I was born in Zimbabwe, when that country was still a British colony called Rhodesia. As a child, I loved reading, writing, painting and poetry. I spent a lot of time doing art projects in my room, loved ballet class and dreamed of becoming a professional ballerina.
Rhodesia fought a civil war from the time I was six until I was twenty. My mother was also bipolar. Both obviously impacted me. I became very interested in how we know what we think we know; how do we tell what's really "real"?
I also developed a funny little habit of dissociating. "Leaving" my body seemed like a good idea, particularly after my dad died in a car accident when I was fifteen (although, as a strategy, dissociating clearly has its limitations.)
A few years after Zimbabwean Independence, I met an American who was taking a motorcycle trip through Africa. I moved to America and we got married at Tavern on the Green in Central Park - yay!
America and Americans were a puzzle in the beginning (like, what was with big screens at sports games if you could watch on your own screen at home? And why were mani-pedis such a "thing"?). I also discovered that in America a college education was important (even for a woman), so enrolled at Columbia University where I studied post-colonialism and post-Modernism and graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa.
My husband and I spent seven years in Hong Kong. We had three beautiful children. I started to teach art.
My dissociation got worse in my late thirties when my youngest sister died in a car accident in Zambia. I began to feel like I'd been jettisoned out of my body and couldn't get back at all! I tried talk therapy. I tried meditation. I dove deeper in my arts - painting, photography, drawing. I wrote and published a memoir called Casting with a Fragile Thread .
And then I met Leigh Scott, a Feldenkrais Practitioner.
In a Feldenkrais ATM class, you lie on the floor (or sometimes stand, or sit in a chair) while the teacher suggests simple movement sequences and prompts you to become increasing discriminatory with what you actually feel. Does your right arm feel heavier that your left? Does your chin move closer towards your collar bone on one side when you roll your head? Does your chest turn towards the "stepping forward" foot when you walk? Or not? There is no right answer. No pressure to "fix" anything. Nothing to work or push through. (In this way, its kind of like being at the optometrists office - do you see better with this lens or that lens?)
I learned how to feel solid and yet tall and expansive within my own skin. I learned that I could watch my breath or focus on feeling the soles of my feet on the floor to quell anxiety. I no longer had to wonder, or look to someone else, to decide how I felt. Centered and grounded became felt senses and I learned how to tell whether I was there (or not).
And as I age (I'm in my early sixties now), I continue to be astonished by the small stuff that comes as a result of my Feldenkrais practice. My posture continues to improve; I know that twinge in my left knee is because I tend to hold my right shoulder a little back; I have become more flexible without stretching and stronger because I know how to distribute effort over all my muscles and joints: I am confident on uneven surfaces because I know where I am in space.
Have I reached nirvana? Not quite yet. But Feldenkrais has coaxed me a little further in that general direction. :)