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Feldenkrais Methods and Viral Marketing, Part 1

Internet Marketing Packages

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Every so often a member of one of the Feldenkrais communities will approach me about viral marketing – a way of using internet technologies to help an idea or product spread very rapidly online.

To date, I have not agreed to do any viral marketing campaigns for anyone in the Feldenkrais community.

Why?

There are four reasons. They have to do with remarkability, accessibility, ease of delivery and trust.

Remarkability and Accessibility

Ideas that spread on the internet are ideas that are remarkable. That is, a person has to really like your idea in order to send it to another person. It has to be outstanding, unique, curious, fascinating or have some other quality that really makes someone WANT to share it with friends. And part of that remarkability is being able to understand your idea. If it’s too complicated not enough people will know what to do with it.

Ease of Delivery and Trust

Likewise there needs to be a delivery method that is quick and easy and that has trust built in. People need to trust you and you idea for it to spread.

So far, no one has approached me with an idea that fits the four criteria above and has not been able to convince me that they will make the changes necessary for viral marketing success.

Let me give you a specific example of a successful viral marketing campaign.

Viral Marketing Example

An old (in internet terms) but hugely successful viral marketing campaign was Hotmail email. It was a company that offered free email accounts. It was so successful that it was adopted by 12 MILLION users in less than two years.

How did it do so? At the time, many people already had email addresses, but they were through a paid service such as AOL, or through their employer. Having a free email not tied to work or home? That was remarkable and needed. And what about those that wanted email but couldn’t pay for internet access? They too could get their own free email. It was remarkable for them as well. But just as important, it was easy to understand. “Free” and “email” are concepts that most people understand already. So there was a low cognitive load in understanding the offer.

But something can be remarkable and accessible but hard to spread. This is where hotmail did something simple, but brilliant. They created a built in delivery method for their virus. At the end of very email sent from it’s account was the tagline:

“Get Your Private, Free Email from Hotmail at www.hotmail.com”

Every time that someone sent an email they were advertising the service! And not only that, but if you got an email from a friend, or several friends, who were already using hotmail, then you had a built in reason to trust the system. If your friends, were using it, it was likely OK, right?

Are you following me here? Remarkable, accessible, easy to deliver and trustworthy. Those are a few characteristics needed for a viral marketing campaign. There are others. We will cover them in a later blog post, part two of this series.

Are you ready to go viral?

What could you do to make your practice more remarkable? What could you do to make your ideas more accessible…and easier to share and…trustworthy? Of course, this isn’t just about viral marketing, but about marketing in general.

Here are a few website suggestions:

1) Remarkability. Is there a clear statement of what you do on your website? Is it remarkable? Is it emotional? Does it specifically connect with the need or desire of a particular person or group?

2) Accessibility and Ease. How easy is to contact you? Is your contact info on every page? Do you make it clear that you want people to reach you? Do they know that they can talk to you free of charge to see how you can benefit them?

3) Trust. Do you have a picture of yourself on your website so that people can see who you are? Are you smiling in the picture? Do you have testimonials on your site so that people can see that others trust you?

Good. Now, you are ready to start thinking about viral marketing.

Your Feldenkrais Viral Advantage

In future posts, I am going to write more about the specifics of viral marketing. I am going to show you how this website gets a substantial amount of traffic through Facebook, other blogs, and the search engines such as google. This will be information that you can use immediately for your own products and services.

For now, whether you are a practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method, Bones For Life, Child’Space, Sounder Sleep, Core Integration, or some other Feldenkrais-based or inspired method, I would like you consider your viral advantage.

You have a huge advantage (HUGE) compared to a physical therapist, massage therapist, doctor and other health practitioner.

Do you know what it is?

It’s part of the elusive obvious of the modern networked world that we live in. More in the next post.

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David Zemach Bersin And The Advanced Workshop That Wasn’t

Worst Advanced Training Ever?

Or Just Business as Usual?

Early in 2009, I took the most ill-conceived and, I am sorry to say, useless, advanced Feldenkrais training that I have ever encountered – A “Functional Integration Immersion” workshop taught by David Zemach Bersin in Berkeley, California. It has been nearly 8 months since I took the workshop, and I must say, I still find myself stunned by it.

I’m not proud to admit that it has taken me this long to write about the workshop and that it bothers me as much as it does. But I’m getting a little weary of the low standards for training that exist in the Feldenkrais community and I think it’s time for people to start speaking out. My apologies if I sound a little crabby. And I certainly don’t mean to state that all feldenkrais training is universally bad. But in this instance something was seriously amiss.

That fact that a person “studied personally with Moshe Feldenkrais” or is called a “Feldenkrais Trainer” should not give him or her a free pass to put out half-assed feldenkrais training. There is accountability in the real world, and I think it’s time to have some accountabilty in the world of Feldenkrais. It is possible. And it is necessary, if this work is going to reach it’s full potential.

“I have nothing prepared!!”

The workshop began in a manner that I found quite shocking. There were about 25 people, myself included, sitting or lying on the carpet in the training room. If you have ever been to a Feldenkrais training or workshop, you can picture the scene. In walks David Bersin. From the side of the room he starts speaking and says,

“Look, I asked you to email me if you had specific areas that you wanted to address in this workshop. Nobody emailed me, so I have nothing prepared!!”

Nothing prepared?! Jesus Christ. For a brief moment I stopped breathing. I spent $300 in tuition for a workshop and he is telling me that he has nothing prepared?! And it’s the participants’ fault for not telling him what to prepare? Imagine for yourself what you would feel. You have bought a plane ticket, traveled cross country, paid for a hotel room and meals, paid for a 3-day workshop…and the workshop leader tells you that he has not prepared?

I tried to tell myself that David said was using a technique or something. That he really DID prepare something but that he wanted to keep people on their toes. My delusion was soon shattered.

ATM to FI? No.

David had us lie down and do an Awareness Through Movement session. It was a brilliant ATM (one I have never encountered) and David taught it masterfully. I assumed that after the ATM- this being a “Functional Integration Immersion” – we might do some FI. You know, perhaps take the ATM and translate it into an FI or something? But I was wrong. Instead, David launched into a “show,” that I can only describe as something akin to religious revival meeting. He started talking about Moshe and what a genius he was, and how he could “make the lame walk, he could make the f*cking lame walk.”

Then what? Well just like in a religious meeting once you invoke the master and his brilliance, you must talk about the “fall from grace” and your plan to restore everyone to glory. That’s right, Bersin talked about the fact that, in his opinion, no one had reached the mastery that Moshe achieved, and that he (David) was upset by this and wanted to make things right. That he was passionate about and committed to the work…and then…?

FI Practice? No. FI template? No.

And then…nothing. Not a damn thing. David launched into a 90 minute lecture on the conservation of energy and mass. He threw out some of the obligatory “lines” by and about Moshe: The nervous system works well because it is invisible…You are not aware of the process of learning itself…you can’t separate learning form experience etc. etc. But his ideas were not connected to anything. There was no organization to help make the ideas usable nor actionable. And remember this workshop was a “Functional Integration Immersion.” While it was interesting to hear David Bersin quote and repeat some ideas from Moshe, would it not have been appropriate to teach something about FI? And maybe DO some Functional Integration?

So Much For The “Immersion”

We never got there. David took the easy way out. He gave functional integration and expected us to pick it up by osmosis. He talked about functional integration. He brought out the (seemingly obligatory) video of Moshe lecturing. And then – I kid you not – not until the last hour of the last day did we practice FI. And, we practiced ALONE. David was off in a corner talking to someone. If I remember correctly, it was his wife…or perhaps, it was the “assistant trainer” Carol Kress. Either way David didn’t want to be bothered by something so trivial as interacting with his workshop participants.

By the way, the “Assistant Trainer” Carol Kress, had no presence in the workshop. She was relegated to the role that most Feldenkrais Assistant Trainers play, which is to essentially stay in the room and say nothing and do nothing. If we had done a substantial amount of FI, perhaps she could have helped. But I must say that it was comical to see the blank look on her face the multiple times that Bersin look at her and at the group and said:

“So what do you want to do?! What should we do?!!”

Carol didn’t have anymore ideas than did David. I guess she wasn’t expecting to have to teach the workshop for him and provide the structure.

Passion is Not Competence

That David Bersin cares deeply about the Feldenkrais Method, I have no doubt. Nor do I doubt that he is passionate about the work. But the last time I checked passion and caring are not substitutes for competence. And they sure as heck aren’t substitutes for planning, preparation and a well thought out plan for teaching. Charging money for a workshop and then showing up without preparation or thought is inexcusable. And saying nothing and doing nothing when a “trainer” completely disrespects the time and commitment of people who come to his workshops is equally inexcusable. I am embarrassed for myself and embarrassed for the group for not demanding better. I would have gotten more out of my time had I gone to my hotel room and did ATM or simply practiced with the other practitioners there. Bersin’s presence was irrelevant.

For the record – David Bersin is a brilliant practitioner. He is what Malcom Gladwell would describe as an “outlier,” someone whose work is extraordinary. I have seen David give Functional Integration sessions that are breathtaking and that engender truly astonishing changes in the people he works with. That is one of the reasons that I attended his workshop. However, I have seen no indication that David Bersin knows how to teach Functional Integration. In fact, I would be willing to bet that David does not think FI can be taught in a workshop setting. I could be wrong. Perhaps I am wrong. But I can tell you I saw nothing in his workshop that would convince me otherwise.

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Feldenkrais Research? Show Me The Data.

There seem to be more and more voices within the Feldenkrais community making calls for research on the method. You may know about the IFF Research Journal that has been in existence for several years. They have some useful articles. There is the “Esther Thelen Fund” whose goal is “…to foster the specific communication and coordination needed for collaborators to generate new research projects”. One of the fund’s latest projects is a website for collaboration (using outdated technology, I might add), for which Roger Russell and Pat Buchanan make a rather confused and half-hearted statement for in Growing a Community for Research. And let’s not forget David Zemach Bersin’s recently created “Feldenkrais Research Foundation.” Described as “non-profit devoted to initiating and supporting scientific research on The Feldenkrais Method.”

Gosh! It all sounds official and exciting. Surely, there must be some research coming that will fill everyone’s practice and have people banging on the doors to schedule sessions and enroll in classess.

Horaah for research!!!

Not just yet.

The problem is that no one is making specific, rational arguments for how research will help the average practitioner trying to make a living with the work. And to be perfectly blunt, I’m not convinced that any of the groups have the slightest care whether or not research is a boon to the practitioners who are in the trenches actually doing the work.

To be clear, I’m not against research. And I am not speaking to taking advantage of, and using, the huge amounts of useful research that has already been published. Rather, I am speaking about the grandiose “me too” efforts of Feldenkrais trainers and PhD’s who seem to think they can spark a revolution by publishing in scientific journals. We are a small community on a tight budget and before more money is spent on research, we need to understand the pathways to how it might help. We need to understand the costs involved. And we need to have some idea of the return on investment. We need also to compare the return – if any – to that which could be made on other endeavors, such as advertising, outreach, viral marketing, changes in access to materials etc.

Is There Data Supporting Feldenkrais Research?

In the article Growing A Community for Research, Roger Russell and Pat Buchanan attempted to make a case for research by making an assertion:

“It is true that students, practitioners, and other stakeholders would benefit from research that advances our knowledge and understanding of the Feldenkrais Method.”

“It is true”? That does not sound very scientific. Roger and Pat take it as a given that students and practitioners would benefit. Interesting. If science is the backbone of their inquiry, then let us ask them to provide some data and the basis for their hypothesis. As I used to write on the papers of my Psych 3000 (Introduction to Research in Psychology) students “the goal of science is to disprove, not to prove.” And science does not prove, it only lends evidence for or against some propositions. So let’s do a good deed and rephrase what Pat and Roger are saying, so they can attempt to be scientific in their endeavors:

“There is evidence to support the idea that students, practitioners, and other stakeholders would benefit from research that advances our knowledge and understanding of the Feldenkrais Method.”

Ok, good. Now, Roger and Pat need to show us what the evidence is. And we need some references so we can verify what they are saying. But that is only the beginning. If they can show us specific, verifiable, benefits, we need to ask who should conduct that research and how it will be supported.

Who Will Pay For Feldenkras Research?

When I was working towards a PhD at the University of Utah, I did work in research laboratories that often had budgets in excess of $250,000 per year. Think about that – a million dollars over a 4-year period to conduct research. You might ask what comes out of such a budget. I’ll tell you. It’s usually the publication of a couple of articles during the grant and a few afterward. There will likely be some conference presentations and sometimes (though rarely) a book or a monograph.

And the end result? A statement that “more research is warranted.” Research universities get grants of millions and dollars to produce research articles, the vast majority of which have little effect in their own fields, let alone in the larger world. What can we expect the various feldenkrais research foundations to spend? $10,000? $50,000? $150,000? Whatever, the amount is, it’s not enough. It has a snowballs chance in hell of making an impact. Which isn’t to say that I am against it. But let’s be clear about what we are doing and what we are up against.

And let’s also be clear about the motivations of people who produce research. It is usually their job to design and conduct studies. You’ve heard the phrase, “publish or perish”? Researchers get paid to publish. That’s what helps them get tenure, and promotions, and new grants. Which is fine. But keep in mind – they are not getting paid to help you build a practice.

In the quote above, Roger and Pat mention that we would “benefit” by Feldenkrais-based research. As you may guess by now, I am not convinced. But again, let’s be scientific here and give them a chance to make a research-based argument. Roger and Pat, what do you mean by “benefit”? Would the benefit be helping the method reach more people ? If so, which people? And how? Or are you talking about some other benefit? And how are the actions that you are taking now going to engender the specific outcomes that you hope to achieve? Please explain.

The various “foundations” are asking for support and money and yet they have not made anything other than a vague and untestable assertion that research is a good thing. And again, I ask:

Good for Who? And at What Cost?

No one has bothered to answer these questions, let alone generate specific, testable, reasearch-based hypotheses that could help us move forward in an intelligent, efficient manner. For that reason, for now, I say “Show me the data.”

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Is “Bones For Life” Feldenkrais?

I’ve heard some conversations recently in which people ask, “Is Bones For Life® Feldenkrais®?” or simply state, “Bones for Life IS NOT Feldenkrais!!” Neither statement makes any sense.

Here’s an idea. How about asking questions about the “new” methodologies in a way that is consistent with Feldenkrais learning principles? How about asking what will help people to develop organically in the way that is most satisfying for them. So that they can develop in accordance with their own needs, their own desires, their own abilities and at their own speed.

Sound familiar?

The labels are irrelevant, the persons needs and desires are not. Better questions to ask:

Would it be useful for me to learn Bones For Life?
Would Bones For Life add to what I know about myself?
What would BFL add to what I know about the Feldenkrais Method?
Would it be useful for my students or for my practice?

It seems to me that those are worthy questions to consider.

As for FGNA not accepting Bones For Life as “continuing education”? No offense to the Guild, but who cares? Personally, I’m not organizing my learning activities in accordance to the external requirements of the FGNA. No guild is going to set my learning agenda. Those of you who are worried about meeting continuing education requirements might take a moment to consider your own self-directed learning activities:

Do you regularly do self-application of ATM?
Do you work with the Alexander Yanai lessons?
Do you engage in study groups?

All of those activities count as continuing ed, keep track of them, count them as your continuing hours and go take any damn training that you want to.

cheers – Ryan

By the way – I have not taken a Bones For Life training. I am not endorsing Bones For Life. I AM endorsing organic development and the desire for intelligent life on planet earth. If not you, then who? Who?!

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The First 5 Open Source Feldenkrais-Based Lessons

Open Source Transcripts: Moshe Feldenkrais For All.

As promised, in my previous post on Open-Source Feldenkrais Materials, here is a group of open-source Self-Awareness Through Movement lessons based on the work of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais. Please read the disclaimer before using these materials: http://utahfeldenkrais.org/blog/blog-disclaimer/

The session names are:
1) Sitting, Bending the Head
2) Seeing Your Heels #1
3) Roll to Sit Using Your Elbows
4) Sitting Cross-Legged
5) Turning the Head

All transcripts are in word document (docx) and PDF format:

http://utahfeldenkrais.org/blog/downloads/OS_Moshe_Nagy_Released.zip

Creative Commons License

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Open-Source Materials Based On The Work Of Moshe Feldenkrais

Do you think the work of Moshe Feldenkrais should be more widely available?

If you read the FeldyForum or participate in other community activities such as attending guild conferences, you may have heard about the dissatisfaction that many Feldenkrais and Feldenkrais-based practitioners have about the accessibility of materials. The discussions have been going on for many, many years.

Much of the materials related to the work of Moshe Feldenkrais are, in fact, copyrighted. That is, the written transcript or audio of the particular “ATM” or other session is protected under copyright law and a person cannot wantonly make copies, re-sell, re-transmit or otherwise utilize the materials without written consent of the creator.

That is, perhaps, sensible. People do expect to have certain protections on the use of their creative work and do expect to profit from their own materials.

The Limitations of Copyright

However, when considering general access to materials related to the work of Moshe Feldenkrais there are deep and problematic issues with copyright that no one in the community has fully addressed.

Some of the limitations of copyrighted Feldenkrais-based materials:

1) Restrict the growth of the method by restricting access to materials.
2) Restrict the development of practitioners by forcing them to buy and adapt source materials.
3) Encourage pathological interactions where friends and colleagues seem forced to “break the law” in order to share, grow and learn together.
4) Slow the process of creating new applications and products based on the work.
5) Limit the public’s ability to learn about the method and utilize it (this is a huge problem).
6) Dramatically reduce the potential of the work to “go viral” and spread on the internet via email, social networking websites, blogs, podcasts and the dozens of new tools that have not been invented yet.
7) Hide the crucial “elusive obvious” that there a many business, revenue and marketing models that do not rely on copyright. Models that may be more beneficial to the continued growth of our communities and by extension – individuals within our communities.

There are other issues such as violations of evolutionary and learning principles. But I will save those arguments for a later post.

For now, let me ask you a question:

What would happen if there were a core of Feldenkrais-based lessons that were freely available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year – forever?

I’m talking about lessons that anyone could download, use, adapt, share, give away, post on Facebook, email, give to their neighbors, their students, their lovers, their mothers, in any way they choose, for their own benefit and for the benefit of their community? Do you think that might help to create an explosion of interest in the work of Moshe Feldenkrais?

Would greater access Feldenkrais-based materials make the world a better place…?

Would greater access Feldenkrais-based materials help more people understand and use the work….?

Would some people who downloaded and used free Feldenkrais-based materials be more likely to end up in your classes…and on your table…?

Would you like to have freely available material that you could use in your study groups, classes and in your own products?

Would you be excited if you released one of your own works under an open-source license and found that it was being used by people all over the world, thereby introducing you and your ideas to a huge audience?

If any of your answers to those questions resonate with you, then it’s time to for you to get to work and start enacting your intention. Nothing is stopping you from making your own transcripts, putting lessons in your own words, and releasing them under a less restrictive copyright such as a creative commons share-and-share alike or even a public domain license. And when you have done so , let me know, so that I can help others find your work. Who knows, we may be able to build an entire database together.

And in case you haven’t noticed:

“I’ve Already Made My Decision”

Over the coming days and weeks, I am going to begin releasing many of my own transcripts and perhaps other materials under a Creative-Commons “Share and Share Alike” license. I will also be discussing some of the benefits and limitations of doing so.


Until then, stay tuned. I hope you will enjoy and use the materials that I share with you. If you would like priority notification of the materials as they become available and of new blog post and podcasts, please consider signing up for updates by using the form below. Your email address will be held secure and private by Feedblitz service and will only be use to send you notifications of new posts.

Click And Subscribe Here To Keep Updated.

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Dr. David Gorski: King of the Quack’s

The Happy little Duck...
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Dr. David “Orac” Gorski

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and smells like a duck, it’s probably David Gorski, M.D., PhD.

Gorski is a medical doctor and blogger who casts aspersions on the work of others by selectively choosing data and research that supports his positions, ignoring those that don’t, while simultaneously attempting to hide behind the anonymity of his screen name “Orac.” (Thanks to Pat Sullivan for showing “Orac’s” true identity.

I am not going to do a full analysis of David Gorski and his work. I do not have the time nor the desire. Do a google search of his name if you want to know more. However, I am somewhat fascinated by a recent post from Dr. Gorski’s Science Blog “Insolence” where he takes aim at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s use of Feldenkrais,® Awareness Through Movement sessions taught by Mary Beth Smith.

Dr. Gorski criticizes a claim that the Feldenkrais Method is “confirmed by neuroscience.” Here’s the crux of his argument:

“Does M.D. Anderson present any evidence that this Feldenkrais method is anything more than glorified yoga? Nope. It simply tells us that Feldenkrais’ findings have been “confirmed by neuroscience,” whatever that means. So I looked at that bane of woo-meister claims, PubMed. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any evidence that the Feldenkrais method has been “confirmed by by research in neuroscience,” at least not any neuroscience published in the peer-reviewed literature indexed on PubMed. True, I did find 34 references, but a lot of them were in the CAM literature, and none of them were in any neuroscience journals that I could find.”

Fine. Gorski could not find an article that reads: “Feldenkrais confirmed by neuroscience.” But what does that mean exactly? It means nothing. First, there are probably no neuroscientists doing research that is specifically on the Feldenkrais Method. They might be doing research on principles related to the Feldenkrais Method (whether they realize it or not). But an outcome study directly about the Feldenkrais Method? Probably not.

Note that Gorski says that the Feldenkrais Method “borders on quackery” while choosing to ignore the implications of the 30+ outcome studies that have been conducted on The Feldenkrais Method. Why? Is he too lazy to make a thorough evaluation of the research? Is he not looking for ways to improve the lives of his patients and clients? Is he so emotionally committed to one theoretical position that he is not interested in finding data that might challenge his world view? Apparently Gorski is only “scientific” when it meets his own personal agenda. This type of attitude is dangerous in a man who is employed by a medical institution.

I find it troubling that an Associate Professor of Surgery at the Wayne State University School of Medicine is not more careful in his thinking and writing and that neither Wayne State nor ScienceBlogs does a better job of monitoring their people and opinions and the information that they are spreading online.

Even more troubling is that this man specifically targets individuals in his writing, while refusing to clearly identify himself, his and his institutional affiliations. This is a breach of ethics and integrity and needs to be addressed by those who employ him.

Would you consider directly contacting the people who employ David Gorski aka Orac? A short written letter and email, would be most helpful:

Science Blogs: editorial@scienceblogs.com
ScienceBlogs, LLC
12 West 21st Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10010
Phone: (646) 502-7050
Fax: (646) 502-7040

info@karmanos.org
Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute
4100 John R
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 966-8527

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Bonnie Humiston Podcast

Bonnie Humiston, Feldenkrais Trainer

Bonnie Humiston, Feldenkrais Trainer

Welcome to a 33-minute podcast with Feldenkrais Trainer Bonnie Humiston from Humiston Wellness.. Bonnie began her studies with Moshe Feldenkrais in 1971 and graduated from the first North American Feldenkrais training in 1977. She has been a two-time President of the Feldenkrais Guild of North America, charter member of the International Feldenkrais Federation Board of Directors, and primary editor of the Amherst Training materials.

This podcast contains a great deal on historical information regarding the Feldenkrais Method and the various “guiding” organizations that have developed around the work such as the country and region-specific Feldenkrais Guilds and the International Feldenkrais Federation.


Enjoy. Click the link to download: Bonnie Humiston Podcast

Is Feldenkrais a Cult?!

There is a conversation on a private Feldenkrais forum related to some people’s perception of the Feldenkrais Method as a cult. The forum conversation is mainly regarding marketing. That is, finding better ways to explain Feldenkrais principles and introduce people to the work.

However, I know from my website database that many people search for the term, “Feldenchrist” on google. I have assumed that is some type of misunderstanding that comes about when some hears a foreign-sounding word and has to make some sense out of it.

I was curious if there was any information on the internet about Feldenkrais as a “cult.” I conducted a brief search on Google and previewed the first 100 or so websites that came up under the keyword phrase “Feldenkrais Cult.” The search led me to two listings (bold emphasis mine).

From QuakWatch.com

Feldenkrais Method® (Feldenkrais technique): Mode of bodywork originated in Israel by physicist and engineer Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc. (1904-1984). It is a form of “movement reeducation” whose alleged results include “increased levels of vital energy” (“renewed inner vitality”). The method has two “aspects”: (1) private, one-on-one instruction (Functional Integration), and (2) group instruction (Awareness Through Movement).

And from New Zealand Cults:

“Feldenkrais Method, The. Not Yet Rated. In effect a subset of Somatic Education, it is marketed in New Zealand under such names as Move To Improve. Basic idea seems to be that much body pain and physical restrictions (lack of movement) aren’t caused by old age but by learned habits and repetitive poor use of the body. OK so far. However the Feldenkrais Method, like many other alternative physical therapies, claims that by its application all sorts of things can be fixed, stress reduced, etc. There is no credible research evidence to substantiate such claims, and so is considered an alternative treatment. Although it is included in a prominant NZ online New Age resource listing, it may not be particularly New Age itself, but it and its practitioners often do have strong links to the New Age.”

The entries above, mild as they may be, are making insinuations without a shred of data and no attempts to define terms. Quakwatch mentions the “alleged results” of “increased vital energy.” What in the hell is increased vital energy? I have certainly never heard someone make that claim about the Feldenkrais Method and have no idea what it is or for what it stands. Could Quakwatch be kind enough to cite a reference for the quote above? Is that not standard scientific procedure? They are saying, in essence, “It’s not scientific, take our word for it.”

There is a growing pool of research regarding the Feldenkrais Method. Although it is certainly not overwhelming there are many attempts and many peer-reviewed articles concerning the Feldenkrais Method. (For a sadly outdated list that I have not updated recently, see: http://www.psych.utah.edu/feldenkrais/index.php (Sorry, the U of Utah deleted my website after I left grad school.

And the New Zealand cult network wants to associate the Feldenkrais Method with the “New Age.” Although, admittedly, it’s a meaningless term undefined by most who use it – including the people who write for the New Zealand cult network. I would think that a group attempting to steer people away from cults (a worthy undertaking) would do more to define what the heck they are talking about.

So called “scientific methods” when applied to human affairs are a notoriously slippery slope. I have been, and remain, completely shocked at the utter garbage that I was exposed to when undergoing a PhD program in Psychology at the University of Utah. The terms that were bandied about – latent variables, manifest variables, internal working models, cognitive structures, etc. etc. ad naseum. Sometimes the concepts are useful and can lead us into empirically testable hypothesis. Sometimes there is nothing behind them except an untested, naive belief that human behavior has “causes” that need scientific sounding names and numbers to describe them. Maybe they do – but if you can’t find one in the physical world, simply making a cause up and giving it a name is hardly science.

It’s not clear to me that “Feldenkrais Research” as it stands is going to do much better. I hope that in the zeal to gain the external stamp of approval from “science” that Feldenkrais Practitioners do not end up losing what makes the method so unique – helping living, breathing, human beings created actionable and meaningful differences in their lives.

So, is the Feldenkrais Method a “cult”? I think the answer is “no.” Though people can use the work in cult-like ways. Is there a “scientific basis” for it? Well, go to PubMed or another research website and you will find some evidence in support of the work.