Category Archives: Feldenkrais Training

Feldenkrais Video: Preventing Kayaking Injuries

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 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.

Preventing Kayaking Injuries using the work of Moshe Feldenkrais.

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Independent Feldenkrais Training And Mentoring: How Would You Do It?

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?

New Feldenkrais Trainings: What Comes Next?

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?

Independent Feldenkrais Trainings, Part Two

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
trainees.

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.




Independent Feldenkrais Trainings

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 phenomenon. 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.

Here is a BernardLakeRuthyAlonInterview and the full text is below.

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

Update: January 3rd, 2020. Below is the full text of Bernard’s full interview with Ruthy Alon. I have taken it from an old Feldigest post that was saved on my computer.

Date: Tue, 05 May 1998 18:13:52 -0700
From: Bernard Lake
To: feldigest
Subject: Ruthy Alon interview

I recently taped a conversation with Ruthy, a good friend and former educational director of my FTP, with her permission to use it here. The purpose was to discuss recent trends in the Feld. community with special reference to many aspects of trainings and the background impact on present and future standards. It is no secret that there have been problems arising. The issues need ventilation and fuller discussion among the whole community. Present structures have reinforced happenstance and are becoming writ in bureaucratic fiat. Other alternatives need to be continuously canvassed if the method is to gain the recognition it deserves. It can only achieve this if the whole community is dedicated to this end. Ultimately, it is the social penetration that will make or break Feld. acceptance. Ruthy acknowledges the importance of those in the field. The training stream has had the lion’s share of attention. It is time for the stakeholders , the graduates to contribute from their wide ranging experiences and so lift the continuing education profile. Ruthy’s views deserve attention. As one of the Moshe’s originals she has the breadth of perspectives and with her ever innovative and enquiring mind, , her gentle but very astute assessments make compelling reading.

Bernard Lake

BERNARD LAKE interview with Ruthy Alon
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

16 Feb 98

B: I would like to welcome you back to Sydney where you first came to my knowledge in 1986 to act as the concertmaster for the IME training, and you have been back again?

R: I have. There was an advanced training course.

B: So you have had an opportunity over the last 12 years to dip into Sydney and into the rest of Australia and see what is going on with the Feldenkrais movement here. The question is – what changes, if any, have you noticed and what would you like to comment on?

R: There is a special quality here in Australia that I love, some integrity about the freedom and independence and commitment to honesty, and very good skills. I had a lot of pleasure to see the graduates getting more powerful – all of them. I can see the satisfaction from their work. In the training you just see their doubts and after that you see the fruit of it. It is really good.

B: Ruthy, I suppose you have not had the opportunity to see people with hands on outside of trainings in the local context. I don’t know how many FI’s, if any, you have had from local people to make some judgment about practical skills and how ±hey are developing.

R: In the advanced trainings I can see some of it and some I got the feel in my body. Yes – I did.

B: How do you feel about Australia’s position vis-a-vis the rest of the world – I mean Australians typically tend to achieve but they do tend to play down their own achievements. We have lost a lot of the inferiority complex we used to have, on the other hand, we can also be grandiose about achievements. How do you Bee us in relation to the rest of the world?

R: I don’t know anything about inferiority here. I think they are so good and they keep it quiet so nobody will bother them. The only thing I can say is that in the other parts of the world in the Feldenkrais community, people are very aware of their advance, like they count the days. If they are 5 years after the training they want to begin to apply to become assistants. They are aware of the ladder of progression and here they are kind of sleepy. I see wonderful practitioners and there is not much awareness about taking the position of the next generation teachers.

B: I think that brings up a very interesting point as to how many trainers, how many trainings can there possibly be under the current circumstances? What sets of circumstances are needed for the method to percolate into the wider community?

R: The way the concept is now, the trainings can be very, very big. Even in Australia there was one with 120 people – the biggest ever training outside of what Feldenkrais did. So with this bigness concept nobody thinks they can encompass such a thing. But the way I look at it now, when Moshe did the first training, when he came to the point and he was ready to share his insight and his skills with other people, he took 13 people. Some other people wanted to join and he said there was no more place around the table. 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. He never called them clients, he insisted to call them pupils. I don’t know why – this is another issue and I will talk about it later. 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.

B: Yes, well that’s wonderful

R: Now when he went to America he did not have much time. He agreed to do the most he could do to put himself on the map of the consciousness, and in Amherst he took 220 people. He took some 200 and then he added more to the second year. 220 people – it was a hall you couldn’t see the end of it when people were lying down. He got sick in the middle of that training and we were the ones who continued it – 9 teachers – every one of us taught one day. Now 80% of these trainees don’t practice Feldenkrais. I also saw that it promoted in Moshe a tone that was totally different. He became the speaker …. (gestures and draws up)

B: Verbose? Grandiose?

R: Yes, he was talking and didn’t start any FI. People thought that’s how it needs to be – 2 years without FI. You remember what happened in the first Sydney training – I started the understanding of not only manoeuvres but the touching, feeling, and then the TAB was so shocked they withdrew the accreditation from the training. That wasn’t the only reason but they also mentioned that. I fought for that. I explained to them you cannot teach FI to a group when you cannot see what they do with it. It needs to be a feedback thing. You need to not only see but need to feel the hands and they need to feel your hands many many many times to learn that. My opinion is that Moshe was very worried about that and I would not discard the idea that he became sick because of that. He did not know how these people are going to bring this method to the world and it would not be what he meant. So,maybe now is the time to come back to the model that is healthier and more skillful.

If people will take small groups there will be place for many people to become teachers and they will grow through teaching. I believe that the teaching is one way of beginning the growth, not only of the student but also of the teacher. They call lead their healthy life, not be on airplanes all the time and they will have practice. This is the main thing – the students can see the practice.

B: Ruthy, you know from the rather privileged position of being on a TAB I have become quite concerned about the schism – the split – between the kind of training path and the path of practitioners in general communities. If it continues in the present way my belief is it will lead to a two-tier type of Feldenkrais situation where you either get on the training course path or you can become a practitioner. If single minded applications like this continue, then there is no opportunity for you to make a shift. What you have just said is a way of incorporating continuing education for everybody at local levels and still have opportunities for international get-togethers or national get-togethers from time to time.

R: Exactly, and not only the training needs to lean on the field, on what is in the field. – I do believe the centre of gravity needs to be in the field. As it is now all the criteria are geared to see how much the person spends time in the arena of trainings and the trainings are in the highest prestige of the profession. But after all, where knowledge is accumulated and further advanced is when people who do their work day after day for 10 years or so – then they have work to share. So it’s not only in trainings where you take new people and teach from the beginning every time. Of course the trainings are getting better and they are doing very good pioneering work and clarification, but we still need to put more weight and appreciation on what happens in the field.

B: Both need feedback from each other. The training, after all, is a preparation for people who say they are committed to the method, and you can only take so much in in the 4 years of training, then you must go out and find how to use the method within the greater substance of living and so there should be, I feel, a much closer relationship as you were indicating (with continuing interaction between “the field” and “the training” ).

R: Yes, now if somebody wants to become an assistant, then they need to accumulate such and such quota for assisting in training. They need to go different places; they need to leave their family; they need to leave their practice. It is really cutting it off from life and it doesn’t have to be like that. I envisage training very small – 15-20 people – and doing it beside somebody who has a practice, They can have practitioners to come to watch, sometimes contribute lessons or one of them be the official assistant. I also think it would be much more consistent and not such change of teachers right at the beginning, so fragmented end this is another thing that will promote learning.

B: Within, for instance, the training system of medicine when you come to the specialties, the only way to learn is in a small group – you don’t learn well when you are in a large group. I think obviously the same thing goes through all educational practice – the smaller the class the better the supervision of the teacher and the better the rapport of the students with the teacher and the greater willingness to learn.

R: Now in ATM, we can teach in a big group and one of the advantages is that nobody pinpoints you personally, not interfering with your process and the process gives enough ideas for everyone to check themselves and to find their own ways. But in FI it cannot be like that. Some trainers can show something brilliant and talk about it and then people go and they do something and the trainer really cannot supervise them adequately. Now, for instance, in my trainings from the third year, even from the second year, I stop giving the trainees the sessions the quota of the class FIs. I get visiting practitioners to give them those lessons, and my lesson with them is an hour of tutoring them how to work. I work on them a little bit, they work on me, I work on them, they work on somebody else, then I see and I comment – back and forth. This is their hour to learn how to work. Then I send them – a small crew – working together to clarify the lesson. Then, they need to go and teach other people what they’ve got. It needs to-be-intimate all the time – we cannot think in big groups. Actually look at the results, the results are saying it all, and this is something we never check .We check the applications for the training before, we make a big fuss about it during the training but we never check the outcome of the training what is the percentage of people who wanted to do it as a profession who really go on to do it as a profession. The name of the Method is not so great any more. Word of mouth is not getting new trainees in. From some trainings- sometimes people graduate but they are very pale in what they can do. There is a lot of information, enthusiasm, but what can they actually do? So we need to sit down end think, what is going to happen?

B: Well, Ruthy you hove always been a frontrunner as you were with touch, and I am delighted to hear about this change in the FI path. I think that is a fantastic method of creating experience in that intimate kind of surrounding with immediate feedback. I can think of no better way to teach FI, end obviously you have come to it through all your years of experience. We will come back to the big picture, but now 1et’s turn to your recent most successful weekend dealing with the situation of recoil on the one hand and bone support on the other – Intelligent bones and how to use them better – you brought up some absolutely fascinating material, particularly when you started to ask the questions about what is the Method, what is FI, what is intention, and so forth, and we would all appreciate to have more from you on those topics. What is the quintessential thing or things that are the nucleus of the Method, which we all know intuitively make it so different, but is so hard to verbalize

R. Well I think that it is using the mechanics of creating habits in order to expand the habits. Using the language of the organism to awaken it to use its faculty for striving for something better, something better all the time, which is the urge of creation, and we have many, many strategies for that .

B: Ruthy, that’s an ideal, and ideals aren’t always achieved, unfortunately. We all know situations where people finish up inadvertently with more pain or more stiffness and apparently some loss of understanding or no further understanding. From your great experience you could probably give tremendous insight to practitioners in the field about how to deal with various personality types. Obviously the whole situation is so complex that there is not going to be a simple answer. But there may be a set of possibilities that you could suggest in terms of ensuring that you have a more successful outcome for the person.

R: If we remember that it is about learning – we are not fixing them. It is about intriguing them, stimulating them to bring up in them something forgotten, something beyond their habitual perception – they don’t even remember that they have it – and we pace ourselves to that, which means also very gentle and many repetitions and not continue and not pushing and it will have to be very modest, very patient and remember this as we go, and also remember that we cannot reverse what God himself cannot reverse.

B: well, we have talked about the past, and we have talked very cogently I think about the present, the immediate sort of tinkering to the system that we need to re-jig it into something that is vital and organic. Would you like to put on a wizard’s cap, without attempting to predict the future – just, from the heart, how do you see the Method being best fostered in the future? How can we really bring this Method to the attention of most people and with what kind of spirit?

R: I feel that the important thing is to encourage the courage of practitioners. Because we have so much respect for the Method, because it is so really vast and intricate, we don’t allow ourselves to promote it as strongly as it needs. We need to be coming from a place that is very, very sure. It is part of our philosophical approach to not appear sure, yet it is this confidence that sometimes is needed. People who need help need to see an agent there, somebody who has the confidence. This is what Moshe once said – what makes the teacher a teacher is the fact that they are this of person in their life – that they are not compromising, and they are looking for what is better and at all the things that we are teaching. This work can be done only from an independent place – the joy is when you do it independently. Now the more we add bureaucracy and rules, people will shy away from it. I know that myself; I would rather teach advanced training where I can do what I want rather than teaching in trainings and with other people and all that. I will look for the path of my independence, and everyone will be like that. So can we allow more independence in the work itself; this will be a great encouragement, I believe, if people who are 10 years practitioners and they have assisted in some trainings or developed their own contribution and insight in one area and like to write about it and admit the requirements of becoming a trainer, and they will be given the permission to take their own group. It will be very exciting and very full of juice, allowing it to grow without needing to commit yourself from the beginning it will go only like this and like that. We cannot be specific when what we teach is trusting this fabric of negotiation that will bring up something which is unpredictable. We need to be congruent with what we teach and then the Method will really reach wider and wider.

B: Ruthy, that is fantastic. But in human history, people tend to be the progressive liberal or they tend to be conservative and looking always to preserving the status quo. Now there are elements in each of those stands which I feel best fit the picture and I personally believe that the Feldenkrais method, above all, gives a model that allows the best from each of those views to be held. However, as we know, there tends to be a see-saw, sometimes towards conservatism or vice versa. So have you got any views about the kind of ongoing conversations, the kind of ongoing mechanisms for flexibility that we can use within the community so that there is mutual respect and honor right through the community. Instead of having the hierarchical kind of system which has obviously developed, how can we use what you have given already in this interview?

R: I think that really the judgements that colleagues need to make about governance is a big limitation. If you knew that the atmosphere is of trust and everybody is welcoming new aspects, new ideas, you can go and you can present the Method not just for physical pains or movement but for activating your faculty for solving problems, for inventing solutions; it will be very exciting, it will be very exciting. It will take a long time until we will come be part of the establishment and I don’t know if we want it so very soon.

B: Do we want it at all? The fact is that establishments do tend to be conservative and do tend to be hierarchal.
It is the belief of many who are into future studies that these kinds of structures should become historical as quickly as possible, and that there are other systems now available for human beings to adopt. With knowledge and technology expanding as it is we have to become much more open-grained in terms of control and flexibility. I wrote my book “Come to Y(our) Senses” because it hit me suddenly – why not take Feldenkrais through all the senses and see what happens as a result of that investigation in terms of becoming more human, totally, and that’s just one aspect; there are so many aspects and I would love to see you put your energies – apart from what you are doing – into promoting this more open approach so that we take what Moshe gave us as a fundamental for a basic training, but melding it with the experience of life and practice subsequently, so that we, the inheritors, can honour the many changes of our own experience.

R: Bernard, this was the dream of Moshe. He said I use movement just as a medium for expanding human capacity. His dream was that his principles would be carried and explored and applied to all kinds of different areas. That’s beautiful.

B: Terrific. Again, I want to thank you on behalf of everybody because you are always an inspiration – it’s such a delight to see how fresh and joyful you manage to keep the spirit despite all the troubles that you have had in respect of the training programmes and so forth. It is just wonderful to feel such jeu d’esprit – that fire in you which is so vivid and so exemplary in terms of the Method.

R: Well I think I wouldn’t have done it if I were an animal. (Much laughter) Content to lick its paws, I do clash with the bureaucracies many many times.

B: But isn’t that wonderful that you have the strength to do it. Also I think bureaucracies collapse fastest with humour rather than direct assault. And you certainly have that .

R: Sure, sure. No, they are filled with only good intentions. It is just that they get in to the trap of illusion – trying to guarantee an elusive quality so they keep raising barriers. It’s a difficult path to tread. That’s how all spiritual insights turn into religions, not trusting that somebody else can have similar revelations and capacity to make the grade.

B: Quite a few of us have already noted the analogy of Feldenkrais as religion. Let’s keep it truly secular and universal. Thank you again, Ruthy Alon, for your wit and wisdom.

Paul Rubin: Feldenkrais Training Policies are “Insane.”

Paul Rubin, Feldenkrais Trainer

Paul Rubin

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.

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)

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?

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.

Roots of the Feldenkrais Trainer Monopoly

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Animal Farm by George Orwell.

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.

Enough said.

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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Feldenkrais Videos From Austria: Wie sitzen Sie heute?

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


[media:http://utahfeldenkrais.org/blog/media/1sitzen.mov]

How Are You Sitting Part 2


[media:http://utahfeldenkrais.org/blog/media/2sitzen.mov]

How Are You Sitting Part 3


[media:http://utahfeldenkrais.org/blog/media/3sitzen.mov]

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.