Senior Practitioner Mark Hirschfield gives us an inside look at this unique workshop. Register here.
Why did you create the Feldenkrais University workshop?
I see too many people in my classes and even, at least initially, some of my individual session clients, who are not receiving as much benefit from Feldenkrais as they might. The Feldenkrais Method is basically a training modality. We frequently use the term, “educational” when describing the method. We use those words because they come closest to describing what we are doing. Really, though, we are asking our clients/students to engage in a different mode of training from most other modalities and to view education in a way that is very different from what most people’s experience of education has been. For some, understanding how we view these differences and the techniques we use to implement them can help bring about more rapid improvement.
In the workshop description you say regarding the Feldenkrais Method “people often experience changes that seem to defy logic--a mysterious reduction in pain, a sudden discovery of ease, or the sensation of movement where there had been none before.” Can you talk a little more about this experience?
The simple answer is that in most cases where something surprising happens, one has experienced a change in their habitual pattern of action and the nervous system is acknowledging the improvement of the new pattern over the old--a pain signal is turned off or a feeling of wellbeing is generated. Pain is a form of information that is used by the nervous system for more than just alerting one to the fact that something has been “damaged.” That is one use, but others include moving in a way that has hurt in the past so one’s system is issuing a protective warning by sending a pain signal “in advance,” as it were. Once the movement that has been painful in the past is approached and explored in a small, slow and delicate manner, then slowly built upon and enlarged through a Feldenkrais experience, the nervous system learns through experience that circumstances have improved and a pain “warning” is no longer needed.
Is it important to understand why the Feldenkrais Method works? If so, why?
The efficacy of the method is not dependent on understanding how it works. But, for some, not knowing can be frustrating. For some, that frustration can become enough of a distraction to mute some possible benefits of practicing Feldenkrais. For some, improvement can be found more quickly within a more complete framework of understanding why one is asked to do the things that take place during a Feldenkrais experience.
Again, there is no need to truly grasp the details of what is going on. It is primarily the subconscious we are trying to affect. I think it’s fantastic for anyone who is satisfied with “not knowing” to simply enjoy the changes brought about by any experience.
But the real crux of it for me is this: once you begin to grasp and (more importantly) to accept how the Feldenkrais Method affects change, you cannot escape realizing that the way you have been viewing your very being has likely been incomplete, or for those operating at the far end of the scale, completely erroneous. When your ideas about how you function begin to become more holistic, your view of what you are and what you are capable of nearly always expands and improves. That will happen with or without cognitive understanding. It is engaging in the practice that brings about the improvement. Nonetheless, understanding may enhance the entire process.
Is this workshop appropriate for someone who has just started doing Feldenkrais?
If you are interested in finding out more about the method while you experience its benefits, this workshop is for you, regardless of your level of experience with the method.
Anything else you want to say about this workshop?
The workshop is called “Feldenkrais University,” but if you’re thinking of an actual college or traditional school experience, think of this as the class you sign up for because the rest of your schedule is super-tough and you need something that’ll get you an, “easy A.”