Awareness Through Movement lessons are designed to improve ability, that is, to expand the boundaries of the possible, to turn the impossible into the possible, the difficult into the easy and the easy into the pleasant.”
– Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc.
When the going gets tough, the tough lie down.
by Ilona Fried, Writer, blogger and champion of the Feldenkrais Method
Many of us are conditioned to respond to stress or overwhelm by fighting, fleeing, or freezing, or some sequence or combination thereof. These unconscious choices might offer a reprieve or a sense of accomplishment, but they are not empowering over the long term. The Feldenkrais Method helps us develop the capacity to respond with greater skill to changes in our circumstances or surroundings by first quieting the nervous system to an unfamiliar degree. That allows us to notice subtle differences in how we move, feel, think and, therefore, how we go about our lives. While many people, myself included, only stumble across Feldenkrais when an injury, chronic pain or another treatment-defying condition leads us to it, this modality will help anyone discover how much they can trust their bones and themselves. Learning to rely more on the skeleton for movement, even the prosaic act of getting out of bed, frees up vitality siphoned by muscling through life or bracing oneself against actual or perceived difficulty. In a culture whose mantras include “no pain, no gain” and “work hard, play hard”, it can be surprising to learn that radically less effort can lead to dramatically better results. One can move quickly without rushing or adding tension, leaving more energy to pursue what matters.
In a culture whose mantras include “no pain, no gain” and “work hard, play hard”, it can be surprising to learn that radically less effort can lead to dramatically better results. (…)
The Feldenkrais Method can best be described as an intelligently structured “learning-to-learn” approach. Its characteristic playfulness is modelled on natural learning-processes as found in childhood. ‘Making mistakes’ is encouraged since they may lead to unexpected discoveries and surprising results. Predetermined goals are avoided because they tend to inhibit real learning. Feldenkrais used to say:
“In knowing what to achieve before we have learned how to learn, we can reach only the limit of our ignorance”.
Functional Integration is a sophisticated art form requiring a high degree of sensory acuity and the unusual ability to join ourselves with another. During Dr. Feldenkrais’ first training program in Tel-Aviv, he focused exclusively on developing his student’s Functional Integration skills.
Dr. Feldenkrais demonstrated manual techniques, worked with each student individually, and provided detailed in-the-moment feedback while they practiced on him and with each other.
The students who graduated from this training became outstanding Practitioners.
To my mind, Functional Integration has an ‘outside’ aspect and an ‘inside’ aspect.
The outside is concerned with the way a lesson is composed, the way it is adapted, which functions are embedded in it, what developmental and neurological dynamics are involved, etc.
The inner aspect of Functional Integration is concerned with the ways we use our own thoughts, images, intentions, organization, dialogical understanding and actions to communicate biologically important information to another person’s nervous system.
I believe that in order to achieve the “magic” of Functional Integration, we must fully understand and engage with this inner aspect.
Use of Awareness Through Movement Improves Balance and Balance Confidence in People with Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Controlled Study.
This study examined the effectiveness of a structured, group motor learning process, Awareness Through Movement (ATM), on balance, balance confidence, and self-efficacy. Twelve people with multiple sclerosis were randomly assigned to either ATM or control groups. The ATM group participated in 8 classes, 2 to 4 hours each while the control group participated in educational sessions, over 10 weeks. Six outcome measures were used: the Basic Balance Master modified Clinical Test of Sensory Interaction in Balance (mCTSIB) and Limits of Stability tests; the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale; a number of prospective falls; Equiscale; and the Multiple Sclerosis Self-Efficacy Scale. The ATM group exhibited significantly improved mCTSIB scores indicating an average center of pressure position closer to theoretical center, had significantly fewer abnormal mCTSIB tests, and demonstrated improved balance confidence compared to controls. There was a trend toward improvement in all other measures in the ATM group compared to controls. These results suggest that this type of motor learning intervention can be effective in improving a variety of physical and psychological parameters related to balance and postural control.
(C) 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.