Opening to New Possibilities: An Open-Focus Attention and Feldenkrais® Awareness Through Movement® Experiment

January 4, 2011

I love the changes that happen to me after Open-Focus attention training and after a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lesson; so I asked myself what would happen if I did an experiment combining the two modalities? Since it’s one thing to feel changes and another to have some kind of tangible evidence of those changes, I decided I would once again use drawing as the baseline. I asked my friend LeEtta to join me so that we could compare our results.

The Plan
The idea was to do 3 drawings of 5 minutes each using the non-dominant hand. We decided to use each other as the subject of our drawings. The first would be done without preparation. Then we would listen to the 30 minute Head and Hands In Open-Focus experience followed by another 5 minute drawing. Finally we would do a 30 minute Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement Lesson (the Pelvic Clock) before doing the final drawing. Once we were done we wrote our impressions of the experiences.


LeEtta’s Results

First 5 min. drawing done with the left hand
This image was drawn fast and loose. I wasn't worried about how the drawing came out because I had expectations of what the Open-focus meditation would bring; along with the Feldenkrais awareness through movement lesson. My drawing strokes were short and continuous. Believing five minutes would pass quickly I drew quickly to get in as much as I could before the timer went.

Second 5 min. drawing after the Open-Focus experience
I noticed right away how I was paying attention to relationships of the facial features. I don't recall doing this with the first drawing. I felt able to connect more quickly to Sandra's features this time. I slowed down my pen strokes, lengthening them as well, knowing I had time relative to what I hoped to complete.
Third 5 min. drawing after the Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement Lesson
Interestingly I tightened up on the last drawing to be able to include the body on the page. The FI lesson was more about the complete body so this may have impacted my choice to include it. I found I could 'see' more clearly in relation to what I was drawing and kept up speed to be able to complete more of the drawing in the time-frame allotted.


My Results

First 5 min. drawing done with the left hand
I felt quite stiff with the fist drawing and didn’t really connect with my pen or with my subject.

Second 5 min. drawing after the Open-Focus experience
I was surprised how connected I felt during the second drawing. Throughout the Open-Focus experience I had been distracted and found myself thinking about the drawing I would do next rather than the open focus suggestions. I started with the face possibly because a good portion of the Open-Focus experience was to imagine spaces in the head. The rest just flowed and I was able to “see” my subject as a whole and I was also more aware of the negative space around her.

Third 5 min. drawing after the Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement Lesson
As usual when I did the Awareness Through Movement lesson I became completely engrossed in the feelings. I was surprised however, with my drawing because this time I didn’t really connect with it the way I did after Open-Focus. As a matter of fact at the end I was so busy drawing the chair where I thought it should be that it was completely off. I could make lots of comments about why I think that happened but the main reason was probably that during the Awareness Through Movement lesson I let go of the Open-Focus and narrowed my attention.

Final Comments
It was interesting to see how we were affected by the two awareness experiences. I felt the most connection with my drawing after the Open-Focus experience while LeEtta felt that her final drawing, done after the Feldenkrais lesson was her best result. This experiment confirms yet again my understanding that with any activity that changes awareness, the experience is subjective and the outcome for each person will be unique.

If you have any questions or comments visit me, as feldylady on Twitter or on my Facebook page under Sandra Bradshaw, Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner. 

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