The other day I jotted down a couple of thoughts that are not particularly new but still seem a bit radical. These ideas are in the realm of how we often take concepts and begin to apply them as if they were "real".
Can you find the human figures? That is, the ones between? Can we say that the figures are not there just because there is no solid object? Sometimes I think of my Feldenkrais practice as looking between the obvious structures.
It is a bit the same as our talking about the Nervous System, and systems thinking, in general. Because I am a Feldenkrais practitioner, I think about the brain and the nervous system quite a lot. But how real are they?
The illusion of the Nervous System
In some ways, "the brain" is a physical entity, and in other ways it is a construct. By "construct" I mean it is literally a construction, an idea which we use to represent something. The idea of "circle" is a construct. The idea of a "planetary system" is a construct.
We are using the construct of a "brain" when we talk about the various functions of the brain, whether it be vision, memory, controlling respiration or choreographing movement.
Similarly, while the vessels that make up the nervous system can be seen, their functioning is, again, conceptual, constructs we have created to describe consistent patterns.
It is hard to believe that the functions that we discuss all the time are constructs and are open to reinterpretation.
Before 1840, there were no cells. The concept of cells was elucidated by Theodor Schwann in 1839. This was not without controversy (partly because he stole the idea -- click to read the history).
The scientists had to look at what was in front of them a different way in order to see that cells had structure and were connected.
Practitioners of the Feldenkrais Method also looks at human functioning a different way. We look at a person as having a history, a purpose, functioning to support their survival, moving in his or her environment, within society. Each person has constructed ideas about themselves; in a way, each of us is self-constructed. We have ideas like, "I do this; I don't do that." or "I can do this, I cannot do that." or, "I am good because...; I am bad because...". Everytime we move, it is filtered and generated by these constructs.
What appears to be an exercise is in fact a lesson in developing ourselves, or even more precisely, developing and changing the construct of ourselves. In each lesson is always the invitation for us to observe ourselves in a different, perhaps new way. To see the unity of ourselves, which then provides the possibility of seeing the background, the foreground, and both.