"Can you feel that?"

Recently a Pilates teacher said this to me and I really didn’t know what she was referring to. I was reminded of sitting in on a body awareness class for actors some years ago where the teacher asked the students “Can you feel that?” And I remember a different class when a movement teacher once asked “Feel that?” and then nodded her head as if she had made everything perfectly clear.

The problem is that in none of these cases did the teacher make it clear what “that” was. I watched students look around rather apprehensively but they dutifully nodded their heads because I’m guessing they certainly felt something and, more importantly, wanted to please. But who knows if what they were feeling was the right feeling or in the right place.

I’m trying to make it a point to understand what my teacher is looking for in specific terms rather than feeling that pressure to make her feel affirmed. I believe I said, “Well, this is what I feel and here is where I feel it. Is that what I should be feeling?”

And sometimes we aren’t going to be aware of what we feel when we’re doing something new. We’re just trying to figure it all out. It takes some time before we’ve done something enough to then actually be in touch with it all.

I’m never impressed when this question is asked again and again without any specific backup, so for me it’s a signal that maybe this teacher isn’t so great. What I do know is we should ask the follow up question or say, “I have no idea what I’m feeling right now I’m just trying to do the exercise.” Honesty helps both the practitioner and the student be present and have a constructive experience.