Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sunday, July 2: What is the Feldenkrais Method® ?

Or, more precisely, what is my version of the Feldenkrais Method, since Moshe Feldenkrais, the inventor, was very clear: each practitioner was to go out and find her or his “handwriting,” her or his way to make this amazing work even more amazing and unique.

First, we’ll start with Moshe, who lived from 1904 to 1984. When he was 14 he took off on foot with some friends from what is present day Poland to Palestine. He arrived and set about making a life for himself, starting as a laborer and going to night school. At the time, in the 1920’s, the British were ruling Palestine with the tried and true divide and conquer method, stirring up enmity between the Arabs and the Jews. Long story short, Moshe leaned a hodge podge of judo from books to help the Jews, who weren’t allowed to carry knives, in fights with the Arabs, who were. This hodge podge worked so poorly in real battle that he set about inventing something that people could use that started with the initial natural frightened reflexes and worked from there. He came up with a bit, and wrote a book and had to leave, because the British didn’t want “troublemakers” around.

He went to Paris where he was working on his Doctorate in Science, when he met real Judo, when Kano, the inventor of Judo, came to Paris. Long story short, Moshe was invited to be the first European to get trained by the Japanese in Judo, and hence the first to get a black belt.

Then his knees, already in trouble with early soccer injuries, got into serious trouble in the 40’s. By then he was a Doctor of Science, which is a slightly broader degree than a PhD. Going to a medical doctor, he was told that if his knees were operated on, he’d have a fifty-fifty chance of walking again. “I can flip a coin for those odds,” was his response, so he set about curing himself. Drawing on science and anatomy and judo and his wife’s pediatric practice, he rediscovered how we learn how to move well. In these discoveries he learned that leaning is the core, and that to really function well we need to know about our toes and ankles and pelvis and ribs and fingers and spines and breathing and eyes and neck and especially our brain. All of us is what it took, but with this all of us miracles could take place.

His discoveries led to the Feldenkrais Method, which can help children with cerebral palsy, people recently out of operations, professional athletes, people who want to walk and dance and breathe and move more gracefully, essentially anyone willing and interested in improving just about anything. Anything? Almost, because Moshe discovered that at the core of physical improvement was the brain, the nervous system, our level of organization, so his system is really a system of learning how to better learn. Learn anything, reading, math, statistics, dancing, golf, singing, meditation.

His discoveries are many, but they include what all good learning includes: chances to see the results of different options, a sense of delight and discovery, an open mindedness, a sense of wonder, a deepened clarity of what is going on and what alternatives could be possible, a heightened connection with the parts and the whole of our bodies or our body/minds, or the problem at hand.

His system has hundred of classes that can be taught to groups, that are unlike most movement classes in that the participants are most of the time on the floor or ground, out of gravity, and the instructions are verbal without a teacher modeling for the students. They are also different in that the “how” of the process is the important aspect, the learning, not the “what” of getting a certain pose, or muscle building, or movement achievement done. Acute listening is called upon, acute awareness of the self in the present, and an experimentation begins wherein the student learns more and more about how to be in their body and mind in a comfortable and kind and learning way.

The other part of his system is a miraculous kind of hands on work, called Functional Integration.® If done right, the touch is almost hidden, it’s so subtle, and movements are brought forth from what is easy and do-able by the client. These easy movements gently expand into more and more options, as the brain of the client sweetly and easily discovers new and easier ways of moving and breathing and being. This work can be almost miraculous, especially if the person is not being yanked around at the same time by various physical therapists or chiropractors of the let’s force it a little bit and get you to “move right” school. If a person just comes to Feldenkrais, and deeply allows their nervous system to experience and expand from these subtle changes, and can restrain themselves from taking a newfound ability to run one mile and charging off for five miles, then truly amazing and life changing results can occur.

Since this is a learning, not a fixing, system, people end up functioning at a higher level than they have since they were children, rather than at the level they were at before the accident or the stroke or the back pain. The idea isn’t to get anyone back to a mediocre level of functioning. The process is to awake the person’s love of learning so that improvement and learning can become central and delightful to that person’s life, which can then become richer and more pleasant than ever before.

For a short and interesting experiment in the method, try the free trial lesson at

I didn’t get to my take on this method. Well, this whole blogsite, with all of its more than two hundred essays, is what the Chris Elms whole self healing is about. If you haven’t dipped in, be my guest. Almost anything you’d like to learn for life improvement can be found inhere. Almost.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home