When I decided to study with Anat over the past 3-4 years, it was to not only improve my understanding of my mind and body but to help others especially those children with special needs to do it as well. My daughter is the reason for wanting to understand the brains relationship with the body and how it can continue to change and improve, in fact, to map new areas of the body that perhaps aren’t presently mapped.
I’ve had some amazing experiences taking the Anat Baniel Method training. I’ve been successful at helping others become more aware of their body. I worked with a lady who had fractured her sternum at some point in her life. Although she said she wasn’t in pain at all, I could see that her breath was shallow in that part of her chest. With a very gentle manipulation of her rib cage using Anat’s method, I was able to signal to her brain and nervous system that that part of her still exists today without pain and the result was amazing. As I followed her breath while holding her sternum I could see that my fingers were only going up and down a very slight amount. When her brain became aware of that part of herself she took a massive breath and filled her chest cavity with air. My fingers rose up what seemed like 3 or 4 inches on the inhale and sunk low on the exhale. She started to weep. The connection was so strong between us that I felt joy in a profound way that I was able to help her notice that she hadn’t truly filled that area of her chest with air since her injury. She said afterwards that she trained herself to breathe shallowly since it used to hurt to breathe deeply where the fracture had been.
What a profound effect it had on my own awareness.
There was also a time when one of the other students was working on my spine. I felt such joy that tears started flowing. A flood of emotions can surge when your brain starts to recognize parts you haven’t moved in years. This may sound a bit unbelievable because it’s experienced based learning and to understand it you really have to feel it.
I had a private lesson with an Anat Baniel Method practitioner and she made me realize that my rib cage under my right arm was tense and not moving. I thought of how wonderful it feels to have someone hold my body to essentially take the weight off so that my brain could become aware once again that I had constricted movement there for no doubt years. In this case karate has taught me to protect my rib cage and little did I realize until that lesson, that what I had done instead was restrict my movement. That’s not to say karate created the problem for me, I created it, by not doing karate correctly.
Anat told us a wonderful story about traveling with her teacher, Moshe Feldenkrais. She said she wanted to veg out on a long flight when she was accompanying Moshe, so she bought some tabloid magazines and chocolate and was set to “veg out” when Moshe said to her while she was putting the suitcases under the seats that “awareness was not a reversible process.”
This is beginning to sink in. Once you become aware of certain things in life everything changes and you can not go back to the way you were before.
For example, even my thinking is becoming impacted by my experience. I’ve felt as though my quality of living has improved since becoming more aware of myself. During one of my training segments, I went to a very busy restaurant. It was full of people and kids all chatting loudly. I had come at the height of the dinner hour so at first I was relieved to even get a table without waiting. Then as I looked at the menu I was able to pick something quickly. This was a new thing for me. I looked around at the kids above where I was seated and to the table across from me. I noticed a lady pull the hostess over and complain that she hadn’t been waited on. Then I noticed the waiter, the poor guy looked like I did 20 some years ago sweating to get everything done and without a proper system designed to improve performance. I knew what he was going through and I realized that the quality of my dinner experience was about to suffer. I quickly got up and walked out without giving it a second thought.
I started smiling realizing that by becoming more aware of my surroundings and more aware of the quality of life I wanted to experience, a decision was made within seconds that would have had me deliberating for minutes in the past to even come to a decision to leave. The reason for staying in the past was based on what people would think of me as they saw me leave. It was a profound change, and I had never expected that kind of experience when I enrolled in the training.
There’s only been a few times in my life that could compare to the level of relaxation I feel after an ABM lesson. Once was in Brazil after our visit to a Brazilian spa, and the other occurs at Seiza, the bowing at the end of karate class when the noise in my mind has stopped and my body is tired. This feeling is helping my moods, my sleep and my overall state of mind. By becoming aware of the middle of my back in a way I had never connected before I was able to relax those muscles that have been chronically tight, and learn to integrate those parts into functional movement such as rounding, arching and bending. Walking feels more effortless as the larger muscles about my spine and pelvis are able to sway easily to guide the movement instead of using the smaller muscles in the legs to propel me forward.