This past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about falling. It is my greatest concern when I ride, even though I won’t let it stop me from getting on a horse. Have you ever noticed that sometimes a subject suddenly comes up over and over again as you go through your day, inviting you to explore it further?
Thursday, I read a very good post about falling off your horse written by my friend, Arlene, at greyhorsematters.blogspot.com. Then, reconnecting Saturday with an old friend of mine, Alan Questel, I remembered that at one time, years ago, he gave me lessons in how to fall. He is a Feldenkrais practitioner. In the horse world, Linda Tellington-Jones bases her T-Touch techniques on this Method.
For those who aren’t familiar with it, Feldenkrais is a non-invasive, gentle practice of body movement and exercise that uses principles of physics. Through sequences of movement, you bring attention to the parts of the self that are out of awareness. By realizing your habits of moving and your rigidity, you can expand your options and find more comfortable, efficient and graceful ways to live your life.
My friend, Alan, reminded me that when we are young, falling is no big deal. It’s part of the joy and learning that all children experience. I recall that as a child, I fell off horses many times without hurting myself. Yesterday, I mentioned my fear of falling to someone who works with dancers. She pointed out that walking is actually a controlled fall forward. We fall forward and then catch our balance by putting a foot down. Then, coming into balance, we continue the controlled fall with the other foot. Ah, yes, balance is the other side of the coin to falling.
Somewhere along the way, falling loses its association with discovery and becomes anxiety producing. Crashing down four or five feet off a horse’s back onto the hard ground can do significant damage to my older and more brittle bones. I believe though that unless I can let go of my fear of falling, I am inevitably going to bring it upon myself.
When Alan taught me to fall, he helped me to roll safely without tension. Increasing my range of motion and my flexibility made my anxieties about breaking my neck disappear. To fall without getting hurt gives one the exhilarating sense of defying gravity.
It’s a lot like creativity. I have a sign hanging over my desk that says,“Leap and the net will find you”. Once again, my horses are offering me a lesson if I’m willing to be open to it. I wonder if I am brave enough to bring the sense of discovery back into falling.
If I can let go of my fear, my movements will become less braced and tense. I will be able to blend my motion and my intentions better with my horse. Now, that sounds like something that Mark Rashid would say, doesn’t it? It will naturally extend to other activities in my life, including my creative efforts.
Alan wrote an explanation of what led Moshe Feldenkrais to develop his practice. He understood that we are always thinking, feeling, sensing and moving. To change any one of those things can bring about change in the whole person. Movement is the most immediate and concrete of those four aspects. We can instantly change how we move, easily checking out our options. What Alan Questel and Moshe Feldenkrais believe is that changing how we move will often cause dramatic shifts in the other three areas and in how we perceive ourselves.
So, I’m going to go back to those exercises I did to learn to fall over fifteen years ago and see what happens. As Feldenkrais said, “If you know what you are doing, you can do what you want.”
Here are some links to explore this further:
Alan Questel: achievingexcellence.com/c-bio_questel_list.html
Linda Tellington-Jones: lindatellingtonjones.com
Mary DeBono: marydebono.com