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Social Justice and Feldenkrais Pt 1: Relaxation, Anxiety and the Feldenkrais Method

This blog series was sparked by the following works:

Prentis Hemphill on Street Somatics

RAZORFEMME on Colonial somatics

Andrew Suseno on PARCON Resilience

Navild Acosta & Fannie Sosa’s Black Power Naps

Reparative donations can be made to creators above and:

African People’s Education and Defense Fund

Indigenous Environmental Network

Relaxation, Anxiety and the Feldenkrais Method

In the work of Moshe Feldenkrais, a strong emphasis is placed on learning that occurs in a parasympathetic state. The parasympathetic state is an aspect of the autonomic nervous system which aids in rest, recuperation, and digestion. The complementary aspect of the autonomic nervous system is the sympathetic state which governs arousal, excitement, aggression, and the fight-or-flight instincts.

Enhancing the parasympathetic state for learning purposes involves reducing muscular work, tension and anxiety. With reduced effort, the body becomes sensitive to the differences which make improvement and reorganization possible.

Anxiety and its associated muscular tone are produced by threats to safety and comfort, either real or perceived.

In one event, anxiety is a conditioned response, which Feldenkrais traces to the vestibular system and the excitation of the organs involved in homeostatic function. Resolving this anxiety is a matter of delving into that excitation response and recognizing that it does not accurately reflect a non-threatening environment. By moving slowly and sensing internally, the nervous system is able to respond to the supportive safety of the environment by letting go of unnecessary effort.

In another case however, anxiety is a natural and appropriate response to a genuine threat. Here, anxiety brings the self and th