Category Archives: feldenkrais guild

Should Paul Rubin Help Choose The Next Guild Director?

I am in the process of working my way through an anonymous email sent to me via anonyMOUSE yesterday. I will post parts of the email as time permits. It is from someone who knows a great deal of what is happening behind the scenes since Susan Marshall’s departure. I must admit, I find it all to be somewhat grotesque and more than a little Faustian.

But for now, I want to point your attention to some publicly available information about the process of picking a new FGNA Director. Paul Rubin is on the committee that has been formed to find a new director for the Feldenkrais Guild. Shall I repeat that? Paul Rubin, who wrote volumes of emails attempting to discredit the last director and her decisions, now wants to help choose the new one. How do you feel about that?

As the commentator noted in the anonymous email sent to me, Rubin’s being on the committee

“…is more than ironic, seeing that Paul led the charge directly against Susan and has a long history of questioning her decisions, defaming her publicly, and basically doing as much as he could to disrupt the functioning of the guild.”

Paul and his trainer buddies got what they wanted. They forced the last director to quit. And now he is getting a direct vote on picking the next one. Perhaps he will help choose someone who will be more amenable to accepting his views? Someone more pliable and not as ethical as Susan Marshall?

If you have a problem with this, perhaps voice your concern to someone at the Guild? Perhaps refuse to renew your membership?

At some point I would consider becoming a member of the Guild again and supporting its growth and the spread of the work. But I just can’t see spending my time and money on an organization with a lack of democratic process, and in which a small group of trainers have defacto power to pick and choose the director and set policy regardless of and in direct contradiction to what members want. It is beyond ridiculous.


Here is some Guild contact information:

The Feldenkrais Guild of North America
5436 N. Albina Ave
Portland, OR 97217
800-775-2118 (toll free)
503-221-6612 (office)

On the page below is an email contact form:

http://www.feldenkrais.com/about/contact_us

Alternate Realities and The Feldenkrais Guild

Most of the human systems that we find ourselves in…or choose not to find ourselves in…are made up. They are dreamed up by people as fallible as we are. I am speaking to rule-based, sociological-based and conformity-based value systems such as those found in religions, formal education of all types, Feldenkrais Guilds and other ideologically driven organizations.

These systems of control are created very often – perhaps most often – by people who don’t have our interests in mind or simply don’t have a clue as to the repercussions of their actions on the development of autonomy in individuals. If this shit is all made up – and it IS all made up. Might as well imagine it in a way that benefits you and those around you. Regarding the Feldenkrais Method, the paradox, if it can be called a paradox, is that conforming to someone else’s “rules” about the method in order to become “certified,” isolates one’s self from the very processes that created the work and that can recreate it moment-to-monent, person-to-person. Moshe Feldenkrais did not need to be certified and was not certified. Neither are you, nor can you. You might have convinced yourself otherwise. And that is fine. It is your life. And you did have lots of help from those who want your obedience to sell their products and maintain control. But what happens when your actions help to teach others to conform? And to isolate themselves from their own processes? Do you have that right? You certainly can take it. People have been doing so for millennia.

Alternate realities are seldom communicated. And sadly, when they are, people tend to avert their eyes. Freedom, in so far as it can be actualized in human primates is scary. It certainly scares the hell out of me.

I do like to remind myself, as I remind you when I can: Moshe did not create the guild nor its policies. Nor did Moshe create the actions and policies of the Mind Body Studies Intsitute (Mia Segal and Leora Gastor’s organization), nor that of Anat Baniel nor anyone else. That, as near as I can tell, leaves each and every next step up to you and to me.


I must admit, that I often find these types of messages and blog posts to be annoying. The level of which depends perhaps on how much coffee I have had, the time of day, and where I am at on certain projects. You might say that Jobs and people who comment, such as myself, are leaving out the instructions and “how to.” And therein lies the appeal of the Feldenkrais Guild and other organizations that have implicitly, perhaps even unconsciously, modeled themselves after religions. They can claim to sell you the instruction manual. And you can imagine to have purchased it.

The “Leaked” Emails Regarding Susan and Dwight’s Departure

I did not cause Susan Marshalls resignation. I did not say anything about trainers being special. As a trainer I have no idea why Ms. Marshall resigned. – Jerry Karzen, from several posts on Facebook.

Read the pdf of the email exchanges that I have posted below and then tell me how much you believe what Jerry wrote above. In the email exchanges starting at page 67, you will find an email sent from Susan Marshall, recapping the Guild’s position. After Susan’s email you will see the knives come out as Denis Leri, Jerry Karzen, Paul Rubin, and many others begin chanting “off with her head,” and telling her that it is OK to break the law because they don’t think they will get caught.

What Susan wrote with some deletions to save space for posting online:

Re: Use of email addresses
From Susan Marshall Fri, Nov 30, 2012 4:37 pm
To a group of FGNA trainers and member of the BOD

Thank you for you comments and thoughts…

The largest concern appears to be how training organizations will communicate with people who may be interested in attending trainings. While there are many ways to do this, the most cost effective method in the past has been by commercial email. Although FGNA mailing lists are still available for one time rental, FGNA email lists are no longer available for rent.

Even if FGNA maintained a more segmented “opt in” process to develop an email list of persons interested in receiving emails advertising trainings, FGNA would still be exposed to unacceptable business and legal risks if it shared its email lists with others.

FGNA must remain compliant with anti-SPAM laws, non-profit regulation, and the agreements that FGNA has entered into with bulk email service providers, email hosting providers, website hosting providers and internet service providers. FGNA navigates the anti-SPAM laws largely by sending “relationship” and “transaction” based emails (rather than “commercial” emails) of interest to all of our members and practitioners and by using the services of a bulk email provider…our Constant Contact Account Review Department confirmed in writing that FGNA may not share our lists with members, even if FGNA gets the permission of our members. This means that each individual training organization must gather their own permissions and maintain their own lists.

Note from Ryan: I deleted several paragraphs. Read them on the leaked emails or the link below.
http://www.feldenkrais.com/profession/fgna/use_of_fgna_mailing_lists/

Some have suggested that we have a telephone conference to discuss the options that are available, answer questions, understand the alternatives available, etc. If any of you are interested in participating, could you let me know? Thanks, Susan Marshall Executive Director

And then what? You can read the entire document of the leaked emails at your pleasure. But let me point out a few choice ones.

It seems, for all the world, that you are throwing around vaguely threatening and fear inducing language and revivifying already dealt with and irrelevant issues to obscure and make it seem as if the larger issue of list sharing is much more complicated and fraught with danger than it is. It is a great and often used tactic to control people whose trust you have and who do not feel the need to independently apply independent critical thinking and to do some research on their own. Paul Rubin, Saturday, December 01, 2012 12:41 PM

How scary is what Paul Rubin wrote?? Do you find anything about Susan Marshall’s letter to be threatening and fear inducing???? I certainly do not. She’s trying to control people by writing a clear position of the Guild’s policy and legal situation? Wow.

Susan et al, That’s it? That’s your best shot? Really worth waiting for. Same old, same old. Dennis Leri Fri, Nov 30, 2012 4:58 pm

Like Dennis, I too find Susan’s responses, ‘same all, same all”. The people who we left in charge to take care of the house (BOD) let in an intruder who has no idea whatsoever why we built this home. … I feel like a man, who with friends built a beautifully landscaped estate. Now, if any of those who built it, and continue to maintain it, need to enter for a drink of water, we are told, “sorry, no water here. Move on. You cannot come in.” … Why would any association bite the hand that feeds it? This subject has unnecessarily escalated way out of proportion. Why wake a sleeping tiger? All I want is a drink of water in our own home. Our home, the one that I and all my hard working friends built . . . and continue to maintain . . . for over three decades. Jerry Karzen

Susan Marshall, the director of the FGNA was an intruder?! And legalities be damned. Jerry Karzen wants the emails and to deny them based on solid policy reasons is somehow an insult to him personally.

I should also point out that Jerry Karzen, Paul Rubin and Alan Questel had asserted earlier in the exchange that Susan should base her decision on the limited chance that the governement or anyone else would pursue a case. i.e. “just do it, we can get away with it.”

I feel that you and the Board are reacting out of fear. And fear of what? Do you really believe that either a state or federal agency cares anything about such a small organizations activities? Jerry Karzen

My question: who, when, and where has an organization similar to FGNA ever been penalized by the government for a third party misusing a properly shared list and already publicly published list of contact information? Paul Rubin

We need to protect ourselves as best we can but not to the point of shutting ourselves down. We are such a small organization. To think we will be singled out and shut down is not only unrealistic, it approaches hubris. Alan Questel

I will say this again, as I said in my video a few days ago. According the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 you can not distribute or rent email lists…even when those lists are legitimately and legally collected. It does not mention being exempt from the law if you are a Feldenkrais Trainer, knew Moshe Feldenkrais personally, or feel entitled to another’s email address. Paul Rubin does not believe me? Jerry Karzen wants a reference? Well, they can hire a lawyer on their own time. It is common knowledge, common sense and (shock) good business practice. Sending people unwanted email without their permission pisses them off. Is that what we want?

On the other hand, when you have a relationship with a person and have their permission to send an email, they are more likely to open it and more likely to take action when doing so, such as buying a product or clicking through to a website.

Here are a few more replies to Susan’s email. I mentioned them in the video, but they bear repeating:

It is astounding to me that this matter of access to email lists, which will ensure the continued existence of the Guild, has been met with so much resistance from the Guild. Astounding, but unfortunately not unpredictable. It seems clear to me that the BOD must step in and get this sorted out immediately or all of us involved in Trainings will have to take more drastic measures to get our voices heard and our legitimate access to the e-­mail lists assured. From: Katrin Smithback Mon, Dec 3, 2012 3:37 pm

Yes, thanks Katrin. If you do not have access to the email lists the Guild will die. We will all die. And cats and dogs will start sleeping together and the world will come to end. I am glad that no one is being overly dramatic.

Although we have supported the Guild for decades, if they can’t work with us and our organizations, I agree with Jerry’s suggestion that we consider bypassing the Guild and finding other ways to pursue our goals of advancing the Feldenkrais Method. – Angel Di Benedetto Mon, Dec 3, 2012 5:00 pm

I agree with Angel. Her business and all of the trainer’s businesses (and your business and mine) should have multiple ways of advancing our practices and business…otherwise known as having business strategies and a business plan. Angel, like many trainers seems to have thought she was exempt developing her own business assets. I am glad she is learning otherwise. I have friends in the psychotherapy field who have email lists with 5K, 8K and 40K emails on them! And we help each other promote our events. When the various Feldenkrais communities have this, we will be well on our way.

Like I said to the Training community, this issue could possibly do what Anat couldn’t, that is, bring about the dissolution of the Guild. Maybe that’s good, maybe not. Anyway, this issue is emblematic of the dispiriting sorts of interactions that have become all too common. Dennis Leri, Mon, Dec 3, 2012 8:24 pm

Denis may be correct, but not in the way he intended. My hope is that this issue will bring about the end of the Guild as we know it. Wake up Feldenkrais practitioners. You pay for the guild. You have the power. You can organize and change things – if you chose. Stop looking the other way. Look at what is happening. A small but vocal group of Feldenkrais trainers bully and harass and rant and rage to try and get their way. They have been doing so for decades. They are not entitled to use your money nor your email address. They do not own the guild. And they do not own the service marks. If they want to leave, let them leave. The Guild can manage without them and can find other ways to certify students and trainers – one whom may be you.

As I said, you may think my interpretations are wrong. You may have others. Feel free. I post – as ALWAYS – the original source documents as I receive them. In this case, I have eliminated the email addresses in the document and eliminated the names of several practitioners who had little or nothing to do with email exchanges and did not participate.

Enjoy!

Addendum: It is late and I am tired and perhaps prone to spelling or factual errors. I reserve the right, as always, to modify this blog post after it is published to to correct formatting, spelling or factual errors. Feel free to point any that you might find.

Click to download: FGNA Leaked Emails

Feldenkrais Trainers And The Art of Cyber Bullying

I recently received over 150 pages of emails related to the issues surrounding the resignations of Susan Marshall and Dwight Pargee from their positions at the Feldenkrais Guild of North America (FGNA). The emails were sent to me anonymously through http://anonymouse.org/anonemail.html

For several weeks, not much was heard publicly about why Dwight and Susan stepped down. The email communications from the Guild were relatively bland and gave few details – as one might expect from a professional organization.

However, communications on Facebook pointed to an issue with the renting of the Guild email lists. After reading several posts on Facebook by Jerry Karzen, Paul Rubin, Dwight Pargee and a few others, I made some of my own comments, largely in support of FGNA and the board’s decision. Four days ago, I received the “leaked” emails and last night, I created the video you see below.

I am readying the leaked emails for publication. I should have them ready in 48 hours, but I really cannot make any promises.

The Departure of Susan Marshall and Dwight Pargee from the FGNA from Ryan Nagy on Vimeo

Can The Guild Change Course Without Representation and Accountability?

The main thrust of yesterday’s post, perhaps stated crudely and in a rather harsh manner, is relatively simple: If you are a practitioner and member of the Feldenkrais Guild who is accountable to you? I don’t mean in spirit, I mean in practice. Who is your direct representative? Which person, and how specifically? If you do not like what that person is doing can you vote them out? What mechanism is in place to make sure that your needs and desires as practitioner are not only listened to but acted upon?

I will submit to you that there is no such person or group of people. You have no direct way of changing guild policy. And if you think the board of directors or the “BOD” represents you, then I ask you to demonstrate to me how that is the case. Does the BOD need your vote to serve or will individuals get nominated and elected with or without your vote? If nobody voted in a guild election would it matter? How about it everyone voted?

It seems to me that something needs to change here. What is it? I don´t know. I think the first step is simply being honest about what is happening. Practitioner members of the guild pay over 90% of the guild budget. Do practitioners have 90% or the influence or do they have none at all? And if the answer is little or none…what then?

I don’t see how paying dues to, and submitting the dictates of an organization that does not represent you can move things forward. Nor can arguing about who chooses the guild president, whether ATM teachers get to vote and all that other nonsense. Your vote doesn’t count and neither the BOD president nor members are not accountable to you. Is this worth changing, and if so how?

What’s next?

Feldenkrais Board Members Needed: Sham Elections Coming Soon!

Official Announcement


The Feldenkrais Guild of North America is looking for board members to run unopposed in sham elections. If you or someone you know is interested please contact the FGNA (phone number below). If you want to be a board member, you must have at minimum, an irrational belief that you own the work of Moshe Feldenkrais and that the current guild system is just and effective.

The Guild receives approximately 90% of its revenue from practitioner dues, but unfortunately has a very poor track record of retaining and keeping members. For this reason, it is critical that you know how to handle and sooth the feelings of adult co-dependents, also known as “Feldenkrais Trainers”. The temporary members that the guild receives from recent training graduates is critical to its survival. Useful, but certainly not required, is the ability to act sympathetic towards angry Feldenkrais Practitioners who are unhappy with the current system.

You need no special skills to be an FGNA board member. You simply need to be a team player who can follow orders, is not willing to implement innovative new ideas, and is not willing to take any risks (emotionally or professionally).

Does this sound like you? Then please call:

1-800-Moshe-Is-Dead-But-We-Got-His-Service-Marks

Once again, that number is:

1-800-Moshe-Is-Dead-But-We-Got-His-Service-Marks

And remember, please support the Feldenkrais Guild of North America: “Because a Feldenkrais Trainer Is A Terrible Thing To Waste.:

Einstein Speaks on the Foolishness of Methodological Conformity

‘The external conditions which are set for [the scientist] by the facts of experience do not permit him to let himself be too much restricted, in the construction of his conceptual world, by the adherence to an epistemological system. He, therefore, must appear to the systematic epistemologist as a type of unscrupulous opportunist.’ A complex medium containing surprising and unforeseen developments demands complex procedures and defies analysis on the basis of rules which have been set up in advance and without regard to the ever-changing conditions of history.” Quoted by Paul Feyerabend in Against Method, p. 10.

Can you think of an organization created on the basis of rules set up in advance and without regard to the ever-changing conditions of history?

Feldenkrais Guild Service Mark Application (and Conformity Guidelines)

 

“…the thinking that people do when they create their own ideology – their own vision for society – is broader than the thinking involved in following a perspective that is given.” Jeff Schmidt, Disciplined Minds

Someone sent me a pdf of the entire Feldenkrais Guild Service Mark registration (Download 3.1 mb) registered December 3, 1985. Now that I have that date, I am going to mark it in my calendar as a day of mourning and warning.

My view of the service marks is that people used them to simultaneously limit access to Moshe’s work while destroying their own pathway to organic development, developing a religious hierarchy in the process. They created social categories such as “practitioner” and “trainer” and “educational director” busying themselves with legal and semantic definitions – not noticing how year after year they slowly became caricatures of Moshe Feldenkrais – caricatures of themselves. What a waste.

But how could it have been otherwise? When you let lawyers define your reality, when you look to and imitate the past, when you look only for external social and legal support for your actions – what else is possible? The Guilds currently have a legal basis for the work, but not a moral or ethical one. As for an organic and developmental basis? Nowhere to be seen.

If you want to understand what has happened in this community look no further than the writings of Moshe Feldenkrais:

The education provided by society [In this case the Guild] operates in two directions at once. It suppresses every noncomformist tendency through penalties of withdrawal of support and simultaneously imbues the individual with values that force him to overcome and discard spontaneous desires.

These conditions cause the majority of adults today [some practitioners and nearly all trainers} to live behind a mask, a mask of personality that the individual tries to present to others and to himself. Every aspiration and spontaneous desire is subjected to stringent internal criticism lest they reveal the individual’s organic nature. Such aspirations and desires arouse anxiety and remorse and the individual seeks to suppress the urge to realize them. The only compensation that makes life durable despite these sacrifices is the satisfaction derived from society’s recognition of the individual who achieves its definition of success.” (Moshe Feldenkrais quote from, Awareness Through Movement, 1976, p6)

For examples in your life of what Moshe is speaking to, I will simply ask you to look inside your own heart and your own experience. No one can do it for you. It is the road less traveled. Available to all, used by few. But as the ancient mariner maps show at the edge of the unknown: “There be dragons.” Indeed there are. But they are your dragons.

More examples can be seen in other’s actions. How many in the community do you know that are willing to fight to the death – psychological, intellectual and emotional death – to keep their masks? These are the people that find it easier to follow the habitual, to create and follow restrictions to hide from those areas. Legal restrictions and definitions that lead to a lack of awareness that helps force people to change their behavior to conform – force them to overcome and discard their spontaneous desires.

Feldenkrais Conformity Guidelines

Do you know much about the Feldenkrais conformity guidelines? Also known as selling your soul in exchange for a “trainer mask.” The mask, that Moshe noted, a person can use to “convince himself that society’s recognition of his success should and does give him organic contentment.”

The first step in this process is to give your sense of self-worth and social acceptance to some type of external authority. For one small example, take a look at the EuroTab “trainer guidelines.” It’s stunning. It has the requirements for becoming a “Feldenkrais Trainer”. Here are some of the supposed core competencies that you must have and what they consist of:

Got that? You must demonstrate high proficiency as evidenced by your highly skilled lessons and high level teaching. High proficiency as demonstrated by your high proficiency! Are you familiar with the idea of a circular definition?

There is also this:

(Screenshots taken on 7/19/10 from http://www.eurotab.org/ttcguide2.html)

In other words, you must have the ability to develop curriculum as evidenced by your ability to develop curriculum. Holy cow! Sometimes I wish I was making this stuff up. Do people put that kind of stuff online because they think we are blind and will not see it? Or are they themselves blind?

Historically many people have gone through the process of becoming a trainer (it can take over 20 years) only to be told that they do not qualify and cannot be trainers. I am sure that they are given some reasonable excuse. But lets keep in mind, when all is said and done, it is the trainers themselves who have ultimate authority to certify other trainers. And given that many of them can barely fill their own trainings – why should they certify others? What reason could he have for certifying another trainer?

True Feldenkrais

The trainer certification process, built on top of the service marks, is designed to ensure that a small group of people control the financial and ideological aspects of Moshe’s work. It fits both the form and function of a monopoly, if not a religion. It has been over 25 years since Moshe Feldenkrais death and there are only 60 trainers. Sixty trainers out of the thousands of people who have been through the training programs?!

What happens if you don’t get certified to be a trainer or decide not to be one? Not much. There is no other road for advancement within the community. The sensible thing would be not to engage in the process at all. Some people take this route. But as they cannot use the service mark terms they become “other.” They are “doing their own thing.” While others using the service marked terms present themselves as doing “true feldenkrais.” True Feldenkrais based on what again? A legal opinion on who “owns” the service marks? Not much of a basis.