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The Professor

By Deborah Lotus

In March 1999, this 72-year-old Brandeis University educator and Vipassana meditator limped into Wellspace, the integrative center where I practice the Feldenkrais Method®, with a cane, a grimace of anguish and a “Beginner Mind.” His presenting malady was similar to a diagnosis of plantar fasciatis, compounded by fallen arches; his pain was excruciating. He could not weight-bear on the ball of his left foot, instead clunking onto his poor heel with each step.

He was caught in the vicious cycle of having developed movement foibles from early childhood; distorting his gait, posture and self-image. This in turn, throughout early childhood and subsequent development, created compensatory movement patterns, further warping his neuro-musculo-skeletal organization throughout his long and productive adult life. He had suffered through three painful episodes with his walking in the past; somehow, orthotics had gotten him through. However, this time, his podiatrist flatly told him that he had a deformed left foot and “there was no way out but surgery”. “I think not,” said the Professor, having academic knowledge about the Feldenkrais Method for years, he was ready to give it an experiential trial.

Towards the end of the lesson, after helping him roll sideways to sitting, then to standing, we found he could at least stand fully on his right foot, and a bit more on his left than when he limped in. We finished the session with his learning a more efficient cross-lateral use of his cane. He walked out in much less pain, still with a cane, but with a smile, not a grimace. He promised to return a few days later for his first Awareness Through Movement® class, trusting that this would offer him ever more relief.

He has faithfully continued attending weekly FI lessons and ATM classes, until recently when he took a break to go on long walks on the beach. His wife expressed heartfelt gratitude for getting her husband on his feet, and teaching him a process for standing from sitting without strain, effort, or assistance. His feet arches developed in six weeks, to the amazement of all concerned. He has proven for himself the Moshe Feldenkrais pronouncement: “There is never an end to improvement.”

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