Life as art

My first Feldenkrais experience

“Please lie down on the table.”

A moment before G. watched me walk and make some simple dance moves. I have pain in my hips and a high tension in my body that seems to have been there for centuries. It has been looked at so many times, I am close to despair.

With my clothes on, I lie down on my side.

She curls her hands over my ribs.

I feel myself rolling languidly, a miniscule movement in my right hip. My vertebrae follow – one by one – forwards, backwards and sideways…I turn, I twist… I think of the domino effect: where one falling stone sets all the other stones in motion.

My breath flows into places I’ve never been with my attention before. I sink deep into my body. My muscles soft and heavy. The table moulds willingly around my bones.

I sigh from my toes… Time stands still…

“Was I asleep? “

“Mmmh you were away for a while” a funny wink in her voice.

I turn on my other side. My sore hip… Her hands move me slowly and clearly. I wait for the familiar pain but no… This new sensation makes me laugh… “Aaahh” .. years of tension slipping out of my body.

Her hands play, she makes my bones dance… “Oohhh”… my head rocking gently.

Forgotten is my pain. My hips roll happily in all directions… Like a flowing, sensual dance.
I thought I was supple but… WOW!This feels so flexible and free…

After this divine session I walk, I dance like I have wings, I feel loose, I swing! What a pleasure to move again, without tension, without pain.

(From ‘my first Feldenkrais experience’, Pingel)

Three sessions later and the pain in my hips was completely gone. I was back to dance tango on my high heels and yoga felt great again. I was so impressed with the Feldenkrais method that I signed up for the next training to become a Feldenkrais somatic movement coach.

Now 15 years later I give both online and hands-on sessions and online group lessons. And I continue to marvel at the power of this method: How subtle movements transform lives at the level of the nervous system and the brain and enable people to live their lives to their fullest potential.

Would you like to experience a session as well?


Act in spite of fear

Looking at this picture that I found on facebook 3 years ago, I am most touched by the words ‘Act in spite of fear’. I feel that I and with me many others have firm struggles with overcoming the fear that is holding us back from following our heart. Fear of not being good enough, not being safe in ourselves, not belonging, falling or failing, being visible or invisible, being rejected, fear for our own potential or living a meaningless life, never really doing what we deep in ourselves dreamt of doing… and so on.

Two years ago, when facing the fear that was holding me back from choosing to step out of the cozy prison I had created for myself, I met very old emotional pain that asked for my attention.  I learnt that dealing with fear is not only mindset. I believe there is strong emotional habits behind our mindset, that are responsible for many of our thinking-patterns and beliefs now. Emotional patterns deeply hidden in our cells, creating unconscious self- sabotaging beliefs. They were formed when we were still little ones that did not have the words yet to express nor the social knowledge to understand what was going on in our lives.

These emotional habits are so firmly ingrained in our physical structure -our posture, our way of walking and our way of moving through life-, that they have become like our signature. Fairly often it is not as simple as letting go of the beliefs they bring to mind. We have become attached to them for better or worse as the struggle with them has become a purpose in it self. We’re not aware that we’re holding on to them by choosing to control, fight them, push them away, refuse to own them. That we are actually avoiding the even bigger fear of not knowing and not being in control. But isn’t it in the unknowing that our dreams will unfold themselves?

I believe these beliefs and the emotional patterns that form their root, can only be addressed, brought up and transformed in close collaboration with the body. I learnt that the body expresses the emotions that we tend to push away through tension and pain in our body tissue, our muscles, joints and organs, causing an overwhelmed nervous system, fatigue, depression and ultimately disease. I am talking about psycho-somatic issues in the tissues that most doctors have no answer for but ‘learn to live with them’. Mystery pain and tension that has no name nor a cause in most of the classic medical books.

On my own journey I learnt to dare to not know and stop controlling the fear. Staying present with the fear in heart and mind amidst the emotional overwhelm is challenging but not impossible. And actually stepping into action in spite of fear brought to surface my most hidden gifts and talents. I learnt to feel and see beyond the physical pain and feel the emotional story behind a posture or physical movement pattern like f.e. walking. In short I learnt to walk my talk.

When making choices that were more aligned with who I am, I felt clearly how highly tense, sore tissues started to soften over time. I learnt to relieve habits of stress by listening to my body’s impulses. My organs got back their motility and mobility and improved function. My immune system is still growing stronger every day. Even to the point were some old food intolerances disappeared. After 30 years of chronic fatigue, I am now less tired and I awake and productive all day.

And as I continue following and trusting the voice of my body whether she talks about food, movement, emotions, thoughts, memories or pain I get to know what my soul craves for. Like a shadow guide, I explore the hidden emotions behind the physical pain, the constrained movement, the tiredness and the unhealthy patterns that I created over time. And as I go there, sad emotions and sheer fear come to surface like little monsters. Except when connecting with them, they seem more like little children feeling very lost in the dark. In my opinion the work is about bringing these little ones home as they carry with them so many of our soul’s gifts and talents. Steadily I am finding ground in my body. And the more I breathe with her in moments of fear, the more she softens, opens and stops holding on to it.

I dare say that choosing the life you wish for in spite of fear, is a powerful way to dismantle that same fear. It starts with reclaiming your dream step by step: addressing and unravelling old emotional habits and reframe old childhood belief-systems while embracing new chosen life experiences. Refinding our ground in the body releases anxiety and overwhelm. Remembering the body as our earth-home creates the peacefulness and safety from inside that is so needed to move along unknown paths.
When I set out to fulfill my dream and find my truth, I never dreamed of finding so much potential for healing and growth by owning my fear and stop controlling it..

I learned to trust, listen and validate my own instinctual and intuitive wisdom and act upon that wisdom. What a difference does that make! I feel there is calmness in ones own wise words when one speaks them to oneself. There is peace underneath the fear when one allows the body to move with it. To trust that there is silence in the eye of the storm that overwhelms the nervous system and that this silence comes with strength and insight to face the inner storms and showers of rain yet to come.

I believe we can only change mindset when we change the full setting; mind, body, nervous system and soul. I feel they are all interconnected and can’t be separated in the processes of learning and healing. The tool needed for change is to become self aware in sensing, feeling, thinking and action, owning every aspect of this including the consequences of our choices and actions. In understanding why you are where you are, you will know  which way to walk and how to choose your path.

So if you also feel that your comfort zone is a safe prison, it might be time to reconsider if you want to stay there. Why not take the first small step out of your comfort zone… In spite of fear!

I just started to teach a series of online dutch Feldenkrais classes to help you find ground in your body and get ready for new choice and action. If you are interested in english Feldenkrais lessons just drop me a line and I will schedule them.

Free body meditation to calm your nervous system

The last days it was not always easy to keep my calm and peace. Every time when opening facebook or whats-app the fear for Corona, the fear of all this insecurity for the future that is felt by so many people, just hits me and throws me off my legs. I feel all this anxiety cramping and contracting around my knees, my calves, in my gut and in my chest. I feel a startle of a cry, a shout, a weepy feeling… but it ends stuck in my troat. My mind is spinning 24/7 and my head is pounding.

My nervous system has been programmed around feeling not safe in rooting ever since I was al little child. This hard-wired habit of ungrounding and tensing in my body when feeling anxious and nervous, kicks in big time again in this moment.

Time to soothe my body, mind and heart and pay attention to my breath. To do something extra to support the resilience of my immune system and nervous system. To strongly reconnect with my own reality and inner motions. Time to tune in with the physical moment, the here and now and leave the future the future and the past the past. Happily I can still sit in my little garden and listen to the birds, the whisper of the wind while feeling the sun on my skin as I take in the presence of the velvet mountains and ancient olive trees. Nature is bouncing back and teaching me about resilience and faith in life.

Touched by the quiet presence of this ancient olive trees that surround me and the silent rock mass in front of me, I created a little -20 minute- somatic exploration for myself. It helps me to calm my nervous system and get in touch with what feelings are mine. and what feelings I breath in and make mine. Let’s say I am restoring my boundaries energetically through becoming deeply aware and present with my own body and feeling state . It is a great way to not get overwhelmed by all the fearful and negative media posts.

It turned out to be a playful little gem that guides me back to myself and the present moment every time I am checking out.

This morning I recorded it to share it with you. All you need for this meditation is a chair, your body and 20 minutes of your time. Find a spot indoors or (even better) outdoors in your garden, roof terras or balcony and enjoy!

I wish you resilience, wisdom and peace in this turbulent times.



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