Curiosity, Compassion and Pain

Feldenkrais Podcast #4 with Deborah Bowes

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We talk about:

• How Feldenkrais reassures the limbic system
• The relationship between pain and self image
• The phenomena of pain
• Feldenkrais is a bio-psycho-social model and pain is a bio-psycho-social experience
• The importance of empathy and compassion in changing neural pathways

Listen here:

6:13 Feldenkrais reassures the Lymbic System

6:44 How we can make everything really safe with people with pain?

7:28 How pain brings your attention inward

7:48 The Language of Pain: Finding Words, Compassion, and Relief by David Biro

8:52 Pain threatens to really alienate you, to exile us from the world.

9:12 Feldenkrais can move people from the phenomena of pain of “I can’t” towards “ I can”

9:58 The self image is enlarged rather than continually shrinking and being limited

10:42 As Dennis Leri likes to say, “There’s only 2 things we can notice: More or less, same or different?”…If I can help them make small distinctions, that can carry over as a process they can use for learning how to move.

12:07 The Five Questions

14:27 That ability to shift our attention is the ability to move from one neural pattern to another one

16:17 The importance of the word “support” inspired by Tor Norretranders idea of “exformation” from The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size

17:38 Deborah’s history with pain

19:27 Developing a sense of agency through Awareness Through Movement

20:54 Feldenkrais is a bio-psycho-social model and pain is a bio-psycho-social experience.

21:35 Pain research

21:52 Four characteristics of very effective practitioners: empathy, compassion, support and provided education

Empathy: The ability to feel and sense the other person’s experience

Compassion: The recognition that someone has special needs

25:19 Feldenkrais series at Stanford

27:27 Poster about the class presented at the International association for the study pain in Japan

27:47 Program at Kaiser / Discover Easy Movement and Pain Relief

28:52 What’s the relationship between pain and creativity?

29:04 Pain and curiosity. Feldenkrais said that the nervous system does 3 things:

1) It gives us information about our body

2) information about the environment

3) and the curiosity to do that.

“If any one of those functions becomes so small then life itself is threatened.”

30:12 The Painting Experience Michelle Cassou 

32:57 “Pain brings you to the doorway of meaning” from The Culture of Pain by David Morris

33:57 Mind Body Skills program

34:52 Pelvic Floor Feldenkrais Series: Pelvic Health and Awareness

44:26 You can improve anything. That is the natural state of the nervous system. The natural state is to be able to move towards greater function and more health.

45:12 Change is inevitable, so we can direct the change in a way that’s very positive.

6 Week online Feldenkrais series w/ Deborah Bowes: Curiosity, Self Image and Pain

The experience of chronic pain changes your self-image which is made up of how you move, think, feel, and sense yourself. Feldenkrais lessons help you to discover how to move more, sense more, think and feel in new ways that don't increase pain.

One if the main tools of the Feldenkrais Method is curiosity. Curiosity can be trained so that you can notice how you move and discover how to move differently, without pain, without judgement, starting right where you are. With awareness and learning to notice differences, you can change self-image and go from the limitations of thinking 'I can't' to the freedom of   'I can'.

This series designed for anyone who has an interest in chronic pain, such as, someone who has pain, or loves someone with pain, or works with clients with pain.


Deborah Bowes is a Feldenkrais® Teacher and Trainer. She initially trained as a physical therapist at Columbia University in New York and later earned a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Shenandoah University in Virginia. She holds a B.S. in Biology and Physical Education from Rhode Island College.

As a Guild Certified Trainer of the Feldenkrais Method® since 2000, she has taught widely in the United States, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Australia and Colombia for 14 different training organizations and in over 32 training programs.  Her other related in-depth studies and practices include Tai Chi Chuan, Qigong, yoga, sensory awareness, meditation, and dance.

Deborah co-founded the San Francisco Feldenkrais® Center for Movement and Awareness in 1988, and for the past 30 years, has provided Feldenkrais lessons, classes, and workshops to adults and children. She has made many presentations and trainings to professional organizations, university programs, hospitals, and other professional groups. She is an adjunct faculty member at Saybrook University, teaching Movement Modalities and Wellness. Her doctoral research demonstrated the benefit of her original Feldenkrais Method program, Pelvic Health and Awareness for men and women, for improving pelvic floor health.