My Interview with Marina Gilman

The newsletters and journals of our official organizations are vital for the development of our profession. This isn't simply an idea I talk about. Over the past thirty plus years, I've devoted many hours and days to writing for, editing, and publishing all sorts of regional, national, and international Feldenkrais® groups, guilds, and gatherings.  

As a way of spreading information and promoting commerce, we continue to use publicity and outreach in these publications even as they move more and more to being online. As the ways of connecting with each other expand, we also receive announcements and advertising directly via the mail, email, SMS, and other modes of messaging, social media, the phone (who doesn’t hate robocalls?) and more. As we both know, I also contribute here as well. Not to robocalls. Nor radio or TV advertising. When I do promote what I’m doing, I do my best, as often as possible, to offer something in return for the time it takes you to read something I've written — or to listen to or watch something.

Back in the early 1990s, I started sending my newsletter, which I’d named Telekinesis in honor of it being about moving folks from afar, to Feldenkrais fans, aficionados, and faculty around the world. Ever since then, every time I’ve sent information about the advanced trainings and postgraduate courses I was teaching around the world, I included a case study, story, or short reflection or essay. The idea is whether or not you, dear reader, decide to enroll in a course or purchase a product, you'll learn something.

Like so many good ideas, I can’t take credit for coming up with that one. It was my pal, graphic artist, and co-conspirator, Sage Lee, who challenged me by asking, “What are you giving folks in return?

To be honest, the question confused me.

“Huh? Wait a sec . . . Just what am I supposed to be giving to whom? In return for what?”

This was way back when, long before websites, blogs, “education-based marketing,” or the “attention economy.”  Back when the Internet was shiny, new and full of mystery and promise, back when I was still learning to use email.

To be honest, I had to ask Sage what he meant.

He said it only seemed fair if I was asking someone to take the time to read about this new program I’d developed, THE TRILOGY, about how it provided the maps Feldenkrais teachers need to be successful teachers, or about the new Feldenkrais teacher training I was co-directing with Elizabeth Beringer in Strasbourg, then I should offer them something in return.

I hadn’t thought about it, but it did make sense to me.

That’s how I started learning about expressing myself professionally through writing from Norma Marder. Norma, one of my neighbors as well as one of my ATM® students, was also an accomplished author and published essayist. She was kind enough to step up to be my editor, patient enough to help me find my voice, and honest enough to cut through my BS.

The newsletter came out twice a year. It took me months to write and then refine the article. While I worked on the writing with Norma, Sage took on the artwork and the layout for each edition of Telekinesis. I had begun collecting the names of people interested in Moshe’s methodology as I traveled around to teach public workshops in Budapest and Syracuse, NY, advanced trainings in Vienna, Paris, and London, professional courses for physical therapists in Bern, Brussels, and around the US. This is how I began building my initial mailing list. Once the newsletters were printed and folded, my assistant and I would put them in individual envelopes, stick a label and one or more stamps on each one, seal them, and then cart them off to the post office to be mailed.

Since then, I have devoted myself to composing workshop descriptions and product promotions worth reading. I don’t always have the time and, even when I do, I don’t always succeed in writing something worth pondering. Be that as it may, my aim has been and continues to be to imagine what is possible, to illustrate this potential so you can see it, too, and to inspire you to reflect and to instigate action.  

Fact is, my journalist yearnings started returning more than a year ago. I started asking myself how I could continue those columns, what form they might take now. Certainly, I don't lack for ideas to share and stories to recount. Thing is, I'm interested in what others — Feldenfolk, friends, and fans, those who practice Moshe’s method in their daily lives and who teach it — are doing with this approach and about what they have to say. To this end, I started playing with the new webinar technology I’d just purchased to interview some of my more interesting, inventive, fearless colleagues, co-workers, and collaborators.

After I created a few of those interviews, I wondered, “Why not make the recording of the interview an event in and of itself?

Last spring, I used the latest version of the WebinarNinja service to record an interview with Marina Gilman about her book, Body and Voice: Somatic Re-Education, on a split video screen with Marina at home in Atlanta on one side and me at home in California on the other. (Until Judith, Mind in Motion’s multimedia editor in Amsterdam, made an unexpected appearance at some point.) Over 200 people signed up to witness the conversation, 82 of whom showed up to be part of our “live studio audience” and nearly 100 returned to audit the conversation after it was over.

Since we first met twenty years or so ago, when I was the guest trainer in the Montreal Feldenkrais teacher training, I’ve been impressed and moved by Marina's intelligence, skill, and her engagement in our work. I was curious to find out about Marina’s book when it was first published. She and I had discussed it before, so I was especially looking forward to helping others learn about her work.

A certified Feldenkrais teacher, Marina is also a singing teacher, performer, and licensed speech pathologist who specializes in voice. She's taught voice in academic institutions, including Cornell University and Syracuse University, and worked as a speech pathologist at major medical voice centers in Chicago. Currently, Marina is a member of the interdisciplinary team at the Emory Voice Center, Department of Otolaryngology, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Our interview was on Sunday morning, 27 May 2018. We talked about what it was like for Marina to bring Moshe's methodology into the various places she found herself: The Speech Therapy clinic, university classroom, studio, and stage. I asked her what sparked her interest in the somatic aspects of voice training, how her book came about, what it's like teaching actors, singers, and voice therapists, and about what she’s learned.

To be explicit and honest: I have no interest in being the host of a somatic chat show that gives folks a place to hawk their wares, no matter how useful, significant, or life-changing they may be. Certainly, I’d like to — I promise to — introduce you to projects, products, publications, performances, paintings, and photos, etc. worth your attention and time and to the people who made them possible. My aim is to deepen our conversation by making distinctions and delineating categories, questioning causality, transforming things into processes, shifting from a parts perspective to a pattern language, and acting to increase the number of life-affirming, meaningful choices. When I constructively interfere in these ways, instead of continuing in an inevitable, predetermined direction, the trajectory of the conversation changes slowly, slightly, happening almost invisibly.

The process of change becomes perceptible when it interferes with the flow of our analysis, attitudes, and actions, it’s this interference that makes us hesitate. We experience a hiccup, slight speedbump, break in rhythm that gives us cause to pause, to sense, to consider, and then reconsider what we’re thinking, feeling, and doing. This means our unconscious habits of mind, emotion, and motion (can) become conscious. In these moments, it’s possible for us to become aware of our assumptions and to start understanding ourselves and our world anew.

If I’m to catalyze this kind of gentle shift during an interview, then I have to be more holder of the mirror than facile facilitator. Instead of lobbing softball questions, I have to make non-trivial queries; rather than being a tacky tour guide along well-worn routes, I’m called to rigorously and respectfully investigate and explore until what — up until then — had been missed, overlooked, or hidden begins to appear. Asking Marina my last question, the one about what she’s learned — and is still learning — about Moshe’s methodology, became a turning point in our conversation. She paused and reflected before replying and then hesitated again later, making her responses one of the most interesting sections of our exchange.

Funny enough, this process didn’t stop there. At one point along the way of our email exchange after the talk, Marina wrote:

I have been thinking about your question regarding what I have learned
about the Method during this journey. The work is so multidimensional
that it was difficult for me to articulate it. Your question and our conversation gave me a lot to chew on as I continue with my work.

Perhaps I’ve managed to inspire a little curiosity about the content of our conversation?  If so and if you’re ready to find out about Marina’s work and her book, please click on the image below:

 

Please stay tuned for future postings of my already recorded and edited interviews . . .  be on the lookout for invitations to be a part of the live studio audience of my future conversations with significant somanauts from all over.

Until soon,
Your humble and dedicated wrestler for higher consciousness

 

P.S. If you know someone you think I should read, watch, or meet . . . and maybe even interview, please let me know who they are and why you think so.

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