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Head and Eyes and Balance: An Awareness Through Movement® Lesson

By Chris Elms, GCFP

  1. Find a nice place to stand, a wooden floor, or better, outside, with grass, sand, or small gravel underfoot. Provide yourself with a pleasant view, if possible. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and sense how your feet connect with the ground. Follow your breathing and notice the view in front of you.
  2. Easily, three to five times, turn your head right and left as you normally would. Stop and rest for a few breaths. Then, once more turn your head right and left a number of times; keep noticing the view shifting in front of you as you turn. Can you scan this view in a continuous fashion, as you turn to the right and left, keeping your eyes on the horizon? Go slowly, to follow your breathing, and pay attention to seeing what is in front of you without darting past anything and jumping ahead in your vision. Is this different than your normal usage of your eyes as you turn? Return to the center and rest with your eyes closed. Notice your balance as you rest.
  3. Open your eyes. Take your right foot back a little and bend it so that you are using the toes of the right foot more for balance than standing. In this position, sense the ground under your left foot and your breathing. Notice what happens if you shift slightly to the front of your left foot, the back, the inner edge, and the outer edge of this foot. Then allow your weight to be equal throughout your left foot, and slowly turn your head to the right and the left. Notice the difference in your balance if you use your eyes in a jumpy fashion, or if you let yourself see the view as it shifts continuously.
  4. Bring your right foot back to the position in #1 and rest, standing with your eyes closed. Notice your balance on both your feet and enjoy the quality of your breathing.
  5. Bring your right foot back and bend your toes as you did earlier. Raise and lower your head 3 to 5 times in a manner such that your eyes dart up when you lift your head up and dart down when you lower your head down. Rest briefly with your right foot behind and then raise and lower your head a number of times such that your eyes move continuously up as your head moves up and your eyes move continuously down as your head moves down. Notice the difference in your balance when you use your eyes in these two different ways.
  6. Again, bring your right foot back to position one (feet flat, shoulder width apart) and rest, standing with your eyes closed. Notice your balance on both your feet and your breathing.
  7. Repeat steps 3-6, this time with your left foot back.
  8. Take a walk and see how you feel on your feet as you move around. Notice your view of the world as you walk through it.

Chris Elms rides a bike, writes, gardens and teaches Permaculture, relationship enhancement, and the Feldenkrais Method® in Sonoma, California. Find him at www.slowsonoma.com.

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