Category Archives: marty weiner

Marty Weiner Workshop Notes From Steve Hamlin

I recently received an email from Steve Hamlin a Feldenkrais Practitioner in Los Angeles. (Steve also blogs: http://stevehamlin.blogspot.com.) Steve read my post on Martin Weiner’s death last year and offered to send his thoughts and workshop notes from some experiences he had with Marty. I quickly agreed and have posted them below. Enjoy.


I recently ran across Ryan’s year-old blog post on the suicide of Marty Weiner and thought it was nicely done. I too have been struggling to make sense of his death, and of Jack Hegge’s as well. As did Ryan, I have reached my own conclusions, which have allowed me to not only to have no judgement but rather still treasure the legacy of these two men. Along those lines, I decided to share some information to post online. I hope you find it useful

When Marty was in Ojai I attended a number of his workshops including an “overnighter”.

I take sparse notes in the moment, but later type them out in detail using my memory to fill in the picture. Maybe since I type so fast (having been employed in jobs requiring typing many years) my notes can be excruciatingly – or delightfully – thorough, depending on your viewpoint. I would guess there are few in the Feldenkrais community who have been so – probably neurotically obsessed with taking extensive notes (as if that means I really learned the material — not).

Those workshops with Marty marked a turning point in my Feldenkrais practice, where I began to trust my imagination to guide me. I finally learned to somewhat relax as the client walks in the door, being comfortable “not knowing what to do” as Marty was trying to teach us. The role playing in his workshops was so helpful! But all that an much more is fully described in these notes of mine, of Marty’s workshops.

Workshop Notes in PDF Form

Workshop Notes in Word doc Form

Peggy LaCerra On Martin Weiner’s Death.

Approximately two months ago I wrote a short article on Marty Weiner and his death. Peggy LaCerra who was Marty’s partner for many years wrote a comment on the article and also shared her eulogy of Marty. Her writing has helped me create a clearer picture of Marty and his life and death. Perhaps it will do the same for you. I asked Peggy if I could re-post the entire comment as a blog post and she graciously agreed.

 


 

Thanks for your remembrance of Marty Weiner. There has been so much speculation about why Marty took his life, not to mention judgment about his decision, that I want to share my perspective. Marty had struggled for many years with the pain that invoked his suicidal ideation — it was the same pain that formed and fueled his genius as a healer and an artist, and this past April, he decided to release himself from it.

I lived with Marty for almost 9 years, and there were times that his pain was too much to bear for me; I can only imagine what it was for him. Yet, people came to him from far and wide with their physical and psychological burdens, and he transformed them with his touch and his words; others — many of them Feldenkrais practioners, students of ‘consciousness’, former clients and people who had simply heard tales of his abilities — came simply to hear him share his knowledge and wisdom. He carried on, sharing his gifts with others, in the face of his personal anguish, day after day, year after year, until his own pain was too much for him to take. From my privileged perspective, his path was nothing less than spiritually noble. Here was my eulogy for him:

When I heard the news of Marty’s death, I grieved deeply the loss of this exceptional man, whom I had loved dearly, and who had been my life partner for 9 years. My heart broke sensing what I felt might have been his final moments of anguish and fear, and with the realization that my last moments with him were to be those gray and painful ones that I had spent preparing to leave our temple home for the last time.

For the moment, I had forgotten the central point of his brilliant philosophy of life, and healing, and art. As most of you know, in addition to being an artist, Marty was a teacher and practitioner of a unique hands-on healing method, as well as a philosophy of conscious experience.

His approach to healing the bodies, minds and spirits of others is perhaps best captured by a beautiful Galway Kinnell poem, which he kept framed in his treatment room. It is called “St. Francis and the Sow”:

The bud
stands for all things,
even those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as St. Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of
the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

Marty saw everyone he touched as a beautiful and whole work of art – regardless of their medically-diagnosed conditions or personal sense of imperfection, and his lessons showed us new and more expansive ways of being, of experiencing our own wholeness.

To hear the words he told us, about us and to be held in his healing hands was to be ‘reminded’ of our own perfect loveliness, to feel our own ‘self-blessing’, perhaps for the first time.

But it was his private sense of irreversible imperfection and its attendant anguish that fueled his genius and every aspect of his life’s work.

At the age of 6, Marty was diagnosed with a spinal tumor and admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital for a series of radiation treatments that would disintegrate his vertebrae in the region of the lesion, and require him to be in a full-body cast for six months, and on crutches for another year.

His parents lived across the city from the hospital and didn’t have a car. They had four children, all told, with another small child at home to care for, and jobs to do . . . And so Marty was left alone, sometimes for days and nights at a time, in a dreary ward (which was characteristic of large municipal hospitals in the 1940s), with only rare visits from the professional-but-impersonal medical staff – left alone with his extreme physical pain, and his absolute immobility, and an excruciating sense of his own imperfection.

This nightmarish experience was the seed of the bud that blossomed fully into Marty’s extraordinary healing talent, a talent that touched the lives of heads of state and industry, celebrities and star athletes, homeless persons and immigrant children with equal tenderness and love.

The demons of his early experiences never left him; rather, they remained as his ever-present teachers, and his private struggle with them continued to fuel his powerful healing talents, his art, and his philosophy of life until he made the decision to end his own.

Now, as I remember Marty and his core teachings, I see clearly the whole masterwork of impressionistic art that was his life.

We can neither appreciate it, nor understand it by stepping in close and focusing on any one moment, dark or bright, and it is not in anyway diminished because the last dab of paint applied to the canvas appears to us gray rather than robins-egg blue.

For us to see Marty’s last moment as a ‘senseless tragedy’, or his life as ‘imperfect’ or ‘distorted’ because of it, would be to miss the genius of his central teaching and the exquisite beauty and absolute perfection of the whole being that was, and is, Marty Weiner.

 


 

If you want to know more about Peggy you can find her at: The Center for Evolutionary Neuroscience. There are two pages on her website that I find particularly fascinating: Intentional Self Creation and The Mind is For Movement. Peggy is an accomplished researcher and author and wrote the book The Origin of Minds: Evolution, Uniqueness, and the New Science of the Self which you might find quite fascinating.

Martin Weiner, 1943 – 2011

Marty Weiner, 1943 – 2011

Many of you in the Feldenkrais community and elsewhere have been made aware of Martin Weiner’s death. According to the reports of several people that have contacted me, Marty took his own life last Saturday, April 16th.

By nearly all accounts Marty was a highly skilled feldenkrais practitioner and over the years developed a tremendous number of fans and supporters. A former Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, Marty left his position at the university after meeting Moshe and deciding to take his San Francisco training in 1975. He subsequently finished the training (while supporting himself with work as a bartender!) and became one of the early Guild Presidents.

Marty was the first person that I interviewed on my podcast series over four years ago in January 2007: A conversation with Martin Weiner and again in February of the same year: Further Down The Rabbit Hole With Martin Weiner. He was a great person to quote and I often found myself writing down or reposting some of his thoughts, such as this: The Limitations of the Medical Model.

Looking back on how and why I started my podcast series with Marty, I think it all boils down to a 20-second conversation that I had with him at the 2007 FGNA conference in New York. I had never met the man before and he simply had a presence and a way of being that was fully magnetizing and hypnotic. I felt like I was encountering an incredibly unique and individuated person and I wanted to know more about him. I asked him to be interviewed and he graciously accepted.

Marty Weiner and Jack Heggie

On Monday of last week, when I heard about Marty’s death, my mind raced back to the time that I heard about Jack Heggie’s death, which was also reported to be a suicide. His death was very disturbing to me. Jack Heggie was the person who introduced me to the Feldenkrais Method while I was attending an NLP conference in Boulder, Colorado in the early 1990’s. By some strange coincidence Jack also maintained a Feldenkrais Practice in Dallas, Texas where I was living at the time. I was a waiter, working in a Mexican restaurant and my first lesson with Jack was so powerful that I decided to use part of my rent money to get another session, paying my rent 5 days late and getting a fine. It was worth it.

My feelings about Jack’s death and Marty’s death are somewhat similar. Though I am mourning two men who touched my life and helped move me into new and exciting directions, I cannot say that I knew either man very well. So what I am mainly mourning is experiences with them that I will never have. I will never have a chance to see and feel the next creations that each man had in him. None of us will.

They were both inspiring and unique in their own ways. Jack Heggie wrote and published several books on applications of the Feldenkrais Method and I have often wondered what other new books and creations he still had to write had he chosen to live.

Marty seemed to be developing a new way of being and getting his work into the world. Many times in the last several years, I read some of Martin Weiner’s posts on online forums and wondered where he was going to go next and what he was going to develop. My sense was that he had a process and a method of communicating and being in the world that transcended any particular ideology and that he was getting ready to give birth to it in a new way. I would get slightly confused when I saw him spending so much time communicating about his ideas on the FeldyForum. It seemed to me that he needed a bigger space and a bigger platform and would do better to reach out directly to his fans via a book, his own website or some other avenue. Just last week, I learned that Marty was developing a center called The Center for Explorations in Consciousness. The website has some videos and writings from him that you may want to view.

Historicism

When someone commits suicide it is very common to want to make sense of the situation by inserting a story or narrative that explains things. We often hear that someone is being “selfish” or “hurtful” by killing themselves. We want to blame a medication or change in life events. We try to find and point to warning signs. That is the danger of historicism and causal thinking in general. Knowing the end state we can always look back and find a “cause.” After all, their MUST be one, right? Otherwise how can we make sense of things? We might all do well to realize that we can never truly know what is in a person’s mind and what his or her life circumstances might have been. Even with the most complete information, we are always operating with partial information. And the information that we have and perceive is filtered through our personal life history and biases.

That being said, for those of you who encountered Marty and knew him personally, I would like to add one small piece of information that might help your process. There was a post in 2009 on the FeldyForum in which he wrote to another person:

“I don’t know what you are actually feeling, but I have been seriously depressed and, at times, suicidal (probably as a result of those obsessive thought chains.) It is a state I have described as a place from which no light can escape or enter. Existence itself feels like an act rather than a given and it feels just too impossible to put in the minimal energy required to sustain it. As you said and demonstrate with your life, it takes courage and unbelievable strength just to stay here. In my worst moments, when people were telling me some version of “snap out of it” or “try harder”, I would try to let them know that they had no idea of how strong I was to deal with what I was dealing with without killing myself.”

It may be that what drove Marty to take his actions was something he had been dealing with for many years. But then again maybe it was not. Many people, myself included, have had suicidal and depressive thoughts and are still with us today.

Whatever the case, and whatever narrative one chooses to create, Marty will be missed. He was an amazing man with a sharp mind, a soft touch and presence that could not be denied. He had much more to do in this life, and we had so much more to experience of him and his work. I am sorry that we cannot do so.

Goodbye Marty. Thank you for your immense presence and probing insights – at least while you were willing to be here and give them to us.

For those of you who want to know more about Martin Weiner there is a video of him and thoughts on his life and death on the website of his friend Nate Klemp: Life Beyond Logic and again, on the website that I mentioned above: The Center for Explorations in Consciousness. Several friends have posted remembrances of him: Celebrating My Friend Marty Weiner and A Sole For Marty. If you know of others do let me know.

Feldenkrais: The Limits of the Medical Model

I read an interesting post recently on the FeldyForum, an international Yahoo Group of Feldenkrais Practitioners and students that is moderated by Feldenkrais Practitioner Ralph Strauch

The FeldyForum post was written by noted Feldenkrais Practitioner and sculptor, Martin Weiner, of Ojai, CA. I spoke with Marty on the first two podcasts that I conducted: A Conversation with Martin Weiner and Further Down The Rabbit Hole with Martin Weiner. I like to stay in touch with what Marty is doing as I find him a rather interesting fellow.

Below, he speaks to the limits of the medical model. I did not change or edit a single word of the post, but I did change the spacing to make it easier to read on this page:

I have often talked on the forum about how seeing things from a medical model limits our capacity to see what is there. I had an experience with a young woman the other day that I’d like to share in this regard.

A woman called me on the phone and asked if she could come see me. She said she had very severe pains in her neck that woke her up many times during the night. She also had numbness in her hands. She had gone to a chiropractor who took an x-ray of her neck and freaked out. He was so anxious for her that she had to quiet him down. He sent her to an orthopedic surgeon who had the same reaction and said she needed surgery immediately to fuse three of her cervical
vertebrae. She was supposed to have the surgery next Monday. She is a mother of two toddlers and said she is very active.

I said, “Let me get this straight. You are not paralyzed or crippled or hobble about. You run after two little kids and exercise regularly. Your only problem is pain in your neck and numbness in your hands. Aside from these two guys freaking out you would have no idea that there is an emergency going on in your body?” She said,”That’s right”.

So I told her, “Great, I’d love to see you.”

My point here is that these two doctors looked at x-rays and did not see her. She is an active woman who runs around all day long. Instead of seeing her vertebrae they should have seen her and realize that these vertebrae live in this woman and she is pretty healthy. They saw what they saw which is conditioned by their training. Moshe trained us to see the world differently and to interact with people from a non-mechanical orientation. We have the capacity to help those who many others can’t because we do not get seduced into diagnostic categories.

She came to see me last Saturday and we worked. Today she came back to tell me that she has been sleeping through the night pain free and that the numbness is now down to just a little spot. She cancelled the surgery and is looking forward to feeling better without it.

As Hippocrates said, “Don’t tell me what someone has. Tell me who has it.” See the person and not the so called “disease” or problem.

Cordially,
Marty

Martin Weiner
805-640-6410
www.martinweiner.com

I think Marty’s post speaks for itself. I hope you enjoyed reading it. – RN

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