Feldenkrais Method® and health
Somatic practices share with phenomenology an interest in the body as lived and experienced. The Feldenkrais Method® is a form of somatic education that develops awareness through movement. It contributes to rehabilitation for people dealing with injury and illness, but it may also contribute to an overall shift to a more healthful (or salutogenic) orientation in life.
This paper describes the Feldenkrais Method, and explores the phenomenology of embodiment as it emerges from the practice of the Feldenkrais Method, including the following themes: the effect of somatic practice on the experience of being-in-the-world through shifts in perception and bodily disposition; the body in its world; action, function and practical bodily engagements; the experience of being a bodily subject and having a physical body; health, awareness, and the how of how the body appears in consciousness. It posits that a positive felt-appearance of the body to direct experience, different from the ‘dys-appearance’ of the body in illness, is both possible and useful for human health.
This paper explores how somatic practices such as the Feldenkrais Method may contribute to health though the development of somatic awareness, how the experience of health can involve mood (feelings, situation, and reflexivity), the idea of developing a healthful, or salutogenic orientation, and how somatic practices help form bodily intentionality, and an intentional arc toward health.
It suggests that there are interesting commonalities between phenomenological practice and the Feldenkrais Method. In addition, insights from phenomenological literature on movement, the body, and illness can provide useful insights, images, and frameworks for the investigation and discussion of the Feldenkrais Method in relation to health.
An earlier version of this paper was presented at Interdisciplinary Coalition of North American Phenomenologists (ICNAP) V Conference, Ramapo College, Mahwah, NJ, May 2013.