New Ways of Teaching Mind Body Studies; the work of Dr. Feldenkrais.
written by Mary Morrison, MBS Advanced Practitioner in 2011
Mary Morrison is an MBS Advanced Practitioner, Assistant and an imperative role in MBS Academy's Administration. If you have ever been to an MBS workshop, you most likely had the opportunity to experience her enthusiasm and passion for this work. Mary wrote the following blog in 2011, highlighting the beginning of her journey with MBS. "I took a big first step after hearing that Mia Segal was going to be giving a two day workshop as part of the 2009 Feldenkrais Method Annual Conference. I knew very little about her, only that she had worked with Moshe for many years. That was enough to peak my curiosity. I was inspired to find out who she was and how she taught. I signed up.
On the first day, during the first few minutes of the first ATM, a gem, of what was to be a long string of gems, shined out for me:"
“....this is a system of questions, it is not a system of answers.” ---- Mia Segal
How a pair of ideas have revolutionized my practice.
I graduated from my Feldenkrais Professional training, knowing, that I loved practicing the Feldenkrais Method. I’d been through such far-reaching personal transformations! I was excited to begin facilitating experiences for others. There was something, though, that I kept coming up against. The obscure sense, of an obstacle. After taking time to reflect, I realized that underlying this sense, there was a thought: “Actually, I don’t think I really know what I am doing.”
I found that I was clumsy in my ability to inspire and guide others in their process. I met with resistance when I talked with people about our work and when I worked with them directly. The Feldenkrais Method remained somewhat of an intangible and mysterious practice. How could I bridge, more clearly, this connection between my process and the process of my students? Through pursuing this line of thought over the next 2 years my teaching has improved dramatically.
If I really didn’t know what I was doing then one obvious solution would be to learn more! If I truly did know what I was doing and was somehow confused about this, then maybe, I simply needed to get started and begin working with people. These two intertwining paths became my journey.
I took a big first step after hearing that Mia Segal was going to be giving a two day workshop as part of the 2009 Feldenkrais Method Annual Conference. I knew very little about her, only that she had worked with Moshe for many years. That was enough to peak my curiosity. I was inspired to find out who she was and how she taught. I signed up.
On the first day, during the first few minutes of the first ATM, a gem, of what was to be a long string of gems, shined out for me:
So simple and so profound. I reflected on how many times in my training I had watched demonstrations quizzically, not wanting to admit that I was unable to see these elusive differences. Students I was working with, mostly my friends at the time, were not experiencing them either. Many times after an ATM, I often knew something was different but I wasn’t sure what, exactly, I was experiencing differently.
This was it. This was where to begin! I needed to find out how to truly experience differences and effectively create this experience for another. That’s all, just that one thing, for now, at least.
So, what did I need to do differently?
Later that day the first tool in my new tool kit dropped in my lap: clearly and precisely observe myself and others through asking questions.
During the workshop three people were asked to lie down, just as you would in a scan at the beginning of an ATM, so the rest of us could observe the differences in the way they were lying.
How had they chosen to lie on the floor?
What were the differences between the way each one was lying?
What parts of themselves did they sense contacting the floor?
What were the differences between each person and what was the difference between each side of each person?
The people on the floor were then asked to do a small piece of the ATM we had all just finished. This way we could continue to observe how they moved differently from one another.
“Where are they moving and where are they not moving? How do you know that what you see is true? If you put your hands there is what you sense the same as what you see?”
I thought, what?! I don’t have to do anything more than use my senses to find out what it is like for them? This is not about me doing something?
If you can see and sense how they are moving then the next question is:
What are they sensing?
Recently Mia told the story of the first time she observed Moshe giving a lesson. It was an amazing lesson, she had never seen anything like it in her years as an Alexander Technique teacher and at the end of it he asked her if she had any questions. She said,
She said that this was the best lesson he ever gave her.
By incorporating precise, clearly formulated questions into my practice I am observing and sensing differences. My students are sensing differences and leaving from their lessons happily knowing what they are learning and how to ask themselves questions!
Through asking questions with our voices and our hands we can go deeply into each ATM and each Functional Integration Lesson. I’m finding that by breaking ATMs into smaller pieces, students are able to grasp the essence of lessons more quickly and their learning process expands. Each lesson is a profound experience that they can take with them. How does one go more deeply? Through creating an environment of natural, organic learning which includes, exploration, curiosity, options, choices, and new experiences.
Through asking questions with clarity and precision of thought you can guide your students to understand their own way of thinking and moving. From their they can go a little further and find new directions and possibilities.
In practical terms I have changed the format of my classes, lengthening them to 1 1/2 hours. The conventional format seems to be: the students come in, find their places, do the lesson and leave. I have never found this very satisfactory. Creating community through interaction is, to me, essential for learning. With the longer format, there is time for the students to observe each other, even to follow each other’s movement with their hands, to share experiences and to ask questions.
All above quotes: Mia Segal
*except Mia Segal quoting Moshe Feldenkrais
“I believe that knowing oneself is the most important thing a human being can do for himself. How can one know oneself? By learning to act not as one should but as one does, We have great difficulty in sorting out what we do as we should from what we want to do with ourselves.”
-- Moshe Feldenkrais from The Elusive Obvious