Mind In Motion

A revolutionary approach to optimizing human ability when faced with pain, neurological disability, or the challenges of every day life.

The candle holder, aka Alexander Yanai 18

For all the bother about email, one aspect of this means of communicating that I love is how easy it has become for students to interact with the teacher. Along with exchanging text messages/SMS and interacting via each course’s MIM online forum, following up on a student’s questions no longer has to wait until the next class session anymore. Whether it’s the student who is struggling with a question or someone who needs time to reflect on their experience before they have any questions, these modes of interacting keep the conversation alive and allow for a personal, dyadic dialogue. 

After one such recent exchange, one student wrote to say, 

Thanks, Larry that really clarified my understanding tremendously. I was a bit flummoxed by the constraints I asked you about. I have a long way to go but I’m progressing slowly but surely. It’s like learning a new language in some ways.  Your approach to unlocking and deconstructing the lesson has been wonderfully helpful in deciphering the lessons, so I feel more competent to teach them.  

Thinking you might be curious about what she’s referring to, I asked my colleague for her permission to share our dialogue and she graciously gave her blessing.

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What number is that?

These days, after I finish teaching an Awareness Through Movement® class at a Feldenkrais® Teacher Training program, it’s not uncommon for one of the participants to ask, 

“What number is that?”

The question would seem out of the blue if I didn’t know that the asker was curious about which of the 550 published transcripts was the source of what I’d just taught. Because these transcripts chronicle the public classes Moshe Feldenkrais taught on Alexandar Yanai Street in Tel Aviv from the 1950s through the 1970s, we refer to them as the AY lessons. They are the largest, most wide-ranging, and comprehensive collection of MF’s incredible creativity and ingenuity.

The AY numbers have become part of the professional parlance, aka jargon, of contemporary Feldenkrais teachers and practitioners. For instance, referring to the next lesson I’ll be posting here, CHANUKIA, THE CANDLE HOLDER, as AY 18 means that you’re “in the know.”

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How long does it take to change?

Learning any new skill set — along with developing the essential framework needed to understand and implement it — is an incremental process. It takes us time to figure out what to observe, how to understand it, and what to do about, or with, it. So often we are held back by what we’ve already learned, struggling to make changes, and leaving us to wrestle mightily with our unconscious, self-imposed, habitual ways of doing and noticing. 

The thing is that though the lead up may be long, so often change comes in an instant. Love walks around the corner; a book, question, or comment shifts your perspective; something impossible to do becomes possible and easy; or news arrives in a seemingly ordinary sentence, one word following another.

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Lifting the lower leg with both hands

One of the coolest aspects of the online peer study group An AY a Day for Feldenkrais® teachers around the world is that we take turns teaching. Any member of the group — be you a trainee, teacher, or trainer — can sign up to teach a lesson. The twice-daily meetings, at 8 AM and 6 PM Pacific time, draw colleagues from around the globe who attend to participate in and then discuss that day’s Awareness Through Movement® class. You come as often or as little as suits you; there are no requirements nor is there any kind of dues or payments. What Kwan Wong, the group’s founder and facilitator, has created is a dynamic gathering, a place for teachers and future teachers committed to practicing ATM® personally, improving how we understand and teach it, and learning from and with each other. 

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Teaching ATM better

Yesterday, I met with two groups of fellow Feldenkrais® teachers committed to teaching ATM® better. 

During the first meeting — still inspired by the conversation that followed the AY a Day lesson the evening before — I deviated from the conversational format I’d originally proposed. After disclosing some of my early endeavors to make Awareness Through Movement® more accessible (including one of my greatest — and most significant — failures), I addressed the ways we talk about the method and our approaches to teaching ATM, suggesting how we might improve. 

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Third time’s the charm

In keeping with the commitment that I’d made to focus on the practice and teaching of Awareness Through Movement® lessons a couple of years ago, I started offering a new course, RETURNING TO THE SOURCE (RTTS), based on the question:

“What do I need to know about an ATM® to teach it well?”

Since then more than 250 Feldenkrais® teachers around the world have benefited from what this course has to offer. 

Thing is, so has the course . . . and so have I. 

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The Lesson Locator continues to improve

The Lesson Locator team continues to improve the search engine behind the scenes. We’ve been both developing the final phases of Version 1.0 and we also added more lessons to those Locator searches.

Enhancing how the Lesson Locator works

The last remaining major step is to update the incomplete and inconsistent Position data currently being used by the Locator.

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That fateful day

It was a balmy blue-sky autumn morning in the Big Apple. As the guest trainer at the Manhattan Feldenkrais® Teacher Training, I started the day teaching the next installment in a long series of Awareness Through Movement® lessons.

Soon after I’d begun, Anastasi Siotas, a fellow member of the faculty, approached me quietly and whispered in my ear that an airplane had just flown into the World Trade Center. I thought he was joking. I mean, that couldn’t be true, could it?! Wanting to stay focused on the trainees and the ATM® class I was guiding them through, I shooed him away1.

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Where the conscious and unconscious meet

Soon after I’d started teaching Awareness Through Movement® classes, my Feldenkrais® mentor, Edna Rossenas from the San Francisco training, asked me to record the lessons. Keeping my promise to do so was one of the inspirations for recording the first Strasbourg International Feldenkrais Teacher Training, back in the early 1990s. 

It also meant that when Mick McCarthy, who I’d studied with and worked for doing group facilitation, suggested, many years beforehand, that I listen to my own teaching — saying that if someone else is going to pay for my classes I should at least have some idea how what I’m saying sounds on the receiving end. I, like most people, didn’t like how my voice sounded on my answering machine (yes, I’m that old). Be that as it may, I understood the challenge and appreciated its value. 

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From the lesson into life

For the past thirty years or so, I’ve been offering an (almost) annual Awareness Through Movement® summer camp. A desire to give students the kind of ATM® intensive Moshe Feldenkrais offered in his weekend workshops — and that I’d experienced during our summer-long training sessions — was what inspired me to offer what’s now turned into a recurring ritual. 

One night, many years ago, after an ATM class one dark winter evening, I was struck by what happened as the students prepared to leave. Touching the knob to the bathroom door, picking up a glass to fill it with water, putting on a coat or shoe . . . the moment someone touched something, I saw them shifting back to their former ways of holding and moving themselves. 

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