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.
One of the first things I realized was that I almost always waited to ask students about their breathing only after I’d already said everything else about what to and what to notice. Half the time, maybe even a bit more, I made a humorous reference to respiration, telling a funny story or a joke. Taken together, it would be easy to take my unwitting behavior as if I were devaluing breathing and dismissing — or, or at least, missing and leading others to miss — the importance of breathing.
That went against so much of what I’d learned and got to know so well from training in Gestalt therapy, Contact Improvisation, Bioenergetics, and Ericksonian Hypnosis. I knew that breathing was where the conscious and unconscious meet, where feeling, acting, sensing and thinking interconnect. I knew that attending to, tracking, responding — mostly nonverbally — to how someone breathes is the basis for creating rapport and building trust. And yet, listening to my lessons opened my eyes to how I was acting incongruently with my conviction. That’s what made me especially curious about the role of respiration in Moshe’s method.
Earlier today via a live Zoom video meeting, I presented a report on what I’ve been learning more recently about respiration in preparing for this year’s edition of ATM® Summer Camp, A Breath of Fresh Air, and designing BREATHING BETTER, a new trio of advanced intensives, for Feldenkrais teachers and trainees (in their final years of training), about giving hands-on lesson working with respiration. I talked about the incremental and iterative learning in both my personal practice and professional endeavors, shared some specifics of how the breath is central to teaching ATM® and giving Functional Integration® lessons, explored Moshe’s idea that we can’t teach people how to breathe (and instead can help them learn how to stop interfering with breathing), and so much more . . . and then I answered the participants’ questions.
The entire conversation was recorded. Though I was addressing fellow Feldenkrais teachers, I think this conversation would be useful and interesting for anyone who takes classes, receives individual lessons, and/or practices the method. Though I’d planned to go for about an hour, we didn’t stop until an hour and 24 minutes; I hope you’ll find it a worthwhile experience — please do let me know!
FLOATING ON AIR, the first of three modules in BREATHING BETTER, starts next month in Boston (and in Santa Cruz next January). Any Feldenkrais teacher can sign up for one module or all three; there are no prerequisites.
Reduced early-bird registration for the first BREATHING BETTER module in Boston, a package deal (which offers the lowest price possible), and the convenient monthly payment plan are available ONLY until the early enrollment ends at midnight California time tomorrow, 23 August 2019. Please sign up before the deadline to reserve your place and save on your tuition.
P.S. If you graduated from a Feldenkrais teacher training last year or if you’re going to do so this year, please contact the Mind in Motion office for information about how to qualify for our special “new graduate” tuition. Don’t delay because this offer expires soon!
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