"Feldy" Sports ...

Play is fundamental to health ...  throughout life

Play is a natural biological impulse which develops the foundational physical skills that will carry us through life.  But play also develops us mentally, emotionally and relationally.  Play develops our sense of safety and human connection and our whole "social engagement system", according to Dr. Stephen Porges'  Polyvagal Theory.  

The complexity of the human brain derives largely from the complexity of human movement.   While other animals can walk about 15 minutes after birth, it takes the human animal a year to learn for itself, without any instruction, the intricacies of simply reaching, rolling over, sitting up, crawling,  and finally standing and balancing on two legs, like an upside down pendulum.    To walk, run, crouch, jump, spin, somersault ... from two feet is unique in the animal kingdom.   
The playful exploration and discovery of the complexity of human balance in playful exploration is what makes children that quickest learners on the planet.  

The nourishments of play -- pure physical pleasure, exploration and discovery of our own bodies, the world, human relationship -- can feed and enrich us throughout life.


The difference between Exercise and Play

Play precedes all cultural ideas about exercise and gives us things that mere exercise often can't -- spontenaity, surprise, innovation, quick decisions, fast running spurts, laughter ....    
In true relational play, no one loses.  
Play is not for domination but for mutual pleasure.  The game actually ceases to be fun when there is domination, and children quickly discover how to tinker with the rules of the game until the odds are even and the outcome is unknown.  That's what make it fun.  
Play is social.  It is a flow of interconnection and discovery.

As we are conditioned into the values of our culture and particularly sports culture,  this original impulse to play tends to get trained away from pleasure, exploration and discovery and towards performance, domination, status ...  
We learn to attach our value as a person to how we perform.  We  come to measure ourselves against others.  We value domination and being "the best".  We think of ourselves as "good" or "bad" at sports.  We shy away from things we are "bad" at.

Feeling clumsy or unskilled - an innocent pleasure and fun challenge for improvement in early childhood - can become a badge of shame and derision when we reach school age.  If our development is slow or awkward compared with others and sports is our only cultural option for play, we may give up play altogether, or resign ourselves to watching professional athletes play.

If we win approval for being "good" at sports we are often willing to injure ourselves to win, to numb and abuse our bodies and to keep winning that approval.  We feel good about ourselves when our body performs "well" and bad when it doesn't.   This can become unconscious programmming of inner violence.

One of the greatest needs of our time and culture is for adults to re-claim the human birthright to live in a healthy active body and in play and interconnection with others, children and/or adult.


Feldy Sports - a path back to nourishing Play

Feldy Sports offers a setting where we can return to sports as innocent play, as exploration, development, self-discovery, fun and injury free.   
It is also a setting to make sports more inclusive of, and fun for,  people of all physical abilities, body shapes and sizes, ages.

In Feldy Sports we internally choose what and how we want to explore physically, psychologically, emotionally ... in the context of the fun, discovery and the body's need for nourishment through movement.  

If the game is kickball,  my "Feldy" exploration may not be in how far I can kick the ball but in how much pleasure I can feel in my body in kicking the ball and running for the base, or the fun of kicking and throwing with my less coordinated leg or arm.   Or my exploration may be to stay in touch with feeling the flow of emotions as I play ... or it may be to let myself laugh a lot ...  or to the feel of breeze and sun.   Or exploration into infinite other possibilities.

My explorations will be unique to me and my interests and may be different that what other players are exploring.  We explore together and enjoy the fun of each others company in the context of play.  Winning, performing, measuring ourselves against others -- so central to mainstream sports --  becomes just something to smile at ... just a fun part of the "pretend" of innocent, childlike playfulness. 

If the game is wrestling, the Feldy exploration might likely be carried at half speed, to feel balance and counterbalance of bodies moving in play with each other, the discovery of classic wrestling moves, the pleasure of  human contact and muscular resistance without any fear driven needs to dominate or win.   

In Feldy sports there is a pleasure and delight and interest in everyone's development.  

Boston Celtic Bill Russell, arguably the greatest defensive player in NBA history, tells of feeling disappointed when his "nemesis" from the Lakers, Wilt Chamberlain was out of the game with an injury.  He loved the challenge of playing Wilt.  To play against Chamberlain brought out the best in Russell.  

Russell tell the story of losing a championship game to the Lakers in which every player on both teams played with the total engagement of love of the sport, and the game had risen to a level beyond anything he'd experienced before. 
Beautiful plays from the other team thrilled him as much as the play by his own team. To see every player rise to an unimagined level of play filled him with joy.   The competition made the game fun, but the joy of the game not primarily about winning. 
In the locker room after the game his teammates were downcast, and he says he knew there was no way he could express to them the joy he was feeling.   Russell was playing in the spirit of Feldy sports.

Even singular sports like running and weightlifting can become more fun and more beneficial with an orientation towards exploring a felt sense pleasure, efficiency, effortlessness, flow rather than via pushing, straining, comparing, goal fixation, the domination of "mind over matter" or a "no pain, no gain" orientation.  It is the latter orientation that leads to most sports injuries.


"Useful" Sports

I also have a category of sport, or play, that I call "Useful Sports."   This might be something like shoveling snow or gardening or any other physical activity that has utility in our lives.

Snow shoveling or gardening can be as pleasurable, injury free, and physically beneficial as cross-country skiing or biking.    Rather than injuring ourselves and dreading the "chore," we can turn this activity into physical nourishment and fun by slowing down and changing our orientation to the activity.  

Here is a 5 minute video I made called "Effortless Snow Shoveling -- a Feldenkrais approach", or  "how to shovel snow without hurting your back and making yourself miserable."   
You may be able to sense the feeling of physical vibrancy and pleasure that can come from a simple change in orientation.


A paradigm shift

Playing in this way, we are not only nourishing our bodies physically, but making a paradigm shift out of external referencing and unconscious programming into internal referencing, choiceful awareness, pleasure, growth, health, enjoyment.  

Any sport or "useful sport"  can be played Feldy style.  Feel free to start your own Feldy Sport activity and advertise it  here!
In the summer, Kevin organizes Feldy Sport kickball games and hikes where everyone is invited to join in and recapture the feeling of childhood play ...  for fun, exercise, and human connection.  

If you'd like to be on the email or call list to be notified of kickball games or hikes, or if you want to organize your own "Feldy sports" events, contact Kevin.   kevincassity@yahoo.com.  (907) 350-1715.