Reframing walking

An old friend called the other day to say that he couldn’t find my house. He was driving over to drop off some herbs from his garden but hadn’t been here in a while.

There’s a six-sided corner — one where three streets meet — just a few blocks away. That’s the place where the standard checkerboard arrangement of roads gets distorted and where people seem to get turned around.

Folks who have lived in town for a long time can get lost on their way here. That’s still true, at least for some people, even now that most of us have wayfinding software in our phones. It happens so often that some of us call our neighborhood the “Bermuda Triangle of Santa Cruz.”

Even though we’re located not so far from the beach and the boardwalk, tourists and many townies are wary of driving through, let alone parking, around here. That means, even at the height of summer, except for holiday weekends, we don’t get much traffic.

Until the pandemic.

Folks still don’t drive through the neighborhood, but, dang, the foot and bicycle traffic increased considerably. The once rarely traveled street behind my house, which leads to the neighborhood park and the path along the river as well as to the beach, has become a bit of a pedestrian and cyclist thoroughfare. At all times of day, individuals are walking their dogs, talking on their phones, or both, couples holding hands or arguing, parents or grandparents with baby carriages, families on foot and bikes, teams of dog walkers, and the skateboarders, too.

Mind you; I’m not complaining. I’m endlessly fascinated by watching people walk. I have been for a long time, longer than I’ve been thinking about complex systems and longer than I’ve been a Feldenkrais® teacher. My interest inspired On Your Feet, one of the first Awareness Through Movement® series I put together, and WALKING WELL, the section of the multiyear postgraduate MASTERING THE METHOD program that includes THE ARTIFICIAL FLOOR.

My curiosity about upright locomotion is more than a professional interest: I haven’t owned a car in years. Walking and biking are my main means of getting around. And walking is when I do my best thinking. That’s why walking has been one of the themes I keep returning to in my personal Feldenkrais practice.

Perhaps you can understand why, when Laura Sebastian and Mary McCutcheon asked me to lead this year’s Midwestern Regional conference of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America, I suggested walking as the theme.

If I remember correctly, Laura was curious about the ATM® (Awareness Through Movement) lessons I’d recently come up with that you do while standing in a doorway. That was perfect because these particular ATM classes are made for learning about how walking works and for improving coordination, orientation, and balance.

Here’s the curriculum we came up with for what we’re calling REFRAMING WALKING

  • On the first day of the advanced training* (Friday, February 5th, 2021), I’ll teach two of those “done in the frame of a door” ATMs. We’ll unpack the “how and why” of each lesson, explore how to get the most out of what these lessons have to offer, and then examine how, exactly, they relate to decoding and repatterning the way we walk.

  • On Saturday morning, February 6th — smack dab in the middle of the advanced training — I’ll teach a half-day public workshop, Reframing Walking, featuring the same two ATMs that were front and center during the postgrad program the day before. Reframing Walking is open to anyone interested in understanding and improving how you walk. In addition to doing the lessons, the participants — students and teachers of the method — will have the opportunity to learn from and with each other.

  • On Saturday afternoon, I’ll meet exclusively with the participants of the advanced program again. We’ll debrief the workshop, examine what worked and what didn’t, figure out what there is to be learned, and then participants are going to apply those lessons to their practices.

  • On Sunday morning, 7 February, we’ll take a deep dive into implementing the ATM structures as designs for Functional Integration®. Since so many of us are not doing hands-on work, we’ll focus on how this works when you’re giving someone an individual lesson online.

The conference structure affords a unique opportunity for teachers to invite their students to participate — and vise versa — so that the public workshop becomes a starting place for your continued work together. The teachers and trainees participating in the advanced training will learn specific ways to build on the workshop. I will show you how the challenges that come up can serve as stepping stones to learning, and we’ll take a look at what lessons you could teach next.

The early registration deadline for the public workshop and the advanced training* is Monday, 25 January. (If you’re wondering, the recordings are included in the tuition.)

  • To find out more and to register for the advanced training, please click here.

  • To find out more and to register for the public workshop, please click here.

*This program is available exclusively to Feldenkrais teachers and trainees.

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  1. My apologies Larry - I got totally confused with time zones so I missed the public workshop!!! Dah!! Any way I look forward to receiving the recordings. I'm about to teach a one day workshop entitled Easy Walking so I'm looking forward to some new insights. Hope it all went well and that you are doing well too.

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