Sunday, 28 February 2016

Learning About What is Already Part of You: How Movement Builds the Brain

"Field gave a fascinating explanation of how she understands early development: by day 49 in utero, the fetus begins to move a little left and a little right, more to one side than the other. This bias to one side will be a lifelong feature of that eventual human being's organization. But if this side-to-side movement does not occur at this time, the fetus does not survive. 

'This is a point in development when the organism is still nothing more than blood, nerve and bone-the brain does not yet exist' Field explained. 'in other words, movement precedes the brain and, you might say, movement builds the brain. Developmentally speaking, the head, neck and eyes are as much appendages as the limbs. We can only look to movement itself to explain how the nervous system itself is organized.'

After 10 to 12 weeks in the womb, three more basic movements have been added to the repertoire of this evolving human organism: folding forward, an arching movement, and a twist. All of these movements are organized slightly differently in one direction as opposed to the other, in keeping with the original bias. Long before birth, these movements are highly practiced and familiar. The unborn baby also has a clear sense of gravity, the fundamental question: Which way is up? As Field would often remind us, the newborn does not learn how to perform the most basic foundational movements, she learns about these movements that are already part of herself."

- From the article Developing a Healthy Bias: Four Days with Sheryl Field published in The Feldenkrais Journal, No 28 


The Way Things Go: a chain reaction by Fishli and Weiss

"THE WAY THINGS GO - without narration or interviews - simply records the self-destructing performance of Fischli's and Weiss' most ambitious construction: 100 feet of physical interactions, chemical reactions, and precisely crafted chaos worthy of Rube Goldberg or Alfred Hitchcock."

Thursday, 25 February 2016

What Feldenkrais is and what is is not.

Here's another excerpt from the Standards of Practice. I reread the entire document frequently, returning to find focus and inspiration for my practice. It's a great introduction for people new to the method. Long time students who have experienced the work by doing it might find this description helpful in deepening their understanding and engagement with the work.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them with me directly via email or in the comments section below.

Section 1 - What the Feldenkrais Method is and what it does.
  1. The Feldenkrais Method is an educational system that develops a functional awareness of the self in the environment. The Method utilizes the fact that the body is the primary vehicle for learning.
  2. The Feldenkrais Method is an approach to working with people which expands their repertoire of movements, enhances awareness, improves function and enables people to express themselves more fully.
  3. The Feldenkrais Method directly addresses the question of how to facilitate the learning that is necessary for organizing the whole self and recovering excluded and unconsidered movement patterns or actions.
  4. This is done by expanding the self-image through movement sequences that bring attention to the parts of the self that are out of awareness and uninvolved in functional actions. Better function is evoked by establishing an improved dynamic relationship between the individual, gravity, and society. Feldenkrais, himself, defined function as the interaction of the person with the outside world or the self with the environment.
  5. The Method enables people to include, in their functioning, movements and parts of the body unconsidered, forgotten or excluded from their habitual actions or images of actions. By allowing persons to learn how their whole body cooperates in any movement, the Feldenkrais Method assists people to live their lives more fully, efficiently and comfortably.
  6. The improvement of physical functioning is not necessarily an end in itself. Such improvement is based on developing a broader functional awareness which is often a gateway to more generalized enhancement of physical functioning in the context of one’s environment and life.
  7. The Feldenkrais Method is based on self-organization and self-regulation in learning.
  8. The Feldenkrais Method is expressed in two parallel forms: Awareness Through Movement® and Functional Integration®.
  9. Awareness Through Movement consists of verbally directed movement sequences presented primarily to groups. There are several hundred hours of Awareness Through Movement lessons. A lesson generally lasts from thirty to sixty minutes. Each lesson is usually organized around a particular function.
  10. In Awareness Through Movement lessons, people engage in precisely structured movement explorations that involve thinking, sensing, moving, and imagining. Many are based on developmental movements and ordinary functional activities. Some are based on more abstract explorations of joint, muscle, and postural relationships. The lessons consist of comfortable, easy movements that gradually evolve into movements of greater range and complexity. There are hundreds of Awareness Through Movement lessons contained in the Feldenkrais Method that vary, for all levels of movement ability, from simple in structure and physical demand to more difficult lessons.
  11. Awareness Through Movement lessons attempt to make one aware of this/her habitual neuromuscular patterns and rigidities and to expand options for new ways of moving while increasing sensitivity and improving efficiency.
  12. A major goal of Awareness Through Movement is to learn how one’s most basic functions are organized. By experiencing the details of how one performs any action, the student has the opportunity to learn how to:
    • attend to his/her whole self
    • eliminate unnecessary energy expenditure
    • mobilize his/her intentions into actions
    • learn
  13. Functional Integration is the other form of expressing the Feldenkrais Method. Just as Feldenkrais practitioners can guide people through movement sequences verbally in Awareness Through Movement, they also guide people through movement with gentle, non-invasive touching in Functional Integration.
  14. Functional Integration is a hands-on form of tactile, kinesthetic communication. The Feldenkrais practitioner communicates to the student how he/she organizes his/her body and hints, through gentle touching and movement, how to move in more expanded functional motor patterns.
  15. The Functional Integration lesson should relate to a desire, intention, or need of the student. The learning process is carried out without the use of any invasive or forceful procedure. Through rapport and respect for the student’s abilities, qualities, and integrity, the practitioner/teacher creates an environment in which the student can learn comfortably.
  16. In Functional Integration, the practitioner/teacher develops a lesson for the student, custom-tailored to the unique configuration of that particular person, at that particular moment. The practitioner conveys the experience of comfort, pleasure, and ease of movement while the student learns how to reorganize his/her body and behavior in new and more effective manners.
  17. In Functional Integration, the practitioner/teacher’s intention is instructive and communicative.
  18. Functional Integration is usually performed with the student lying on a table designed specifically for the work. It can also be done with the student in sitting or standing positions. At times, various props are used in an effort to support the person’s body con-figuration or to facilitate certain movements.
  19. The Method is based on principles of physics, biomechanics and an empirical understanding of learning and human development.
Section 2 - What the Feldenkrais Method is not.
  1. The Feldenkrais Method is not a massage, bodywork technique or medical practice. It is a learning process which has been shown to have therapeutic benefits. The Method may function as a complement to medical care.
  2. The Feldenkrais practitioner has no sexual intent and does not touch the sexual or other intimate parts of a person.
  3. Chemical or mechanical aids are not used in the practice of the Feldenkrais Method.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Moshe Doing Functional Integration

Again from the Amherst training circa 1983, Moshe is working one-on-one with students in what is known as Functional Integration.

Feldenkrais Just Doesn't Look This Good Anymore

Why do I love these Amherst training photos from 1983 so much?

The clothes? The scale? The Ektachrome color? The documentary style? The vibrant energy of the people trying to work out the movement puzzles of Awareness Through Movement Lessons?

Monday, 1 February 2016

The Story of Sister Rosetta Tharpe

"The freedom that she expressed in her singing and dancing woke up the congregation. It focused them on something that was on the inside that they never gave expression to."

- Pastor Robert Hargrove describes Sister Rosetta Tharpe

This is also an apt description of Feldenkrais. It is a process that focuses you on something inside that you might not have ever given expression and like Sister Rosetta Tharpe it leads you to expressing that freedom to yourself and the world around you.

Here's a clip from a BBC documentary about her for inspiration.