I was only 25.
And I felt like my body was failing me.
As a kid, I was always active. But when I graduated from college and entered the working world, the same activities I loved when I was younger—basketball, softball, running—started causing me pain.
All of a sudden, lifelong patterns of movement and imbalance I was once able to “manage” had become a liability. My knees hurt, my back hurt, my muscles felt tight, and it was a struggle just to get around. I took time off work because I was so distracted by my discomfort.
I even went to doctors, who (thankfully) declined to perform surgery on my painful knees. I spent time in physical therapy, where I learned I had a mild scoliosis that was probably a factor in all the issues I was dealing with. I came across and tried a number of other methods, ways that promised to help my body get back in “alignment.”
These moves and methods helped some, but nothing seemed to stick—one day, I’d feel great doing the movements I’d been given by the instructor, and the next day I’d do the same movements and feel nothing, or worse.
I didn’t understand why I could feel so different doing the “same” movements one day to the next.
I was frustrated. Incredibly frustrated.
But I kept reading, kept learning what I could about the body and movement.
I was so determined to find a way out of my predicament—to stop feeling like my body was fighting me from the moment I got up every morning.
Eventually I stumbled across a blog post. Buried in the middle of it was a brief description of the Feldenkrais Method, and how it offered a different perspective on movement, a shift in how you relate to your body.
I was in the grasping-at-straws, can’t-hurt-to-try-it stage. So I did. I made an appointment with a local Feldenkrais practitioner.
When I met with her at her home studio, she sat down with me and asked me about myself, what I wanted from my life. Then she had me lie down and do some simple movements with my right hand, my dominant hand. Nothing with my knees, nothing with my back, the parts of me that had been causing the most concern.
At first, I didn’t understand how the movements I was doing connected with the pain I was experiencing. But my nervous system did, and before long something clicked in me that hadn’t before.
What I hadn’t realized before then was that my nervous system was in charge. Not my muscles. That it wasn’t just what I was doing, it was how I was doing it. That the attention and awareness you bring to a particular movement is as important as—perhaps more important than—the movement itself.
I continued to receive one-one-one lessons from that practitioner for several more weeks. Gradually, I found myself deeply immersed in this new world. With each lesson I received, I recovered or rediscovered a little piece of myself, of my trust in my body. I learned that I wasn’t fragile or broken, but capable of changing and growing into resilience.
Nine years later, I’m still applying those lessons I began learning a decade ago.
Maybe my story sounds kind of like yours.
Has it been a long time since you last moved without pain? Since you felt light in your body and connected to the ground with every step? Since you felt at home in your body and able to adapt to what life threw your way?
Or maybe you’re already operating from a place of strength and ease, but you’ve plateaued and want to do more with your chosen movement practice, musical passion, or sport.
Maybe you’re just curious to learn more about your immense potential as a human organism.
I’m Ray Sylvester, movement coach and continuous learner. Through my experience studying movement for over 10 years, including 800-plus hours of training to become a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner, I’ve developed a deep understanding and sensitivity of the body in movement.
My mission is to use this understanding to serve others in developing their own capacity for better movement and clarity of action.
When you work with me, you’ll learn about the power of doing less, and you’ll gain insights that will help you tap into the effortlessness of moving with your whole, resilient self.