A Leg to Stand On

Not having a leg to stand on.

I’m guessing that’s a feeling that we’ve all experienced as cataclysmic changes have lurched our lives forward in destabilizing and upsetting ways. From conversations with family, friends, and colleagues, I would say we have all been learning about finding balance in the face of one disruption of daily life — often playing out in planetary proportions — after another.

The experience reminds me of another apt metaphor about equilibrium: It’s been like having the rug pulled out from under you. Repeatedly.

You lose your balance when your base of support proves, suddenly, unreliable. It’s funny how losing something makes you realize how crucial it is and how much you have been taking it for granted. 

During our waking life, our neurophysical system — yours, mine, and everybody else’s, with extremely rare exceptions — is busy behind the scenes maintaining uprightness, moment to moment, as we navigate from one place to another and in every position we inhabit. Though it’s going on below conscious awareness, you are in constant motion, losing and regaining balance in a microscopic dance known, in scientific circles, as postural sway. To adapt a phrase from a children’s toy (Weebles): people wobble, which is why we don’t fall down.

Orchestrating your physical frame is something that took a long time to learn. It’s also an aspect of neuroplasticity — your brain’s ability to learn — that you retain throughout your life. According to Stanford neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, you activate your cerebellum (and other neural structures) and put yourself in a learning state by challenging your balance.

Play Video

This video of Huberman Lab Podcast #7 
Using Failures, Movement & Balance to Learn Faster
is an excellent tutorial on how the nervous system organizes and changes motor patterns.
This one hour, 28 minutes, and five seconds long,
is a great talk and worth your time.

This idea, challenging your balance turns on your behavior’s innate capacity to change your brain, is the inspiration for the twenty-something edition of my almost annual Feldenkrais® Summer Camp. Because developing the sensory-motor skills happens best in small increments over time, we will be meeting a few hours each day over five consecutive days at the end of July.

As the title tells you, we will be using Finding Balance on One Leg as a laboratory for improving equilibrium. Over five days at the end of July, you’ll participate in a series of Awareness Through Movement classes designed to safely wake up and gradually learn to harness your inherent ability to balance. You start these ever-increasingly challenging lessons lying on your side, then progress through sitting, standing on both legs, standing on one leg while leaning against a wall, and “free-standing” on one leg, incrementally improving your skills along the way. As Feldenkrais was fond of saying, the idea is to make “the impossible possible, to the possible easy, and the easy elegant.” 

To fit participating into your life, and since we can only take in so much at any one time, we will be meeting only a few hours each day. (You can sign up for either of the two summer camp sessions — you’ll find the schedule and information about enrolling here.) Besides doing the lessons, you’ll have a chance to learn from and with the other campers and to participate in question and answer sessions. There will camp counselors, games, prizes, and all kinds of family-friendly fun. 

So you can continue to benefit, you’ll get practical advice about how to take the lessons into life via the Mind in Motion online school. And you’ll receive access to the edited recordings of the best exemplar of each class.

What can you learn about improving your ability to balance?

If you’d like to find out, I hope you’ll join me for summer camp.

Tip of my hat to K. Hsieh
for turning me onto
Andrew Huberman’s awesome podcast.

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  1. Great verbal exploration of what healthy human balance requires; and, you have some marvelous “sayings” that involve (usually losing our balance) we use all the time without thinking. I can’t wait for Summer Camp! Thanks for pointing us to Andrew Huberman’s podcast, via K. Hsieh’s recommendation. I could only listen to about 10 minutes today; but, I’ve saved it for later. See you soon! Maggie

  2. Makes me think of Oliver Sacks book One Leg to Stand On. Long chapters of his injury and physio-therapy but the icing on the cake is the last chapter. So poignant to how physical injury can mess with our heads. He’s one of my favorite authors. I’ve read most of his books. That was one that sticking thru the long descriptions of his therapy was worth the last chapter.

    1. Thanks, Mary.
      Good to hear from you!
      You asked, regarding Finding Balance on One Leg (Feldenkrais Summer Camp 2021):
      “Is there a discount for asynchronous only?”
      There is not. Summer camp is a live program.
      However, we plan to make the edited recordings available as a stand-alone set of lessons in the fall, after summer vacation is over.
      Hope you’re doing well,
      Larry G

  3. Hi, Larry

    This podcast is really something!
    Last week i saw five episodes . After watching the one posted, i started to watch the podcast from the begining… Clear and simple the scientific information we can learn from him. I wounder, this he know about the Feldenkrais method? Manny of the things we can learn from what he reveals are, in my mind, connected to ATM and FI lessons. Help me figure out and explain to my self some aspects of the learnjng method. Thank you very much!

    All the best, Larry

    1. ERRATA

      I am sorry, Larry, I hope you can laugh about my poor english writing the way I do…

      “learn from it.”

      “I wander,…”

      “Does he know …”

      “…learning method.”