The Method of Dr. Feldenkrais
The Feldenkrais Method® of Somatic Education, was developed over 40 years of study by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, physicist, engineer, martial arts master and life-long learner. It is a revolutionary approach to understanding and improving human functioning, and is grounded in anatomy, physiology, physics and a deep understanding of movement and human development.
The Feldenkrais Method is fundamentally about rediscovering and refining our innate ability to learn. It offers a unique and comprehensive way to examine and change habitual patterns. When participating in a lesson, you learn from your own unique ways of moving. As you become more aware of how you sense, act, think and feel, you gain a greater range of ease and skill. With the Feldenkrais Method you empower yourself by asking and learning how to answer two simple questions: What am I doing? Is there a better way to do this?
The Feldenkrais Method has two formats: Awareness Through Movement® (ATM™) and Functional Integration® (FI™) It is the practitioner’s role, in each of these formats to create an environment conducive to your learning. They do this through asking questions verbally, and/or with touch to facilitate your ability to focus, be curious about and sense yourself, and create new patterns.
Awareness Through Movement® (ATM™)
In Awareness Through Movement, the Feldenkrais teacher gives instructions verbally, generally to a group of people lying or sitting on the floor. Each lesson contains highly sophisticated movement sequences that enable students to create new movement skills or improve existing ones. The lessons gradually evolve from early developmental movements into highly complex human skills. Over time the individual discovers an increasing ease of forming intentions and acting upon them—what seemed impossible often becomes possible.
The process is gradual and supportive to ensure successful learning. Eventually, the lessons can be done alone, gradually building self-sufficiency and independence. ATM lessons are fun to do, instill a feeling of well-being, and are always new.
Functional Integration® (FI™)
In Functional Integration the Feldenkrais teacher creates a movement lesson custom-tailored to the unique needs of each person. Teachers use their hands and give verbal clues the student, who is most often lying on a low Feldenkrais table. This communication enables students to experience and learn new sensory configurations and motor organization. They then learn to recreate these new sensory and motor patterns for themselves, thus giving them more freedom of choice and action.
This is not a curative process. The purpose of touch is to communicate movement so that after the lesson students can do a new movement or an old movement with more ease and greater awareness. FI lessons are an intimate, and often delightful, process of self-discovery.
Teaching the Body to Re-Program the Brain
Albert Rosenfeld describes a young boy and his mother approaching Dr. Feldenkrais. The boy has cerebral palsy. We listen to the conversation, and then watch how Dr. Feldenkrais works with the child. Rosenfeld writes,
"... we can, with the conscious brain, instruct the body to move in ways that will in turn instruct the brain to permit the body (and hence itself) to function at a level much closer to its full human potential. Through awareness, [Dr. Feldenkrais] believes, we can learn to move with astonishing lightness and freedom - at almost any age-and thereby improve our living circumstances not only physically (he says we may even find ourselves an inch or two taller) but also emotionally, intellectually and spiritually."
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Articles by Dr. Feldenkrais
Unity of Mind AND Body
In the article, "Mind & Body," Dr. Feldenkrais wrote, "I believe that the unity of mind and body is an objective reality. They are not just parts somehow related to each other, but an inseparable whole while functioning. A brain without a body could not think; at least, the continuity of mental functions is assured by corresponding motor functions.
...There is little doubt in my mind that the motor function, and perhaps the muscles themselves, are part and parcel of our higher functions. This is true not only of those higher functions like singing, painting and loving, which are impossible without muscular activity, but also of thinking, recalling remembering and feeling."
Read more here.
On The Primacy of Hearing
In this fascinating article, Dr. Feldenkrais takes us through the development of the foetus, how its first regular sensations were related to sounds. Then, "The first years of a baby's life are passed, not so much in seeing, but in learning to walk and to speak—i.e., the infant is largely sensory and auditory in orientation. " He observes that "...most of us prefer to hear a teacher say something rather than read it." Snd in fact, when we want to better understand something we read, we either subvocalize it, or even read it aloud.
Dr. Feldenkrais then moves into the nature of reality, or, as he wrote, "Reality", and with that, subjective and objective perspectives.
The article was first published in the journal Somatics in 1976. Download the article.
In the article, "Bodily Expressions," Dr. Feldenkrais outlines his central concept of the self-image:
"I would argue that it is a body image; namely, it is the shape and relationship of the bodily parts, which means the spatial and temporal relationships, as well as the kinaesthetic feelings. Included with this are feelings and emotions and one's thoughts. All of these form an integrated whole.
How does a self-image come about? Everyone feels that his way of walking) speaking, and behaving is uniquely his own and unchangeable. He totally identifies with this behaviour-as if he were born with it. The way he sees objects in space, the way he tracks movements, the way he inclines his head, and the way he looks at things seem to be innate; and he believes it impossible to change any of these things --other than perhaps their rate of speed or intensity or duration.
Despite this belief, everything central to human behaviour is acquired only by a long period of learning: to walk, to speak, to see a photo or painting in three dimensions—one's very movements, attitude, and language are acquired purely according to the accidental circumstances of one's place of birth and environment."
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Image, Movement, and Actor: Restoration of Potentiality
A discussion of the Feldenkrais Method and Acting, Self-Expression and the Theater
This article, which first appeared in TULANE DRAMA REVIEW, is an exposition of Feldenkrais' ideas taken from two of his essays, "L'Expression Corporelle" and "Mind and Body." This material is interspersed with selections from an interview with Feldenkrais by Richard and Helen Schechner in Tel-Aviv during June, 1965.
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Videos about the Feldenkrais Method
Video: About the Feldenkrais Method
About Awareness Through Movement
About Functional Integration