Skeletal Awareness is a way of getting in
touch with an important part of ourselves,
our Skeleton. Most people if they thing of
their body, they think of the tissues: the
muscles, skin, the flesh of the body.
|Lower Back Pain
|If we are unaware
of the spine..the body will be painful, stiff
and vulnerable to injury. The movement, partner,
and touch lessons experienced in Spinal Awareness
programs help you learn how to use yourself
in new ways that improve the condition of
your lower back.
Awareness, the muscles of our body relax,
our breath becomes easier, and our skeleton's
ease of movement increases.. we can begin
to balance the negative effects of stress.
The movement, touch and group experiences
of Spinal Awareness are nourishing and fun.
Rather than how to hold your body, I teach how
to unhold it.
AN INTERVIEW WITH
Bangkok Metro Magazine
By Philip Cornwel-Smith
I lie my aching back along the bedside,
and Patrick Douce plays my spine like a
piano. The hands of this Feldenkrais
practitioner impart intense heat as they
press lightly. Energy tingles, twitches
flicker, then relaxation floods over
like a hot bath. After an hour I arise
with improved balance and looseness, the
pain gone or going.
I tell this to a friend with swollen
toes. "Your joints look dislocated,"
muses Douce. One session and his feet
look longer. They are longer!
Inflamation's reduced and distance
walking becomes an option. How'd he do
"People have always healed through
touch," he demures. "The difference is
my teacher made it a science. Rather
than say a healer's special, he said you
can teach people how to heal themselves
or others with the hands or with
movement. It's not innate magic."
Douce is a direct pupil of Moshe
Feldenkrais, a Russian Jew educated in
France, who based his theories on Judo
learned from its inventor, Kano. He was
also the Curies' assistant when they won
the Nobel Prize for Physics. That's
quite a lineage Douce extended in 1973
when he met Feldenkrais.
"I'd figured out there had to be
somebody who studied natural movement
and that led me to Esalen, an institute
in Big Sur, California, that's
specialized in alternative approaches
since the 1960s," Douce recalls.
"I knew what I was looking for,
which is unusual. Only it isn't unusual
in that most people have problems;
tension in their neck, pain in their
el bow. Some think there's nothing they
can do or else have surgery. Others look
for alternatives. But what I'm doing
isn't alternative, because the tradition
I work in is old. Modern medicine is
more of an alternative."
Herbalism's also ancient and Douce a
chemist like Feldenkrais has long
extracted essences non-commercially. In
Bali, the hands-on healing tradition
Jamu uses herbs, so for me to get
involved makes sense.
But he's not challenging doctors. "We
need to work with doctors. Many
alternative practitioners take on the
power of the gods and tell you what to
do. I give more possibilities from which
you can choose. My classes make people
aware of their body and explain it in
terms of theory."
"Most people have no skeletal awareness,"
he observes. "Yet when it's not holding
you up correctly the soft tissue wears
out and you get pain. A broken wrist
might heal, but the force knocked all
the bones out of joint. A foot hurting
has something to do with the hip, the
shoulder, the breath, the whole body. So
I don't start with the problem; I start
with everything else. I enable it to
heal through you. And as touch is
through clothing it's not invasive."
In group sessions, participants work on
each other to overcome barriers and
misperceptions. "It's not a matter of
posture," he posits. "Posture=Post. Most
people think you sit straight like a
post, whereas Feldenkrais talked about
acture: how to move. Rather than how to
hold your body, I teach how to un hold
it, how to get flexibility. Most of
these movements people did as children,
but our parents had good POSTure, so we
learnt to become stiff."
"I begin with everyday movements:
tension in your jaw, effort climbing
stairs. People think, 'Oh, it's supposed
to be a burden; I have to be strong.'
There are fundamental differences in how
to conceive of the body, which coincides
with eastern martial arts. Judo involves
rolling, getting a relationship with the
floor, and cultures that sit more on the
floor have better posture and movement.
I'm not getting rid of chairs, but I use
movements from energy systems known as
martial arts [especially silat, a
Chinese Indonesian system with lineage
to the Shaolin and Tibetan monasteries]."
Feldenkrais didn't incorporate energy,
but it's integral to Douce. "A Tibetan
Rimpoche said: 'What are you doing?
You're working with your own life force.
Watch it; you're going to have
trouble.' And I went 'Well, I'll have to
get better at it, as I have to do it.'
So I came to Indonesia and by mixing in silat I'm
able to protect myself and use my energy more
Success is still dependent, however, on
open-mindedness. "Our mind set affects
healing," reports Douce. "I work with
many injured people and the ones that
think they'll get well are the ones that
do. I can work with serious conditions
like whiplash, and I also with the
non-acute, who just want to be better.
And those with no pain at all, like
athletes who want that extra 10%."
But ultimately Douce is only a conduit.
"My approach is to give people things
they can use immediately, to empower them.
How many stiff necks in Bangkok? Could I do
it all? So I've worked out how to pass it on."
Bangkok Metro Magazine December 2001
Copyright 2001 City Media Group Company