The “Moshe Feldenkrais Forty” #1: Scanning Yourself (Deeply)

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Update: March 22nd, 2017: This site is rarely updated. Come join me on my private site where you can get access to kick-ass Feldenkrais sessions that you can do wherever you are:

Update: May 20th, 2013: The Feldenkrais session below is still available for free as are several on this website. However, my Feldenkrias Forty sessions were replaced by my “Feldenkrais Classics” series available on my newest blog on

More Feldenkrais sessions available here:

Some history. About 7 months ago, I released some Feldenkrais transcripts under a Creative Commons license: Open-source Feldenkrais-based lessons and Free Feldenkrais-Based Back Pain Relief Workshop. As much as I enjoyed creating those transcripts and putting them online, I personally gain more from recording them. Likewise, Mp3 audio sessions are also easier to share and learn from than a simple transcript.

So in that vein, welcome to the first of many free, open-source, Feldenkrais-based mp3 sessions or “Feldenkrais Exercises” as Google seems to label them.

Why Free? In the modern, interconnected world in which we live, ideas that get adopted thrive. Everything else seems to fade away and die. In the modern, interconnected world in which we live, the more ideas are understood and used, they more they thrive and evolve.

It’s that simple.

It’s time to get the work out into the world in a format that will allow them to take hold and help anyone who is willing to put in the time and attention to use them.

Historically, the Americanized trademarked-version of Moshe Feldenkrais’ work, commonly called “the Feldenkrais Method” evolved from a control mentality. The originators of the original trademark/legal scheme thought that if they built walls around the ideas – locked them up in copyrights and trademarks and guilds and such – that the ideas would thrive.

They were wrong.

The work evolved from Moshe Feldenkrais is rich, complex and multi-faceted. It cannot be contained in service marks. Moshe knew this and he required none of his original students in Israel to join a guild nor pay him fees or royalties. They never signed legal agreements. And he never sued anyone that went their own way. He may have gotten angry or have been disappointed. But he never, ever resorted to legal means to control others. How could he? Such means were anathema to a man such as Moshe.

He wanted to his students to be independent. His life was dedicated to helping his students be independent.

You can click to download a copy: Scanning Yourself (Deeply)

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Disclaimer: The Feldenkrais sessions presented on this website are for educational and entertainment purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional help nor medical treatment. Nothing on this web site is intended to diagnose or treat any pathology or disease of any kind. Neither the author of the session, any interviewee nor the owner of the website, cannot be held responsible for any injuries or discomfort that occur. Stay in your own range of comfort and do not do anthing that is painful or uncomfortable.

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5 thoughts on “The “Moshe Feldenkrais Forty” #1: Scanning Yourself (Deeply)

  1. Vlad

    Thank you very much, Ryan, for this lesson!

    Looking forward for the other ones as well. Big thanks)

  2. nagster

    Vlad and Steve – Thanks for the feedback! More sessions on the way. I’m really looking forward to getting them up.

    – Ryan

  3. Violet van Hees

    Hi Ryan –

    I appreciate the work you do to bring good Feldenkrais stuff into the world. You are a do-er, with passion and vision, and while I may not always agree with what you say and do, I respect people who get out there and do things that they think matter.

    I want to respond to one point you have made several times in several posts. You talk about Moshe never resorting to controlling others – that this was “anathema to a man such as Moshe Feldenkrais”. I suggest this is a romaticized interpretation. Moshe was a realist, with practical interests to protect what people do for pay in his name and the name of his work (the “what”). The “what” was pretty clear; the “how to do it” was less clear. Perhaps it is time to let him speak for himself:

    Moshe Feldenkrais Amherst Training 15 July 1981

    Morning Session Tape # 45

    “There are several minor organizational affairs which I want to say. The first is the watching of the Functional Integration being done here for the lot of you and that, of course, is … has one difficulty—that so many people can’t watch at once. That’s one thing.

    The next thing, the most—more important—one is that we will have you sign an obligation, a mutual obligation, with actually a clause that anybody who will transgress will not continue and will not get certified afterward—won’t get a diploma; that you won’t use the things that you see and that you can learn from that; you won’t do it before you’re qualified to use it. Therefore you cannot use it professionally anywhere—not try it on anybody—except your friends at home or thing like that and nonprofessionally.

    If that signature is not obtained, nobody will see anything; but if it’s obtained we will actually have you here for an hour [of] outside work maybe, which means another extra hour we will show you on the televisions … on the televisions. And actually, in the place [where the private FI’s are given], only people who have been graduated already will be allowed to see. Here we will show everyday one lesson, at least, for everybody else because otherwise we cannot because in the place where I work we have so many people to look. But with … before that signature is not obtained from every one of you—and that will be actually binding that you won’t use that thing you ….

    I’ll tell you why. That thing [Feldenkrais Method] is extremely important to the future … to your future as practitioners and to me personally as the kind of initiator of the whole thing because in a hundred cases ninety-five, ninety-two or something over ninety per cent of the cases would heal without you and without any doctor, anyway—without anybody. Therefore, what you do would certainly improve them—make it easier for them and easier than other systems used—but in the one or two cases where somebody will be injured or may sue you, then the publicity in America will be over all the televisions everywhere, in all the papers, if there is a process of somebody being injured by any of the Feldenkrais techniques and then there will be all sorts of difficulties. How do you practice a thing like that? Whatever you say, it’s interfering with medicine.

    You will find a kind of trouble that you cannot imagine and I don’t want the whole method being disgraced because somebody wants to use Functional Integration before he knows what he does. Now, if you do it again on somebody, on your girlfriend or on your boyfriend, go ahead and do it. But then it must not be paid because if it is, you will get into trouble and the entire method will be disgraced in all America and I will never allow that to do. I will sacrifice any one of you for that, I can assure you. Therefore, unless there is an undertaking that you won’t do it until you know … until I’m sure that you won’t make any trouble—because, you can see, there’s always trouble. There’s some people making trouble even if the … it’s not justified. But as we deal with people who have real injury, if you are ignorant, you don’t know what not to do.

    Only the other day I had somebody to work on and there’s a young doctor here who said, “How do you do that? That man can die under your hands because he has an injury in the second vertebrae of the neck … was broken and healed and he can have a breath arrested and die on the spot. What would you do then?” Of course, not everybody will come here who is like that, but how do you know? Some people won’t tell you even. Some people tell you when you touch the injury when it’s very painful, “Ah, yes I have that.” Some people don’t tell you at all. They don’t tell you that they had a …a heart attack two years ago or that they had a breath failure or something like that. They don’t tell you that. If you don’t know and as you’re sure, nobody knows what he doesn’t know.

    Therefore, that’s it. There won’t be any presentation of Functional Integration—you will go on learning it, but to watch lessons only if you undertake that—that no practice will be done before you’re graduated, until I am sure that you are safe and that the method is safe. Before that, no showing of private lessons.

    What we showed you there were four different techniques and they were so varied that if you looked at them and even if you wrote it down, you wouldn’t be able to do it and you wouldn’t find when to do it. And then it’s my … I must show you something. I must give you some sort of incentive to … to abide by the rules I’m asking you to do; to see that it’s worth waiting—for your sake and for my sake and for everybody’s sake. That’s the reason. So once we do … we get that—it will be one … one paper written … typed and everybody will sign on that—and then we will begin. Every day we will show you one of the … actually the Functional Integration lessons done here where we do that.

    Now that’s one thing. Next thing, as the European people wrote to me a letter, a very nice letter inviting me for the twenty-seventh …. I’m … I will come there with pleasure. (applause)

    Don’t … I’ll meet you on the twenty-seventh, as you wrote, but I have some mixed feeling about the general idea of the organization. But as your intentions are to help the system, I am actually all for it. Except that it’s very difficult to help when you are dispersed in fifteen different countries. And in each country there are a few people and, therefore, the help that can be done is very doubtful at the stage at which you are. But we can discuss …. Good will is always appreciated. And we will do … we’ll do that.

    And, if you think that it’s new—that you just invented the idea—I can tell you I’m dealing that with already the last three years. And it was organized also how to protect the thing in all European countries and we are connected with … with … with the lawyers and [the] thing here and in Europe. So your ideas are not a thing that is just new that we will discuss on the twenty-seventh. We have that. We’ve been doing that for years because anything like that cannot be done just by thinking and having two meetings and do and afterwards regret it for the rest of your life. Some things cannot be reversed. All right. Now that’s finished with the thing.”

  4. nagster

    Hi Violet. Thanks for the post.

    My view of that particular passage is that Moshe is simply covering his ass. He doesn’t want people in that training to hurt someone and then find himself getting sued. I could be wrong. That’s just my impression of the passage.

    In terms of legal matters, I am not aware of Moshe suing any of his students nor starting lawsuits. Perhaps he did and I am not aware of it. On the other hand, the FGNA has been threatening lawsuits from day one. Are you aware that many of Moshe’s most talented and independent students were told by the FGNA that they could not use the terms Feldenkrais Method, Functional Integration etc.? Mia Segal who worked with Moshe longer and more intensively than anyone and who taught the american “trainers” was later sued by them. Her students in Europe received threatening letters for years.

    And why? Because Moshe’s youngest and least-skilled students wanted to run the show? Because they created a Guild to control the work?

    David Bersin has told many people that he registered the service marks “on Moshe’s behalf.” I have been unable to corroborate that. And neither has anyone else. There is no record that I can find – other than a letter signed when Moshe was near death – that demonstrates Moshe intended to give the service marks to anyone. Several of his closest students have told me that he did not trust any of the Guilds or Foundations and had no intention of giving them legal control of his work. Can I prove that? No. But I personally have no reason to doubt it. And when I get the evidence, rest assured, I will make it public.

    One piece of that passage you quoted is really interesting to me:

    “And, if you think that it’s new—that you just invented the idea—I can tell you I’m dealing that with already the last three years. And it was organized also how to protect the thing in all European countries and we are connected with … with … with the lawyers and [the] thing here and in Europe. So your ideas are not a thing that is just new that we will discuss on the twenty-seventh.”

    In other words, he is telling them that they did not invent the idea of organizing a guild or a foundation etc and that they should work with the other groups of people who also had a say in the matter. Many people, Moshe included, had been working on the idea. Unfortunately for us, and for the growth of the work, the Americans did not get the point. They locked the work up in massive restrictions and copyrights and legalese. They kicked out anyone who did not agree to the restrictions. They erected walls and barriers and continue to do so.

    Make no mistake – The FGNA works perfectly. It is designed to keep in place a monopolistic system in which a few of Moshe’s students grabbed power and have kept it all these years.

    Again, thanks for writing. I think it’s important for these ideas to be discussed.

    – Ryan

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