Lifelong Learning: Our Human Potential
by Kevin Kortan

Some Elements of the Feldenkrais® Method

  • Effortlessness

    By understanding how we as organisms are designed to move, and aligning ourselves with these principles, we learn to move through life with more ease, efficiency, and effectiveness. Instead of willing ourselves through things, we learn to clarify our intention in order to become more masterful in how we live our lives.

  • From Isolation to Integration

    In the Feldenkrais Method, we learn to recognize that every part of ourselves is interrelated. For example, by distributing movement (force) evenly and proportionately throughout our system, we avoid overuse of some areas and underuse of other areas. In this way, one learns to move with a profound ease, lightness, and power.

  • From Small to Large Movements
    “A great redwood tree begins as a tiny, tiny seed”

    Any big, fast, or complex movement coordination is a compilation of small, slow, and simple components. One of my teachers would say, “A complex movement is a mass of simplicities.” If we pay attention to the genesis of movement, the very beginnings of movement, we can reorder our nervous system that governs these larger, faster, more complex movements. The pattern of any movement is set up in the very first degrees of movement and is simply amplified as the movement increases in size, shape, and complexity. So, in order to change the way we move, we go back to the beginning, to what I call the seed movements. Fortunately, unlike the redwood tree, we have the capacity to create a new blueprint that governs our growth and development. This is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the human nervous system. Actually, to be very accurate, the origin of any movement is thought. So, to reorganize our movement, we redirect our thoughts. Here is where the imagination comes in.

  • Imagination
    “A problem cannot be solved by the same thinking that created it.”
    - Albert Einstein

    Moshe Feldenkrais said that we use our imagination because in our minds we are free from our habits. Whether it is learning to walk again or learning a masterpiece symphony, extraordinary understanding and results can come from using your mind to imagine new ways to do things. Through our own experience and observations most of us know that the phrase “practice makes perfect” is flawed. How many of us have been told to “just do it over and over again” in order to “get it right”, only to find that improvement evades us or is very slow and hard to come? Larry Hayden, a dance teacher and choreographer with whom I worked, used to say, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” In the Feldenkrais Method, this means working smarter, not harder.

Advanced Training Methods

Use of the imagination is one thing that world-class, elite athletes and artists have in common with people who are in pain or are severely challenged in some way. Many top athletes and artists, in order to avoid injury that can result from overuse, employ the use of their imagination. In other words, they can practice and rehearse perfectly in their minds. Similarly, people with physical limitations and/or pain can imagine the movements in these lessons and repattern their nervous systems without risking injury.

Conclusion: a New Paradigm

Although there are many other elements employed in the Feldenkrais Method, the aforementioned elements are some of the more important ones that are quite distinctive to the method and are often not valued in typical fitness training. It is hoped that by understanding the workings behind these elements that you can more completely give over to this new way of working – and reap the rewards!