Know thyself

In my earlier blog postings here and here, I discussed how knowing the state of our own constitution is important to help determine which kind of tea is appropriate for you to drink.

Similarly, when it comes to food sensitivities, you need to become aware of what foods you react to and in what amounts. Keeping a food diary is one important way of doing this, and so is muscle testing.

It’s also important to be highly aware of your body in terms of movement. Today, I picked up a new book by Craig Williamson, Muscular Retraining for Pain-Free Living. He explains how many of his clients who were suffering pain lacked kinesthetic awareness, even those who were active sportsmen. Williamson developed his Somatic Integration method in order to train his clients to become more aware of their bodies, and he’s found this a very effective way of reducing pain.

I was curious to know what the many different body therapies that Williamson trained in were and which he later adapted and integrated to create his own Somatic Integration system. There’s nothing in the book’s introduction that mentions any other method, and there is no reading list or bibliography at the back either. However, his biography on the Somatic Integration website does tell us the story of his experiences

I was not surprised to see Feldenkrais and Alexander Technique listed there because these both emphasise body awareness. My own experience has been with Feldenkrais, and what Williamson teaches in his book seems extremely close to what I’d learnt from Feldenkrais already. I’ll have to read the rest of the book to see what more Somatic Integration offers over Feldenkrais. If nothing else, Williamson’s book is a much easier read than any writings by Moshe Feldenkrais himself!

Ultimately, food reactions and pain are all signals from our body. If we could pick up what our body was telling us before we pushed out bodies over the edge and they screamed out loud to grab our attention, we might suffer a lot less.

P.S. Don’t forget to see the Comments where Craig Williamson himself has provided some clarifications and interesting information.

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5 Responses

  1. Hi,
    I stumbled upon your website while googling today, and I read your few paragraphs about my new book. You should know – there was originally a very lengthy introduction in the book, which explained my background in detail, and there was also a list of good books to read for the appendix. I ended up cutting that out, along with much much more, just to fit within the book length requirement for the publisher. I did not mean to give the impression that my ideas came out of thin air, because they did not. I have had the benefit of having a number of fabulous teachers. Hopefully my website biography makes up for this shortcoming in the book.
    You said that my book is much easier to read than writings of Feldenkrais, which I will take as an enormous compliment. To me, Feldenkrais was one of the giants in this field. His way of seeing changed the whole field of body work, but many bodyworkers may not be aware of that.
    My focus has been to take awareness-based body therapy and make it accessible to as many people as possible, without losing the essence of what it is. Many of the somatic disciplines are fantasitic ways to learn about oneself and live more in one’s body, but they often don’t address pain problems in a practical way. They are brilliant, but not clinically applicable. Conversely, when working with pain it is very easy for practioners (e.g., physical therapists, chiropractors, etc.) to lose the holistic perspective, and become mechanistic in their approach.
    The Alexander Technique has been extremely useful to me, personally and in my work with people. I recommend it to anyone. Alexander involves a conscious inhibition of habitual patterns, whereas Feldenkrais is primarily a sub-conscious correction of patterns. These are two fundamentally different approaches aimed at the same goal. One is not better than the other, but some people relate better to one than the other.
    Somatic Integration techniques involve using conscious awareness and sub-conscious awareness.
    Let me know if and how my book is useful to you.

    Best wishes,
    Craig Williamson

  2. Dear Mr Williamson,

    Thank you very much for taking the trouble to leave a comment. I have put a link in my main entry to your biography where you describe your influences and training. Your clarifications and explanations about Somatic Integration, Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais are very helpful and informative. With so many different modalities around, it can sometimes be hard for the layperson like myself compare them and see where the distinctiveness of each lies.

    Perhaps ultimately, there’s nothing like trying each of them out for oneself and then choosing a modality that one feels an affinity with. but the problem is that it’s not always easy to find practitioners – which is a very different experience from reading a book. Sometimes in reading a book, we only pick up or notice the things we already understand or the things we want to see, and don’t learn all that it has to offer. Sometimes, books can also be hard to understand because they are very profound, as I’ve experienced with Moshe Feldenkrais’ writings :)! I guess in an ideal situation, we would have both practical experience and reading to complement and extend our understanding of the modality.

  3. Another great book is Thomas Hanna’s Somatics. There are Hanna Somatic Educators practicing worldwide (not sure about your area), but there are exercises in the book that anyone can do on their own. Hanna studied with Feldenkrais and then developed his own way of working that includes a method he calls assisted pandiculation. A lot of information on Hanna Somatics can be found at somatics.com, somatics.org, and somaticsed.com. I think of Hanna’s work as “applied Feldenkrais.”

    Another person who is making Feldenkrais more accessible is Anat Baniel, one of his original students. If you google her name, you will find her websites.

    Finally, other applications of Feldenkrais are Sounder Sleep and Bones for Life. Happy googling!

  4. Thanks a lot, Linda. I’m not familiar with Hanna Somatic, Sounder Sleep or Bones for Life and have not come across any of their practitioners in Singapore. Even Feldenkrais is hard to come by here. I’ve seen Anat Baniel on YouTube, which is a great way of bringing Feldenkrais to a larger audience seeking general exercise movements and don’t even realise it’s Feldenkrais.

  5. Hi,
    I came across your site while doing a web search on somatics in Singapore. Just wanted to let you know that I took up Hanna Somatic Training in the USA. I took up Somatics due to my own need to be pain-free and I flew to the US to learn it as no one was offering Somatics in Singapore at that time. You can read more about my story from my bio at http://www.somaticbodyworks.com. Hope to meet you in one of my exercise classes!

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