A few days ago, Karen Toth, an Anat Baniel Method Practitioner from Healthy Body Moves shared the video below via Facebook. It is another lovely example of someone explaining “the work” in a creative way using his or her own words. Note the lack of Feldenkrais jargon. And the professional editing. Que chido! I am not a big fan of WATCHING people do Feldenkrais, but perhaps it can be useful in certain contexts. The person in the video is Angie Buekert, 3rd yr. student in the Eugene Feldenkrais Professional Training Program which is (I believe) sponsored by Options Through Movement.
Every so often I get requests from people who want to learn more about the work of Moshe Feldenkrais but want to do so independently and not in an “official” Feldenkrais training. The reasons given for wanting to work outside a training program have been varied. Some people speak to the cost which they feel is prohibitive. Others have work situations that do not give them the leeway to take large amounts of time off. One person wrote to me of not being able to travel because he had to take care of his sick father. Others have started trainings and simply not liked the atmosphere or the particular trainer. That last complaint is not limited to just those interested in learning about the work. As one FGNA graduate told me recently about his dilemma in recommending Feldenkrais Trainings:
I’ve heard too many horror stories of big ego and the same old song and dance of “people leaving trainings feeling ill-equipped to start a practice.
The people who contact me have usually tried to reach out to their local Feldenkrais community and have failed to get a response. As one woman in Europe told me:
“When I approached this Feldenkrais teacher about learning more about how he does FI, either by watching him closely while he’s working with someone else or via some other way, he just clammed up and refuses to entertain the idea “
And a young man in a large city in Canada wrote:
Do you know of anyone teaching practitioners under the radar…as in, not qualifying them for certification but providing enough insight to enable some effective work? I’ve now experienced a ton of ATM’s and FI’s and have my hands on people all the time in my rolfing practice, and am desperate to bring in this work that I know will be helpful and “magical” as it’s been for me. I’m in XXXX Canada, I but am open to traveling for a good mentor/teacher.
Though these people are coming to my for advice and resources, I am sorry to say that I do not have much to offer. I don´t have a list of people and quite frankly, do not want to start or maintain one. I’ve got enough on my plate. That being said, I think it would be a very helpful thing to do. Not just for students but for practitioners. And not just for guild practitioners but for those trained by Anat Baniel, Mia Segal, Yochanan Rywerant (deceased) and others. Practitioners would gain a great deal from learning how to teach and mentor. And they themselves, could be mentored by other more experienced practitioners. But how to bring it about? And how to begin the process of teaching and learning?
What are your thoughts? Are you already doing something similar and feel comfortable writing about it?
A few minutes ago I found a new Feldenkrais Method video online. It was promoting a Feldenkrais Training. I watched it, took some mental notes, and then prepared a blog post about it. But as I looked at the website of the training institute, I saw some of the same old names – Denis Leri, Aryln Zones – And I thought to myself, “Do I really want to support these people?” The answer is no. In a split second, I deleted the post.
It seems to be me that if the work of Moshe Feldenkrais is going to get better known, and if it is going to be a tool for meaningful societal change, someone will have to come up with and implement a model that respects the rights of practitioners to use and benefit from the work. The Guild system does not do that.
Do people realize that when they take a Guild training they are supporting a trainer monopoly? Do they realize that prices are artificially inflated by limits placed on the number of people who can become trainers? Do they know that the “trainings” have no demonstrated efficacy and the current training model is little more than a mimicking of the training Moshe did before he died? Do they know, that as Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioners they are – by definition – becoming second class citizens of the system they are joining? There is no path to independent trainings, there is no path to new training models. A Guild-Certified Feldenkrais practitioner has no political control over his own work. And if one wants to do what Moshe Feldenkrais did and begin a process of learning and teaching one’s work according to one’s inclinations and interests (God forbid!), one is immediately branded a traiter…
What do we create next?
There is lots of good stuff going on in the Feldenkrais community right now. People are taking tentative (and not so tentative) steps toward creating their own trainings and training models. I suppose the question at this point is how can we support that process and support those people? What type of new organization can arise bottom-up from this process?
If you are looking for answers from me, you might want to stop. My life as a self-identified Feldenkrais person is nearly at an end. I’m living in Mexico, studying spanish and moving strongly into other areas. But the need is there.
The growth of The Feldenkrais Method depends on creating a system that is focused on the needs of practitioners and the work itself. A growth model is needed. To me that means, at minimum, not supporting the old guard and not promoting their trainings and workshops. Why put money in the hands of people who are actively working against your success? But that does not answer the question of what to create now. And how to start.
What comes next in the evolution of a dynamic system? What do you need?
Last week’s post regarding independent feldenkrais trainings provoked several people to contact me offline. They all had ideas worth consideration.
But before we go there, I thought you might like to see some writing from someone who has already proposed a new training model. To be fair, Ruthy Alon was originally speaking of creating new models within the Guild system. I am not. And Ruthy’s ideas were never taken up. But they might be a great place to start the conversation.
Part of Ruthy Alon’s 1998 Feldenkrais Training Proposal.
“I suggest we agree to a quota of personal experience in a certain volume of practice, for instance, a practitioner who has 10 years of successful practice and who has completed
A SCHOOL FOR TRAINERS (which can include visiting some trainings not
necessarily as a paid assistant) and presenting a written work, will grant
the candidate permission to present their own training providing:
1. The training will be small, 15-20 persons maximum at first.
2. The training will be at the trainer’s practice and divided throughout the year.
3. The trainer will hold his or her practice, which the trainees will be able to watch.
4. A clinic, with low fees, will be set by the training for supervising the
5. The trainer will teach the first 3 years of the training, 150 days, with
assistant and experienced graduates.
6. At the end of 3 years, the trainees will have to complete a quota of 30
additional days with three different trainers in order to receive certification.
7. The main trainer will be responsible for the success of the training. The test for efficiency of the training will be evaluated by the Guild, who will follow graduates for a few years after completing their training and find out to what extend they had actualized their expectations. According to this survey, the number of participants in the next training will be given the permission to grow. To date, no such a follow up of results has ever been done. We are holding on to a format just with unresearched speculation.”
Download the entire proposal here: Ruthy Alon Feldenkrais Training Proposal
Please note: Ruthy’s proposal is over 10 years old. I have no idea if it represents her current thinking on the subject, nor if this is even a topic that she still cares about. I did not solicit Ruthy’s feedback for this post nor did I consult her or anyone else about publishing it.
For the second time in as many months I have been contacted by a Feldenkrais practitioner who has begun teaching a Feldenkrais training outside the auspices of any of the “official” organizations. To a certain extent, this is not a new phenomena. The first time I met someone conducting “off the grid” Feldenkrais trainings was over 10 years ago and that person had been training for many years. I’m sure there have been many others that I do not know about.
What is new, I believe, is that the people are starting their own trainings earlier in their careers, choosing not to spend decades waiting for someone else to give them permission or certify them. The practitioners that I have spoken to are starting small. Each of them is only working with a handful of people. And they are doing so within their practices. For example, the students not only have training days and meetings but also watch and interact with the practitioner while he or she is seeing clients.
This very much reminds me of how Moshe Feldenkrais conducted his trainings with his original thirteen students in Israel. Bernard Lake did an interview with Ruthy Alon in February 1998 and this is how she described it:
“When Moshe did the first training…he took 13 people. He taught us one hour a day, six days a week, 10 months a year for 3 years, and he lived his life, he had his practice, we could see his practice and see what happened to the people who came to him. We could see the people who came to him 20 times, what is the history, how he approached it, what he answered them at specific times, and we could have some kind of concept of what the practice is about. I saw Moshe as a practitioner and not as a trainer.
That sounds wonderful, does it not? The process described by Ruthy is much different than that of most Feldenkrais trainings conducted today.
It’s unfortunate that I am not able to tell you more about the new trainings. The two practitioners that I spoke to are not interested in going public. I certainly understand. But as more people open up and connect I will put the information out there for you to consider.
cheers – Ryan
Just a moment ago I was searching for a conversation that I had with Paul Rubin on the FeldyForum last year. I was looking for a sample response to Robbie Ofir’s comment on my post from yesterday. I could not find the conversation that I wanted. But I did run across the quote below:
“The policies on how one gets certified as a trainer or assistant trainer are over the top, complicated and plainly insane.” Paul Rubin, July 29, 2010.
How true. Many FGNA members, perhaps even the majority, agree with Paul Rubin. What I find fascinating about the quote is that Rubin does not mention that he has been a major player in devising the insane rules. As he proudly states on his website:
“As Chair of the North American Training Accreditation Board 1993-1997 and founding member of the Training Accreditation Boards for both Europe and Australia/South Pacific, Paul has contributed significantly to the evolution of training programs and procedures world wide.”
I wonder about the wisdom of helping in the evolution of an insane system and working within an insane system.
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)
Update: Jan, 17th, 2019: I recently came went back the FGNA trainer application to see what had changed. I was not surprised to find that the original circular definition from the screenshots are still on the trainer application. 3_streamlined-trainer-application-policy-by-natab
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?
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.
From the SRC 2009 Report:
“Since 1992, we [the International Feldenkrais Federation] have a “bottom-up”, democratically organized professional umbrella association in the IFF. Parallel to it, we have an older TAB [Training and Accreditation Board] structure with roots in the group of trainers who initiated it.
What does the SRC committee mean by “an older TAB structure with roots in the group of trainers how initiated it.” Sounds like a sentence from someone trying to be politically correct, doesn’t it? That won’t do.
David Bersin on The Trainer Monopoly
Let’s read the opinion of David Bersin. Get your barf bag ready.
“Please allow me [David Bersin] to bring to the foreground some facts…The TAB’s are three committees which are mandated to oversee the governance or regulation of Feldenkrais professional training programs, the teachers who teach in these programs, and the process by which Feldenkrais Practitioners become eligible to teach in programs, as Assistant Trainers and Trainers. The TAB’s are also responsible for the creation and evaluation of the policies which concern these domains. Functionally, the TAB’s are already committees of the Australian Guild, the North American Guild, and the European Guild organizations, and all policy must be approved unanimously by these membership organizations. This requirement for uniformity in TAB policies was created in order to insure full international discussion and collaboration, high standards for trainings, and to inhibit the undue influence of personal or small group interests.” From: DZB SRC
Functionally, David Bersin is confused. How does taking policy making out of the hands of the majority increase collaboration? How does giving a select few the right to set policy limit the undue influence of a select few? The TAB was created to “to insure full international discussion and collaboration…and to inhibit the undue influence of personal or small group interests”?! I think not.
What David is writing is the exact opposite of how the process works. There is not now, nor has there EVER been shared decision making on policy. Have any of you had a meaningful hand in certifying a new trainer? Setting training policy? Of course not. The TABs were specifically created to limit participation from the rable such as you and I. Denis Leri states it quite succinctly below.
Denis Leri Discusses the Trainer Monopoly
For a look on how the TAB’s were originally designed to work, let’s go back about 16 years to a letter written by Denis Leri (Denis_Leri_TAB-1992 DOWNLOAD). I do not know the exact context for the letter. It was forwarded to me anonymously. But it is written on a Guild letterhead. Perhaps it is from an FGNA newsletter? The first quote is verbatim. The second has my comments in block parentheses [ ].
“Some people think that anyone having anything to do with trainings should not be on the TAB because of conflict of interest. First, we have had an internal policy about conflict of interest dating to 1986 which we are making explicit in this proposal. It has been followed with extreme diligence. There are checks and balances in place. Minutes of the meeting exist. Secondly, speaking for myself as a training organizer, some previous policy decisions of the TAB were not implementable on a practical level not withstanding their good intentions.
I believe, as an organizer and educational director, we should have representation of and by those people who take the risks and do the very difficult and arduous tasks required to form a training program. I feel it is not desirable to exclude people who can and do understand the realities of training situations. Finally, it is a shared perception that generally speaking, the quality of trainings has improved. To me, that says, on the hand, that the trainings are doing a good job and, on the other hand, that you out there are responsible for drawing a broad range of quality people into our work.”
Filling in the blanks:
“Some people think that anyone having anything to do with trainings should not be on the TAB because of conflict of interest. [Not anyone, just trainers. It’s basic common sense. You want to regulate yourself under the guise of faux oversight of the TABs?] First, we have had an internal policy about conflict of interest dating to 1986 which we are making explicit in this proposal. [An internal policy about conflict of interest IS a conflict interest!!] It has been followed with extreme diligence. [Your secret internal policies, that you alone enforce??!] There are checks and balances in place [Says who?]. Minutes of the meeting exist [Who cares. Minutes are worthless and easily changed. Think Enron.] Secondly, speaking for myself as a training organizer [with a vested financial interest], some previous policy decisions of the TAB were not implementable on a practical level not withstanding their good intentions [Says who?]
I believe, as an organizer and educational director, [again – with vested financial interests] we should have representation of and by those people who take the risks and do the very difficult and arduous tasks required to form a training program [In other words, financial rewards are not enough to satisfy his massive ego needs] I feel it is not desirable to exclude people who can and do understand the realities of training situations [Does Leri understand the reality of the shrinking guild and his own training programs?]. Finally, it is a shared perception [I think he means: “shared delusion”] that generally speaking, the quality of trainings has improved [Bullshit]. To me, that says, on the hand, that the trainings are doing a good job and, on the other hand, that you out there are responsible for drawing a broad range of quality people into our work. [Which contribute directly to the trainers’ bottom line, but not our own]”
In case you missed or don’t remember my post on Denis’s proposed Feldenkrais Trainer Guild, let me give you one choice quote:
…it’s a drag to cover up the fact that TAB’s and Guilds have no business involved in the formation of Trainers.
Yea, yea, that’s it baby. It’s a drag. It’s really a f*cking drag. Engaging in a decades long cover up has taken a great deal of emotional and intellectual work. And why bother anymore? It’s already in plain site: From the perspective of many trainers the TABs and Guilds have no business. No business certifying trainers. No business certifying trainings, no business engaging in ANY action that might limit the trainer classes ability to fleece the faithful. Feldenkrais: By the Trainers for the Trainers.
Next Up: The Guild Service Mark Application
Soon I will be posting some historical documents and information related to the Guild’s application for the “service marks” back in the 1980’s. You may not agree with my interpretation. But, as always, I will post links to original documents and sources when I can get them so that you can have access to source material. By the way – Please do not assume that this blog and its various resources will always be here. If something interests you, grab it, keep it, and share it.
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Wie sitzen Sie heute? Angenehmer mit der Feldenkrais Methode!
Translation: How Are You Sitting Today? More comfortably with the Feldenkrais Method!
I thought these where quite lovely. A series of short videos advertising The Feldenkrais Method® in Austria and an Austrian Feldenkrais Training, starting in July 2011. These are just 3 of 16 ads that were shown throughout the public transportation system in Vienna.
Have a look! They made me laugh out loud when I watched them. Though I do wonder if they would be too subtle for a non-Feldenkrais person. What do you think?
My apologies if the videos are slightly fuzzy. The originals are much clearer, but I had to do some adjusting for online playback. There is no sound. They were designed capture people’s attention visually.
How Are You Sitting Part 1
How Are You Sitting Part 2
How Are You Sitting Part 3
Special thanks to Perth Feldenkrais Practitioner Bob Strahinjevich for making me aware of the videos and Dr. Verena Krausneker from the Feldenkrais Institute of Vienna for giving me permission to post them.