“What is Feldenkrais?” is a question that NLP (master) practitioners have been asking me a lot lately. Historically, the creator of Feldenkrais connected personally with one of the co-creators of NLP; they showed a great interest in each other’s work and incorporated some of each other’s concepts into their own methods. Anyone who studies both NLP and Feldenkrais beyond the surface level will learn that both are two sides of the same spectrum, where they not only meet in the middle but have overlap. In fact, one can not be considered complete without the other as a modality for change.
I suffered from a series of physical injuries and challenges due to years of obesity and Chronic Fatigue. I decided to experience the Feldenkrais method as a client. Since then I have worked with 5 teachers in the USA and Europe, each with nothing short of phenomenal results! I was shocked at how effective and quick each session was for myself and others, something that I had only experienced in the world of NLP. I have walked out of sessions an inch taller, feeling my prison-like rib cage be more like a flexible rib basket, and walking in an entirely different way. All of this in under an hour!
During my quest as an NLP Trainer to understand NLP better through experiencing the work of Feldenkrais, I met Larry Goldfarb, a certified trainers trainer of the method. He took the very last trainers training with both co-creators of NLP, and studied and worked with the creator of the Feldenkrais method. I learned what the relationship is between the two, as well as how one of the co-creators of NLP (and key figures of the original think tank) studied the Feldenkrais method and showed great interest in the work.
I have seen and experienced that good practitioners of Feldenkrais have an extraordinary
insight into movement problems, offering new strategies and options in the way we move our bodies. This is achieved through group movement lessons, as well as one-on-one hands-on sessions. The results extend far beyond anything I have seen, heard anyone express, or anything I have experienced myself through physiotherapy, chiropractic, Pilates, Alexander, myofascial release, yoga, Tai Chi etc., though each of these methods do have their own merits in different ways. In fact, I would encourage practitioners of these methods to actually take Feldenkrais and (NLP) training to add to their skillset.
“There can be no improvement without change.”
– Moshe Feldenkrais
What is Feldenkrais?
We move our bodies unconsciously, and in doing so we can become our own worst enemies where it comes to our habits, posture, movement, physical injuries, or complications caused by stroke, cerebral palsy, RSI, scoliosis, etc. Most of our bodies have been compromised in some way through life, medical conditions or injury, to the point where our bodies aren’t as efficiently organized as they could be. And where some of us need serious rehabilitation or to be pain free, others want to be able to run (faster), have a better backhand at tennis, or have a better musical and public speaking performance. How specifically is your body limiting you to be able to live your dreams fully and to be in well-being?
So how do we change our movements when we are not conscious about HOW we move? For that question, the Feldenkrais Method has THE best answer in the world.
Feldenkrais uses movement lessons and gentle exercises to create conscious focused awareness, where we are otherwise unconscious and unaware, in order to create efficient movement, coordination, and flexibility. The body is brought back under control by (re)training our brain and movement: teaching it (new) improved options. The brain can learn that there are many options possible to walk, stand, swim, breathe, pick up an object, turn our head, etc.
Feldenkrais combines physics, biomechanics, and a thorough understanding of human learning, development and anatomy. It is not an exercise routine, it is an experiential method for learning. Movement is the ideal tool for learning awareness because we all have direct access to our ability to move. The result is awareness through movement rather than awareness in or of movement.
Traditionally there are two ways of changing people’s habits in movement: through the mind or through the body. Real change needs to combine the two. We can work with the body all we want, however if our unconscious mind doesn’t understand the change, we will go back to our old habits as soon as we stop paying attention. All movement is directed by our brain, which runs many non-optimal programs.
One thing that sets us apart from animals is that we need to learn almost all movement. We inherently come out of the womb being able to do very few (unassisted) things. We can’t even walk until approximately a year later. Animals can do this literally within hours or days. Humans are learners! We eventually obtain the potential to learn how to play an instrument, dance ballet, give a motivational life changing speech. The most adequate lesson program we ever received for our body is the one we went through as babies or small children through curiosity, exploration and feedback. If you take those concepts for learning, and apply it to adults we are able to light up our neuro-pathways like a Christmas tree and literally take our movement leaps forward. That’s where Feldenkrais comes in.
The method is used in two different ways: through Awareness Through Movement and Functional Integration. Both are inherently short (45 minutes to 1.5 hours generally) efficient ways to learn how to learn. Learning is about improving the mind through our bodies, and our bodies through our mind.
Awareness Through Movement (ATM): these are group lessons, where the Feldenkrais teacher does not touch anyone. The sessions typically are done lying on the floor, to reduce the nervous system’s engagement maintaining balance and leaving the nervous sytem open in in order for it to more freely learn. It is easier to re-educate the body this way, as we are used to having to have the soles of our feet on the ground, for our skeleton to be organized in an upward position and unconsciously always working to stay in balance. Through doing this we are not placed inside our unconscious habit, and all stimuli we are used to are reduced to the bare minimum. Some of the lessons are done crawling (an important part of our education in movement as a child), kneeling, sitting etc. These different contexts help to link or transfer information to daily living.
The body is taken through mini-movements, often on one side of the body only, carefully sequenced not to just follow the steps of what can become optimal movement for you, but also the restricted (less efficient) way of moving. The brain has an “Aha, this is better than that. Not here, but here. So this is how one part of my body relates to another part of my body.!” With mini-movements I mean the very start of the movement, all the way to the way we end a movement. And all mini-steps in between.
You would be shocked how many steps there are in turning your head when you are driving your car. An ATM often explores all parts of the body, even where our eyes go when we move, our breathing, every bone and muscle of the body. This is because often our problem area has another part of our body not playing nicely. There are literally over a 1000 of these ATM lessons. You walk away with a new found awareness. For NLPers, these ATMs are thoroughly modeled and meta modeled sequences of movement patterns. They are strategies specific to movement with the aim for you to find new or better options and strategies for your body.
Wait! Does the ATM only take place on one side of the body when the teacher chooses to build their lesson around this strategy? Once the brain learns how things are done on one side of the body, mere mental effort, and a brief practice so the brain can understand the difference side to side, top to bottom of your body, the learning inherently maps over to the other side of the body in a matter of minutes. This is pretty extraordinary to experience, and helps anyone to understand how powerful the mind, body and learning concepts of Feldenkrais actually are.
“Teaching is making learning irresistible.”
-Larry Goldfarb (founder of Mind in Motion.)
Functional Integration (FI:)
This is hands-on and one-on-one usually gentle assisted movement and the application of kinesthetic sensory cues of the body. This is custom tailored to the student’s (for NLPers clients) needs. This technique was actually first created by Moshe Feldenkrais where ATM was to produce the same effects on a greater number of people at the same time. The sessions typically last 30-90 minutes.
Typically the teacher takes the students through inquiry process by watching you stand or move, the story your body is currently telling. They are trained to pick-up a lot of information in this inquiry. This is the heart of the inquiry, a brief conversation is also often held to determine the desired state (new map) and the current state (old map.).
Also here the majority of the work is done lying down (on a table.) The teacher gently takes you through the exploration of the movement and giving your body cues. The teacher assesses along the way which movements are easy (habitual) for you, and which ones aren’t. The lessons usually involve moving your limbs in certain directions, moving your whole body, subtle cues to the spine, etc. You get kinesthetic cues in many different ways through the Feldenkrais practitioner moving you, manipulation and touch. Sometimes intentional restriction is used. Often times rollers, pillows, and other props are used. It is important to understand that the lessons are soft, relaxing, (even fun), and manipulation isn’t about “cracking” it is more about gentle movement.
Sometimes it is pretty surprising when you are convinced that your arm, for instance, can not move into that direction in that way, and the teacher simply to your surprise moves it into that direction. And you realize that movement is actually much easier! Often we have one image of ourselves in the way we think we move, walk, stand. But when we look in the mirror we see something completely different. For instance are you really standing up straight? Or do you think you are? In fact, my body once was so confused, that when a teacher intentionally let me stand straight, I would simply fall over because I would lose my balance. This is because my self-image was so off track as to what I thought was straight. This was fixed in less than an hour, after which I simply would fall over if I was standing in my old slumped and crooked way! It felt actually uncomfortable to stand that way.
I always prefer the teacher to take me through the explanation of what happened and also the results: the way I was moving before the lessons, and what the difference is after, through using anatomical charts, a skeleton, or even before and after pictures. And even when those were once not available in my hotel room, a wine bottle cork and a nespresso pod also helped me understand my hip joint!
“Feldenkrais is for my body, what NLP is for my emotions and thinking! They are two opposites of the same spectrum.”
Nicole Schneider (founder of Global NLP Training.)
The Comparison between NLP and Feldenkrais:
|Mind, body, and emotion.|
|Effective, relatively quick and dramatic improvements.|
|Hard to explain what it is, as it needs to be experienced and explored.|
|About brain and awareness.|
|Based on modeling excellence, determining the specific steps to well-being.|
|The map is not the territory.|
|Increase awareness through movement., and through that awareness in the way we think, feel and communicate.||Increase awareness of our thinking, emotions, and communication. Movement is only relevant in regards to non-verbal communication.|
|Owners manual of the brain to movement, body and sensory awareness.||Owners manual of the brain to emotion, thinking, verbal and non-verbal communication.|
|More about physical health & success. And through that increases mental health as well.||More about mental health & success. Which can be used in and in combination with almost any field.|
|Departure points are the body & movement. Which have an affect on our thoughts and emotions.||Departure points are our thoughts and emotions. Which have an effect on our body.|
|An attitude and a methodology that leaves behind a trail of techniques & lessons in movement.||An attitude and a methodology that leaves behind a trail of techniques.|
|The reason for someone to go see a Feldenkrais teacher is for physical rehabilitation, movement, and postural issues caused by habits and challenges that life throws at us. To avoid surgery or where surgery fails us/isn’t possible. To feel good, improve (sports) performance, and be physically pain free.||The reason for someone to go see an NLP Practitioner is for life or business coaching. For psychological rehabilitation. To deal with habits and challenges that life throws us. To avoid years in therapy, or where therapy fails us. To feel good, increase performance, and emotionally and mentally be pain free.|
|The reason to learn Feldenkrais other than becoming a teacher, is to obtain a hardware upgrade (body,brain) and a software upgrade (the programs affecting our movement.) To become the 2.0 version of ourselves.||The reason to learn NLP other than becoming an NLP (Master) Practitioner, is to obtain a software upgrade to the brain (the programs affecting our thoughts and emotions.) To become the 2.0 version of ourselves.|
|Awareness Through Movement (ATM): hands-off movement lessons that can be given to a group.
Functional Integration (FI): one-on-one movement lessons, hands-on, based on the individual needs.
|NLP patterns and techniques. Which can be given to an individual, as well as a group experience. Is entirely hands-off (with exception to kinesthetic NLP anchoring.)|
|Language of the unconscious mind expressed through our body and habitual movements. Which reflects in the way we feel and think. How you think and feel (about yourself) reflects in your movements.)||Language of the unconscious mind, understanding how this relates to our habitual emotional responses and thinking (which reflect in our body language.)|
|Using the specific language to make the unconscious conscious, increasing skills and options for the body. Providing sensory cues to the body. Teachers aren’t taught specific verbal communication tools (not consciously anyway.)||Using the specificity to make the unconscious conscious in our thinking and emotional world. NLP Practitioners are taught the Meta Model language patterning.|
|Using vague language to create new solutions, learning, and movements for the body. Teachers aren’t taught verbal communication tools. Not consciously anyway (exept for the Feldenkrais teacher training by Larry Goldfarb.)||Using vague language to put people into a positive trance, to facilitate solutions & learning. NLP Practitioners are taught the Milton Model language patterning.|
|Kinesthetic submodalities are primarily used to change the way we use our bodies in movement. Visual submodalities are often used in the work.||Using submodalities to change the way we process information visually, auditory and kinesthetically.|
|About creating more options for movement and through that have the ability to live a life where we can fulfill our goals and dreams. To catapult a process into thinking and feeling better.||About creating more options for our thinking and emotions and through that have the ability to live a life where we can fulfill our goals and dreams|
|About excellence in movement & increasing skills, turning intention into effective action (whatever that is to the individual.)||About excellence in our skills, thinking and emotion (whatever that is to the individual.)|
|Developed by Moshe Feldenkrais, his work evolved through brilliant teachers. Moshe Feldenkrais studied brilliant people of his time.||Developed by Richard Bandler, and John Grinder together with a think-tank of brilliant people. They studied brilliant people of their time. The work has evolved through brilliant NLP Master Practitioners and trainers.|
|Finds solutions to very large physical & movement problems that leave more traditional methods as less adequate. Allowing movement to cause transformation in the way we think and feel.||Finds solutions to psychological presenting problems & coaching inadequacies that leave more traditional methods as less adequate.|
|Partly scientifically researched, to be extremely successful. Proven to be effective for many people around the world.||Not seriously scientifically researched as the method has so many tools and techniques. However proven to be effective for many people around the world & proven to be a superior methodology for mental coaching.|
|No famous best seller writers with large media exposure, and followers. Much like there aren’t any world famous physical movement & rehabilitation specialists.||Current world famous best seller writers, large media exposure, and large following: Tony Robbins & Paul McKenna.|
|Meets NLP in the middle of a spectrum as being the same.||Meets Feldenkrais in the middle of a spectrum as being the same.|
|Feldenkrais is not a complete modality for personal change or truly holistic/all encompassing without NLP. Due to its primary focus on awareness through movement and the body.||NLP is not a complete modality for personal change or truly holistic/all encompassing without Feldenkrais. Due to its primary focus on awareness through emotion, thinking and communication.|
This means a Feldenkrais teacher can greatly benefit from taking an NLP Training. And an NLP Practitioner can greatly benefit from taking an a Feldenkrais training.
Which is why I am about to step into a Feldenkrais teacher training now myself, this March in Amsterdam offered by one of the top Feldenkrais teacher trainers in the world, Larry Goldfarb. He originally studied under Moshe Feldenkrais himself and took the last teacher training given by the co-creators of NLP combined. Having observed segments of his teacher training, it is clearly visible that concepts of NLP have been incorporated in his class design, the way he teaches his class, and the class materials taught. Larry, is for an NLP Trainer such as myself, a logical choice. I was invited by Larry to start teaching NLP to his current students of the teacher training, and have done so with great success. I will be teaching a full NLP certification course inside his upcoming teacher training taught in segments over the next years fully integrated with the Feldenkrais method keeping the future teacher of the Feldenkrais method in mind. Find more information about this training on Larry’s website Mind in Motion.
If you have interest in taking a Feldenkrais teacher training combined with NLP Training, join Mind in Motion, you can start at various points of the year 2017 still. Do email them to inquire about make-up classes, which are available throughout the year.
Mind in Motion is unique in providing NLP training inside the Feldenkrais teacher training.