To change our mode of action, we must change the image of ourselves that we carry within us. — Moshe Feldenkrais

Have you ever been to a museum?
In my twenties, I had a part-time job as an attendant in the municipal museum in The Hague. There was a hall with the works of the artist Piet Mondrian. It was my job to keep an eye on the paintings. And there were many! But I got completely lost in a painting called ‘Evolution”… The blue, in the blue, that made me dream about other places… And while I was immersed in it, I forgot about time, space, my body, and the paintings that I had to keep an eye on.

As we move through life, we have many experiences that shape us, hurt us, or give us joy… And as we grow, they become the stories of our lives, the paintings in our inner museum.
And almost always there is one of them that draws our attention more than the others. My ‘Evolution’ as it were. I can still see and feel myself in front of the classroom; a little girl with buckteeth, spiky hair, and a fire-red blush on my face. The teacher made fun of me and the other children booed me. And I see myself looking at this little girl from the sidelines, as she cringes and disappears…

For a long time, this ‘What’s wrong with me’ story was the only painting in my inner museum that I could see. I kept reinforcing that story through the way I saw myself, my thoughts, and the way I moved, stood, and looked at the world: tense, stressed, and huddled. As I continued to pay attention to this one particular inner painting, every day I felt more anxious, more tense, and more alone. The only way not to feel this was to get out of my body and dissociate from myself. A state of FREEZE:

Feeling fragmented
Restricting your freedom of movement
Experiencing emotional numbness
Estranging from your body and sensations
Zoning out from here and now
Erasing your sense of self

“Life is not a stable process. Our ability to recover is our greatest quality” Moshe Feldenkrais

Practicing the somatic movement method of Feldenkrais helped me to experience a variety of ways of holding myself and moving, which directed my attention to other paintings in my inner museum. Inner paintings that evoked pleasant sensations, emotions, and thoughts.

Through moving with awareness, I discovered how to reconnect with body sensations that helped me to be present in my body with joy and confidence.

And the more I could perceive my whole inner museum, the more variety of sensations and emotions I began to feel. Feeling more of myself enabled me to see myself differently and to make different choices for my life. Choices that were in tune with who I am, what I needed and wanted for myself, and helped me to move into joy.

I believe movement has this healing capacity because it connects us to every dimension of self.

(The painting above is from Steve Johnson |