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Realize a Deeper, More Subtle Experience of Self-Pandiculation with Phil Shenk

By Kelli Peacock

How do we refresh our somatics practice? How do we step aside of our own habits? What is the experience we bring back that begins to drop away as time goes by? These were some of the important questions Phil Shenk wanted to explore at this year’s AHSE Convention when he was asked to lead the Pandicualtion of the Convention. Phil had attended that first Hanna Somatic Education Training in Wave 1 with Thomas Hanna. As a result, his passion to keep the work going led him be part of the Teaching Team for Hanna Somatic Education at the Novato Institute ever since.

During this workshop, he addressed sensory motor amnesia (SMA) and self-pandiculations. He spoke about the fundamentals from both a neurological as well as a functional perspective, so that we might experience a more subtle pandiculation, and therefore guide us into a different depth of our practice. After he reviewed the concept of “The Weber-Fechner Law” in Yochanan Rywerant’s book, “The Feldenkrais Method: Teaching by Handling,” a realization once again emerged about how the energy exchange and the learning are both important perspectives to maintain as a practitioner. This experience felt innocent; unadulterated with attachment to outcome. We were asked to slow down, plan our movement, do it, undo it, rest, relax, sense information, refine and repeat. All of which is inherent in the neurophysiology of HSE’s motor-control based slow, aware movement process.

How do we give ourselves the permission to find this level of relaxation? Phil asked us to explore this by experiencing the safety of rest and to notice the important role this plays. He also added in a private interview that somas are information junkies! Now, what does he mean by that… well, we are constantly focused on information about how we are moving, changing and adapting.

Imagine, for example, that you are blindfolded and that you are holding an empty teacup. Someone comes by and slowly pours tea into your cup. At a certain point, you find that the teacup is becoming heavier. So when the weight went above a certain percentage, you felt a “noticeable” difference. As we’re able to fine tune our perception of this “turning on of awareness”, we can then get more out of our self pandiculations.

We are all guilty of habitually holding ourselves in certain postures and we don’t notice it until we get out of that habitual stance, whether that might be green light, red light; mad or sad. The effort, range of movement and information feedback are the tools for allowing us to be in this zone of difference, awake and feeling like things are on-line now. Finding this threshold of attention is different for everyone. Self-pandiculating with a lower amount of effort raises our awareness of the information feedback that we receive from joints, muscles and tissues. Noticing the achy zone is a good indication for opening into the gentlest, least amount of effort necessary to maintain our attention.

Phil invites us to hunt for that “quiver” like you might see in a cat or to find that place of “oh, it felt so good to release that!” Going slower and developing this more subtle experience as Homo Sapiens - which literally means “Wise man” - Phil eloquently guided us in ways to use this knowledge and communication within our own somas to experience a more noticeable difference in our self pandiculations.