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Moshe Feldenkrais defined health as the ability to recover from shock. Shock can come in many forms: injury, illness, war, physical trauma, losing a job. I recently got a phone call that my fifty year old brother had been found dead of a heart attack. Even now as I sit here writing this, waves of grief flow over me, bringing unbidden tears. For a week, I had to be strong: for my mother, his daughters and my sisters as huge undertakings from caregivers to funeral arrangements took place. I don’t know how I would have been able to stay standing without the gentle support of Awareness Through Movement. When I noticed that my body was so tense it didn’t even feel as if I was touching the chair I was sitting on, I stopped and allowed my attention to soften the gripping. During moments of extreme stress, some inner voice would softly remind me to notice my breathing (which had often stopped.) Sometimes all I wanted to do was lay on the carpet and moan. Which I did. But after moaning, I remained there, quietly rolling my head, inhaling and exhaling, then slowly rolling to my side to stand back up.

As much as we think we are in control of this life, there is no guarantee that things will stay the same or that everything will go according to plan. Just when you least expect it, fate, fortune, the universe, whatever you call it, comes and knocks you up side the head. It doesn’t differentiate between rich or poor, good or bad. So instead of trying to control life, perhaps it’s better to find ways to be flexible. Then when the blow comes, you can literally roll with the punches and easily regain your balance.

One of the greatest gifts of Awareness Through Movement is the opportunity to connect with thoughts, emotions and sensations while moving. It allows the nervous system time to process the countless impressions that are streaming in every moment. After a shock, giving oneself the gift of awareness can speed the healing process.

I’m sure the months and even the years ahead will bring piercing moments of sadness as a picture falls out of a book, or I hear one of his favorite songs, or a random thought crosses my mind. But I’m standing. A little shaky maybe, but gratefully putting on foot in front of the other.