What’s Functional Integration Good for?

I wrote this as a response to a post that Cynthia Allen wrote on Facebook a while back, asking folks what the Feldenkrais Method® helped them do better in their lives. It has taken me a long time to form my response, but the question kept percolating in me.

My short answer: To sing, to play and compose music, to walk, hike, swim, to breathe, to inspire and be inspired, to write and share my experience.

My long answer: I recently received a Functional Integration® (FI) Lesson from Feldenkrais Trainer® Larry Goldfarb. As I walked around the neighborhood after my FI with Larry, there was a vivid richness in the colors of the flowers, leaves, and trees that was so visceral I could almost taste it. I walked with a new grounded lightness, a confidence —a sense of knowing in my bones that felt ancient and brand new for me. Days later, I can still feel this new “knowingness in my bones” and the after-taste lingers on.

I can breathe more easily. I think about how this is one of the landmarks of Feldenkrais lessons…to be guided by and to guide the ease in one’s breathing. I am guided by my clients’ breath and breathing all the time. I “know” this. And yet, to receive this kind of deep listening from another is just so precious. So precious. It is life-changing. And to experience the lasting effects of this ease in my own rhythmic ebb and flow is truly magical. I feel like my heart can rest on the rhythm of my breath. This is so fundamentally profound to the baseline ease of my existence that everything I do is now affected by this calming ease.

The night after my FI with Larry, as I was drifting off to sleep I heard myself whisper to myself and my loved one, “I am so comfortable. I am just so comfortable.”I had been experiencing months of low-grade chronic discomfort during my sleeping hours that was slowly and quietly depleting me over time. The night after my FI with Larry, I finally slept deeply and fully through the whole night. I awakened in the morning feeling rested. It is such a pleasure to rest and feel rested.

Sonja H Sutherland, 1980

In my youth, I trained as a competitive gymnast. Back in the day, my favorite event was the uneven parallel bars. I loved the freedom, grace, and speed of flying through the air, flipping from one bar to the next and back. The next morning after my FI with Larry, in the wee hours of the morning in a dream-like state, I experienced myself gracefully flying through the air— flipping, twirling, and swinging on and between the uneven parallel bars, as I once had done so many years ago for hours on end. I felt a sense of clarity and precision in my full body movements and incredible freedom at the same time… such a deep satisfaction in this kinetic physicality. I awoke with a smile on my face and my whole self.

Days after my FI, I felt not only the absence of pain but the pleasure of being alive. I could feel my creativity flowing inside of me once again, like the river flowing fully after the rains in the springtime. New, tender growth springing forth. And I felt inspired again…to sing, to play and compose music, to walk, hike, swim, to breathe, to inspire and be inspired, to write, and to share my experience.

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