One of the things that have drawn my attention since I have been taking part in Feldenkrais Method (FM) lessons, as a student, as a trainee, and as a practitioner, are the changes that most of the participants go through. Gradual changes can be perceived in the gestures, in the movements of the bodies, and the body scheme of most of the participants.
Indeed, the FM is designed to be transformational. It is a method that can change individuals by facilitating a better, upright, and aware experience of and with themselves, in such a way that a new and true self-image can materialize.
A common view regarding the self-image is that it represents the behavioral, mental, emotional, or spiritual aspects of the person. In the FM, however, the key to the self-image, and selfhood in general, is to be found in the body and its movements. A fundamental notion of the FM is that of the unity between the self and the body. It is not that there is an intimate relationship between them, but rather that the self or self-image is the body-image.
Certainly, Feldenkrais was not the first to affirm such unity, and he won’t be the last as well. However, what is distinctive is that he made such idea concrete, by modeling a series of somatic practices, a method, based on the idea of oneness. A method that its effectiveness is being proved and its principles are supported by scientific research.
Indeed, the FM is built on this idea of oneness, and the most amazing fact is that by practicing the method the integral unity can be experienced. To be sure, the FM generates changes in the organization of the body movements, in its flexibility, and in acquiring comfortable postures for the different practices of everyday life, such as sitting, standing, walking, and safely lifting objects. Given that there is no movement without sensation, no sensation without feeling, and no feeling without thought, with a due practice the changes become functional modifications that resonate on the person’s sensations, affects, feelings, and thoughts. And it is by integrating all these layers of the motor-sensorial experience, that unity is sensed.
The question that intrigues me is how does the FM generate such changes? What are the principles of the method and how are they staged in its practice? This is indeed a challenging task since the knowledge supporting the method comes from different sources such as physiology, anatomy, neuroscience, body mechanics, kinesthetic and somatic studies. In addition, Feldenkrais himself, in the preface to one of his books wrote: “I have tried to write what is necessary for you to understand how my techniques work… we really only know how.”
To face the challenge, in my coming book I bring exemplary lessons, selected from the large corpus that Feldenkrais left for us, that follow those principles, thereby showing how they are staged in the practice of the method. The aim is to give a cohesive, though not exhaustive, picture of the power of change of the FM, while at the same time offering a pedagogical tool for practitioners and students.
Mansbach. Abraham. (forthcoming) The Power of Self-Transformation: The Feldenkrais Method
Mansbach, Abraham. 2016. “Becoming Ourselves: Feldenkrais and Foucault on Soma and Culture.” Feldenkrais Research Journal, 5: 2-15.