Monday, June 3, 2013

Back Home on the Bayou

Yesterday, I was in San Rafael California, in a movement lesson with Anat Baniel. Today, I am back home in Katy, Texas. The past ten days have been immensely rejuvenating, eye-opening, and powerful. 

I am  chomping at the bit to do a movement lesson with David. Despite my eagerness, it is too soon for this. I arrived home around midnight, so the boys were sleeping. In the morning, I began to use my hands to explore David's bones. This made me realize why it is too soon. During our transformational movement lessons and practice with functional synthesis in California, we were learning with our own adult brains and on the adult brains of others. These are fully developed and functioning brains. (Although during training, I began to realize how much potential for function I am not using!)

David's profound injury has resulted in him organizing himself in a way that is vastly different than what we were practicing with. I have just begun to learn, and there is much, much more that I need to experience and grasp before I can practice functional synthesis with him.

Anat told us to go home and use The Nine Essentials with our children, and in our everyday lives. 

I have to say, today was fulfilling. I braced myself for the transition back to continual multitasking, or what I like to call, air traffic controller mode. Essential 5, Slow, has been my best friend lately. Even though at times today I felt like I was holding the line up at the grocery store, or making people wait longer for a response from me, it was empowering. Instead of hustling all over the place and feeling overwhelmed, I was able to enjoy what I was doing, and the seeing the boys so happy amplified this feeling of calm. I could stop and recognize when their learning switches were turned on. I slowed down during David's daily activities like feeding and changing and in turn, he smiled more today than I think I've seen him smile any other day. 

When I was holding him, I leaned his head forward, and realized that I always position his arm the same way during a feeding. This time, I gently, and attentively, moved that arm closer to his body and at a different angle. He reacted immediately with a smile, and an "a-ha!" expression. Let me put this into context. Before today, smiles happened occasionally and unexpectedly. Today I really appreciate just how miraculous each smile is even more. 

Today we also did some writing. I have been practicing writing with both boys. David was earnest in wanting to write his full name with my guidance in holding his hand and the marker for him, and he did it!  Shortly after, he fell asleep.

Donnie's favorite thing to do is write the names of the neighbor girls and leave these notes at their front door. After we did that, I told him we were going to play a game, and divided a page in half by drawing a line. The first color we had to use was blue, and we had to each scribble using only our elbows, with our wrists immobile. The next color was red, and we had to straighten our elbows and use only our wrists. It was fascinating to see what Donnie did. Actions that were automatic for him came into his awareness, and resulted in laughter. He noticed the incongruency between what he perceived and what he actually did.

The next color was green, and we could only scribble using our shoulders. We were both certainly exercising our brains trying not to use our wrists and elbows! The last color was purple, and just for kicks, we drew with our feet. I got a cramp in my foot.

"Neurological Organization." Collaborative drawing by Donnie Jones and Shana Jones.

After our drawing exercises, we took a walk out in the lovely (I'm not being sarcastic) Gulf Coast humidity. I noticed Donnie was swinging his arms in an exploratory way as he walked, as if he was having a conversation with his arms. I noticed David's hands open, sensing themselves and the things around them. It is a beautiful thing to see hands that were once clenched most of the time turning into hands that are exploring. 

It has only been one day since the end of the fist training segment, and I am feeling so many things. Foremost, I am encouraged by what I have learned. I know that what I am doing is going to open up many possibilities for David, for myself, and for those around me. I can't help but want to brace myself, too, for the habit of falling back into thoughtless patterns. I don't want to lose the exhilaration of the experiences I have just had.

I knew when David had his first session with Anat, that a finely tuned (and genius!) brain was connecting with his curious and intelligent, but seriously hurt, young brain. And it feels necessary to repeat what Moshe Feldenkrais told Anat: "You cannot reverse the process of awareness."


  1. lovely writing shana...i really love how creative you are with your boys and how closely you are watching...they are so lucky! 'you cannot reverse the process of awareness' is a lovely closing....and opening for all of us....laura

  2. Thank you. I am blessed to have my boys! And yes, "opening." What a great word!

  3. Thank you for sharing - Very beautifully said. It helps remind me to mindful of the I vow to SLOW down - as the summer can tend to lead to repetition and mindless doing. Hope to have my son see Anat again very soon. Look forward to more of your insight.