Image credit: The Amherst Training (1980-1981) © International Feldenkrais® Federation Archive, Jerry Karzen
In fields of science, newer research has discovered relationships between brain plasticity, or neuroplasticity, and behavior. These findings of brain plasticity help us to understand the Feldenkrais Method.
For example, renowned psychiatrist and researcher Dr. Norman Doidge (M. D.) contributes to the field of brain plasticity and has two books as New York Times Bestsellers. Dr. Doidge’s book The Brain’s Way of Healing, which won the 2015 Gold Nautilus Award in Science, addresses two chapters on the Feldenkrais Method to explain rewiring the brain and neuroplasticity.
In the book The Brain’s Way of Healing, Chapter 5 focuses on Dr. Moshé Feldenkrais and his Method. Chapter 6 follows a successful recovered case of a nearly blind man David Webber, who used the Feldenkrais method and other neuroplastic ways to re-learn how to see.
In one section of the film version The Brain’s Way of Healing, Dr. Doidge interviewed Elizabeth Natenshon, who was born missing one third of her cerebellum which controls most motor activities. In the interview, Ms. Natenshon and her parents recalled lessons received from Dr. Moshé Feldenkrais, who said, “She will dance at her wedding.” In the film, this interview ends with a video footage of Ms. Natenshon’s wedding: Ms. Natenshon danced at her wedding.
Moshé Feldenkrais developed his method by inquiring into the connections between learning, the functions of the brain and the nervous system, and body movements.
In Dr. Moshé Feldenkrais’ lecture Physics and My Method, delivered to the Microprocessor Conference sponsored by The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva on May 7th, 1981, he elaborated on how movement is essential to learning. The learning process which involves the brain, the nervous system, and actions responding to various environments (stimuli).
The International Feldenkrais® Federation, in addition, elucidates and regulates the method in a clear and literal way and defines two essential approaches used in learning: AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT® (ATM®) and FUNCTIONAL INTEGRATION® (FI® ) .
AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT lessons provide individual learning through verbal delivery. On the contrast, hand-on presence is used in FUNCTIONAL INTEGRATION lessons. Both focus on individual’s movement improvements.
According to the International Feldenkrais® Federation’s Standards of Practice, the method has been developed through the lens of science and learning.
How do we practice the method? One of essential learning approaches is allow people to explore their Kinesthetic sense through movements and sensory awareness of feeling, moving and imagining.
Each exercise is vocally guided and done by a series of small and slow movements. Participants would follow movements within their capabilities in a comfort way.
The International Feldenkrais Federation‘s Standards of Practice terms this approach as AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT and defines as following:
The other essential approach is done through hands-on courses.
Just as the Feldenkrais Method practitioners can guide people through movement sequences verbally in movement exercises, they also guide people through movement with gentle, non-invasive touching in hands-on courses, as termed FUNCTIONAL INTEGRATION by The International Feldenkrais Federation.