No Certification Required. You can do this.

There is an article in the New York Times about the "Feldenkrais Method," called Trying the Feldenkrais Method for Chronic Pain. I am sure that the article will go viral in the Feldenkrais community and spark all kinds of positive comments. And why not? It is nice to have validation from a third-party. And the article will likely help some people to this wonderful work.

But the larger issues will likely be missed. Here it is quite simply: You do not need someone with "medical" or "PT" training to engage in the process of getting in touch with your bodily sensations and awareness. And neither do you need someone who is a "Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner."

Learning about one's self and one's body and movement only requires the ability and desire to engage with the world and access to reasonably-priced sessions and transcripts. Licenses and credentials are not required. In fact licenses and credentials get in the way, as they create radically higher costs and thus limit the ability of the work to reach and help more people. And more to the point - to those who salivate over the idea of scientific evidence and research - there is no evidence that a higher level of training leads to better outcomes. Though it most certainly adds to the income of those running certification programs and training.

There is much more that I could say here. But for now, just realize that Feldenkrais is great work. And you can experiment with it yourself and for your self.

Update: Look, if you have taken or want to take an in depth Feldenkrais training, good for you. Go for it! I did the same nearly 30 years ago. But realize that the rules for who can train and what can be taught and how were not designed to help spread the work. They were not designed to open you up to your potential. They were designed to protect the financial interests of a small number of people who took control of Moshe's trademarked terms when he died. Whatever you chose to do with Feldenkrais, do it for yourself and those who are important to you.

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Your Mission (Should You Choose To Accept It)

There is a tendency to think that Feldenkrais is something "contained" somewhere. That is, something that we do at a certain time and with certain verbal instructions or an audio. But being aware, feeling and sensing our body and how we move is something we can do at any time. It is something that does not require any prompting or instructions. In many ways, it is simply a habit. So...

If you are interested, sometime today or tonight or tomorrow or perhaps even right now, simply do a scan of your body.

Notice your contact with the environment. Feel your body. Feel your breathing. Notice where your body is clear in your awareness, where it is less clear. Try doing this with your eyes open and also closed and see what difference you sense.

That's all. Do not do it for any particular length of time. Do not plan. Just scan.

Cheers!

Ryan

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Feldenkrais Left Home At 12?

Feldenkrais and many of his students like to talk about how he left Ukraine (a part of Russia at the time) to walk (yes, walk) to what was later to be called Israel. What many of his students may not realize when they repeat the story was how young Feldenkrais was at the time.

"I was twelve or thirteen years old when I left my parents house to go to Palestine. It was in 1918..."

Why did he leave? Apart from the fact that the British government had recently committed to helping create a homeland for Jews, as stated in the Balfour Declaration and Feldenkrais wanted to be a part of that; Feldenkrais also said that:

"I did not like to be at home because my parents had ideas. Anyone who knows my parents knows they were very decent clever people and thinks they were extraordinary Jews..I left them at the age of thirteen, and for years, did not have much to do with them. That was because they tried to make me what they thought I should be."*

So, Feldenkrais not only had strong ideas about himself at that age - many children (as we would call them today) do. But he was willing to act on them.

Just a bit of flavor to help you - perhaps - understand the man a bit better. Would you have had the courage to leave home at 12 and travel across the globe? To make yourself by your own hands?

To a large extent it is a meaningless question in today's world. Children today in the U.S., Europe and many other countries are legally required to be in school and are prohibited from nearly all kinds of formal paid employment. But in Moshe's time things were quite different. For example, in the U.S. in 1918 the Supreme Court struck down statutes limiting child labor! It was not until 1938 that Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act. It fixed minimum ages of 16 for work during school hours, and 14 for certain kinds of after school jobs. And in the world we live in today, a child leaving home at the age of 13 would be at risk for so many negative outcomes it boggles the mind.

Even so, to leave home at 13 and to make one's decisions about work, living arrangements, schooling and the like. It seems to have helped Feldenkrais further develop his strong and independent mindset.

Note: The quotes above are from a transcript from the San Francisco Feldenkrais Training, August 16, 1977. I do not have access to Mark Reese's biography of Feldenkrais but a description of the book asserts that Feldenkrais left home at 14, not 13. I do not know what accounts for the discrepancy.

Postscript. I do not write much about Moshe Feldenkrais and his early history. Part of the reason is what I see as the danger of "historicism." Human beings habitually create stories and narratives about events. Even when they do not realize that they are doing so. And people look to the past to find what they see as "causes." But it is always conjecture. Always. The important idea to remember is that one creates oneself not by looking backwards, but by moving forwards. As Milton Erickson liked to say, "At least when you fall down you are moving in the right direction."

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The Non-Habitual Non-Habitual

Between 2002 and 2007, I taught psychology classes at the University of Utah. And I did whatever I could do to integrate Feldenkrais sessions and ideas into my classes. For example, in my infancy and early childhood classes, I would take developmental milestones such as learning to crawl or walk and teach Feldenkrais sessions about crawling and walking. It was a fascinating experience as I got to read hundreds and hundreds of 1-page "Field Notes" of the sessions that I required the students to hand in every week.

However, something wonderfully unexpected occurred when the students asked me to give them "extra credit." That is, at the end of one semester they wanted me to give them some type of extra project or paper that they could do to increase their grades.

Being very busy with my teaching load and graduate studies, I came up with the rather unimaginative idea for them to take any Feldenkrais session that they had already done and do it in some type of new context. So, if they normally did the sessions in the evening, they could choose to do one in the morning. If they normally did them at home, they could do one at work. Or they could try doing one in public or at their girlfriend or boyfriend's house. It did not matter to me as long as it was a different as possible.

I was quite surprised when their papers came back and they described radically different experiences from when they first had done a particular session. They had different emotional experiences. Some described the second context as bringing up anxiety or guilt. For some the second context was more relaxing and more impactful. Several people noted that it seemed like an entirely different session. And the field notes that they submitted were longer and more detailed. I was impressed.

I came up with the term "the non-habitual, non-habitual" to describe what they had done for themselves and I have used "non habitual" Feldenkrais strategies ever since. You can quite easily fall into doing Feldenkrais in a habitual manner and thus get less out of the sessions. The solution is to do some sessions in what would be for you the most non habitual manner that you can.

Have you ever woken up at night and could not go back to sleep? Do a Feldenkrais session. Have you ever felt bored, depressed or unable to work? Force (yes, force) yourself to lie down and do a Feldenkrais session. Do you never do Feldenkrais at a certain time of day? Do a few sessions at that time of day! Or if that seems impossible, at least lie down and do a scan. Have you never done a session at the beach or in a forest? You know what to do.

You will likely be very surprised at how different your experience is and what you discover about yourself. If you really want to evolve your life and habits at deeper and deeper levels - to break free from more and more habits and compulsions at deeper and deeper levels- doing the non-habitual non-habitual is a requirement.

Enjoy!


My Easy Feldenkrais series is still going strong. Get a new Feldenkrais audio session in your email every 6 to 7 days and get access to a growing online library of Feldenkrais sessions and transcripts, from the Esalen Workshop, Alexander Yanai and many more.

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Breathing In All Directions (A Free Feldenkrais Session)

I have so much going on with my Easy Feldenkrais series and private Facebook group, that I am rarely posting publically on this blog. So, to rectify that a bit, here is a free Feldenkrais session for you. It is a recently re-recorded and updated version of what I call, "Breathing In All Directions." It is based on Moshe's Alexander Yanai #179, "To Weld By Breathing.

Feldenkrais and Feldenkrais purists, would likely not approve of my saying that the session is about breathing. And that it can potentially relieve a great deal of stress. Feldenkrais nearly always focused on the learning and awareness aspects of his sessions.

Nonetheless, over the several decades I have of doing Feldenkrais, this has been one of the most deeply relaxing sessions that I have done and others have mentioned that as well. I would even go as far to say that people who have been "triggered" or have had some type of stress response or are having trouble focusing, or working can do this session as a way to relax and get re-focused and re-energized. Plus, it tends to open and expand the chest in all directions and it has a positive effect that many can feel for days.

As always - of course - your experience may differ.

Enjoy!

You can download the session and add to your personal Feldenkrais library by clicking the link below and doing FILE > SAVE AS on your internet browser. Then add it to iTunes, Windows Media Player or whatever else you may use: Download Breathing In All Directions.

If you are interested, and if you have read this far down the post, I should tell you that I am currently offering a $1 thirty-one day trial to my online Easy Feldenkrais series. Feel free to click to take a look.

By the way - I call it "Easy Feldenkrais" not because the sessions are all easy (though many are), but rather because I make it very easy for people to use and do Feldenkrais. There are session on the site which are also posted on a private Facebook group and that I also send via email. You can literally just click the link in the emails that I send and it will start playing on your computer, smartphone, tablet etc.

Cheers!

I hope you are doing great out there.

Ryan

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