The Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education

 

Does your back hurt? Do you have trouble focusing your attention? Have you stopped participating in activities you used to enjoy?

The Feldenkrais Method is for anyone who wants to reconnect with their natural abilities to move, think and feel. Whether you want to be more comfortable sitting at your computer, playing with your children and grandchildren, or performing a favorite pastime, these gentle lessons can improve your overall well being.

Learning to move with less effort makes daily life easier. Because the Feldenkrais Method focuses on the relationship between movement and thought, increased mental awareness and creativity accompany physical improvements. Everyone, from athletes and artists to administrators and attorneys, can benefit from the Feldenkrais Method.

We improve our well being when we learn to fully use ourselves. Our intelligence depends upon the opportunity we take to experience and learn on our own. This self learning leads to full, dynamic living.

Ordinarily, we learn just enough to function. For example, we learn to use our hands well enough to eat, our legs well enough to walk. Our abilities to function with a greater range of ease and skill, however, remain to be developed. The Feldenkrais Method teaches—through movement—how we can improve our capabilities to function in our daily lives.

For more information and to see the latest article in the New York Times,

 https://nyt.ms/2yXLf82  

A recent article by Jane E Brody

Entitled Trying the Feldenkrais Method for Chronic Pain

FELDENKRAIS, THE METHOD CONTINUED


In the Book, Sapiens, Uval Harari talks about the evolution of our upright gait, which he
estimates took place 2.5 million years ago, and how it affected women, childbirth, and the
development of the human infant compared with other mammals who walked on four legs.
Standing upright on two legs required narrower hip, just at the time babies brains and heads
were becoming larger. Death in childbirth became a major hazard for human females. Women
who gave birth earlier, when the infants brain and head were still relatively small and supple
fared better and lived to have more children. Compared to other animals, humans are born
prematurely, when many of their vital systems are still under-developed. A colt ca trot shortly
after birth. Human babies are helpless and dependent for many years, relying on their elders
for sustenance, protection, and education.
This lengthy period of learning and dependence allows for tremendous variation in the
way we perform physical activities common to our species, rolling, sitting up, coming to stand,
how we stand, walking and running.
Along with our individually inherited traits, the length of our muscles and nerves, the
depth of our hip socket, our proportions and muscle tonus, we embody the organization of those
that first held us,
We are molded by limitations of opportunity to move and explore our environment freely
due perhaps to way, poverty, illness, an anxious environment.
All of these factors impact the ease and efficiency of our movement as we develop.
And later on trauma, emotional or physical, further alter patterns away from what is
easies, pleasurable and most efficient.
Pain with daily activities, is often the byproduct of these events.
Most importantly, these changes and accompanying limitations affect the way we
experience the world and the way others experience us.

 

THE Feldenkrais Method PROPOSES THIS SOLUTION:
As most of us know, recent scientific research proffers the idea of neuroplasticity, our ability to
forge new neural pathways, changing habitual patterns of response, developing and reinforcing
new ones. This ability is fully utilized in the Feldenkrais Method. By slowing down and giving
ourselves better information, we spontaneously make better choices, reorganizing ourselves at
a higher level of action.


The Weber-Fichner law of physiology states that “the greater the force, the lower the
information exchange within the nervous system. By slowing down and moving in a comfortable
range of motion, we provide our nervous system with new and improved information. As
mammals, we spontaneously choose these “better patterns” as we have in order to survive over
these thousands of years of evolution.
Ruthy Alon, one of Moshe Feldenkrais’ early students and a venerated teacher of the
Feldenkrais Method, says it this way,
“It is not easy to change old mechanical habits. The more you experience the new way through
awareness and pleasure, the easier it will be adopted into your daily life.
Your commanding nervous system has the inner wisdom to vote for the way that supports it
best. Our organism knows when a movement is good for us and will spontaneously accept it for
daily use. A memory of a positive experience is the deepest teacher, especially when we want
to suggest to ourselves to replace old patterns with new ones. We have to convince our system
of their value for us, not in the language of good reasons, but in the language of positive
sensations. We need the practice to be done in total pleasure, not only per se, but as a great
means in education. We might be

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Felde Talk for Joanna and My Virtual Workshops 2/2022 2/26/22, 6:12 PM

Accustomed to a competitive, asserting mentality. We might have a hard time to get that we
don’t have to tear ourselves in order to learn. That we can achieve more when we are pain free
and enjoying the game. It might sound like a revolution to have this nurturing attitude towards
our body, to take this permission for self-kindness and pleasure. And actually this approach is
one of the greatest contributions of the Feldenkrais Method.”
These early experiences and later traumas cause as shortening of the flexors, limiting the
breath, circulation and function of our most important organs. When I think about teaching an
awareness through movement lesson, or beginning a private lesson with a new person, my first
thought is to decrease this sympathetic response, to help the person find their sense of safety
and well being. In the book, My Grandmother’s Hands, Resma Menakem might explain it best
s he talks about how this state of calm spreads to others, changing the Gestalt, in which we
collectively create and abide.
He says,
▪ Few skills are more essential that the ability to settle your body. When you can
settle your body, you are more likely t one calm, alert, and fully present, no matter what is going
on around you.
▪ A settled body also enables you to harmonize and connect with other bodies
around you—while encouraging them to settle as well.
▪ A calm, settled body is the foundation for health, for healing, for helping others,
and for changing the world.
▪ Learning to settle your body is not about reducing stress, It’s about increasing
your body’s ability to manage stress.
▪ Settling is not the same as healing; it is an all-important foundation for healing.
▪ A settled body invites and accepts efforts to meant it. An unsettled one, resists
them.
▪ The central feature of any trauma response is speed. In order to work through
your trauma, you need to learn to slow down and feel your body, using your
▪ “soul nerve” ( his term for the vagus nerve which regulates the sympathetic
vs parasympathetic response)
▪ The ability to settle or activate your body on demand is essential for healing
trauma.
▪ Safeguarding your body also requires wise and compassionate self care. (Which
is practiced during Awareness Through Movement every time you make a choice for comfort,
ease, and pleasure.). This compassionate self care includes:
▪ getting enough sleep
▪ good nutrition
▪ drinking enough water
▪ regular exercise
▪ enjoying simple pleasures
▪ When your life is especially stressful or uncomfortable, strengthen your growth
routine.
▪ Caring for your body, your psyche, and your soul is not optional. It’s crucial to
your health, sanity, happiness, and healing and it is an essential part of being human.

During my time teaching with Joanna Dunn in Costa Rica,
my personal stars aligned.
Being warm, on the Pacific, in a remote area filled with plant and animal diversity and
sounds, and practicing. Every day a combination of yoga, meditation and breath work,
and Feldenkrais somatic education,
I found entry way into my skeleton, organization, and self image, and experienced
change so profound, that the Buddhist idea of groundlessness was subsequently
embodied in my daily experience of my life.

Suddenly, everything I did felt like creation and play, and all at once I was learning
detachment. How to just do my thing and play my part and allow others the respect to
do with my gift just what they chose.
Moments of confusion, loneliness, and sorrow came and went, as did deep joy and
appreciation.
It felt like I was cheating.
Life could not possibly be this simple and provide for me all that I needed at any
moment. I seemed to attract and be attracted by others that were on similar paths, and
entertained the idea that there was some global or bigger than global invitation to us
free us for change and growth which involved clarifying boundaries and being more and
more our essential selves.
These were the ideas that I was first exposed to in my Feldenkrais Training, and the
ones that have kept me “in the fold” all of these years.

Part of the creative explosion going on within me was to write, first in answer to
questions Joanna proposed about yoga and Feldenkrais, their differences, and how
they enhance one another, but as I write these words, I hope to clarify how the
combination of activities I experienced and taught in Costa Rica elicited so much
change and where these changes might be leading.

One of my foundational reads is Mindfulness, A Practical Guide to Awakening by
Joseph Goldstein. In his chapter, Mindfulness of Postures, he talks about “Purification
of View; it is the first deep realization of the selfless nature of all phenomena.”
“The process of knowing and it’s object—the sensations of the body standing and
knowing them, sensations of the body sitting and knowing them.
(As practiced in holding a yoga asana.)
And in the Feldenkrais work we practice the inverse processes of informing the self:
"The body moves because of an intention in the mind, which initiates action... At other
times, a bodily experience—of sight, a sound, or some sensation may condition a mind

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Mindfulness, mentality and materialit Joseph Goldstein reference 2/26/22, 6:17 PM

state of enjoyment or aversion, the body conditioning the mind.”
In Awareness through Movement class, a yoga class, or during walking meditation, we
might experience selflessness when we have the feeling of being moved, being walked,
as if the movement is happening by itself. " Who is walking? Who is
standing" “Continuity of mindfulness of changing postures ensures the continuity of
impermanence, which in turn helps free us from identifying with the body as being a
permanent self.”
This seemed paradoxical, and caused me substantial discomfort.
I “took refuge” in the Buddha’s words,
The purpose of all our practice is to purify the mind of obstructive,
unskillful states.
“To abandon ill will and hatred,
and to abide in a mind compassion for the welfare of all beings."
I find this to be the common thread of intention in all of these practices, yoga, The
Feldenkrais Method, and Meditation.