do with my time, in what I notice and give my attention to, will certainly teach me more than I know now. I will learn and take pleasure in a new way of organizing my time.
Will my plants look the same next spring when I return them to the porch? Perhaps they will be even more stunning and resilient! We will find out then, for all that I can do now is stay in the present and tend to this moment.
Mary Rudd teaches Awareness through Movement classes and works with individuals through Functional Integration® in Danville, Kentucky. Check here for class schedules and to reach out for a private appointment.