Category Archives: moshe feldenkrais

feldenkrais or Feldenkrais®? Enriching Feldenkrais Practitioners.

This is a position paper of sorts. It is not finished and I will likely edit it after publishing. It is of the type that I usually write for myself and keep for myself on my computer. I have many others rolling around in my head. And at least a dozen, perhaps more, unfinished but ready to take form. Some I will post here. Some I will post elsewhere and give you the link if you are interested. If not, that’s fine too.

I am becoming more and more convinced that the only way that Feldenkrais work can reach more people and do so at an increasing velocity is to enrich more practitioners. To get more practitioners into “the game.” The issue is not simply certification trainings are very expensive and do not prepare students to practice. Yes, that is a big problem. But even those who become successful practitioners and remain within the Guild system face the problem of the glass ceiling. In the Guild system, there simply are no opportunities for practitioners to develop into independent “agents” who can organically grow their practices into mentoring, training and developing their own center of gravity. They cannot “train.” The service marked legalistic system favors the status quo. And the status quo is 70 or so people having a complete stranglehold on the right to conduct trainings. It is rather shocking if you take the time to think about it. How many hundreds, if not thousands, of people are not developing their work into mature, independent organizations because they are told – might even believe – that what they are doing is “not Feldenkrais®”?

feldenkrais or Feldenkrais®?

What is Feldenkrais®? Feldenkrais®, legally defined, is that which is taught by “Guild Certified” trainers who own the trademarked terms. Seriously. Feldenkrais® is Feldenkrais® because of ownership of trademarked terms. Many who teach Feldenkrais® try to make a case that they were somehow blessed or certified by Moshe Feldenkrais. The reality of the situation is quite different. The entire categorization system of “trainer” and “assistant trainer” and the like was super imposed, one might say forced, onto Moshe’s work after his death. Many people do not have a problem with this. They say, “Well, we have to call ourselves something,” or “We need some type of public identity do we not?” And perhaps they are right. However, does one need a public identity controlled by lawyers? Does one need a public identity that cuts practitioner out – by definition – from the benefitting from and doing the work. More on this later.

I should add that according to Feldenkrais®, Moshe’s original students who worked with him for years, even decades, well, they are not really doing Feldenkrais®. Why? Technically, it is because they do not own the service marks. And those of you who are (slowly, but surely) mentoring new students in the work, conducting your own small trainings and otherwise, engaged in your own deep, organic, experiential learning that IS feldenkrais…well, sorry, you are not doing Feldenkrais® either. But take heart, you are in good company. Mia Segal is not “certified.” But Moshe seemed to think quite highly of her and worked with her for many, many years. Anat Baniel? Oh no, she is not certified either. Yochanan Rywerant? He died. But he was another one who worked with Moshe for decades. I guess that poor bastard wasn’t doing Feldenkrais either. And neither are you, if you don’t pay your money to the guild and are doing something unholy like teaching yourself and others how to do the work. And as you have seen me write ad nauseam – my apologies for writing it again – Moshe Feldenkrais was not certified either. That ignorant bastard.

But there are larger issues

I suppose that what I am writing above could be termed as legal, moral and philosophical issues. Can an experiential, organic system based on human experience be encapsulated within a legal, semantic, word-based system? The answer is a simple no. Your practice and your life are not encapsulated within what a lawyer hired by the guild tells you it is, nor what the Guild’s rules tells you that it is. Is it true that your work is “not Feldenkrais” because you have not paid the guild or cannot pay the guild, for use of its service marks? No. That is simply not the case. But the issues are larger. Another concern is economic.

My concern is that practitioners do not have an organization specifically geared towards them and their need. Practitioners need access (with or without a guild) to technology (service marks, email lists, independent training processes) that build up their own ability to profit from the work and to continue to develop their independence. It seems to me that with training, teaching, releasing products and other reputation and economic-enhancing activities the method itself will begin to have a container (so to speak) rich enough to get it out into the world.

Or not. Perhaps any organization created to do that would just become corrupt.

Again, just some thoughts. Take them or leave them as you choose.

Moshe Feldenkrais And Milton Erickson, Speaking To The Future

“No person is able to correct a movement that has been made because it is in the past. He could do an additional movement, a better one, a worse one, but it already is impossible to fix the same movement. In other words, it is impossible to correct mistakes, mistakes of action are lost.” (Moshe Feldenkrais, Alexander Yanai, ATM Lesson #359: Tanden with bending the knees.)

Here is a similar statement from Milton Erickson. He is using it to end a hypnosis and psychotherapy session with a client, helping them to get deeply absorbed in a new way of viewing the world.

Well, the deed is done and cannot be undone, so let the dead past bury its dead. Bring me only one more good tomorrow and you will go home tomorrow with another good tomorrow and another and another, and all the other good tomorrows are forever yours.”
(Milton Erickson, Collected Papers 1, The Nature of Hypnosis and Suggestion, page 354.)

1950 “Review” of Body and Mature Behavior.


A moment ago, I stumbled across a reference for what I though was a review of Feldenkrais’ book “Body and Mature Behavior” from a 1950 psychology journal. Unfortunately, it was more of a fortune cookie note than a review. None the less, the unsigned review is notable for it’s outright dismissal of the book and apparent need to show no supporting details.***

 

From Journal of Consulting Psychology, Vol 14(3), Jun, 1950. pp. 235.

FELDENKRAIS, M. Body and mature behavior. New
York: International Universities Press, 1949. Pp.
viii + 167. $3.75.

“The perplexing subtitle of this small book, “A Study of Anxiety, Sex, Gravitation, and Learning, may seem like a cross-out-one-wrong-word test item until the author’s thesis is disclosed. Feldenkrais examines the implications of the erect human posture, and of various modes of carriage and movement, for the development of personality and for psychotherapy. The theory has its points of interest, but does not quite persuade.”


***That being said, I must say I am only now after 15 years of experience and study coming to appreciate the utility of the book and its ideas. I’m going to believe that makes me an early adopter. After all, it is widely reported that a cure for scurvy was found in 1601 by the British Captain James Lancaster. Though it was not until 1795 – nearly 200 years later – that the cure was mandated by the British Navy.

Moshe Feldenkrais The Imposter


What is the weird fascination with Moshe Feldenkrais within the so-called “Feldenkrais Community”? I find it rather odd – even offensive – that his ideas are given so much weight. Moshe Feldenkrais was neither a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner® nor a Feldenkrais Trainer. He never graduated from a Guild Certified training nor did he meet the requirements for becoming a trainer. Can anyone show me a copy of his certificate? Can anyone show me his trainer application or show me the signatures of those who supposedly “approved” his status as a trainer? You can’t show them to me because they don’t exist. The idea of him being a trainer or practitioner is total nonsense. He was neither. Give it a rest. Quit talking about him. I for one I am tired hearing about the old fool.

And for those you who want to quote him as either for or against a certain policy in the guild or elsewhere, let me just say: “Stop it! Shut up.” I mean that – shut up. Moshe Feldenkrais simply is not one of us. He never was and never will be. Any thoughts that you may have to the contrary are completely delusional. And no, that is not a joke. If you think Moshe was a Feldenkrais practitioner or trainer, you are deeply confused. Pull your head out of your rear end and come up for air. You might learn something about the world and the nature of the work that you say you do.




Moshe Feldenkrais: Viewing Moshe With A Fresh Pair of Eyes.

Thanks to a posting by Deborah Elizabeth Lotus on Facebook, I found a recent online article about Moshe Feldenkrais in Tablet Magazine. The article benefits greatly from being written and researched by someone new to the work. I will not add any commentary, but highly recommend the article: Moshe Feldenkrais History




Feldenkrais and Einstein On Process Without Language

I was reading a passage from the book Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: How Intelligence Increases When You Think Less and saw a quote by Albert Einstein about his creative process. It instantly reminded me of some similar thoughts by Moshe on his process of self-use as reported in Body Awareness as Healing Therapy: The Case of Nora
Both quotes are below.

Einstein: When Language Interferes

Albert_Einstein_Headshot

“The words of the language as they are written or spoken do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements of thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which . . . are in my case of visual and some of muscular type. [These elements take part in] a rather vague play… in which they can be voluntarily reproduced and combined… This combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought, before there is any connection with logical construction in words or other kinds of sign which can be communicated to others . . . In a stage where words intervene at all, they are, in my case, purely auditive, but they interfere only in a secondary stage.” Hare Brain, p. 56.

Fascinating. To Einstein, visual and muscular “entities” are the essential elements of thought before becoming connected with words.

Feldenkrais: I make a special effort not to think in words.

Moshe Feldenkrais Image

“When I am presented with a trouble in function, I make a special effort not to think in words. I try not to think logically and in correctly formed sentences. It has become a habit with me to imagine the relevant nervous structures by seeing them with my mind’s eye. I imagine a part which produces a flow of fluid. Part of the travel of the fluid is electrical, then becomes chemical, and again electrical. After many transformations the flow will end in a muscular contraction, and the muscular play will result in some apparent outside action involving the body, or parts of it, that will affect or transform the immediate environment. Sometimes I am stuck at a point where I cannot imagine the pattern of the flow, nor the possible obstacles in its way. Then I ask, is the obstacle a diffusion, damping, deviation, loss of impetus, break of continuity, or an impossibility of one of the transformations.

I have found this way of imagining so fruitful that I cannot do without it. It often shows me where my knowledge is insufficient so that I know exactly what I am after and therefore in which books I am likely to find the information. I form a working theory and change it in the light of new observations I must add to make the theory work. This mode of thinking is often successful in situations where specialists with greater knowledge than mine have failed. Nobody is omniscient enough to think mechanically.” Body Awareness, p. 16

Moshe Feldenkrais: “I Have No Interest In The Guild.”

“My business is to record what people say, but I am by no means bound to believe it.” – Herotodus, 2nd century AD, The Histories, (VII.152).

On my computer, I came across this little quote from Bill Callison that I pulled off the web a number of months ago. I’ve been told that Bill is the person who brought the successful suit against the german feldenkrais guild to challenge their service marks. Bill has an interesting perspective on Moshe’s thoughts about the guild:

Moshé had no interest in the incorporation process, and not very much interest in the “Guild“ activities in the years following. I have a letter from Moshé, stating his unwillingness to give time to an organization, members accepted, no matter how ineffective. With Moshé working hard and travelling, he did not want to waste time with the “confusion”, common to the “guild”, with several factions, wanting to control and influence the “guilds” activities.

Of course, it’s nothing more than hearsay…unless Bill can produce the letter he says Moshe wrote. I would love to see it and will publish it in its entirety if anyone has a copy.

Bill’s image of Moshe is quite different than what others have presented. For example, Paul Rubin and David Zemach Bersin have created a Moshe Feldenkrais who agrees 100% with their current positions (and their bank accounts) regardless of the fact that Moshe has been dead for over 25 years.

Here are a few examples back to the time of the “Anat Baniel Lawsuit.” Just like Bill did, Anat won her lawsuit.

From: David Zemach-Bersin, 11/18/99

“I want you all to know that Moshe very much desired that his work and the words associated with his work be legally protected, and that he wanted and entrusted the Guild to protect them. This was Moshe’s expressed wish. He was also vitally involved in the formation of the Guild and wanted a strong Guild to act on behalf of his wishes.”

So the Guild is acting on Moshe “expressed” wishes as conveyed by David Bersin, former Guild President. Just out of curiousity – Can David show us where Moshe expressed those wishes? In recently years, David Bersin, like Paul Rubin has done, has begun focusing on science and stressing scientific evidence for “the method.” Perhaps in that spirit he could show some evidence of “Moshe’s expressed wish?”

Here’s an illustrative quote from Paul Rubin:

“Moshe explicitly asked us in 1976 and 1977 to form a guild to regulate the future of the work. I know because I was on the committee that he empowered to create and present the by-laws to him. I was also selected by him to be a member of the first Board of Directors in 1975. Moshe himself served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for his lifetime. Because of this, I had many discussions with Moshe about the need for and the proper form of, yes, regulation and control of the future of the work. He absolutely recognised that there was a need for regulation and control to prevent people from usurping the use of the terms we now protect.” (1998).

“I know because I was there”! Isn’t that a hoot? Several people have attributed the idea of a creation of a guild to Dub Leigh, not Moshe Feldenkrais. If Paul Rubin is going to make these blanket phrases of speaking for Moshe, he needs to provide some evidence.

For those of you who are unaware, there is a great deal more to the creation of the guild than you know or have been told. And I’m sorry to say that there is a great deal more that many don’t have the courage to see. I’m often surprised at the way that guild members mentally avert their eyes to not see or consider that which contradicts what they have been told. For the insecure the need to belong often trumps the need to be aware and know the truth.

The Problem

The real problem is not what Moshe did or didn’t think or what he did or didn’t want. He is dead and can’t be consulted.

The problem is that people such as David Zemach Bersin, Paul Rubin and others are promoting and idea that has a deadly presupposition. They are implying Moshe had a hand in creating the system that we have today. That is simply not true.

Every legal and political restriction that we have in the Guild today comes not from Moshe Feldenkrais but from his students. To say that Moshe wanted his work “protected”, as David Bersin asserts is not to say that he wanted the guild to do so nor that he thought that the guild could do so. Nor is to say that he wanted or devised the laborious 20+ year process for certifying others to train using his work. Or that wanted his materials locked up behind restrictive legal and bureaucratic handcuffs.

Would Moshe be hellbent on keeping the Amhest video out of the hands of the public? Would he be shocked that 25 years after the Amherst training that the materials are still not easily accessible? Would he have wanted the Alexander Yanai sessions to cost $1000 and only be available to practitioners? Would he be surprised that the many FGNA trainers have spent most of the last 25 years merely imitating him and the last training that he conducted at Amherst?

Again – the man is dead. We can’t ask him. The honest thing to do is for David Bersin and Paul Rubin is to shut the hell up and stop using the cult-like technique of saying that they are the representatives of a dead man. And the intelligent thing – for you who say you care about the work – is to challenge these people when they put forth their bullshit about doing Moshe’s bidding.

Moshe is dead. But the restrictive monopolistic guild system where the money flows directly to private training institutes is not. These people have their interests protected not only by the Guilds, but also by the members whose dues who pay for the guild to do so. Guild members pay for a system that discriminates against them and keeps training ridiculously expensive and out of the reach of the public. Assistant trainers are stuck at the assistant trainer level. New trainers are not being certified. New training models are not being developed. The work is stagnated and the guild is dying.

But of course, Moshe made it clear 25 years ago that this is exactly how it should be and how he wanted it. Just ask two of the original apostles David and Paul.

Dr. Feldenkrais and Dr. Neff: Go Easy On Your Self

Dr. Kristin Neff

Thanks to a Facebook post by Deborah Elizabeth Lotus, I found an interesting article on Self-Compassion in the New York Times. I immediately thought of a convergence with similar ideas by Moshe Feldenkrais in his book, The Potent Self: A Study of Spontaneity and Compulsion

“If people realize the necessity for a certain act, however unpleasant, and are invited to it objectively, calmly, they do what is demanded from them with little opposition. If people are bullied into doing even what otherwise is a pleasant thing to do, they get their backs up and refuse to oblige.

Similarly, when directing oneself rudely—blaming oneself for being lazy, weak, clumsy—one finds oneself stubbornly refusing to oblige. Orders to oneself should be given without willfulness, without tension, without bullying oneself, and only for objectively valid reasons. Only children must do things just to obey orders no matter how unreasonable; this is called, by some, learning discipline. But grown-up people must not treat themselves as if they were children. One ought to learn to be as polite with oneself as with anybody else, and to feel just as awkward disturbing oneself with irrelevant problems when doing anything of consequence.” The Potent Self, Introduction

And here are some brief summations of the research by Dr. Neff:

“The research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. Preliminary data suggest that self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight.

This idea does seem at odds with the advice dispensed by many doctors and self-help books, which suggest that willpower and self-discipline are the keys to better health. But Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the field, says self-compassion is not to be confused with self-indulgence or lower standards.”

And this:

“Imagine your reaction to a child struggling in school or eating too much junk food. Many parents would offer support, like tutoring or making an effort to find healthful foods the child will enjoy. But when adults find themselves in a similar situation — struggling at work, or overeating and gaining weight — many fall into a cycle of self-criticism and negativity. That leaves them feeling even less motivated to change.”

I will leave it to you to read the article and the book and make your own connections if you choose.

Thomas Hanna: A Side-Note On “The Potent Self”

Below is a webpage with an article by Thomas Hanna. It has some alternate views about Moshe and his work as well as the book quoted above. One small quote:

Feldenkrais created the fragments of a system which he could never bring together conceptually. His best effort was his early book, Body and Mature Behavior, which attempted to found an analysis of human movement on a description of gravitation’s effects on muscular reflex actions. He later attempted to expand the theory in the ill-fated book, The Potent Self, which he decided was not publishable. Unfortunately, it was eventually published by his followers, but it only added theoretical confusion to his ideas.

I wish Hanna were alive. I would call him right now to ask him about what he wrote above. The rest of his provocative article can be found on the Somatics website. If you are a practitioner, read this article: Clinical Somatic Education: A New Discipline in the Field of Health Care

Feldenkrais Video: Dr. Feldenkrais Working With A Child With Cerebral Palsy.

It’s only a twelve-minute clip, but it’s worth watching. Do so now before it gets taken down for copyright violation.

Also, there are MUCH better ways to share Dr. Feldenkrais videos than simply using YouTube. If you really want to get him more airtime and to promote the work, I suggest you sign-up for a TubeMogul account. TubeMogul will help you to share Feldenkrais videos on many, many video sharing websites at once. You can upload a video of Dr. Feldenkrais ONCE and send it to multiple sites instantly. TubeMogul will do the work for you….and it’s free. If enough people are willing to do this, it will be virtually impossible for any organization to stop the spread of the work.

And if you get banned for sharing copyrighted material? Don’t worry about it. Just create another account from another email address.



Oops! I nearly forgot. I found out about this video from Barret Dorko’s twitter feed at: http://twitter.com/#!/wrtrohio Barret is a very intelligent man with some great ideas and links to many online resources. He, of course, has nothing to do with the content of this post. If you are a practitioner or fan of Moshe Feldenkrais and his work, I suggest that you follow Barrett.

Follow-Up Video

My apologies. I just noticed another video, post session:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rwPZKNf-50