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  • I will talk today about somatic education.

  • And I would like to introduce you today

  • to the idea of a certain man,

  • Moshe Feldenkrais, who contributed probably the most

  • to the idea of somatic education in modern times.

  • That's what I believe.

  • And --

  • "We act in accordance with our self-image."

  • What an idea.

  • What a concept.

  • Have you ever thought your action, what you do,

  • actually may depend on your self-image?

  • And I do with people, assisting them in the process of self-discovery,

  • in a process which we can develop, modify to some extent

  • and change that self-image of ours.

  • And I lead people through a process of very gentle movements.

  • The Feldenkrais Method is a method of very small, gentle movements

  • where we pay attention to ourselves.

  • And actually, the movements are not the most important thing in this method.

  • What's more important is the movement of attention

  • which accompanies the movement of the physical parts.

  • And in this method we learn the new movements,

  • but also in this method we learn how to shift our capacity to act

  • in a way which makes a difference in our lives.

  • So, I'll tell you about how it looks practically.

  • Actually, when I was invited to talk at the conference,

  • my first response was no, and before --

  • Yes, I tell you honestly.

  • Because this is an experiential method.

  • And it's very hard to talk about experience

  • if you don't actually experience that.

  • So, I hope it will be a nice introduction to further experience.

  • And, actually, I'm very happy to talk to you today about this. (Laughter)

  • So, how it looks. It can be done either individually

  • or it can be done in group settings.

  • But these are movement lessons where we learn how to function better,

  • how to learn, how to function easier.

  • And in a group setting, the teacher doesn't show anything.

  • So there's no demonstration, so everybody's free

  • to explore in their own range, in their own speed,

  • and with their own interpretation of the words the teacher is saying.

  • And we can explore with all variety of movements.

  • There are thousands of movement lessons in the Feldenkrais Method.

  • And they are usually about one hour long.

  • So the lesson may revolve, for instance,

  • [around] rolling from side to side, or getting up,

  • or sitting down, or jumping, or walking,

  • or breathing, or the function of seeing.

  • So, actually, any [of our motor functions] can be taken

  • as a subject for the lesson.

  • So, doing it for more than 10 years,

  • I'm over and over again amazed and fascinated,

  • and at the same time intrigued, [by] the profound effects

  • such movement lessons may have on us, such gentle movements may have on us.

  • And the effect of these movements reach far beyond

  • what would seem a normal and expected result of physical exercises.

  • And these are not regular physical exercises.

  • As I said, what's more important than this movement

  • is the movement of attention, and not the physical movement itself.

  • So, when we think about physical exercises,

  • one may think of an attitude like, "Faster, stronger, higher,"

  • or the "No pain, no gain" attitude

  • to be the correct or right attitude.

  • In Feldenkrais, actually, when we expect more results,

  • that's what I mean by "right attitude."

  • In Feldenkrais we do the opposite, we do less,

  • we do slower, and we constantly ask for less effort.

  • And we still, as if miraculously, I would say, gain more.

  • And one of the basic assumptions is that

  • change and learning can be much easier than most of us anticipate

  • if we engage awareness, if awareness is used as a tool for this learning.

  • And that's what we do in the Feldenkrais Method,

  • We learn awareness, and we learn it through movement.

  • So how do we go about learning this awareness?

  • We direct attention.

  • There's many tools we can use, I will tell just about a few.

  • So, we direct attention.

  • If I asked you now to pay attention to yourselves,

  • probably everybody would go somewhere else,

  • looking at different parts of yourself being right here, right now,

  • of your experience being right here, right now.

  • But the other thing, many of us, when we hear things like that,

  • we don't even know where to look.

  • We don't know where to listen, what to listen to,

  • we don't learn how to listen to ourselves.

  • So in the Feldenkrais Method, we learn how to listen to ourselves.

  • Some time ago, I read about this research

  • done by scientists of the Iowa University

  • And it was a gambling research, I will say.

  • Not really, but something about that.

  • They had four decks of cards, two blue and two red ones.

  • And they asked students to take one card at a time,

  • and the goal was to maximize their winnings.

  • By taking the cards one at a time,

  • they were either winning money, or losing money.

  • And what they didn't know, the red ones were a minefield.

  • The penalties are higher than the winnings,

  • and the blue ones give you small income,

  • but even [smaller] penalties.

  • And the question was how long it would take

  • for the students to figure that out.

  • It turns out, after about 50 cards,

  • they start getting a hunch about what's going on.

  • About 80 cards, they already figured the game out.

  • They did some observations, did some calculation,

  • they figured the game out.

  • But what's more interesting is that

  • they also hooked them to machinery registering their stress response.

  • And what turned out already after the 10th card,

  • when they were reaching for the [red] one,

  • the body responded with stress.

  • And also they wouldn't notice they started behaving differently

  • while reaching for the red cards than for the blue cards.

  • So my question is,

  • whether this gap of 40 cards, or 70 cards,

  • to the full realization of what's going on in this game,

  • has to be that big, or maybe by training our awareness of ourselves,

  • we can decrease the gap, so we are becoming

  • better listeners to ourselves, and we know what's happening to us.

  • So, coming back to the tools we use in the Feldenkrais Method,

  • we direct attention, but we give it very concrete dimensions.

  • We listen to the weight,

  • we listen to the distances between different body parts,

  • we listen to the length,

  • to the place where we initiate the movement,

  • to the breathing and things like that.

  • So then, we build very precise and concrete and exact dimensions

  • of our experience here and now.

  • So it's something very measurable in our mind.

  • The other thing we do to increase awareness,

  • we ask to do less.

  • Why? Because if you go to the very end range of motion,

  • of movement, I would say rather,

  • then we have a tendency to go with our habits.

  • And then, if we do less, if we stay in the mid-range,

  • then we create a sense of ease.

  • And in a sense of ease,

  • we interpret it frequently as a safe place,

  • and in a safe place we give ourselves more permission

  • to explore more freely and to look for more options.

  • The other thing -- we ask to slow down.

  • For instance, if you watch an instructional video of skiing,

  • or windsurfing, or maybe you like the martial arts movies

  • when they show those slow movements,

  • there is so much detail happening in a very short time.

  • So, if we don't slow our observation,

  • then there is so much information which we miss.

  • So, we have this option in TV sets with which we can slow the motion down,

  • but we also have it in our brains, in our minds, in ourselves.

  • But unfortunately, we don't use it very often.

  • So when we slow down, we become better observers

  • of what's happening with us.

  • We ask to do less, we ask to slow down,

  • we also ask to exaggerate our initial response.

  • So, for instance, if you do more of what you're already doing,

  • then you become more aware of how you do what you do.

  • Therefore, by increasing the response, by exaggerating what we do,

  • we're becoming more aware of how we are doing what we are doing.

  • Then, we ask to decrease the intensity, to work with less effort.

  • Why? Because if we go very strong with the movement --

  • Okay, if we decrease the intensity,

  • then we increase the sensitivity of our nervous system.

  • It's like, for instance,

  • you want to hear something, but there's noise around.

  • So you want to quiet things around, so you can hear better.

  • (Whispering) So it's the same when I whisper,

  • you start listening more carefully, don't you?

  • (Laughter)

  • (Normal voice) So, the same is with the body.

  • There is so much informational noise in our bodies.

  • So when we quiet down, when we [act] with less intensity,

  • we become more sensitive, we fine-tune our nervous system

  • to become more aware of what's actually happening with us.

  • So, these are some of the simple tools we use to increase awareness.

  • And why would we increase awareness?

  • Well, this is a famous sentence by Moshe Feldenkrais:

  • "If you know what [you are doing], you can do what you want."

  • So increasing awareness takes care of the first part of this saying.

  • But then, at the same time, we do things to modify our behaviour.

  • So we do variations during the movement lessons.

  • We don't repeat. Repeating is boring.

  • And so there's certain things we can do to do the variations during the lesson.

  • We change place of different body parts,

  • we change positions, so we do the same movement

  • in different configurations, in different contexts.

  • We change intensity, we change speed.

  • We put limitations, also.

  • Limitations, so it's like a constrict.

  • So we limit certain parts of the body,

  • so we become aware of other parts of our body,

  • which we were not aware [of] before.

  • So imagine you're driving to work,

  • and you drive on the same road every day,

  • and there's roadworks, so the road is closed,

  • and you have to take the detour.

  • There are maybe signs, or maybe there are no signs.

  • So you may not like it that you have to take the detour,

  • but what's sure, you will find things,

  • you will learn things you wouldn't learn if you kept on going the same way.

  • So if you restrict certain parts of your body from moving,

  • then you learn other things about yourself,

  • you become aware of other things inside yourself

  • you [would not be] aware of if you kept on going the same way.

  • And variations keep our learning alive,

  • and maintain the curiosity which is necessary for learning.

  • So these are certain things we can do to increase our awareness,

  • and we can explore and experiment and play

  • with doing things [a different] way than we usually do.

  • So then, we may ask, why to do this?

  • What do we get from this kind of training?

  • Especially in times in our history,

  • in a place where we're used to doing more, faster, stronger,

  • and we believe this is the right way

  • of approaching learning, doing things better.

  • Bigger is better, we believe.

  • So in the Feldenkrais Method, we do the opposite.

  • So, what do we get from that?

  • So, the first benefits which most people would notice,

  • probably, most clearly, are the, I would say, physical benefits.

  • We move better, the movement becomes freer,

  • we feel taller, we breathe easier.

  • We improve posture.

  • Actually, Feldenkrais had a very interesting

  • definition of posture,

  • and he looked at it from a very functional point of view.

  • Posture was the place from which you can move into any direction

  • at any time with the minimal amount of preparation.

  • So, when we look at anatomy books, and they show,

  • "This is the correct posture,

  • because the vertical lines go through your head, your shoulders, hip, etc."

  • But this is static posture.

  • If I want to scratch my head,

  • or grab a cup of tea or something, I have to change the posture.

  • So he looked at it from a dynamic and functional point of view.

  • So --

  • And I think it's in general, in life,

  • it's an interesting idea to be able to stop what we do,

  • and if we see that what we do is not bringing us closer

  • to where we want to get, to change our behaviour.

  • Actually, somebody sent me recently a definition of "madness."

  • "Madness is doing the same and expecting other results."