The Feldenkrais Journal #20 Awareness

N.N.: Dedication to Mark Reese; Elizabeth Beringer: A Remembrance; Transcription of a Talk by Mark Reese, June 28, 2005;

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The Feldenkrais Journal #20 Awareness

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Keith !1i!crn


"Feldenkrair Se5sion - Sody Scan/Beginning"




The Feldenkrais Journal is published annually for the members of The Fnr,nnwrners GUILD" of North America. Inquiries regarding this publication

should be directed to: The FeLosxrners Gurr,o, 5432 North Albina Avenue, Portland, ORgTzrz. If you have an article, poem, dralving, or letter to the editor to submit to the Journal, please send them directly to the editor. Send one copy to Gay Sweet Scott, Editor, Feldenkrais Journal, 2747 Woolsey Street, Berkeley, CA 94zo5, and send a second copy to Elaine Yoder, att. iournal, +Zz Clifton Street, Oakland CA s+6r8. The editorial committee is happy to comment on first drafts or works in progress. The deadline for submissions is NIay 1, 2oo8. The next issue will have an open theme. For more information about format, length, computer compatibility, etc., please contact Elaine Yoder at [email protected]

Additional copies of the /ournal are available through the Guild office for $6 to Guild members and $ro to non-members (includes postage and handling). Bulk rate fees are available on request. Subscriptions to the Feldenkrais lournal are now available. These are designed for people who are not currently receiving tlne Journal through their Guiid. A three-issue subscription is $25 for North American residents and $gS for overseas subscribers. A five-issue subscription is s4o and g5o, respectively. Please send your payment in U.S. dollars directly to the Guild office.


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Ihe Feldenkrais Iournal number zo

Table of Contents


Letter from the Editor


Dedication to Mark Reese


Transcription of


Aremembrance ElizabethBeringer


Learning, teaching, awareness and the


Know thyself: The risk of serious


Bookreview Carl Ginsburg




talk by Mark Reese, fune

zB, zoo5



Guy Claxton

Dennis Leri



Letter from the Editor

This edition of t}re lournal returns to the theme of Awareness because of the wealth of articles the topic has generated. We are particularly delighted to have the opportunity to publish two talks. The first is a transcript of MarkReese's last public teaching in Iune zoo5, the second a transcription of Guy Claxton's presentation to the International Trainer and Assistant Trainer meeting in Munich in zoo4. Both talks are examples of master teaching informed by years of study and engagement. Their presence and clarityis moving. Carl Ginsburg has contributed a review of current publications relating to recent research that supports Feldenkrais's insights and Dennis Leri contributes the first in a series of articles he is writing about self knowledge. It's a rich volume. All the articles speak to each other. I would like to thank Elizabeth Beringer for providing the opportunity to edit the Journal. Elizabeth will continue as Advisory Editor. Her dedication has ensured the publication has continued to survive and evolve for over 20 years. Thanks also to all the editorial board for their help.The Journalisthe result of many contributions and contributers. Special gratitude to Carol Kress and Dennis Leri for their help with Mark Reese's talk; to Elaine Yoder, the Assistant Editor, who gently maintains schedule against all odds; and to Margery Cantor, our intrepid designer, for her fine eye and ear. Our next issue will be Open topic to be followed by an issue dedicated to Teaching. Topics serve primarily as a device to clarifyhowto articulate, illuminate, and direct our understandings of our perceptions. They are a lens. We hope future writings may include some case studies as there has been a derth of them of late. While they are stories the stories can be provocative as the student is the protagonist. Other plans for the next year include ensuring past issues of.the Journal are available on line for Guild members. Again, thanks to all who make this publication possible.


E> r=:q\ L-:c" S.*$ I

Gay Sweet Scott


FALL 2007

This issue of the Journal is dedicated to Mark Reese who passed away on June z3 of zoo6. Mark has been our most frequently published author since

Journalt inception; his fine writing, critical participation and personal support greatly contributed to the Journal, and even more profoundly to our community as a whole. Mark had the ability to write and speaklucidly about the complexities of the Method while never resorting to reductionism. He gracefully navigated the conjunctions of science, metaphor, and practical wisdom. His persistent curiosity, discipline, and willingness to examine his own understanding remains a gift-an example of what is possible. It is with immeasurable sadness thatwe markhis passing here. t}ne


Beringer and the lournalStaff





Transcription of a talk by Mark Reese, June 28, 2oo5 EDITOR'S NOTE Mark Reese came to Dennis Leri's training in San Rafael, CA at the end June 2oo5 to teach a half day to fourth-year students. The following is the transcription of his talk. Students' questions were not recorded. As one reads, their omission serves to demonstrate Mark's ability to

respond and, at the same time, to continue his commitment to articulate his understanding of our work in the light of his practice, his scholarship, his life. After the talk Mark said he wished the training was at least 2oo hundred people-maybe more. To honor his wish here is the text from that beautiful afternoon.

#-, Hello, everybody. There has been some preparation for my appearance. I toldyou about my Special Forces haircut. So much of the last year has been occupied by illness it seems as though that is what I should be talking about. But even though I've had some illness, I'm still not quatified actuallyto speak on the subject. So I better speakto the Feldenkrais Method. As far as the illness goes, working on a book as I have been for manyyears, it's good preparation, actually, for being sick. There is a kind of asceticism to writing, where you try to clear everything else away. How many of you have tead The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann? I read it years ago in college. It is a great book. In it everybody gets sick as a way to go away and become enlightened about various topics and think about different things' It is really not clear whether the central character of the book is ill or just ill with the human condition. But he has tuberculosis. It was a period of time just before they found an effective treatment. He goes up to a chateau, way up there, and has all these very interesting conversations. The whole rest of his life he doesn't have any thing else to think about, so he looks at everything from the perspective of the magic mountain. I have been looking at all of you and everything else from the perspective of the magic mountain. It was a shock to go outside; I rarely go out of doors. You did your first practicum today? Was it fairly relaxed? Or was it not so relaxed? Any breakdowns? It varies, there are no rules. People don't have to breakdown or have anxieties about the practicum, but people usually do, more often than not. So has there been any discussion in the course of the practicum of, how shall we call it, some kind of theme or overarching idea or intent or something to the lesson you gave a person? Was there some talk about that? Were you asked? Did you ask? So you can kind of do any random collection of things for half an hour? Or is there supposed to be some relationship between one thing

and another thatyou do? [Student]: " . . . coherent." That's great. So it has coherence. That is a good word. It coheres. So the "it" was to give a lesson. So what more needs to be said on the subject? I probably did last time I came here, but I wanted to tell you how luckyyou are to have Dennis as an educational director. There is a story that comes in many forms, including the Sufi story, the Nasruddin story where he is looking for something in the street. Someone asks him what's happening? He says he lost his key. Where did you leave it? Over there, he lost it over there. Then why are you looking over here for it? Because there is a light here, more light to find it. But he is on the wrong side. He's looking where it isn't.


FALL 2007


This is a story that fits a lot of different situations. But it fits the Feldenkrais Method, or teaching, I think, in that many things are much easier to teach than to understand. And that there is a great appeal in organizing your thinking about something based on ways of communicating. But the thing is, the communication is not the thing itself. Ihe communication is some kind of experience you're trying to communicate. For some the communication is easy, to communicate is easy, and you get these people who are really good communicators. The people who are the best communicators and make the most money at it often say very little. The better communicators like the politicians and such say almost nothing at all. There is an odd relationship between communication and substance. The better the communicator, the less they have to say, although it's not always necessarily the case.

I don't know if you've heard this story before; tell me if you have. Years and years ago, in the old days, Feldenkrais taught the workwith Functional Integration in the training in Tel Aviv in very organized procedures, where basicallyyou do this and then you do that, and then you do that and then you do that. Some of these were similar to erM lessons, others not, but basically people copied those things. They did not do them under his supervision because there was only a tiny room for 12 or 18 people to practice in and they would practice on their own. So basically Feldenkrais would just demonstrate procedures x ,!, z."Ihere were these kind of formulae. You know about that kind of thing. When the people who had studied in Tel Aviv with Feldenkrais came to Amherst, especially ones who had not been to San Francisco where Feldenkrais had taught Functional Integration in a different way, they felt (and everybody should feel) that their training was better than everybody else's training. That's a good thing. ( I hope you guys feel thatyour training is that. You invested a lot of yourself in it.) But the idea was that they started teaching things in terms of what they had been taught, rather than what Feldenkrais taught. Certain kinds of shorthands developed, certain terminologies. One had to do with the terminology of pattern (Did I tell you about this last year? Was I thinking about this then?) the terminology of what is the person's pattern? The idea of goingwith the pattern, or not going with the pattern. This is something that Feldenkrais never talked about, for good reason. Another idea was the idea of function, what is a function, and the idea of function stood for this "it" that was supposed to have coherence. I can tell you a storywhere something like that would fall under that definition. I was in a hospital in Melbourne, I was working with a woman, interviewed her and gave her a lesson. Afterwards, some therapists asked me what it was I thought I was doing. They thought it had to do with mobilizing this, or trying to teach her to do this or that. Basicallywhat I told them was that this was a smoking lesson. This was a woman who had a very sad story. The woman had had amnesia and tried to kill herself, and she had some sort of brain damage and gone into a coma as a result of the drug overdose. If you think about smoking, you can't smoke in a hospital. It was very restrictive in a Catholic hospital; they don't want to encourage that kind of thing. But there were places she could go to smoke, so basically the whole lesson had to do with organizing and bringing the hand to the mouth to smoke. That was a very nice thing to do, in terms of giving her something that she would really want. She was dependent on other people, so this could make her a bit more independent. That is a kind of lesson that has that sort of ring to it, don't you think? It's got nice specificity. It is easy to communicate the idea, it is easy to visualize, right? But a lot of lessons do not fall into those kinds ofcategories. I am sure you have seen a lot oflessons in the training that looked like you could not derive something so simple from it. This idea of function came to be correlatedwith fairly simple types of erus. This whole set of teaching principles was very, very interesting, because it was all fictitious, all of it. It was all based on things that were not there. Because these patterns that you went with or against, there




weren't any patterns really. And these functions that supposedly lessons were about, by and large, there weren't any of those. Then the idea that there was a particular concept of eru and rI transportability, the idea that the FI is the ATM and the ervr is the rr. The idea is that the ATM lessons fall under these claims of action. So that basic ATM lessons would be side bending, twisting, flexing, extending, like that, in various positions. But go through the 600 or so Alexander Yanai lessons, go through the transcripts of hundreds of lessons, and I challenge you show me how many arM lessons follow that type of rubric. You will find a few but very few. They are, by far, the exception to what an eru looks like. But that did not bother the teachers of the Method. Here you have 6oo lessons and they have all kinds of different complex movements, this one is on the floor, this one is walking, this one is fast, this one is slow, this is effortful, this is effortless, this is baby-like, this is dance-like, whatever. How do you make those into any sort ofneat category? It is very, very difficult. It was just very, very nice to say, okay, we have extension, flexion, all that' Also very nice that people who had backgrounds either in the sciences or measurement, or health were used to being routinized for assessment. It is very easy to do that if you take a specific thing and move in a particular plane. Once you start mixing and making more complex movements, it is harder to show exactlywhat the improvement is, it is more complicated. So this is a sort of fictitious way of developing the whole thing. I hate to admit manyyears ago I was one of the ones seduced by this fictitious mode of teaching. I taught it this way and I liked teaching it that way, because it was so clear. But it was the clarity that Nasruddin had looking for his keys under the light post, because there wasn't any Functional Integration there. So you are pushing through the pelvis, you are trying to find a direction, let's say, side bending or one of these other movement directions. And you see if you move the pelvis in a direction that relates to that kind of flexion, and you try and see how far that idea gets you, it really doesn't get you very far. It has very, very limited applicability. It has very little depth. In your training, does that make sense, the idea of following a movement through the skeleton, and see where it logically progresses? Let's take a movement like a chain movement. You lie on your back, and you reach toward the ceiling, and you move as if somebody pulls you by the hand or the wrist, and they keep pulling you toward the ceiling. If you imagine it can be done by a machine, by some sort of pulley system, you would be pulled to the ceiling and over. Eventuallyyou'd actually be pulled over onto your side, with the arm pulling the shoulder, the shoulder pulling the chest, the chest turning the spine, to the pelvis, to the legs, and so forth, right? So there is a particular logic to that, a particular organization to the movement. In the course of a Functional Integration lesson, this is an extremely good sort of thing to have in mind, to have inyour feeling, thatyou feel that ifyou turn the various parts in relation to each other, as if doing the overall turning, you would have something that would be a coherent lesson. But the question is, what would the person take away from that? Feldenkrais defined function in the Amherst Training as function is the relationship betweenyour intention and your action. So if you want to improve someone's functioning, whatyou want to improve is not this or that, not necessarily a particular skill or action. But it is that broader issue, of improving a person's ability to direct themselves or to do what they want, basically to do what theywant-without a lot of interfering funny business. This goes way, wayback to Feldenkrais in the rgzos reading Cou6 and being aware of the idea of resistance [Emile Cou6 1857-1926, French pharmacist and psychologist]. The idea that you want to do something and a lot of what prevents people from doing what theywant is that they have these thoughts that come up, these feelings that come up, that contradict their intention. So Feldenkrais kept looking at this in differentways and talking about it, and going into it in a deeper and deeper way. He got ideas, like cross-motivation-expressing this idea that you are doing something, but in a sense the desire to do it is contaminated by intentions that really don't belong. It is like you are trying to be a good 6


THE FELDEh'KRA1S J0llRl,i:1L I\i{}. 2o

friend, but there are financial issues or social issues and things get confused. There are mixed motives and people don't sort them out. Feldenkrais said that what his method was about was sorting out those motivations. He wanted to bring the person to be able to do a single thing and knowwhat theywere doing and not have those entanglements. One of the reasons Feldenkrais liked movement as a vehicle for teaching is because these movements were fairly simple where a lot of things we do in life, where we want to have simplicity and directness of action; it is so complicated because it is social relationships, speech, and everything. But take a movement of sitting and standing up again. It is simple enough that in half an houryou can make a significant difference in the coherence with which the person does it.

the people seduced by this idea of function years ago. Someone transcribed lecture of mine and I edited what they wrote and it ended tp in a Feldenkrais Journal on function.l I said that there are these little functions, and from the little functions you get to the big functions. This was my idea, that you take these simple movements, it could be flexion, or side bending, or twisting or things like that, and you create a certain coherence there, and at some other level it is working at a deeper level. What I think now is that from the beginning we really are trying to work at the deeper level more pertinent to the person. So what are these deeper levels? What is function? I think that Feldenkrais is very, very clear on the whole thing from the very beginning, that he's talking about those things that make human life possible. Life in general possible, and then human life in particular impossible-I mean possible. I got a postcard from a friend, with a poem by Theodore Roethke saying we need more people who want to do the impossible. So I was one of


Feldenkrais says in The Case of Nora,I look at the person and I try to think in my imagination, what would be the ideal for that person? What would be the ideal for that person in terms of the species, in terms of that person as a human being, and what would be the ideal for that person personally? Do you remember that? Does that stick in your mind? Most of Feldenkrais's books, or huge, huge sections of them, are devoted to talking about what is ideal function from the standpoint of the human species. So, for example, he talks about the idea of standing and weight bearing. In an efficient standing there is a feeling of weightlessness. So what it is you are trying to convey every time you push through someone's skeleton, is that feeling of movement going through the person and the person feeling absolutely weightless or effortlessness. So he talks about breathing, being able to move in a way that you are not interfering with the breathing, breathing in a way that is not interfering with the movement. He talks about "the big one," the most important one, reversibility, which goes back again to this idea of self-direction. The ability-reversibility-is one way of saying that at any moment you can do what you want. It means that suddenly there isn't so much inertia, or force of habit, or compulsion to a behavior that whatever we are doing in this particular movement we are stuck and have to follow it through. As though we're some sort of vcn that didn't have a rewind button. I've had machines like that. You had to go all the way to the end of the tape to get back to the beginning. There are arguments like that where people feel the need to restate all of the things that they know that no one agrees with, that are not going to make the argument go any further. But there is just a need to restate the argument because all the steps were just so perfect, even though everyone knows at the end of the argument, you are going to have to throwthat away and talk about something different, thatyou're going to have to approach the subject from a differentway. Butwhen people have those compulsions, they are itches that just have to be scratched. So this is an example of non-reversible behavior. Non-reversible thinking is another kind of behavior. You know, that example is not such a weird situation. 7



I think in every kind of lesson, at each moment, it is possible at least in our imagination, at least in our intention, to be looking for a more ideal form of human organization. It means when we touch the person, we are trying to touch the person in such a way that we elicit the kind of breathing that makes the person feel, 'Ah!! This makes it possible to be alive." I had a situation going about the illness. Again, I don't have any expertise about the illness, but this is just an example. I was suffocating at night, until they put this tube in.

I'm using this as an example, to talk about the importance of breathing, of vitality, but the thing is it is not only for the person who is drowning that you give the oxygen. Any human being, if you can touch that point, find that direction, where the breath just comes by itself, there is a kind of vitality that springs from that which is just exquisite, it is just immeasurable. So it is worth it to keep that in mind, and touch the person fifty, a hundred, two, three, five hundred different ways that do not achieve that, it is well worth it. Because when you get there, everybody is very happy with what you've arrived at. You have to reach very, very high, though, to get to that kind of thing and not get frustrated and not have funny thoughts like to think that it is better than it is, or it is worse than it is, or that it should be different than it is. You just keep that intention, that thought, bringing the knowledge you have to bear on the subject and having that intention and know that there is an orientation: If you lift the person, if they are lying on the back and you lift their head and you turn their head a little bit this way, and a little bit that way and you have that conviction that there is a particular orientation for the head that for that person is like the difference between life and death. It really all boils down to life and death. It really did for Feldenkrais. When I was in my2os in the training Feldenkrais was talking about standing in a way that the snake wouldn't kill me. You know I had not been aware of any snakes particularlythatwere going around San Francisco at that time. It seemed preposterous to me. But those connections: They are vivid for me now. I like to assume that people in training and everybody else can appreciate that directness more than I somehow. You knowhowit is with different things, that you can kind of know it, and not know it. You kind of know it, and you find that lesson again and again. So it is the ability to move. The ability to move is half the intention to go somewhere to do something, and for it to happen. It is like that. This is magic. Thus the basic ideas of Functional Integration, things like giving a person a feeling of upright standingwhich is efficient with a high center of mass, giving a person a feeling of ease of breathing. One of the examples from The Potent Sef-have you all read The Potent Sef? I was going through The Potent Se$ andlwas thinking most of the book is about sex, and a lot of the book is about the organization of the martial artist and that sort of reversible movement. It seemed to me that the next number of examples that he gives are about eating. He is talking about-there wasn't the term "eating disorder" at that time-but he is talking about people who have problems of eating too much or eating too little and social things about eating and having confusing sensations. People become so alienated from themselves that theylose the ability to even knowwhat organic sensations are telling us. Is it a sexual sensation, is it a digestive sensation, is it a breathing sensation, what is this sensation telling them? People are inculcated in practices of education, training, movement, that deliberately detach us from that kind of sensory awareness, so we actually do not know what our feelings are and do not have that ability to act on them. Feldenkrais was trying to plug people into their own feelings basically. He is talking about these so-called difficulties with eating and problems with sex andwhat does it mean? Again, he is talking about kinds of necessities that face any living organism. Self-reproduction was a term he used later, self-maintenance, referring to things like self-maintenance of breathing, eating, drinking, and self-preservation. He says that self-preservation is the most crucial, because you see that sex can wait, you don't want it to wait, but it can take years. In terms of eating, there are animals that eat a big meal and then sleep it off for six months, hibernating. But when you come to breathing, people can only hold their breath for five or six minutes. Self-preservation, is like a combat situation and B

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someone is attackingyou. We are talking about split-second differences in terms of how the nervous system has to react. Ofall ofthe vital life functions, Feldenkrais said, self-preservation is the most stringent. It really puts the nervous system to the test, and I think he believed itwas also what exerted certain selective pressure on the species as far as human evolution went. So these are these very, very basic things, and these are the things that are going on in every lesson. I think that if you think about it, I thinkyou'll find those things are there: it is the same ability that makes it easy to get up and down from a chair easily. It is the ability to attack, to run away, simply to move fast, efficiently. To do that you have to do it in a way with breathing and swallowing, because these things are all connected. Does this make any sense? So I think that these are the fundamentals whatever the person's particular request, and often people do not have such a particular request. Often people will present an inventory of annoyances and discomforts. And sometimes it is hard to get anything more, or clearer or sharper than that. But usually then you can identify some kind of something which is obviously very useful and teachable during the period of time, something that is going to be reproducible. Because by giving them something teachable, aside from the value of whatever it is you are teaching, in the course of learning that thing, you are reinforcing sensations that the person is going to be able to access later on. In other words, you are teaching the person to get up and down from the chair efficiently. In the course ofthat, over and over again, somehow the person is given a feeling of a certain part of the foot. And the feeling of weight bearing going to that part of the foot becomes something that the person takes with them for the rest of his or her life. If you can find one element like that, to clarify it is worth so much. It is something that can be done in a short period of time. People won't forget it if it is vivid. You cannot talk people into those feelings. It is not about talking about it or explaining, it is about the feeling, the feeling in the feet. And that is the thing that is going to make it easier for them to get out of the chair if they have trouble with their back. Or if they are a public speaker as soon as they feel their feet they're going to be able to talk, they are not going to have stage fright. It is going to be that feeling in their feet that maybe gives them self-confidence in another situation. Any questions aboutwhat I have said so far? [Student's question] I think we are trying to unlock certain very important doors for people. I think that

attention and patience and interest and curiosity, all those things bring people into the project. Any other comments or questions? Dennis, any? [Student question] The claim Feldenkrais makes in Bo dy and Mature Behauior-have you read, Body and Mature Behauior?-worth reading and re-reading, I tell you. The claim he makes, he says it over and over and over and over again, he says there is only this: there is a whole situation. And that whole situation means you, and the environment. And it means your thinking, and your feeling and your sensing and your moving and your autonomic visceral feelings, functionings, sensations, and the intellectual part. All of that is happening at every moment and that it is irreducible, and causality does not operate there. None of the parts cause the other parts in that whole situation. In other words, it is not the environment that is determining things, like whatever the Marxist point of view is, it is not the intellectual, like what the cognitive psychologist is saying, it is not the emotional. There is no causality operating there. But instead, there is a whole situation. So your behavior has to do with your response to a current situation bringing to bear all of your previous history. And that is the thing in a nutshell. [Student comment] My feeling is that you are going in and out of compartments, and there are no real compartments there. Maybe there are, but I think they are imaginary compartments. Even the environment and the nervous system: The nervous system has an image of the environment, an expectation of the environment. I have had this conversation manytimes, 9



people will not go away from the idea of saying, what is this stuff about the body, or what is this stuff about the mind. There are these categories about mind and body' The idea that the mind is separate and the body is separate and that they interact with each other causally; so that the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind, everybody grasps that. People see what we do in Feldenkrais as body movement and for some reason this is meaningful to people. The people who are in trainings, the people who are drawn to the work, we feel these differences, but to be able to explain it in a language and in a culture where the idea of the body is so . . . It is difficult. That is one of the reasons why Feldenkrais would do things like create problems. For example, movements thatyou could not do, you didn't know how to do, so it was obvious to you that you had to think or whatever else.

What have you done with breathing in your training, with the idea of eliciting breathing? Is that a meaningful question for you? I ask if it's a meaningful question, because I found out, more lastyear than I realized, because I have conversations with Dennis and other trainers, the particular words that I've come to use, or to make sense of, are actually so different from their formulations that they actually don't have a clue about what I'm talking about a lot of the time, and I don't quite have a clue about what they're talking about. By having more conversations with Dennis, it's only recently I feel like I'm starting to get an idea of what he means by certain things, and with some other trainers I'm talking to. I'm getting an idea that the nature of the beast is so experiential and so difficult to find language for, that the tendency is going to be if the individual is going to develop it, they're going to find very individualized ways of making sense of your own experience and you can't expect everybody to immediately know what it is you mean. So when I say "elicit the breathing" it makes perfect sense in words that I've been using and teaching with, and it may make absolutely no sense to you and I may need to ask other questions to get the information I want. [Student: "Elicit breathing" is the question?] [Student comment] Give me an example of that. [Student]

That is a good example, and one of the physiological reasons for that in part, we breathe with our shoulders. We use our shoulder muscles in order to breathe, and in different positions we are able to use those muscles or not. When I was having difficultybreathing during the night I could not lie down. If I could sit up, I found it easier to breathe. I was able to use those shoulder muscles in awaythat made it easier. Itwould have been even easier if somebody were lifting the shoulders while I was breathing' To have helped me bring

up the upper ribs so I didn't have to do the work myself would have elicited


much easier

breathing. I want to try to help you to go another level of precision, though, in your formulation of that idea of shape. You run into this with the people who were taught patterns and the idea of exaggerating patterns. Take someone with a rounded back and the idea that you exaggerate the roundedness as being some notion of support' The problem with that is that what you want to do is something to support the activity of the person- The roundedness of the back is not itself an activity. The person can have a fused spine, for example, in which case it is not so much an activity as the shape of the back. Not only that, but if I have the same shape of my back rounded, and I am here, and I am here, it is entirely different from a muscular point of view. If I am here, andyouwant to supportthe shape of myback, and you press down here on my back, rounding it, you will make me feel horrible, even though it increases the roundness of my back, because it actually increases the muscular work to be sitting like that. Whereas if I am leaning back, and if you press in this way, then I might be able to breathe. If I'm leaning forward, and you support me from the front, then it will make it easier than if I am leaning back. So the thing to think about is what is the person 10


FAI,L 2(}{)7

actually doing, because sometimes the same shape can lead you to something entirely different, based on where the person is in gravity and what the action is. But it is a good first approximation because it gives your eye something to fasten on to, because it is easy for most people, not for everybody, but it is easy for most people to see a line in space. So they will see a silhouette or they will see something about the shape of the back and say, okay, here is a way. Does that make sense? If I am sitting like this, I am over-using my flexors. I am stopping myself from falling backwards. If I am sitting like this, it is actually the back muscles that are overworking, not the flexors. The flexors are not doing anything. And certainly, they are chronically short, but if my back muscles were not holding me . . . that is why it is just so fatiguing. So, other examples IStudent] Also in part, if you were to lift your head to that height on your own, you would be involving the sternum and the upper ribs. Those muscle groups are directly involved in breathing. It is what you are doing, you are interrupting and the person is not having to work in those situations. You are bringing people to a position that is more like their normal postural position, their normal standing. That is standing, so all of a sudden, as you bring them toward their standing, it is like that is coherence itself. There is a coherence to standing. It is no mean, easy trick, to stand up. So it is where we hold our heads, howwe hold everything. So as you are working with the person, as you are holding them in different ways that relate to that kind of standing, there is a nervous system sense there, there is a coherence to that kind of standing, and the nervous system starts making-it seems like it to me-the nervous system starts making faster connections aboutwhatwould make it even more efficient, about how the standing could be even a little bit better than it was before. Whereas when the head is put in another kind of position, it could be a very nice movement, a very nice position, but it does not so much relate to that more basic home position that people come back to. Do you want a little break before we do something? Some exercise? What do you think?

Dennis? IStudent] Okay, what have you done.


It does, mentioning it to me helps me out. I think if you are moving the person slowly, people breathe for lots of different reasons. The breathing pattern as it is has very little to do necessarily with their need for oxygen. More obviously, it is an indicator of an emotional state, or something to do with the autonomic nervous system, or safety, or what I have to do to work. For most people, if they can just slow things down. For most people, if they can just

attention-and most people are happy to do that-it is a very pleasant kind will induce the slowness of the breathing without your having to ask them to do it. That is the magic about the movement, as I say, it elicits it. I think that is one way to think about what is taking place. Certain movements are going to be more meaningful than others. You have people in situations and what they are basically doing-lifting the shoulders-it is kind of a general thing people do for self-protection. Many people will lie in positions where they are lifting things in the air and if their muscles stop working, things would just fall down. They could not staythere bythemselves. They do not really have the support. Ifyou can look at the person and see what needs the support, I think that give you their of feeling that

is another example of the same type of thing. But it can be anything. It can be a movement they enjoy, that interests them. Other kinds of things you think about, with the breathing? In terms of lessons, what do you think about while you are working moment to moment? Is it something you do at the end of the lesson, or something you do at the beginning of the lesson, or something you do

all the time? How is the breathing


How is your attention to breathing? 11




IStudent] Right, right. Is this too much of a "doing" orientation, Dennis what do you think? In terms of eliciting the breathing, in terms of principles consistent with this training? IStudent] What's that?! Sayit! It is consistent, the idea of eliciting the breathing is okay. You do not necessarily always have to be just watching. You are also seeing what happens if you do this or you do that. And in the sense of listening, you are seeing if something makes it possible for the person to breathe more abdominally or with the movement of the ribs, or slowing the breathing down, or speeding up or not breathing at all, or less effortful breath. I just suggest that this a view that is one of the things Feldenkrais presented in our training, the idea that there is a way in which-and he used the word "manipulation" without the connotation of acting unethically or in effect controlling people the idea that we manipulate the skeleton and we also manipulate the breath. It is not quite the same thing. IStudent.] That is a subtle one. That is for next year. That is very subtle. Shall we have a little break before we do something more experiential? Good, good. It is very interesting to compose lessons around the breathing and around the eliciting of it.

r. Feldenkrais


lournal, number Z r99z



A remembrance Elizabeth Beringer

Mark Reese was born on March ts, 195r and grew up in Tuscon, Arizona. He was one of Moshe Feldenkrais's original American students and was pivotal in introducing the Feldenkrais Method in the United States. He was a highly respected teacher and was one of the first American teachers chosen to train new practitioners. He worked as a trainer for over twenty years. In that period Mark directed or co-directed more than z5 trainings, personally graduating more than rooo students. In addition to his own students Mark traveled extensively presenting the Method and working as a guest instructor in numerous programs on three continents, making him one of the most active and influential Feldenkrais trainers in the world. Mark graduated from the San Francisco Professional Feldenkrais Training in 1977. During the 7os he also traveled repeatedly to Israel and worked closely with Dr. Feldenkrais. After graduating from his training he moved to San Diego where he founded the Southern California Feldenkrais Institute and raised his familywith his firstwife, Feldenkrais trainer, Donna Ray. Their first child, Nathan, was born in 1986 and Filip in 1989. Markwas extremely active during his years in San Diego doing basic trainings, advanced trainings, specialty trainings for professionals, recording tapes and videos, conducting research, maintaining a long term private practice, and of course raising two very active boys. He also traveled extensively. For many years he spent the summer with his family in Asiago, Italy and various parts of Germany where he directed training programs. In some of our last conversations he remembered this period very fondly and felt he'd done some of his best teaching there. Mark's interests were diverse and he read widely. In the rg7os he helped to found an experimental theater group. The Birnam Woods Theater group was a kind of "theater commune," in which they interwove their passions for acting, music, language, and Shakespeare together into musical theater experiments. Mark often referenced his experiences with acting and especiallywith Birnam Woods as an especially vital time of his life and a source of creativity in his later teaching. He had a wonderful facilitywith language and could speak about the Method from many different perspectives. With this ability he made contact with many academics whose work dovetailed with his interests, most notably Edward Reed, Alan Fogel, and cognitive developmentalist Esther Thelen. His dialogue with Dr. Thelen eventually resulted in her training with Mark to become a practitioner and the development of a close friendship. I knew Mark for thirty years as both a friend and colleague. His engagement with the Method was a passion that permeated his life. He was rigorous in what he wanted for himself, his students, and from his colleagues and thus he was always innovating. He would often be the one who would start the ripple of a new innovation through the training community. When we taught together he would invariably bring some new twist to the familiar or a new piece of work that would enliven and enrich my own thinking and teaching. He brought a wonderful lucidity to his teaching that was at once precise and at the same time always artistic and often funny. He had a smart and sharp sense of humor that I particularly loved. Markwas one of the most active writers in the Feldenkrais world. Over the years he wrote about the Method from many different angles, including a monthly column in a local holistic paper, case studies, articles on the connection between Ericksonian hypnosis and Dr. Feldenkrais's approach, and a description of the Method from the perspective of dynamic systems. At the time he died he was deeply engaged in the writing of Moshe Feldenkrais's biography, a project into which he'd put an enormous amount of time and research. He was far enough along in this project that his wife Carol Kress will be able to bring out the first volume within the next year. Mark married long time practitioner and assistant trainer Carol Kress on December gt, 2oo4. She cared for him throughout his illness with tremendous tenderness and resolve. His sister, Shelly, his children, and a few close friends were also great sources of solace for Mark as he struggled with an extremely aggressive cancer. The dignity and strength that he brought to the ups and downs of recovery and relapse was impressive to all of us who were around him in these last years. Mark died at home, Iune zg, zoo6. r3



Learning, teaching, awareness, and the brain Feldenkrais Conference Munich, Decembet 2oo4 Guy Claxton, UniversitY of Bristol

INTRODUCTION Since zoot Feldenkrais trainers and assistants have been meeting in Europe in the lnternational Trainer and Assistant Trainer Academy (ITATA). Part of our meetings has been dedicated to

advanced training and presentations by invited guests from science and the arts' ln December zoo4 Guy Claxton, Professor ofthe Learning Sciences at the Graduate School of Education the University of Bristol, England, was our guest. Claxton has written several books that have captured the interest of Feldenkrais teachers

including: HqreBrain,TortoiseMind,andWiselJp:LearningtoLivetheLearningLife'llanaNevill in England and Carl Ginsburg invited him to present his ideas on learning and awareness to the 50 trainers and assistant trainers gathered in Munich, Germany' The following is an edited transcript of his presentation. ln his talk Guy outlined his view of learning, teaching, awareness, and the brain' The transcript includes the day's lectures and discussions with the participants' Appreciation goes to everyone who made it possible to share this with the Feldenkrais community.


Russell, ITATA Coordinator

€, Thank you for inviting me. The day starts with a bit of structure and then becomes chaotic or, at least, unpredictable, non-linear. I'll talk to you for a little while' Please feel free to interact. You don't have to be too quiet and student-like. Feel free to be noisy and disputatious. Depending on how that goes, we'11 have a general kind of question-andanswer session which we can broaden as much as you want. I was asked to start with seeing if I could say anything that would help you to think about the nature ofteaching and learning in the context ofFeldenkrais practice' I'm going to meditate around four elements-the relationship between Iearning and teaching and the role that awareness, or conscious awareness, or different forms of conscious awareness' have in the context of different kinds of learning and teaching and to say where brain science is with respect to that in terms of some plausible speculations' I've been a dabbler in a whole variety of different bodv-spiritual kinds of pursuits' I've also been involved in what is called East-West psychology, developing the relationship between scientific psychology and studies of spiritual and meditative practices' If you're

interested in that we can 80 there' I've done little bits of Alexander and little bits of Feldenkrais. My experience with Feldenkrais is not uncommon, finding it simultaneously both intriguing and boring. After a little while the boring won out over the intriguing' But the intriguing is what got me to accept your invitation. I'm interested in things that might be called neighboring or neighborly concerns' I don't know if any ofyou have experience rvith a practice called Focusing' It's a psychotherapy practice, which I think is cognate to what you do. I've done a little bit of training in that' I've done little bits of Tai Chi, Iittle bits of Rolfing, and deep tissue work a long time ago in an ashram in India" I know a little bit about what your world is but not very much, a little bit from the consuming side rather than the producing side. This is to situate mvself and, if you want, you can pick up on any of these links. 14

FALI, 20O7


I also want to say I consider myself to be here wearing three hats-at least three hats. One is the role of teacher in that you invited me because you think I have some experience or knowledge to share. So I'm delighted to do that. One is the role of learner. I,m looking forward to hearing and learning more. I've become interested in a number of different ways in the embodiment of knowing. Some of you will be familiar with and may be even more well-read in the kinds of literatures I've been reading. For example, a very interesting book is called. Philosophy in the Flesh. And a great hero of mine is the late Francisco Varela. You may be familiar with some of his work. Someone whose work I like very much is Andy Clark, cognitive philosopher, who has written a wonderful book recently, Natural-born Cyborgs. Enjoy the title. I'm looking forward to exploring those issues, with me not in any kind of expert role but among people with common interests. Also, I have to say that I'm partly here with a kind of anthropologist's hat to observe and be interested in howyour tribe functions. I find myself in an interesting period. My work is connecting with surprisingly different groups of people. There is the invitation from you. In the last month or next, I have been or will be talking to national coaches of young footballers in the U.K. through the National Football Association. On the fourth of |anuary I'll be talking to fortyArmy generals, who are interested in the role of intuition in decision-making. I've been working with a group of dancers. One of the things that has interested me is the privileged position of the dabbler, You get to be invited into lots of different tribes and be intrigued about how they function,

what their habits are. For example, I'm interested in cultural habits about time-keeping, and cultures, internal disputes. All cultures have their family feuds. I'm interested in discovering what the internal disputes are. I'm interested in discovering what your relationships are with neighboringtribes, some ofwhomyouwill disdain contemptuously. Othersyouwill consider to be friendly neighbors. I'm interested in how that works out. It seems to me that being interested in surfacing and making conscious and articulate the unconscious habits of a tribe is not a million miles away from the work of Feldenkrais itself-of surfacing, making articulate and interesting the internal culture of the body. There may be parallels to be explored there. I want to start with setting out a framework. This is by no means comprehensive. It,s by no means definitive. Teaching and learning as activities, like almost everything else, are too complicated to be put into any simple framework. It will always be like a fishing net. There will always be interesting and important fish that are too small to be caught in any particular net. Nevertheless, it's useful to construct nets of a medium-sized mesh in order to give us a way of surfacing questions and thinking about issues we might want to think about. I present this not in the spirit of a definitive, well-researched, to-be-thoroughlybelieved framework, but in the spirit of something that might provide one among many tools for articulating the kinds of discussions we might find useful. In the process I hope the framework itself will be subject to question and development.










MOOD expLnr







NO. 20


FAI,L 2()07


and then I want to look at these different media or channels through which we can learn primary definitely very is Learning for teaching. try to connect them with implications

toteaching. Teaching is a parasitic activity. It's parasitic on learning' There is a famous "Peanuts" cartoon in which somebody says "I taught Spot to whistle"' In the second frame Spot is conspicuously not whistling. In the third frame someone else says "How come I Spot isn't whistling?" In the fourth fame the teacher says "I taught him to whistle' didn't goes on in say he'd learned to." So there is quite a lot of teaching without learning that as be effective to we are if But home' my natural settings school educational settings, end the other nut at with the to connect needs that a wrench teachers-it's like teaching is the in People process' learning the purchase on get any of the process. Otherwise we don't powerful be to in order be effective, to U.K. in teaching are finally discovering this. In order learning as a teacher, you need to be running around to the other end ofthe teaching and the going around process, so as to be as interested and knowledgeable as possible inwhat's other end. Likewise, I'm sure, foryou.

IMMERSION I tend to like lists of things that begin with the same letter' So this is the seven learning. Immersion is the first one. Immersion is like to be immersed in lt'ater' to be in something. Someone pointed out to me the other day that the English word "understand" parts is often taken to mean a kind of intellectual or cognitive activity' If you turn the tu/o be immersed It's to around, to "understand" is to stand under, as to stand under a waterfall'

in something, to understand something properly. It's the difference betrn"een something like intellectual knowledge and carnal knowledge. If you're famiiiar with the phrase "carnal knowledge," you'll know that specifically refers to sex but lve can use it more broadly. So immersion is learning from direct experience. Immersion is the most fundamental form of learning that we have-the form of learning that, if we were computers, we lvould saywe come bundled with. We come pre-installed with this wonderful, subtle, brilliant' natural Iearning ability inherent in the plasticity of the central nervous system to detect' extract, and make use of patterns and contingencies in experience' \A/e're not alone' We're not the only species that does that by any manner of means' But it's what gets us started'

and it remains throughout life our most fundamental, most brilliant way of engaging with learning. The most important thing about that form of learning is that it proceeds through our life, unless it's interrupted or blocked, jammed up, or neglected in some way or other (which as you know can easily happen). It's not a chitdish form of learning. There are people who have presented this form of learning as though it were kind of a starter kit which you then grew out of' But of course it's very powerfully the kind of learning or one of the kinds of learning on which your practice is parasitic. Unless it is blocked, that form of learning proceeds without conscious intent' often without conscious awareness, without instruction, without guidance' rt'ithout effort' It's just part and parcel of our design specification. As I navigated myway around since arriving last night, I have learned a tremendous amount about Munich, most of which I cannot articuiate to you' A lot of it I've been noticing without noticing that I've been noticing, like the different n'ay a hotel room is Iaid out. But I did notice that it is not universal practice in German hotels to supplyyou r'vith a tray for making tea in your hotel room' This drew itself forcibly to my conscious attention at five o'clock this morning. There are all kinds of other things' We are all the time subtly

adjusting, noticing, and responding to those kinds ofthings' I want to come back and talk about what is the value added' It's a phrase that is used by making it a lot in England at the moment. What is the value that is added to learning of our so much because problematic conscious? The starting point is that it is actually awareness' learning proceeds beautifully and effortlessly below and without conscious Indeed there are a whole Iot of ways in which consciousness is a mixed blessing' You r5

FALr_ 2OO7


know only too well from your practice that there are ways consciousness interferes with, jams up, diverts, perverts, complicates, and congeals different kinds of learning. So it's a very mixed blessing and that is part of what I want to explore with you today. Immersion, as I've described it, is kind of non-selective. It's what neural networks do. You can just input a whole lot of different experiences to a neural network, which is a simple computer simulation of a simple set of neuron-like elements hooked up in very simple ways and designed to change the strength of connections betr,veen them in rule-bound ways. So vou don't need a tutor. You don't need anybody else to tell them what to do. If you give them a rvhole Iot of experiences to learn from, these neural networks will very rapidly distill perceptual subtleties and patterns that are, in some cases, as complex or more complex than those that the functioning human brain can distill. There is a classic example of a very simple neural network with twenty-two elements (think of how many neurons there are in the brain): thirteen input layers, seven hidden units, and two output units. Input into this was a whole lot of sonar echoes, which either came from a mine in the sea or from a rock. There is a huge overlap between these kinds of echoes. It's an important thing for a minesweeper to be able to know. Up until recently this was done by human operators, who after several months at sea were able to distinguish between the ping of a mine and the ping of a rock with about eighty-five percent accuracy. That's as good as a human being gets. After five or six hundred trainings on these things, a neural network was able to out-perform the human sonar operator. With these very few little units it was able to assign highly complicated auditory phonic patterns to these categories more reliably than a human being. Whyit could be more reliable is an interesting question. But a neural network is very passive. It needs almost no tuition, and then it becomes generative. Likewise there are neural networks that can very sophisticatedly tell the difference between different human expressions, between a male face and a female face, between a young face and an old face. These distinctions are extremely difficult to articulate, yet we all do them. We do them when we don't know how we do them just like that, and it's not difficult to train a computer network to do them. The intriguing thing is that these computer networks, like the human brain, don't knowwhat they know. The patterns that become installed in those brain-like systems are often very different from the kinds of categories and patterns that we use to articulate those differences. It's as if there are different levels. This may be of relevance to your work. I don't know. For example, face-recognition programs do not have anything like what we call eyes, noses, mouths, chins, or hairiines. They have nothing that corresponds to that vocabulary. \\rhat the-v have is a set of fogg1,, holistic patterns, which they've distilled and for which n e have no words. We have no word for the relationship between the contour of a face and the shador,r,', or between the different light and shade of one side of the nose from the other. I'm struggling in language to point at things that we have no easy way of pointing at. Yet these are the rt'ays that these computer programs and, plausibly, our own brains actually do the job. So the ways in which our systems do these jobs, pattern recognition and maybe movement as rt e11, are very different from the ways we have to talk about these kinds of things. We'Il come back and talk about that later because your job is to get into people at the level of machine code. It's what computer people would call machine code, isn't it? You're engaged with adjusting the machine code of the human being, the neural code of a human being, not adjusting people's articulateness, although articulation may be one of the tools that you can use.

INVESTIGATION The second "I" is investigation. Let's take vision. If immersion is looking at and being receptive, investigation is Iooking for. It's the ability to be more selective and pro-active in your learning. Again this is evolutionarily given, as you see in any young child or any domestic animal. It's the ability to go out and test, to look for, to experiment, to prod things, 7a




to shout at them and see what happens, to go and stickyour finger in that inter-esting looking socket to see what. The parents amongst you will know that is a fairly inbred, selfdestructive habit. Investigation is very important because it enables us. It potentiates learning very powerfully. Put immersion and investigation together. The way in which psychologists tend to refer to the balance between these two is between bottom-up and top-down processing. Bottom-up is a kind of passive, receptive letting the world reveal itself to you. It's openminded, being open. The investigation tends to be more "If it's this, maybe there's that, so let me go and look for that," or "Here's an interesting looking hole, let me see what's behind it," etc. There is a stronger internal drive, a stronger internal control. Part of what is interesting about human learning is the way in which we can regulate the balance between those two. I've presented them there as if they're different kinds of learning. But actually it's like shifting a dimmer switch for your living room lights. Sometimes we can be more receptive and passive. "Okay world, show me what you've got." At other times it's very important, economical, and efficient for us to be more scalpel-like, more directed in the waywe go looking. Obviously part of your job is to play along that continuum, isn't it? Part of it is to draw people's attention to what is there to help them to see what they hadn't seen. I'm guessing now. But also part of your job is to direct their attention, to say "Dig in this place and you might find something interesting," rather than "]ust dig anywhere." Top-down is more structured, more controlled, and often more hypothesis-driven. I think getting a flexible balance between those two ways of learning is very important because sometimes people get stuck in one or the other. We lose flexibility along that dimension.

IMITATION of learning, which is coming into the forefront of academic study at the moment. Last year I was at a big multi-disciplinary conference on imitation that was held just outside Paris. The two volumes of the proceedings of that conference have just been published by natr Press. If anyone is interested, I'll give you the details. It was driven by research by neuroscientists uncovering what are called mirror neurons. Gallese and Rizzolati have discovered, as most of you know that there are mirror neurons in the brain. Most neurons in the brain only get excited by one thing. They live for only one kind of thing, and only get excited when that happens. But mirror neurons get excited, unusually, by two kinds of things. They get excited by seeing another person or person-like form produce a gesture. They get equally excited by me, myself, making a gesture even if I can't see it. There is a built-in mapping between what I see other people doing and what my brain readies itself to do by itself. You see this in the young child in peek-a-boo games. It's as if our brains are almost ready to mirror whatever they see around them in terms of the actions of conspecifics, other human beings, chimpanzees, or lt hatever. We actually have to learn to inhibit mirroring. One of the functions of the frontal lobes, the development of the frontal lobes, is to learn to be more selective about that mimicry. There are certain kinds of neurological disorder vou mav kno'"v rvhere one of the symptoms is a disinhibition of mimicry. People become unable not to mimic or to copywhat they see around them. Alexander Luria devised one of the tests. I'll sit across from Ilana and say, "Here's the test: when I tap once on the tab1e, t'ou tap once. When I tap twice, you don't tap." This is reckoned to be culturally very important because it sets us up, from an early age, to absorb not just the physical habits (the making ol a fist, a smile, or what have you), but it readies us to be eager absorbers of the cultural habits that we see around us, whether they're physical habits, turning up on time or being fashionably late, or the kind of vocal accent your parents speak around you. And there are also the mental and emotional habits. As we know, children learn their emotional habits. They learn what to be frightened of, interested in, what to find amusing, what to be scared by. You learn what to find disgusting very much in terms of looking at the triangle between the lump of shit over there and the

Imitation is a very important form


NO. 2O




expression on your mother's face as you would move toward it. That referencing process is very fundamental, built-in, and very powerfui. Do any of you know the work of Michael Tomasello? He works here in Germany. I think he's at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin. He's written a really interesting book around this called The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. It's a quite difficult book, but really

interesting. A lot of research is going on in the area lr,ith chimpanzees and little children, but clearly this remains a powerful and interesting d-vnamic betu'een people. It has a polverful and honorable place in the spiritual traditions-the darshan, the sitting r,vith the teacher. You know the old Zen story of the young monk n ho lr,ent to the Zen master after fir'e years and said, "Master, when are you going to start teaching me? I've been here for five Years, serving you and clearing up your clothes, etc., and I haven't had a rvord of wisdom yet about Buddhism, enlightenment, or nirvana." The master saYs, "\'Vhen you brought me my tea, did I not thankyou? Whenyou folded my robe, did I not thankvou?" It is modeling. I'm sure, it's verY That form of teaching has a very powerful effect. Again, in your "vorld, powerful whether you draw attention to it or not. There are crude versions of this. Some of you will knor,v about xtp. \bu can sell people stuff better if you mirror their body language. It's like "You'll like me better." There are crude and rather Machiavellian versions of this.

paRrrcrpANr Would it be necessary to be the living model for empathy? Very much so. Built on that ability to imitate comes the ability to create internal models of other people-to begin with the people you iike and admire and rely on around you-and then your ability to shift your center of personal gravity, your center of operation. Instead of Iooking at the world and operating from within your normal default model of self, you are able to shift that center of observation and reaction so that you are dwelling in the model of someone else. Again it may be a very powerful tool, one of the strands that the Feldenkrais teacher can develop, rely upon, weave into this process. We're getting into deeper territory here; we can come back to this if you want. I want to flag another aspect I just quickly skimmed. There is no research on this that I know but I'm convinced this is important. As rve grorv up, go through childhood and into adolescence, a very important part of that process is becoming more selective about what and with whom we have that imitative relationship. I thinkthe qualitv of that relationship is called admiration. I'll just throw this out as an idea for discussion. The functional connection we have with people we admire is that rve keep open the channel of imitation with that person. It's like "I want to be like them."



It's the same time when the peer group starts verY strongly.

cLAxroN Absolutely. It's a very important point. When the peer group starts to contest with the home or family as to who is going to be the most por,r,'erful magnet for that imitative growth. There are lots of kids in school who have turned rBo degrees, and rvho are sitting in class saying to themselves, "I'd rather become anything than be like you." In response to participants questions and observations regarding teacher student


questions-all I have is pieces of a jigsaw puzzle here-is hor'r, important is the establishing of an imitative relationship with your students. Holv much energy should you be putting in? Is this even something we consciously r,vant to tr-Y to build? Or does this So one of the

become too Machiavellian? We want to try to cultivate, as much as possible, that attitucie of respect and admiration from them to you because that opens them up to one of the most important of the nonverbal Iearning channels. I don't know. Is this interesting? rq


FALL 2007


Good. I talked about imagination, thanks to your prompt about empathy. One of the ways I started to talk about that was it's like we internalize models of other people. First of all there are Mom, Dad, whoever else, and then more broadly. Someone I forgetwho said, "It takes a village to raise a child." Someone has written a chapter in a book that I edited a while ago which is called "Becoming a Village." It's not just that it takes a village to raise the child but in the process of the village raising the child, the child becomes the village. The child, in other words, has to learn to incorporate in her own brain-mind a range of perspectives which contain conflict, dissonance, and different points of view. We become that community of not always easily co-existing voices, needs, and perspectives. We develop that. It's a very important part of empathy of developing that ability, so important in today's world, of being able to look at the world through the eyes of people who are not your natural friends and allies. The other day someone told me a story about Gandhi. I don't know if this is true, but I just heard this story. It was Gandhi's habit, when faced with a difficult predicament, to first of all look at it through the eyes of a Hindu. Then he would quite deliberately look at it through the eyes of a Muslim. Then he'd look at it through the eyes, say, of a British person. Only when he had co-activated those different perspectives did he feel able to begin to formulate a course of wise action. It's very useful, very interesting. This is going beyond the

bounds of Awareness Through Movement.

pARrrcrpANr Feldenkrais spoke repeatedly about being able to speak from different points of view; He would forcefully argue first one position and then the other.

paRrrcrpaNr Itwas

his Hasidic roots. It's the nature of Talmudic study. Feldenkrais also felt his French education encouraged the ability to argue disparate points of view.

want to flag this. There is something at the edge of my thinking you can help me with. I suspect that the ability to practice and enjoy looking at the world through other people's eyes as young children do-pretend play, being a pirate, being whatever-is absolutely natural to them. Within that natural propensiry and the growing facility to do that, lie the seeds of mindfulness. There are awhole lot of different definitions of mindfulness, but one of the important characteristics of mindfulness is to dis-identify with a particular point of view. Instead of being a player within a particular emotional, motivational, or action-based drama, you find a perspective which is outside it, from which you can observe it. You can be more dispassionate, that is to say not unfeeling but without the passionate engagement. The cultivation of mindfulness, as I understand it within Buddhist practice, involves developing that perspective. I suspect, this is my theory or hypothesis, developing that ability would take "the view from nowhere." Somebody wrote a philosophical bookwith that title, The View from Nowhere. The view from nowhere is the distillation ofyour ability to take a view from lots of different places. Ifyou practice that ability to look at the world through different people's eyes, that serves you in good stead when it comes to developing the ability to take one step back from your normal Guy Claxton view of the world. I was at a conference in Harvard a little while ago where someone was talking about bilingualism. She'd done some interesting studies on people who had been bilingual from an early age. She discovered that they were more able to deal with abstract cognition of various kinds because they'd got used to disembedding from the form of a particular language. It's like people who grow up in different cultures.



A participant speaks about the unsettling experience of a bicultural existence and the

difficulties facing an immigrant child torn between two languages and two culturesfamily and host country. She concludes, "Cultures see things differently. You either die or find something else. " 2t,



cLAxroN I don't know. It's an interesting empirical question-how important the language is. Maybe we can come back to that. One of the tools that is important within your toolkit is something to do with cultivating a familiarity with taking that one step backwards from your normal perspective, which enables you to see in a different way. Claxton facilitates a dialogue between those who wish to clarify the need to accept and respect a person's realitywhile at the same time trying to create conditions which allow the learner to discover newways of sensing, thinking, feeling, and acting and the need to stay open and keep learning as a teacher-practitioner.

pAnrrcrpANr It's really experiencing the integrity how it makes sense to that person. You have to change it.



of the other point of vieq meaning lot of respect for it, meaning that you don't try

Yes, absolutely, although it's an interesting question, an interesting issue.


intrigued by the paradox within psychotherapy or counseling terms, that I'm more familiar with, which is that I accept something in order to change it. In other words, the acceptance is actually not innocent. Deep down underneath the acceptance is a non-acceptance. I'm practicing accepting this. Why would I want to try and accept something if I didn't want to do something about it? Otherwise I d just let it be. That's another interesting conversation

we could have.

pARrrcrpaNr Feldenkrais said that he's not teaching anything. He's just creating conditions for someone to learn what they wili Iearn, which means "Who knows what they need to learn?" He had a very good idea about that.


There is always a tension in this situation. I think Feldenkrais really respected the fact that what peopie wouid learn r,vould be something he did not invent.

cLAxroN I think that is also something

about being able to inhabit other perspectives. Carl Rogers used to say that empathy is the ability to lay aside your own view of feelings and beliefs and to walk gently around in someone else's world as if it were your own. It's a very nice description. It's somehow being able to inhabit both layers with integrity.


We actually go with patterns versus leading first. In that way we have acceptance. Through that acceptance a learning condition can be created so the person doesn't feel like they're being made wrong or judged.



theybecome more open.

pARTrcrpANr It's not quite

as you describe it, but it's part of a process. You can then go on and say, "Nowyou yourself notice this pattern. Nowyou're free to see what it is and learn

something else."


So we do use


It's a gentler way of putting it. I like that.

panrrcrpANr I'm interested in what Moshe

called the dance between two nervous

systems. In that process of accepting the other person's pattern, or having empathy for it, and having some idea that there is change available beyond that pattern, something happens in the practitioner that transforms the perception. It's not just that I have an idea of "Okay, I accept you and now I'll showyou what else there is," but that in my empathy I'm transformed and there is a new reality created, a third reality.




Yes, it's like you're able-this is probably not an accurate re-description of you were saying-to slip easily into a whole variety of different sets of clothes in your what own way of being because your practice has taughtyou to dis*identifywith a particular set of physiological clothes. You're more available, more open to dressing up with the client or student. Is it something like that?



For me it goes beyond dressing up in different sets of clothing, although I like that because it's like the child. We're trying on these things. Maybe I actually am changed by it. That's what makes me interested in continuing. I learn by the transformation that happens to my own perception in each interaction. That's actuallywhat the aliveness is in the work. Otherwise I would get entirely bored.


There's also something aboutwho is doingthe accepting. The implication here is that the practitioner is doing the accepting. Quite often what I find is that you actually have to match the person so well that, in fact, they do the accepting.


Sure, it's maybe where the imitation, the empathy, comes

pARTrcrpaNt Where you can find and they can accept, then very often their own system starts to reorganize. Then I follow that reorganization. What you have to carry is the "okay-ness" of accepting. If you really meet there, completely neutrally, their system will reorganize and we just follow it out because it's not like you're teaching somebody a completely different language.


I'd love to find some ways of trying to capture what that qualit-v of reorganin an FN'IRI, a neuro-imaging, machine at the same going in the brain. on time" It shows you what is

ization is. You need to get both of you

Participant mentions talking to Francisco Varela about that possibilit-v and getting told: "I have enough trouble with one person."


Absolutely. Linked pnant machines are probablv a nightmare.

IMAGINATION Imitation gives you the ability to build internal images. Imagination then is almost like an evolutionary tale. Children go through these, building them, not kicking the earlier ones away. Theybuild out of each other. Imagination builds out of imitation because the imagination gives you the ability to inhabit other people's worlds and to act "as if," to pretend to take on those possibilities. That opens up the possibility of mental rehearsal. From my little experience of Feldenkrais, I know this is also a very important element. I remember Chantal having me lie on the floor. I was kind of freaked because we'd been doing almost nothing for quite a while. Then she said "Now do really nothing. Stop doing it. Iust think it." I thought, "This is getting weirder and weirder." You'll know that neuroscience shows that imagining yourself performing a movement has almost the same central effect. It activates, almost to the same extent, central areas of the motor cortex even though the frontal lobes are putting an inhibitory ring around that activity so that it doesn't follow its natural outflow into full-blown muscle movement. So this again is quite a sophisticated ability. It's the ability to corral. Very simply the frontal lobes boss the rest of the brain around. They do it byvery quickly throwing out inhibitory fields of activity which stop activity going down [gesture indicating the length of his body]. The ability to inhibit imitation is really fascinating. Research suggests that the tendency to imitate is always there in us but, we learn to control and inhibit it. 22



LI, 2OO7

panrrcrpaNr Isn't it so that inhibition is going through all of that? Firstyou have the immersion, and then you inhibit.

clAxroN Yes, you become able to carry out these internal experiments at the level of the brain. Of course, this inhibition is a mixed blessing because sometimes we over-inhibit, over-narrow over-edit. It's like when we become what we call self-conscious. We get so involved in that inhibitoryfunction thatwe can't even perform smoothly. There isn't enough brain power left over to do a simple action like carry a cup of tea because I'm six years old and someone says, "Be careful you don't spill that; remember the new carpet," and, of course, I spill it. I'm busy because all my brainpower has gone somewhere else. pARrrcrpANr

Have there been any studies with echolalia and disinhibition?

clAxroN Yes, echolalia is the inability to not keep saying things again and again because you keep imitating yourself. I hear myself say "I hear myself say." In most echolalia I would compulsively repeat the last words of your sentence, or of someone else's. It happens interpersonally, but also intra-personally because I hear myself hear myself say something say something. It's almost like the other person the other person is saying it because I hear and it comes back through my ears through my ears. There is an interesting bit of research about mental rehearsal, which is very much up your street. There are two kinds of mental rehearsal. Sports people use this method. There is good scientific research to show that it is effective. Imagining yourself doing a good golf swing is effective in improving your golf game. But the research I read a little while ago suggests that this is only effective, or much more effective, if your mental rehearsal is first person rather than third person, that is to say if you're activating the motor corollaries. You're not just looking at yourself out there as a picture. That's right up your street. It's exactlywhatyou do. I thinkimagination has been treated as a kind of junior form of knowing in the educational field, which is where I do a lot of mywork. People are beginning to discover again what a powerful part of the learning toolkit imagination is throughout life. INTUITION In this context I mean b-v intuition sensitir,it-v to forms of knorving rvhich arise from the inside and r,r,hich are ill-formed, hazy, or rvhich don't conform to the prototype of a clear proposition with supporting evidence and supporting statements-that patriarchal, scientific prototype. Intuition is l,ague, unsubstantiated. In the sense I'm using it, it's sensitivity to a kind of feeling of pregnancv in your thinking or imagery. There is a chapter in Hare Brain, Tortoise Mindwhere I write about it being like the image of the growth and having of a baby. Intuition is like the baby not ready to be born yet, but it's kicking. You can feel its activity. Although an idea is not yet ready to be born fully into consciousness, nevertheless there are intimations of activity. These are extremely fruitful and useful. It's important not to go overboard in this. Your intuitions can be wrong. It's important to have bad intuitions. Gut feeling is not always a reliable guide to action, although some people in their epistemological growth sometimes go through a stage where they fall in love with gut feeling as if only it were valid. Do any of you know an interesting book called Women's Ways of Knowlng, edited by Mary Balenky and four or five other people? The subtitle has something to do with the growth of voice and mind. It's a study of a group of American women in their thirties and forties who were coming back to education. Most of them had pretty unsatisfactory experiences of education when they were girls. It's about the grolvth of their own sense of themselves as knowers. It explores a kind of progression from feeling mute and voiceless to an increasing sense of authoritativeness with respect to the process of knowing from"Knorvledge has nothing to do with me; it's the fancy stuffthat goes on in universities" through to a kind of passive recipient. "Knowledge is made by white men in lab coats, and the only role I have is to consume it as best I can." Yes, mostly



deadwhite men. It's better if they're dead. Then sometimes there is a flip-not always' But just there is a flip from that sense of being in awe to saying "Fuck this patriarchal shit' It I feel because it's true I know stinks. It sucks. The only friend I've got is [points to his chest]. authority is it." On the other side of that is more balanced, more differentiated. "Yes, there in here and also interesting things I can learn from other people's explorations'" It's a more delicate balancing of those two different sides of knowing. It's an interestingbook' William James had a lovely phrase. He talked about how important was "the reinstatement of the vague" in our mental life. You work with the vague a lot, don't you? A large part of your job is helping your students take seriously something that they don't yet know is there or not. It's certainly how Focusing works. It's like you're probably doing it right if you're not sure you're doing it right. You can't quite put your finger on it' It's not in focus' But something is there for which you don't yet have a conceptual system to neaten up and make sense of. It's vague. In Focusing it's called the felt sense. You work with the felt sense and findingways to encourage and supportyour students in some kind of magical process whereby that felt sense, like a lens, gradually comes into focus. You're playing a role' I want to throw a challenge in here. The way I've described it is as though you're being is just a midwife. It's a process of coming into focus, which is neutral. It's like the pattern what goes into that guidance and there. But actually there is a lot of teaching, coaching, just not process' You're pattern is coming into focus and how you are influencing that helping to see what's there. You're influencing a process of perception, which is selective, interpretative, and in some ways myopic' You're encouraging them to see whatyou think is valuable to see. You might dispute this. But I think it's very important' I draw support for this from a very interesting paper that a colleague gave me to read' It's a classic paper in sociology by Howard Becker. It's called "On Learning to Get High." It's about the kind of studentship someone goes through when they're learning to smoke cannabis' Do you remember the first time you did it? You didn't feel anything' Or maybe you did and thought "Is this it?" Gradually your community helps you to see what it's about' Yes, you learn "Oh, wow!" You learn what a good trip is, etc. It's a process of socialization into a very sensory experience.

pARrrcrpANr What about the situation where you find yourself in a session, having done something without having thought about doing it? After you're there, You see that it makes sense. It's not vague at all. It's actually very clear and very specific' You find yourself there and go, "Of course."


Yes, it's like another version of

intuition. This is a big family

paRrrcrpANr Hopefully you know where you're going.



You just know to go with this or to

say that. You develop a rationale afterwards.

Focusing, Eugene Gendlin's work, is esting to explore.



neighboring tribe that'"vould be inter-

or more the "sensing," or both? Because it's sort of double. There is a shift of the felt sense' Is that

paRrrcrpANr What do you mean by "sense" in Focusing-more the "meaning" then meaning?


The way Gendlin talks about it is meaning is more well formed than sensing'

The felt sense is necessarily

ill formed, amorphous, and tentative, and vague' Meaning is

slightly more crystallized. It's taking shape more, even though you may not yet be able to articulate it clearly. I don't want to speak for the way in which Gendlin uses these words' The learning process in Focusing involves getting a sense of an embodied something' You 24



don't quite knowwhat it is. You then engage in a patient process of very gentlytrying out ways of articulating that. You often stay very close to it. You use physical language say in a psychotherapeutic session. Someone doing this process will say, "I don't knowwhat it is. It's kind of heavy. It's more like there is a kind of weight." It's like that process of finding the rightway and always listening. Gendlin sometimes said the authorityis the pre-articulate child in your chest. The child can understand but can't speak. You're like the mother saying, "Oh, sweetheart, are you hungry? What is it?" You offer simple verbal suggestions back. When you get it right, the baby goes, "Yes!" That's the felt shift. It opens up a process of innerflow.

pARrrcrpaNr Feldenkrais often talked about those things.

He talked a lot about intuition, except he kept saying it wasn't mysterious. It was the accumulation of what you've learned but wasn't available at the tip of your consciousness.

cLAxroN Or it's certainly not available at the level of articulation. So you can't say what it is. One of the slogan s from Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind (and it's not mine) is that we know much more thanwe knowwe know. It's being able to tap into that. There are awhole lot of other things beginningwith "I." You can click on intuition and have an interesting time exploring inspiration, insight, inkling, and impulse. Whatyou're talking about is impulse. It's like "Go with this one." Isn't "inklings" a lovelyword? An inkling is small. You don't quite know. It's like a hunch. Inspiration, insight, and impulses. Inspiration is like a good idea. Insight is like seeing into the depth of something. You can have fun playing with and unpacking those. All of these are like embedded menus. You can click on any one of these and go down to another level if you want. paRrrcrpaNr

Can we point back a little way to when you were talking about vagueness and what is interesting about us to an anthropologist. I thinkwe're very comfortable with vagueness as Feldenkrais practitioners. Butwe're also in a stage of our development in terms of articulating work at the level of assistant trainers, trainer candidates, and trainers. So there is vagueness at the practitioner level and then there is a necessity to articulate, for

instance for assessment.

cr,AxroN When people are exploring something in the wayyou're doing, the process of being able to articulate it is often way downstream of mastery. You can do it, but you don't know what it is that you're doing, which is the case for most of you. You can articulate it up to a point, but you can't capture it all. That seems to be absolutely normal. There are lots of experimental studies of getting people to learn to master a computer environment by pushing keys. You look at the graph of the development of their ability to do it, their competence, and the development of some kind of intuitive sense of whether or not this is the right thing to do, but you don't know why. The graph of the development of their ability to explain why they're doing what they're doing is much slower. Interestingly, Antonio Damasio's studies show this. There are certain forms of brain damage to the frontal lobe in which you develop the ability to articulate what you're doing at the same speed as ordinary folk, but you never learn how to control it smartly. You can become a pundit whilst remaining practically stupid, which is kind of weird. PARTrcrpaNr Butcommon. CLAXTON

But in terms of our public theory of knowledge it's deviant.

paRrrcrpANr All

of this discussion of

trying to articulate creates

of conflict in our community between what

I'll briefly bracket


tremendous amount the "masters" and the a



NO. 2O



"bureaucrats." I published this in the newsletter a couple of times in different ways' There is ability to do' a real discovery of the tradeoff between the ability to articulate and the


Yes, but I

think the distinction

is that there are different considerations about

the relative value ofvagueness and clarity, depending on precisely what contextyou're talking about. In working with a student, a certain necessary element of the ability to inhabit the unclear in your relationship with them may be absolutely vital and essential' You don't want to neaten it up' It's an important part of that process, r'r'hereas at the more sociological level the movement toward being able to articulate what vou're doing may be a veryvaluable thing to be looking for.

pARTrcrpANt There are also pressures on us, Iegally and otherrt'ise, to be able to state Iists of competencies and so on-what it is we're going tor'r''ard' Then the ciash gets stronger' Lots ofother professional groups are experiencing preciselY that tension toward accreditation, professionalization, articulation, and all that kind of stuff' A lot of people are saying "But something important is lost in that process"'


We have a process now for moving from, say, assistant trainer to trainer' We want the trainers to be able to articulate in a certain way' We throw questions at them' and


the immediate reaction of most people is, "I can't answer this; it's impossible for me'" When they do articulate it, often this muddies up the actual thing that they're doing' you just have to live with that tension. You have to give up the idea that there is an optimum place that you can ever find on that dimension'

cLAxroN I think

of beginning to formuIate and articulate a developmental process? Is there a developmental process? Is that optimal? Is there something we could begin to explore in some way that lt'e perhaps don't

pARTrcrpANt From your perspective, could there be some way

understand? Absolutely, andyou're not alone in this. There are all kinds of neighboring tribes. The one that came to mind just then was midwifery. Yes, the baby has to be born, but the relative value of intuition, as opposed to clarity, technology, accountability-those issues are powerfully contested in that profession at the moment' Other fields include psychotherapy, obviously. There is a pressure toward examinations' accreditation and the same things. There are dozens of fields I'm sure' Sports coaching: sports coaches are really used to making powerful life judgments about eight- or nineyLar-olds-whether they've got what it takes. They've seen their role as being porverfuily


selective. They have the intuition to say of this nine-vear-oid, "Yes, he's u'orth investing in"' or, "She's never going to make it."


Yet you have famous football coaches n'ho didn't even finish school' They're

the most famous among them.


Absolutely, so it has nothing to do with intellect.

He will get up in good' I was something done feel he's and the morning and try something. He'll be happy it'" He feels talk about to want a musician and want to ask him about it, but he says "I don't your From for him' that if he talks about it, it will disturb the process. Obviously it's true research is it true that articulating disturbs the continuation ofthe process?

pARrrcrpaNt I'm married to a violist who always works on his playing'


IiAI,L 2007


cLAxroN I can't answer that from any research. But I know that it's a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way. Artists and creators of all kinds often have very powerful beliefs about process. Those beliefs are active, They have an effect. For some people to know more, to be able to understand the process of creativity, would be quite damaging. Others, who are no less creative, are very interested in having public discussions and being able to articulate the process. The physicist Richard Feynman was once speaking to someone who was talking about physics solving all the problems. Feynman said "It does no harm to the mysteryto understand a little about it." The mysteryis so much bigger that it doesn't mind if you try to articulate it a bit. pARrrcrpaNr There has been some research on creative problem-solving that shows these are the kinds of problems where you have to reframe the question or think about it in a different way. When they ask students to articulate step-by-step, it seems to interfere in the creative problem-solving, either with reaching a result or by slowing the people down. Afterwards, people were able to make an explanation of the creative process. It's a question of when the articulation comes in relation to the creative problem-solving.


Yes, whether it comes. That's a complicated issue. I want to come back to that


we ever get to consciousness. A participant questions whether Claxton knows about any research making distinctions

between written, oral, and gestural articulation

cLAxroN I don't know about that. Again in order to explore that question, I'd want to get more specific about what the creative project is, what stage we're at. There is some very interesting work done by a Dutch neuroscientist, Cees Van Leuven, about the importance of sketching and the way in which either visual sketching or drafting in words acts as a kind of amplifier of your creative process. By putting your imagination out there, you are able to have a conversation with it or to make use of it in a way that we are not equipped to do if we were doing it all inside our heads. There is a positive process to that drafting, that making of interim objects, whether it's a piece in your diary, a model, a sketch, or whatever it may be, that can have a very positive effect. Creative people do this all the time. Putting it out into the world adds a dimension to creativity which oral expression may not. I think there is a lot more about that to be unpacked. We certainly know that articulating, trying to put things into words, particularly too soon, can also have a very negative effect-this kind of disorder, to which men are particularly prone, called premature articulation. But I'll come back to the pros and cons

of articulation.

INTELLECT Now we get to the less interesting but more familiar. Intellect is the whole domain of language, focused attention, analysis, and articulation. It's a very important tool of learning. But, as I say to teachers all the time, it's no use having that be your only tool. It's one compartment in the toolkit. In terms of the workyou do, what is the right moment to use that tool? It's like doing surgery. It's a fine tool, that scalpel of linguistic decision, logic, and analysis. There's nothing wrong with it. But we live in a culture that gives intellect undue, uncritical prominence. There are interesting questions about when the right moment to use that tool is, and in what ways.


Because the learning process for becoming a practitioner is so heavily experiential, being able to articulate is a core issue for a lot ofus.

cLAxroN There are all kinds of benefits of being able to clue people in fast to what you're talking about. It's like saying "See what's going on in your left shoulder." It's a really $q



good shortcut to be able to try and manage other people's attentional focus. On the other hand, it can also preempt experience in all kinds of ways when you give people too clear a map. They start giving you back what they think they're supposed to feel. They use the articulatory map in their impatience to get to a perceptual point that they haven't got to really. They can kind offake it through language.


The major problem in the training programs, particularlywhen there are people in the training groups who are so secure with intellect, is that they're afraid of losing control, no longer knowing what's going on. They keep going back and asking "What happened to me? What was that all about?"


They're cycling through that loop and not getting to the embodied experience.


For the trainer the question is howyou run interference with that, subvert that tendency and block it?


Yes, how do you subvert that tendency and block it? Do you kno'"v those magic pictures? I've come across people that I've asked, "Can you see them?" Thel.'d sav, eye "Well, sort of." You can't sort of see them. You either do or you don't. But thev don't lvant to admit that they can't. You must get students who say "Yes, I think I've got it." And you know damn well that they haven't.

INTERACTION as a discussantwith, but also the importhis is an underused channel, how knowwhether interested to group. I'd be of, the tance in a way that you might orchestrate other with and from each much the students can learn quite primary school children do who we a lot, as or facilitate. They actually could learn encourage to work together around their tables, or whether your classes are traditionally more like everybody is on their own mat relating like spokes of a wheel to you.

Interaction is the social side: That's not onlyyou

Down this side of the diagram [See p. r5] I've put what the teacher's role can be' How do I as a teacher try to maximize learning through immersion? How do I as a teacher try to engage with learning through imitation? So this is the teacher as parasite, as organizer, as someone who is trying to hook in to each of those forms of learning. These are just examples. There is much more to be said down this line. As someone who is maximizing your students' learning through immersion (which is whatyou do a lot), you suggest activities, organize space, create interesting things for them to do, etc' In other words, your job is to give them interesting and fruitful things to be immersed in. Thenyou have the more focused kind of investigation. I've included the phrase "joint attention." Developmental psychologists get very excited about joint attention and the way in which little children learn to focus, to have joint attention, and how important that is for the development of empathy and all kinds of important things. I liked that phrase at half past five this morning when I was putting these slides together because the word "joint" has four different meanings. It means "together." It means joint as in "elbow." So it has a physical meaning of joint' It has a meaning of "to be jointed," to be articulated, to be bendy. Something that is jointed is something that can move in parts, in bits. That's very important because part of the power of language, and of focused attention, is to be able to isolate a little part of the system-to joint the physical system. The word "articulate" in English is very useful. It means both to speak and to joint or segment. It implies clarity. But the power of language to enable us to take our understanding to bits, and to work on bits of it, is a huge development over learning by immersion which is kind of holistic. It's like the whole neural network slowly changes with varying experience and that ability to take your experience to bits and to zoom in a little 28



bit. And obviously the role of the teacher, the opportunity of the teacher, is to be a model. The use of imagination takes you down the line of the teacher as the leader of the guided visualization to use that channel. Access to those less clear ways of knowing is dependent upon your state of mind. The more purposeful, busy, pressurized, eager you are, the harder it is to see those faint patterns. There is a lot of researchin Hare Brain, Tortoise Mindthat shows the more you put people under pressure, it could be positive like offering a reward or encouragement, as well as negative pressure, the more the tendency for them to narrow their cone of attention. So they're only paying attention to what they think is most likely to be relevant' In other words, you're trying to avoid the effect ofthat kind ofurgency or stress, orwhat-ever triggers a preconscious process of selection whereby you say "It's probably not thaU it's not going to be that; but these four things are probably going to be." Under some circumstances, that's highly efficient. But it also makes your thinking and perceiving more narrow and stereotyped. It's like you're backing the favorite as if it were a horse race.

pARTrcrpaNr What matters most in our work is to find out what the other person wants'


Precisely, and the more you are in hurry, the more you're trying to jump to the


paRrrcrpANt This is an absolutely central issue because in the process of doing the work you need open attention. You need to be in a state ofnon-anxiety concentration.


Yes. In order to gain access to that broader, more bottom-up, more open attention, the role of the teacher is powerfully that of someone who is optimizing the


mental and emotional mode or mood in people. It's not just dropping into meditation teacher's voice: "Iust lie back; everybody's okay. Bring your attention gently to your right foot." We all know that mood-inducing voice. There are other ways. I'm thinking of Milton Erickson and his way of tricking people into a trance moment.


film about Celibidache, who was a great conductor makes the orchestra by the way he is embodying himself in here in Munich. The conductor leading it. The same thing is true when you're doing a really good job of teaching arM. It's a very important part of what we're doing that we have skill in that area.


We were watching a

The metaphor of the conductor of the orchestra has some power to it.

paRTrcrpaNr When you're really doing that well, you

see everybody in the


process. You know when you're on and when you're off.

pARTrcrpANr When you said you were bored in a Feldenkrais lesson, I wondered "What does one do to make Feldenkrais lessons boring?"


I was

thinking that maybe the teacher wasn't quite there.


Or maybe I wasn't. I'm not going to blame anybody else for that. We've talked about explaining the role of telling and the double-edged quality of that, and of setting up

the interactions. I don't want to say any more about that. The previous list mapped the space of teaching and learning. This is a summary of points or channels and directions. It is not to prescribe any given trajectory or optimal route through that space. It's simply to say that there are these channels and dimensions.





NO. 20





Depends on what the learning goal is Depends on where the learners are And in what phase of the process they are Involves flexible organization of any or all of the learning/teaching modes




Mental Emotional

Attentional Now the work begins, which is very specifically to say what the learning goal is, where these people are, where we are in some developmental process, and then to have a higher level orchestration of the different media, the different channels of teaching and learning, so that you are doing your best to connect and to facilitate and amplify the learning. All that is a set of questions that any educator or primary school teacher needs to have at the back of her mind. "These are dimensions along which I could be moving. How do I get to the place in this seven-dimensional teaching and learning space which matches where they are as closely as possible?" It doesn't give the answer, but it's a way of describing the problem or the issue. I'll give you a crude example. I used to run a teacher training course, what we call a PGCE course in the U.K. backin the r97os. It's a one-year Post-Graduate Certificate to turn people who have got degrees into people who can teach their subject in high school. The students would come in very skilled at knowledge management and intellectual learning. They had mostly come straight from university. They were fairly confident of their intellectual learning skills. We would give them more of that, except that instead of learning geology they'd now be learning Piaget, philosophy, history of education, or something. We'd fill them up with this intellectual knowledge and send them out into schools. The model was that more or less automatically all this good knowledge would translate into expertise in the classroom, which of course is nonsense. It tends to work the other way around. We lecturers in education lived in a world of complexity and philosophical discussions about what education is for, theories of development, etc. That was the world we lived in and there's nothing wrong with that, except that the world the students were living in was "How do I keep the buggers quiet?" We got cross that theyweren't paying due respect to all this good knowledge we were giving them. We simply had no sense of the necessity to engage with what was up for them at different stages. By the time they got through to the third term, the end of their year, theywere almost readyto hear some of the theory because they'd learned how to keep the buggers quiet. They'd passed their teaching practice. The anxiety was less, they were on the way to being able to do it. Then, and only then, were they ready to take a step back and say, "What is it that I'm doing, and could I be doing it differently?" When you're walking across a swamp you don't want a complicated set of options. You want a plank. Here's a simple model. Nobody these days makes mayonnaise. Has anyone in this room made it? Yes, do you? Okay, the art of mayonnaise making is alive and well in Europe, if not in the U.K. You knowthe important thingwith making mayonnaise, don'tyou? Exactly. The oil is explicit understanding in the learning process. You put in one little bit and you beat in a lot in practice. Then you put another little bit, and you beat it a lot. After you've done that tediously for a while, you can start pouring the oil in faster. In other words, only after you've done all the beating, the slow introduction of the knowledge, will people be ready for a faster stream of being able to articulate or understand what they're doing. I find that very useful. If in doubt, feed your wisdom in slowly rather than faster. 30



'fhese are a few thoughts about trying to get a bit clearer about the baiipark of the learning goal, the learning activity that you and a whole lot of other people are involved in. This is not specifically about Feldenkrais, but it's trying to think into a whole area about changing habits. It's a simple description, but I think part of what you do is chang-

ing physical habits. Part ofwhat I do is changing teachers' habits. They can be physical, mental, emotional, or attentional. This covers psychotherapy. It covers aspects of quite a

lot of things.

Habits are skills and processes that have fallen below the threshold of conscious awareness. I was thinking about three different kinds of habits. There are physical habits that have sunk out of consciousness. Driving a car is one example. Once upon a time you thought about it-changing gear, Iooking in the mirror, etc. Now it's become automatic' A Iot of the component skills you just don't have to think about anymore. So you're busy having a conversation whilst smoothly changing gear. There are other habits (maybe physical habits) which never went through consciousness. You just picked them up through learning by immersion. I think there are an awfui lot of those. There are some models of learning that assume that everything goes through consciousness before it sinks don,n. But I think an awful lot of our learning is just picked up on the margins or even belor,v the horizon of awareness. Or there are ways of speaking-regional diaiects, or accents, habits that never went through consciousness' It's not oniy in childhood. It's all the time. Then there are habits that rt'ent through consciousness but have sunk beiow. It is increasingly problematic as to ho-"v You change them' As -vou might imagine, it's like raising a sunken n reck. There is something there that -vou can float up to the surface. With some of these other phvsical habits, it's like there is no pre-existing way of articuiating them. They -,vere nel'er articulated. Thel'never \vent through that system' hort' teachers who are admired can sometimes be heard or seen in the gestures of their admiring students. When those students begin teaching A,"vareness to others they are usuaily not arvare of that.

rARTrcrpANr In our communitt'it's interesting

Sometimes those things that people pick up are relevant, and sometimes thev're irrelevant or superstitious. I used to studywith a Tibetan Buddhist teacher named Sogyal Rinpoche. He has a particular habit when he's teaching. He's a kind of roly-poiy Tibetan guy. Oriental people are handicapped in that their noses are not sharp enough to keep their spectacles up. When you have a flat nose, it's easy for your spectacles to slide down. At regular intervals he would punctuate what he was saving by pushing his spectacles back up his nose and saying, "Is that clear?" I started doing it in my classes' I


have a sharp nose. My spectacles stay put. The third kind of habits are perceptual. They are the most problematic of all because perceptual habits are self-concealing. That is to say you don't know that you have perceptual habits because thev skew the instrument through which you Iook. If you've only ever looked through red glasses, you have no idea that you're looking through red glasses. That's what you look through. Someone from the outside can say "Why are you looking through those red glasses?" You say, "What red glasses? I'm not looking through red glasses." That's where you need mindfulness. I wouid say it's the only tool r'vhich opens the possibility for you to see outside your normal perceptual habits. In a r'vay, mindfulness is learning the knack of adopting a different perspective from which those perceptual habits themselves become visible, that is to say conscious' Once they become visibie, they become equivocal. You can then think about them, argue about them, and practice them' Equivocal means capable of being questioned.

pa'RrrcrpANr If you lie around and do a iot of erus and you just feel yourself: You I'eel it physically and maybe you feel the whole sympathetic/parasympathetic change happen'




But if you don't address-the lenses through which you see feel to be mindless. It's like mindless mindfulness.

things-then it becomes what I


I've heard Buddhist teachers say something similar, that there is a kind of mindless mindfulness.


The interesting thing is that there are teachers who teach Awareness Through Movement in a way that you only get the mindless mindfulness part. There are other teachers with whom you get that deeper layer. The trick is what makes the difference between the one and the other.

pARTrcrpANr There

are working groups on awareness.


That sounds very important. Does everyone see that as a key question? To articulate various possibilities of being aware would be great. That would be very helpful for me. I'm just about to have to write an article on mindfulness.


There is this thing about perspectives. Sometimes rve're bringing into awareness domains of human experience and what's perceivable most peopie haven't thought of as significant or even perceivable. So we have a domain level probiem as well. People don't know how important this stuff is. So they stay mindless. One of the issues is how to integrate the domain of sensory-motor experience into something that's meaningful for them.



Egocentric vs. allocentric space Moving from player Or "fan" To witness / spectator And the inhibition of habitual responses Less "top-down" and more "bottom-up" I feel I'm making some progress with how to connect that with this sense of being able to take different perspectives. There is recent work on the visual system in the brain, which identifies several different visual systems. This is from Consciousness, a book published earlier this year by Ieffery Gray. There are actually two different systems that construct two different kinds of visual space. One tells you where stuffis in space. A different one tells you what stuffis. Egocentric space is the space I have to inhabit to know that to get that pen I have to reach out for it. It's the space of grabbing. I am at the center of that world and space goes out from me. There is another kind of space I can inhabit called allocentric space in which I exist as an object. There is a perspective I can take where I can pull back and see myself as one among many people in this room. One of myvisual systems operates from egocentric space; and I can also operate from another visual system, which is more like the conscious visual system, so these people argue, where it's more neutral.

Claxton draws two circles, and surrounds one by smaller circles, and the other by larger circles. These spaces have different properties. This is one of the intriguing experimental results that make this distinction. There is a visual illusion called Tichenor's circles. There are two circles that are the same size. The visual illusion is very compelling. Even though you know and can imagine they're the same size one still looks smaller than the other. However, let




FALL 2007



this be a coin on a table, and this actually a sort of physical disc. Although they look to be different sizes, if you askme to reach out and grab them, myhand makes the right size. My hand is not fooled by the illusion. My consciousness is fooled, but the grasp I make is accurate in terms of the physical size of these two things. In my conscious system I'm going through all kinds of compensation, which adjusts the perceptual size relative to their context. But that's no use to me in terms of grabbing. You have to reach fast. Both systems are going at the same time so you have to reach fast so that your hand is not captured by the illusory system. Therefore your system adjusts from the feedback. The otherversion of this is thatyou make the circles different sizes that appear to be the same. Then your grasp differentiates. It's like you have a form of unconscious seeing which is in some sense more accurate than your conscious seeing.


You know all the famous things Piaget did with glasses and the amount of water. They found out that children actually know exactly but to say it they go for the


crAxroN It's a language thing. There is a very nice version of that called Conservation of Volume. You have a mug of orange juice, and you tip it either into a short fat container or into a tall thin one. It's the same amount. You sayto a kid, "Is there more or less in here?" They say there's more in here pointing to the picture of the tall container. They seem to be captured by the illusion. But actually there are ways of showing that they're not. One of the cutest ways of showing that they're not is to dress this up in a little story. You say "I'm going to tip this into here and into here." You have a toy giraffe, which has a very tall neck. He needs a tall thing to drink out of. You have a short, fat hippopotamus. He's very low to the ground and he drinks out of that one. You ask the child which is happier, which gets the most orange juice-the giraffe or the hippopotamus. They say it's the same. If you put it into a story form, they're able to articulate what they really know. pARTrcrpANt And we went with Piaget for years and years.


I know. He has a lot to answer for.



there is the visual, spatial perception of the egocentric dimension.

Does the egocentric space precede the allocentric? Fromwhatyou're saying, itwould not because you perceive the breast from the beginning.


It's very sensory-motor. The movement, the motivation, is all bound up. In egocentric space it is like, "I'm up to something. I want this. I'm reaching for this. I like that." That space has my emotion, motivation, need, and capability right at the center of it and perception is the servant of that. When I was working with children in beginning reading and the whole issue about making letters, I found if I experimented with making the shapes and understanding above and below in front ofand in back of, beside, around, straight in their own bodies they were then able to go on from the egocentric, seeing the shape, feeling the shape, seeing the shape on another child and making shapes together. Then they could begin to put it on the page, which is allocentric space. But before they could feel the egocentric space, they had a lot of trouble with what we would call dyslexia. But when they go back to the sensory exploration and make that bridging, many of them were able to shift. It has always seemed to me to be developmental-a natural part of evolution. A participant refers to turning in order to look backwards in space: t'What came to my

mindwas survival. This kind of quick movement, if you're in the jungle or in a situation, you have to do it. Maybe there's a higher grade function and lower grade function for survival?" Ja)



WelI, yes, and that's part of what this argument is. This is a kind of survival. That's not to primitive at all. Monkeys make lightning decisions about rvhether a branch is going to bear their rt eight or not. \.Ar'e're deciding all the time whether \ve can get across the road between this car and that car. It's exactly the same thing. It's highlv sophisticated. It's not primitive at all. But it is much more embodied, enactive, not to do u'ith reflection, not to do r'vith consciousness, Iess to do r'vith the niceties of experience. \\that's interesting is that the brain seems to have evolved both. Both are functional. What JefferY GraY argues is that the allocentric system, which corresponds more closely to conscious visual perception, exists to be more reflective. It allows us time. That system operates over a slightly sior.t'er time scale than dashing across the road or grabbing the coin. Therefore our conscious perception mostly exists in that slightly delayed, slightly off-line, not-so-immediate time scale. say it's


Can you tell us some more about how you have become who you became?

How did you become interested in thinking about learning and teaching?

cLAxroN It's a long, complicated thing. To get to what I'm interested in and what I'm talking about this morning, there are lots of strands. I trained. I did my doctorate in cognitive psychology. That gave me an interest in the hard-nosed understanding of the

mind and the way it works. Then there are other routes through my own therapl', and through a whole variety of different spiritual practices and paths. There are about three strands, really. There is the intellectual strand-keeping interested in experimental psychologl', the empirical side, the neuroscience-valuing that. The second is mY orvn practice, and keeping on trying to wise up in ways that I can manage. The third is my work as an educator and trying to ground both of those in forms of practice and language that are very accessible particularly to people r,vho are not drar,r.n to more esoteric kinds of spiritual, complementar]', or alternative kinds of practice. Nor.n, I'm very successful and popular in terms of rvorking with teachers and groups of kids in the U.K. It's taken me twenty-five years to find a way of presenting what I know, r,r,hich is intriguing, inspiring, challenging, and practical for people. Now I've found a way of doing that. It's to do r,vith language. Being a joiner has kept me nomadic as far as different schools are concerned. This is cutting out almost all the interesting detail. Something eise very important to me has to do with this thing about admiration that we were talking about this morning. I feel very lucky and blessed to have had some great heroes-people I look at and think "I want to be like you. I want to have more of rvhat you've got." Sometimes that's a kind of lightness. I really admire people who are able to use humor in serious contexts. I like spiritual teachers rvho tell stupid jokes. I rvas a follou'er of Rajneesh Osho for about ten years. I got some of my silliness from him. He has a kind of juiciness. I have a kind of aversion to holiness now. It makes me nervous. Will that do?

pARrrcrpANr When I first heard the title

Wise (Jp,I thought it was so interesting that I

decided to read the book.

cLAxroN I'm good at titles. I keep thinking up book titles at four o'clock in the morning. That's what I do. So I have a stack of about a hundred book titles, and I'll write two. But I don't know which t"vo 1zet. A FAMILIAR N/ODEL OF HABIT CHANCE From Unconscious Incompetence To Conscious Incompetence To Conscious Competence To Unconscious Competence

And round and round




talking about this simple business of changing habits. It's kind of a down-toearth idea. It's like puttingwhatwe do in terms of psychotherapy or breaking the habit of dualistic perception in the same context. It's not fundamentally different from giving up smoking. It seems to me that they're not different in kind. I was talking with some people yesterday aboutwhether spiritualitywas an outgrowth of human development or something separate, special and other. I really don't want it to be the latter. It's part of what

We were

we do. This is kind of moving into consciousness. I'm thinking about the question I posed earlier, which for me comes at the meeting point of my personal journey and intellectual explorations. Through my own self-observation and my reading of all kinds of scientific literature, I'm now almost convinced that consciousness is mostly superfluous, and that it's my brain-body-ecologically-embedded system that does everything. It determines how I'm going to move my hands in the next instant and the words that are going to come out of my mouth. What I think of as my intentions are just sometimes accurate and sometimes inaccurate predictions thrown up by this biological system. When I think that I intend to pick up this cup of hot milk, actually all I'm saying is that I'm guessing the system is going to reach out and pick up that cup in the next little while. The evidence of learning, of unconscious perception, subliminal perception-all that scientific evidence-is powerful. Instead of the unconscious beingthe problematic thing, being conscious becomes the problematic thing. What is it for? What is it about? Yet it has to be about something. Or it has to be associated with something. Otherwise we wouldn't have it. I believe in evolution. So being conscious must be associated with some survivalpositive thing that my system is doing. I think it's something to do with slowing down the immediacy of response. The egocentric space is captured at any moment by the set of goals that are active in my system, the set of desires, needs, threats, fears, wanting to be liked, not wanting to dry up in the middle of what I'm talking about, wanting to move my bottom so it's more comfortable on the chair. It's like I have some floating agenda of things that are going on at the moment. Part of my life is lived relative to that. I'm looking for your expressions to see if you're engaged, how the jokes are going down, how is my bottom

feeling, constantly monitoring. Then I think evolution has given us this other system, which is just slightly back from that and which says "Hold on a minute, there may be more options." There may be more going on than what is relevant to those immediate goals of comfort, threat, or survival, etc. Consciousness has something to do with that. It's like doing a very quick second take on your experience. Gerald Edelman calls it the remembered present. The life I'm living is about three or four hundred milliseconds behind what is going on. It means I can stop. I think that is a powerful evolutionary tool. Instead of being captured by my impulsiveness, instead of always doing the first thing, I've developed these big frontal lobes. They enable me to take another turning or to stop, pause, and allow other considerations which were not pre-existent within me to become active so that I am more likely to wise up. I'm more likely to do a genuinely smart thing rather than the immediately impulsive thing.

paRrrcrpANr I've had a big problem r'vith the distinction between conscious consciousness and awareness because in some ways they're not interchangeable. We have Darwin and many people lve study making the case that animals are conscious, that insects and worms are conscious in some way. We can see them making decisions that are nonhabitual

in relation to novel stimulus.


I'm not sure about the worms.

paRTrcrpaNr Darwin found that theywere adaptable.

He would change the environment

to watch the worms adapt to it.






And doing very novel things that were not required in their habitual



Okay, but I don't know if that forces me to give them consciousness. I need to have a concept, which is something like "unconscious awareness." Do you need something Iike that to account for your work? I don't have a good phrase for it because the word "awareness" brackets and often comes before "conscious." It's often presupposed that awareness means conscious. Yet the way I now think deeply about myself and the mind, you absolutely need, moment to moment, a concept of unconscious awareness. The only

other alternative is a word like "sensitivity," "responsiveness," or something. Butyou need something that accounts for the fact that I am continually responding at very intelligent levels, notjust at the kind ofbasic physiological levels. One of my favorite experiments at the moment is by Ioe Groeger. You flash what's called a dichotic listening experiment. You put stereo headphones on people and play one thing into one ear and a different thing into the other ear. You get people to focus on one ofthe ears. They hear and they're predominantly focusing on and responding to what is coming in one ear. Then you feed other sound in the other ear and see what effect it has. You feed a sentence into the attending ear. It has a gap in the middle. Then you offer people a choice of two words. You askwhich word fits best in the gap. There were lots of these, butthis is her fur coat." The two a good version of the kind of sentence used. "She looked words you're given to choose between are "smug" and"cozy." Into the other ear, which might or might not influence your choice, comes the word "snug." This is very clever -in because "snug" sounds like "smug," but means the same as "cozy." When the word comes into the ear that's not listening, it either comes in at a volume that is above the conscious threshold so you're able to hear it audibly, consciously, or it's of such short duration and low

volume that it comes in unconsciously or subliminally. What difference does that make? If it comes in unconsciously, you're more likelyto choose the semantic connection. You're more likely t o say " cozy." If it comes in above consciousness, you're more likely to choose "smug," which is the word that sounds like it but means something different. How much is going on in the system that I'm not aware of? All kinds of people down history as well as in recent scientific literature have pointed this out with interesting studies and experiments. If you flash a picture of a frightened face to someone subliminally, and they're in an esc or a neuro-imaging machine, the amygdala lights up. Even thoughyou have no conscious perception ofthe face, your brain responds appropriately to the fearful feeling. There are dozens of examples of that kind of thing. We're responding to those kinds of things all the time. There is a long history of this stuff going back to the ancient Greeks and beyond. I have a book coming out next |anuary called The Wayward Mind, wtrichis a look at the history of the unconscious in all its different manifestations through history and in different cultures. PARTICIPANT

Could you make a distinction between the unconsciousness and the non-



I tend to reserve the word "subconscious" for the Freudian connotation.


use "unconscious" in the sense of "non-conscious." A lot of this is non-conscious. A lot of learning is non-conscious, as I said earlier on. This is a study by Pavel Levitsky, a Pole, now working in the States. The study is very stylized, but it will do. You flash on a computer screen a grid with lots of numbers in it5,3, 4,7,2, r, etc. Somewhere buried in one of the quotas is a target number you have to detect. Let's say it's 6. You have four buttons, and you have to press the button that corresponds to the quadrant in which 6 appears. You do this again and again. They're divided into blocks of seven goes. Then you have a little rest, and then you have another g6



seven butyou've always got to find the 6 wherever it is. For some people doing the experiment, unbeknownst to them, there is some very subtle relationship between where the 6 turned up on trials one, three, four and six and where it's going to turn up on trial seven. You can't figure it out, but there is some regularity there. Over several hundred goes, people get reliably faster and faster at detecting the 6 on the seventh trial. So they must be picking up this information. Of course, they're getting faster generally because they're getting more practiced. But they're getting selectively much faster on the seventh trial. Then if you suddenlytake this information away and make things genuinelyrandom, people abruptly slow down and ask, "Hey, what's going on?" It's like "Have you put some subliminal filter up to disrupt me?" They didn't know they'd got faster, but they notice it when they suddenly feel as if they're faltering on the seventh trial. They have no idea what that information is. They have no idea that they learned anything. In one version of the

experiment Levitskywas using the other professors in the psychology department at the University of Tulsa, all of whom knew perfectly well what his research was about. They were given as long as theyliked to tryto figure it out. Theywere shown all the stimulus patterns side by side at the end of it, laid out in front of them. And theywere offered two hundred bucks if they could figure out what was going on. None of them got anywhere near it. So how smart is the non-conscious learning in just picking up that complicated thing? You don't need statistics. It's a four-way interaction, which is a very complicated thing to detect. Yet this brilliant learning by immersion faculty was able to pick that up to an extent that consciousness couldn't. Consciousness just gave up-no chance, no go at that. So what does consciousness add? Are some of you familiar with this model? It's very much around in the business world. Business trainers use this model. It's a kind of common assumption about the process of habit change thatyou start in a condition (these are just slogans) of unconscious incompetence; in other words, you don't knowwhat the habit is. You don't know that it's limiting you in some way. Then you become aware that you are less free, less skilful, less knowledgeable than you'd like to be. So you become consciously incompetent. Then comes the learning process where you reflect on the habit, undo it, practice something else, and do a different kind of thing. Then you move from unconscious incompetence to conscious competence. There is awhole other stage, which is re-embedding that conscious understanding. This is what education often forgets. This is like when you've passed your driving test you really start to learn to drive because it starts to become second nature. It goes back into the unconscious. This kind of model is very popular. I tend to represent it like this: The diagram shows the two kinds of competence (conscious/unconscious) and the two kinds of incompetence (conscious/unconscious) arranged in the "round and round" loop suggested byA Familiar Model of Habit Change. How smart is the unconscious learning?

cl>cc NV

ul >>>>>>>>uc You start with unconscious incompetence and go to conscious incompetence. Then you go to conscious competence and then to unconscious competence. That's what the model ')

says. I say, and what I see happening in your world, is why not cut out the


and just tunnel straight through from points: Unconscious Incompetence to points: Unconscious Competence. When and why do you need to go by this conscious route-this route of being deliberate, introducing the stage of deliberation? Why not the direct route much like the workyou do? What's happening in the experiment I just told you about is that one goes from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence. It's like there is no figuring it out, asking "Where did I go wrong; what could I do better?" Much like the work

you d.o, there isn't anykind of thatmiddle deliberation.



The process may be that through the connecting, touching, etc', something shifts in the person, and they go into another state, which is like the unconscious competence state. But there is an important step somewhere whereby they have to notice it. It has to be noticeable. Therefore one has to be conscious that something happened'


Otherwise itwashes out again'



the conscious noticing, in some sense, fixes or stabilizes it' That's an

interesting function.


There is confusion in a lot of Feldenkrais people that they should have

conscious competence all the time. it's also important to have a change of pace' If the person also consciously changes the pace of his attention in the way that you were speaking about gets as being necessary for a shift. So we use that conscious moment in that way' It like a caught of being misunderstood, as CarI said. The Germans have this expression centipede and not knowing which foot to put forward next.

paRrrcrpaNt I think


Is it like

flipping people into that moment of reflection or capturing?

pAnTrcrpaNt But also the openness is an opening ofperception that has a different tempo, different timing. As the timing changes, all the movements can be reorganized around change of timing, just as we can always reorganize around change of orientation' Those are ways that we come at changing the focus of perception' I don't know if this connects. One of the questions that has come up for me out of this work is why we have memories. A lot of the learning I've taught about so far is learning in the sense of a change of habit, reactivity, skill, or competence' After all, that's what gets us through life. Being skillful is the bottom line' So why do rve have this store of memories? What is that for, evolutionarily? There are some suggestions nott from neuroscience that we have memories because it's biologically useful to capture more of what is going on in the moment than seemed relevant at the time' -'r'e thought Memory is a way of enhancing our learning because it captures more than is one of this we needed at the time. Therefore it enables us (and people have argued that the functions of dreaming) to extract more information from our lived moments than if we


were simply being tuned little by little by what was happening in that moment' \'Vhat r'vas happening in that moment was captured by the motivational vector operative in us at the time. That is closely related to consciousness. When you don't have that consciousness in the moment of the remembered present, you don't get memorY' One of the things neuroIogical patients who suffer from kinds of amnesias and memorv losses that goes along r'r'ith that is that you don't have the consciousness in the moment. As i understand that, it is like I'm driving a car, it's ar'vful1v hot and I as a child I was sitting in the car going on holidav, srveating, etc' Suddenly I that remember problem. I do this and that. I open the rvindo"v' The coming up of the to my have a solution memory is like intuition helps you to solve the problem.


It's something like that, although the argument |effery Gray makes is that it doesn't necessarily have to go through that kind of conscious route' It's like keeping that stack of records. At some level, he argues, there is built into our system a process of tracking back and sifting through those records. That process may not need to be conscious' But for the record to be there, there needed to be a moment of consciousness at the time' Consciousness allows us to take snapshots and then put them into our album' We may be




FALL 2{)O7

able to look through that album and make use of them in the way that you describe. We may be able to do that consciously or unconsciously.

pARrrcrpaNr Sometimes it's like the train

goes by and you know that but you don't


whatwas really on it.

clAxroN Yes, it's absolutely that kind of thing. You have this experience as you get older. You're reading a book and you knowyou've never read it before; you get up to page s6 and suddenly know what is going to happen on the next page. It doesn't surface as a memory. It surfaces as a kind of spooky anticipation. You have no memory of having read the book. Yet you know the guy is going to come around the corner wearing a blue anorak and green trainers, and, sure enough, there he is. So you kind of get the memory, but not in the form of a memory. It doesn't come back as a memory as such. I'minterestedinthat, andfumblingatthe edge of myunderstandingof this stuff. Bearwith me. I'm interested in that as away evolution has discovered for enhancing our own learning, with consciousness implicated in that. That's one of the functions of consciousness.

paRTrcrpaNr This depends

on the context-the situation in which I am somehow. How is that decided or who decides? How do I know the moment to be conscious or innocent?

cLAxroN Good question. The neuroscientists would say that there is no governor, no controller that is making that decision; it's built into the system. It's not an answer, but it sends you looking for a different kind of answer. What is the servo-mechanism, what is the cybernetics in the system which trips the system into a state at that particular moment which is associated with consciousness? I have to confess that I'm what philosophers call an epiphenomenalist. I don't think consciousness does anything. I think consciousness is associated with clever states of the nervous system which do things. There is no evidence that will tell you the difference between those two positions. I'm just convinced that consciousness has come along with, for reasons we don't need to understand, certain intricate states of the nervous system, which are to do with fixing memories or that process of revision of where you were. There's no soul, you see. pARTrcrpaNr Feldenkrais talked about four states

of the nervous system, which are sleep, being alake-lve can be awake and do things while sort of asleep (meaning you can move, go to the bathroom, come back conscious); you can wake up somewhere, and all of a sudden "Where am I?" It has to do with knowing where you are in space and then being aware. So for him there was a distinction between being conscious, which is more iike what

you just said, and being aware. CLAXTON

Yes, it's like

thatwake-up moment.


Right, "Where am I; what is happening?"


I think Feldenkrais thought that awareness is a skill one has to learn.


Tell me


little bit more about what he meant by awareness.

pARrrcrpANr Take this example-a person wakes up and doesn't know where they are. They know the direction, and then they have an image of themselves in that place where they are. They can sort of see themselves lying down, in which direction, next to the window, and then they can take some action. 39

FALL 2()O7



Do you mean that the vantage point is literally outside their own body so that

theybecome part of their image to themselves?

pAnrrcrpaNt The question is the same as whether you imagine yourself from outside or whether you imagine your self, which is not from the outside. cLAxroN

Is that what you mean? It's like you're in the picture


in some way or other'

Yes, and then you have the choice, actually, of what to do. It's just


understanding and interpretation of this.

cLAxroN I don't know. I'm getting to the edge of what I can track. I don't have a clear resolution of this. For example, Edelman and Tanoni's view says that consciousness only emerges with respect to some event if the neural pattern that is underwriting that perception becomes attached to the current sense of self. Let me take one step back. One of the neural conditions for consciousness is that neural activity has to reverberate in a particular pattern in the brain for about three or four hundred milliseconds. If it doesn't resonate for that long, you can be responsive to it, but it doesn't achieve the condition for consciousness. You can give people a very short subliminal perception. It goes into your system and affects what you do, but it hasn't achieved that condition. If the stimulus is very strong, it can be very brief and still get conscious. If you strike a bell, it rings in the system. A very strong stimulus can achieve consciousness by virtue of the fact that it causes that reverberation. Very cold or very loud immediately attracts. It becomes conscious. But there are other ways of creating that length of time that a circuit reverberates inyour brain. One of the ways of doing that is connecting it with the currently active sense of sell whatever that is, however that is represented in the brain. Then it kind of cycles because that is persisting. The sense of self changes more slowly over time, if the circuitry which gets connected up with that achieves the requisite longevity. So consciousness is very much associated, as it is for all of us, with that sense of "I-ness." Most normal senses of consciousness are.

pARrrcrpANr: Think

of those times, which I'm sure we've all had, rt'here vou're dri"'ing a

car and, all of a sudden it's like you wake up


I was

thinking about that. Is that the move from being art'ake to conscious, or

from conscious to aware?

eARTrcrpANr I would

say from conscious to aware' You

think, "Oh my God, I'r'e driven

hundred kilometers."

cLAxroN Like, "Who did that?" But there's something that I have to be conscious of to be able drive well' I've actually had the experience of not being conscious and I haven't had an accident'


cLAxroN Wehaveitallthetime. pARrrcrpaNr I haven't run through


red light.

I spend most of my life on automatic pilot, don't you?

pARrrcrpANr 4o


Yet there's something to me, that doesn't trust that.




Or we sort of philosophically don't trust it. Actually the system trusts it most of the time. But when we move into thinking about who I am, somehow or other the amount of time we spend and the amount of intelligence that goes into that unconscious management of life gets airbrushed out of the picture of ourselves consciously. That's quite costly, I think, in terms of all kinds of things. But we won't necessarily go into that.


paRTrcrpANr Then does this

go to the question of awareness? Doesn't that also relate to question that becoming consciously aware of a different perception of of mindfulness: the yourself, like change of timing or change of state where your sense of who you are shifts from the conscious to the self-aware, something changes inyour environment oryour state? Then you start to become aware of multiple senses of yourself.


Exactly, and other possibilities. I haven't got this clear$ figured out. There are all kinds of ways in which that shift can happen. One way I think about it is that it's like escaping from a particular set of preoccupations. It's a particular motivational framework. If you can jump out of that, you can see other priorities, which would have been precluded when you were in that framework. All of us live in an active portfolio of things that we're about at any moment. That changes. Some of them are getting stronger, like the need to have a cup of tea or a pee. That framework is continually fluctuating. In the moment whatwe're sensitive to, quite properly, is relative to whatwe're up to, whatwe're about, or what we care about, or what counts as mattering at that particular moment. For most of the other animals, that's the only framework they have. But then that precludes this sense of being able to have a wider sense of what the possibilities are thatyou could do otherwise. I think that mindfulness is about that iump out of one motivational framework and into a larger one or a different one. Maybe you can eventually escape the gravitational field of your own concerns, but I think it's pretty rare. But you can escape from a smaller one into a larger one. We all have those moments. You kind of drop the desire to be right and you remember that you love the other person. That's escaping from a smaller gravitational fie1d into a larger one. It's like "What the fuck are we up to, Sweetheart? This is the one person in the world who I love most, and I'm trying to beat her into the ground with my intellectual arguments because she didn'twelcome me sufficientlywhen I came home." It's awake-up moment. There is another thing about that escape into mindfulness, which is all the different elements or ingredients of what makes up the sense of self, or the sense of "I." There is the "I" as agent. There is the "I" as having to do something about things. There is the "I" who is the recipient of i:motion."You made me mad." "The situation terrified me." It's as if I'm on the receiving end of that. There is the "me" who is the perceiver. There is the "me" who is the owner, the possessor, of whatever it maybe. I'm the owner of this hand. If someone cuts it off, I sure as hell feel this is a major trauma. But I might also feel the same thing when the manuscript of my PhD is stolen from the boot of my car. There is that sense of where my identity extends, how broadly it's extended. For a lot of us it extends into our laptops. The difference between your hard disk crashing and having a stroke is very small these days. It's the same kind of thing because we have so much investment in the information that's in there. Anotherway of thinking about this mindfulness thing is shiftingthe emphasis of that sense of self from "I" the doer, the manager, the victim, etc., into "I" the witness, which is one facet of self. But it's like privileging that facet over the other facets, which are usually busy servicing the agenda. I think these are two different ways of saying the same thing I was talking about.

pAnrrcrpaNr I would

also like to say that if you drove the car unconsciously, you and

other people would be in the hospital.



FALL 2()O7

cLAxroN Trulyunconsciously, panrrcrpaNr

Do you see what I mean? They were not awake. There really is a distinction. I think it is awareness, not consciousness Then whatever you see when you are aware, when you contemplate it, put it into a different context to make something of it, you become mindful. You need awareness to become mindful. I really think that awareness is different

than consciousness.


It's hard to sort these words out because we all come to them with different connotations. The best we can do is to be as clear as we can about the way we're using them. It would be nice if there were some kind of linguistic politburo to sort this out for us. Then we would all use the words in the same way. I'm afraid that's not going to happen. I'm going to tell you about another little experiment, which bears on this. This is rvork by Ellen Langer, who has written two great books. One is called Mindfulness and the other is The Power of Mindful Learning. She's done a lot of neat, simple experiments along the following lines. You get two classes of undergraduates. You do almost the same thing to them. You take in some kind of funny rubbery thing. To one class you s41,, "This is a dog's chewy toy." To the other group you say equally casually, "This could be a dog's cherrr- tor-." The class goes on and the teacher is filling in the class register in pencil. She gets halfu-ar' through it and says, "I made a mistake; does anyone have an eraser?" Onll'the class to whom she said, "This could be a chewy toy," will say, "Hey, you couid use the rubberv thing." The other group have been captured by the "is" of it. She uses the erample to refer

to mindfulness. We can propose alternatives when we are in a "could be" state of mind, rvhich I think is this more delayed form of consciousness. There is a greater fan of possibilities available to us, or a greater sense of possibilities whether that's interpretations of the event or possible courses of action we could take. There just seems to be that moment of pausing that opens up that somewhat greater fan of possibilities. It's what the Buddhists call "patient pausing." You're living more in a "could be" universe. Whereas when you're in the mindless state, it's like there is only the number one interpretation. That's why when you're doing the crossword puzzle, and you get two-thirds of the way through it and are stuck, if 1,ou go away and come back the following morning, suddenly you can do all the ..vords. It's not that anything magic has happened. It's just that because you've gone a\vay and done other things, your mind has stopped being captured by unconscious assumptions about r,r,hat this or that word means. You come back and have a greater sense of the possibility of r,rrhat's available. I thinkthat sense of mindfulness, from mypoint of view as an educator, is quite interesting. I tell teachers about that experiment. I say "Teach kids in'could be' language. Don't teach them in'is'language. The more you teach them in'is' Ianguage, the less thoughtful they're going to be about what you tell them." A participant observes that the uncertainty of "could be" may also be very disturbing, for example with regard to who your real parents are.

cLAxroN There may be some things you don't want to have as a "could be." But what I sav to my teachers is that there is more "could be" that you could be using than you do. Participant to a colleague You made a statement that unless you bring a constructive alternative to the habitual into the person's awareness its permission is going to be lost,

paRTrcrpANr I'm not absolutelv sure.


Yes, I didn't agree at the moment you said it, and yet I didn't want to... You give the person a lesson and so you name it. You say, "Look, this is what is different." I don't ever remember Moshe doing that with me. But when you do that, you constrain the




world of possible perceptions that they can have about themselves, about the world outside themselves. That is now defined into certain particulars that t the teacher have named, or created the category for.

pARrrcrpANr But if my client goes out in the world and comes back next week, and says "I was walking in the woods and suddenly I felt a whole new difference in my pelvis and in the movement of my legs and the way I was in the world; and everything looked so beautiful," that to me is the awareness. But I don't direct that. PAnrrcrPANr Theynameit. PARTTcTPANT They name it, yes.

paRTrcrpANr That's different from you pointing it out.


That's what I meant. If it comes into that kind of awareness, it helps fixate the experience as important and then it goes into the person's life.



you weren't meaning that the teacher needs to..

PARTrcrpANr Absolutelynot.

paRrrcrpaNr Okay, so let's staywith this. So learning could be defined as the ability to inhibit the habitual. We could come up with many definitions. This is one possible one. That's a useful one, maybe. But is awareness necessary for learning to have occurred?


But that's my question. When and how is it conducive, is it supportive? Does it enable more powerful, more lasting kinds of learning to happen? I would rather go with that more limited question. I think there are possible interesting answers to those questions. But is awareness, is consciousness, necessary for learning? Absolutely not'

paRrrcrpaNr I think

it's very important in our teaching that, in figures. We're just assisting or guiding people's learning.


way, we're not authority

cLAxroN I'm reminded

of an issue Carl Rogers used to talk about-whether clients enter therapy as just an opening and an enabling or whether it is (and there is nothing wrong with this) a profound form of guidance. Even if you're only grunting, when you grunt is highly significant. It may be unnecessary to say this, but I think it's important that you don't deny to yourself or your clients that there are agendas, you do have directions, and thatyou do have a sense of what growth is. And that is not to be concealed or fudged.



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Know thyself: The risk of serious inquiry Part One: The lmpasse

Dennis Leri

We may experience it differently. It's in virtually every Iesson. We may use different words to describe it. We may color it with different emotions. lt? "It" is that moment, that time and place in a lesson where we arrive at an impasse, a literal standstill. In that impasse, we don't act and we don't know how to act. Or we know too much to act. Either way we've iost our way. Bewildered, frustrated, curious, maybe humorously delighted, we are at a loss as to how to proceed. Mostly we don't like it. We don't, truth be told, know quite how to like it. Mostly we will do anything to relieve ourselves of its hold. We are there but we can't dwe1l there. Sad to say, most of the time, we do somethingin an attempt to distract our-selves

from that unbearable, naked, unadorned, unrecognizable presence other than our selfyet at its center. Our "self," found wanting, found ignorant, facing the unknown, shrinks, contracts, dis-integrates. Attempting to right ourselves we reach for the familiar, we iook backwards, we rear view mirror our present into the future. We do what's been done before. Or perhaps rather than closing, we open and rather than shrinking, we expand. But can \,\.e sustain it? Instead of disintegrating, can we integrate? What would await us? From impasse to . . .? From misunderstanding to . . .? More annoyance? Keen to hang in there with nothing to lose except a compulsion or two, can we develop a fresh sense of "self"? If we pause with the impasse, that taking pause is already an action. That deliberate pause can give rise to a new action and it can also signal anew means for action. In this article and in this series of articles we will look into that breakdown in the continuity of our lives at the seat of that breakdown: our self image and our lack of self-understanding. Moshe Feldenkrais knew that moment of impasse. He knew how to set it up. And he gloried in its ramifications. More than once Feldenkrais echoed Socrates' "Know thyself." It wasn't through the mere mouthing of words that Feldenkrais Iinked himself to the founder of Western thought. It was how that impasse could be made to appear, hon' one acted in the face of it and what one learned from it that made Feldenkrais's connection to the Greek philosopher an intimate one. The peculiar emergence of an impasse, that loss of lvav, within the field of a lesson is not incidental to a lesson's construct. The Socratic method and Socratic dialogue at the beginning of Western thought utilized their particular approach to answering the need of how to "Know Thyself." Socratic dialectic . . . conceives ofthe elenchic, or refutational, aspect olthe argumentation not as a basis from which one could then derive a positive conclusion either as the contradictory of the proposition refuted, as in reductio argumentation, or by affirming the alternative because it was the sole alternative available, but rather as inducing an aporia or awareness of an intpasse in thought: subjectively, a bewilderment or puzzlement.l

In other words, Socrates wasn't arguing to either refute a position or clarif.v an alternatir.e position. He wanted to negate the holdingof positions. He wanted the person to realize that the holding of contradictory positions was based upon no more certaint.v than the ignorance ofthose contradictions. So to speak, the certainty ofthe conflict is taken as a surrogate for the certainty which comes through self understanding. Second, (Socratic dialectic) . . . uses the conflicting energies held in suspense in the aporia as the motivation of inquiry.2




The aporia, the awareness of an impasse, subjectivelypuzzling and bewildering, but objectively motivating. Motive without a reason, a negative which opens to a question.Quite literally our life is on hold and we are sustained in doubt. Not the doubt of the academic or the dilettante or the Cartesian poseur, but the doubt that collapses to a particular loss of perspective, to my inability to act. There is tremendous energy there. There is a vital there there. We need to know! Plato says it began with Socrates. He's the one who put the phrase into the mouth of a mere mortal, his Master. But before Socrates, "Know thyself" was the dictate of the Oracle of the god Apollo. To the Ancient Greeks the Apollonian dictum "Know thyself" meant something more like "Remember that you are only human, not a god!"3 Socrates took the phrase personally and it became the theme of his life, his "avowed" dream, the reason for his death. It was he who admonished first his fellow Athenians and then the whole of the

Western world to not forget that we are "only human." Only human. A lovely sentiment. Bittersweet. nitter (only) + sweet (human). But how to become only human? How does one employ the Socratic method to know oneself? First what did Socrates intend? It's said that Socrates claimed he knew that he didn't know anything. But really what he said was that he didn't think that he knew what he didn't know. The difference isn't trivial. Only a god could "know" that he doesn't know. For Socrates human "wisdom" {Gr., sophia) is, in fact, ". . . based on recognizing the impossibility of takingthe god's eye view of things."a Onlyhumans can recognize the impossibilityof seeing


a god's eye. Socrates would appreciate a Feldenkrais lesson on at least two accounts. First, in a lesson in any given moment we can be uncertain that we know what we are doing in even the simplest actions. The unknowing is not a function of unclear language but rather

language indicating its source, turning back not on itself but rather towards that which gives it meaning and vitality. Mostly words for us have no connection to what's really vital in us. The language of a lesson sends us on a course of re-collection of our selves. There are moments where the lesson seems to know more than us. Have we not all experienced an impasse in a lesson? We may or may not resolve it into an action that is a new means for action. If no resolution comes, the anxiety born of uncertainty and perplexity can become quite tangible. If left unresolved, if one dwells in unknowing there is room for novelty. If resolved, the question may later arise as to how it is that one can hold so strongly to a mode or pattern of action in one instant and be rid of it in the next. Second, we may have thought we possessed some infallible overview of our self and our actions, some god's eye view We are caught operating as if we could remain detached from our habits of action. We are blind to how it is human action gives rise to human perception. But, resolution if it comes, comes not from outside us but rather through and with a differently organized sense of self. How? Socratic wisdom is know-how. Know-how is craft. "Knowing-what," the accumulation of information is different. Wise are those who master the craft of understanding. Human understanding is fallible, fleeting, mutable, and time bound. Human life, like all life in the natural world, is sentient. Gods on the other hand, being immortal and unchanging, possess perfect understanding and infallibility. They don't make errors because they can't. Fallibility, the hallmark of human understanding, drives the dynamic of the psyche. "Psyche" as used by the early Greeks was synonymous with breath. In Socrates' time it came to mean something like soul and indicated the life process within a living being concerned with understanding. Think about it: A soul is likened to the life process con-cerned with understanding. It typically had three parts or "centers": the rational (logistikon) lodged in the head; the spirited, the passionate (thymoeides) located in the chest and midriff; the appetitive (epithymetikon) found in the lower torso.s Psyche's understanding confounded in a sentient being is never complete and therefore always imperfect. Because of


FALL 2()O7


its incompleteness psyche requires constant work to maintain ". . . its integrity as a process: its coherence and self-identity across time. Since it requires a discipline of corrective effort, it is intrinsically normative."6 The discipline of corrective effort is not one of brute force but rather insight, attention, and imagination. It must address the needs of the entire psyche not just one of its components. ...

One finds oneself actually asserting both of the contradicting elements at once: the Socratic

aporia is not merely a contradiction but a self-contradiction, which actually precludes refutation where it occurs since in refutation the refuted element drops out whereas the aporia depends on it not dropping out but maintaining itself in opposition to what supposedly refutes

it....whatisassertedorputforthexpressesarealconvictiononthepartoftheasserter,sothat in the event of a self-contradiction in assertion there is a corresponding opposition of intention or tendency to action that makes it impossible for the self-contradicting asserter to act in respect to the subject matter in either of two conflicting ways until such time as the conflict in

intention is resolved.T

In the Socratic dialectic, inquiry functions through the willingness to "tolerate" the aporetic state. The poet Keats coined the phrase Negative Capabilit-v to capture that "tolerance," It is, ". . . when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mYsteries, doubts rvithout anv irritable reaching after fact and reason."u Tolerance . . . for further elements to be introduced into the aporetic situation and set ir-r relationship to the rest in such a way that a solution to the problem is arrived at, regardless of hoiv long that might take. I speak of being "willing to tolerate" the aporetic state because there is often a choice aboutthis, and as Plato's dramas of dialectic frequentlvunderscore, people are

sometimes not at all happy about being brought into the aporetic condition and are not eager to stay in it unless, like Socrates, they have come to regard the life of inquirv as a rtorntal lotm of human life. It is of course possible to recognize and cultivate the latter, and a good manr' people take to inquiry naturally, but there are also many r,vho do not and u ho rvi11 readilr' falsify their own experience and deliberately turn large areas of their life into fiction in order to eliminate arbitrarily the uncomfortable self-contradictions of aporia rvhen it threatens to arise It is not accidental that traditions of inquiry are called "disciplines", given the mant'rvavs in which the discomforts of sustained and truly honest inquiry can be and are avoided." Inquiry is aporia protracted in time, enabling articulation, structuring, and restructuring as new elements are introduced into the reflective situation and arranged and rearranged until such time as, finally, the contradictions that sustain it as aporetic disappear and the aporia and therefore the inquiry ends as a solution.s We might say about a Iesson that the freshly differentiated actions are not integrated into a new action until and unless thinking, doing, sensing, and emoting are likewise

folded in. Any new action implies


new means,


means with an appetite for inquiry.

Inquiry thus begins r,r,ith sincerity in self-contradicted assertion '"vhich,


the aporia is sus-

tained in time, passes over into and becomes indistinguishable from respect for the integrity of the subject-matter, toleration of it in those respects in which it is frustrating, and confidence or trust in its potentiality for finally being made intelligible. Sinceritl', integritr', toleration, trust: these are moral But first they are aesthetic concerns. In sensing and "getting a sense of" u'e realize\ve can realize a kind of rightness that is not imposed on us by sheer force of rvill, bv succumbing to external authority, by following fashion, fad, or trend. The rightness emerges rvithin us as a clarity, a coherence ofthe so-called inner and outerworlds and subsequent feelings of harmony. That clarity enables us to act morally, that is with sincerity, integrit\-, toleration, trust. So we need a way to develop our aesthetic sense. "Know Thyself" is but one half of the




Oracle's injunction, the other half is "nothing too much."l1 It's often overlooked because it doesn't say how. It's a plea for temperance. To develop an aesthetic sense, first and last, we pay attention and we staywithin our limits while learning. Temperance is a mode of learning and not necessarily a way of life. Next in the series: more on the embodied psyche, the craft of temperance, knowing one's self, and the physics of understanding.

NOTES and The Socratic Tradition, f oseph Ransdell Ver. r-+-oo at

r. Peirce

z. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. s. Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon, pg.1To New York University Press 1967. 6. Peirce and The Socratic Tradition,loseph Ransdell Ver. r-+-oo at z.

Ibid. (rzgs-r8zr) from a letter to his brothers, December MajorAulhors (Sixth Edition), p. rBr8.

8. John Keats



r8r7 , Norton

Anthology of English Litera-

and The Socratic Tradition,loseph Ransdell Ver. 1-4-oo at g. Peirce

ro. Ibid.

tt. Consolation


Apollonius, Plutarch (46-rzo A.D.).




The necessity of dynamics and its relevance to the Feldenkrais Method: A review essay By CarlGinsburg Books reviewed in this essay: The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger As Your Brain Grows Older, by Elkhonon Goldberg, Free Press, zoo5.

Intelligence tn Nature: An Inquiry into Knowledge, by Ieremy Narby Tarcher/Penguin, zoo5. Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Euo Detto, by Sean B. Carroll, Norton, zoo5.

Plausibility of Life: Resoluing Darwin's Dilemma, by Marc W. Kirschner and John C. Gerhart, Yale University Press, zoo5. The

The C omplem entary N atur e,

by I.A. Scott Kelso and David A. Engstrom, MIT Press, 2006.

Our Feldenkrais Method has a certain fundamental empirical validity as demonstrated by the consequences to those who have experienced Awareness Through Movement (ar*r) lessons, or Functional Integration (rr) sessions. The before-and-after consequences can be observed directly by participants and others by noticing changes in patterns of moving, standing, and feeling, both in the differences in sensing and perceiving one's self and in objective observation ofdifferences. These are the more obvious consequences. People who continue their development using the Method often notice many other life improvements in areas other than movement. From the point ofview ofclassical science, however, all ofthe results ofpracticing the method are suspect. There is not a linear cause and effect relationship between the intervention (er:ru or rl) and the consequences. Nor are the specific techniques in themselves clearly related to outcomes. A lot depends on the how and not the what of our practice. Thus the Method processes cannot easily be subject to statistical demonstration and double-blind procedures. It is not like testing a fixed procedure. The question is this: Is the difficulty with the Method or with the assumptions of classical normal science? It is a strange question in a way, as we so easily assume the validity of scientific procedure. Lots of us forego worrying about scientific validity and go on helping others and ourselves to the best of our abilitywith the skills we have developed. Those of us who have practiced over many years become particularly effective. If we look at the field of science in relation to living beings, we find that the scientific process of accumulated investigations is extremely slow. New developments that reveal errors in previous accepted doctrine often take a considerable time for acceptance. At any one period tension continues between conservatism and radical rethinking ofreceived wisdom. This has been especially true in such fields as biology, psychology, and neuroscience. The thinking that Moshe Feldenkrais applied to human situations throughout his career certainly involved a radical rethinking of received wisdom. Yet the empirical and experiential evidence has been verytelling. In the thirtyyears since the introduction of the workto awider group of people, the number of people attracted to the exploration of the Method has multiplied and the number of people helped by the Method is now quite large. Something in this history challenges our biological and scientific assumptions, especially in relation to our normal understanding of the relation of causes and effects. One of the main tenets of our practice, for example, is to not attend directly to the problem that is presented and to work at a level of minimal effort. We eschew exercising what is connected +8



directly to the problem and evoke an inner learning process that effects areorganization of patterns of activity and habit. The question is: Are the assumptions of behavioral science, genetic determinism, medical focus on pathology, etc. inappropriate to the actualities of

living systems? Science is a slowprocess. Nevertheless as evidence accumulates shifts in thinking do occur. Dogmas are eventually rejected in the light of new discoveries. The complexities of living beings eventually are penetrated. The books reviewed here reveal evidence that can lead us to some very radical rethinking of long-held assumptions. The scientific enterprise is catching up to Feldenkrais and to the scientific thinkers who manyyears ago also foresaw a new direction. Some of these, including Gregory Bateson, Heinz von Foerster, Francisco Varela, Aharon Katchalsky (Katsir), and Karl Pribram were in contact with Feldenkrais and influenced and corroborated the direction of his thinking. Some of the new directions were barely guessed at thirtyyears ago, or in the years before when Feldenkrais was making his discoveries about learning. Most interesting, many of the new discoveries were made with the slow methodical procedures of normal science working with detailed investigations of questions such as how do genes lead to the forms of living beings.

THE PLASTICITY OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM One major discovery, which Feldenkrais did not even guess, is the discovery that the process of learning not only produces new connections in the nervous system, but results in the formation of new neurons and the growth of specific brain areas related to the learning. Our nervous systems are very plastic. The contrary belief that this was not possible was so strong that the doctrine of no new neurons, persisted long after the evidence was

presented in the scientific literature. Feldenkrais did empiricallyunderstand plasticity, and believed that activity and new learning were not only possible throughout life, but that active persons retained their powers in areas that of their passions until the end. The scientific evidence is now clear. In his beautifullywritten andwell-documentedbook, The Wisdom Paradox,Elkhonon Goldberg, one of Alexander Luria's students in Moscow and now a professor at NYU School of Medicine, tells the story of the discoveries that overthrew the "NNNr" no newneurons, doctrine. Goldberg cites a now-famous study of the brains of London taxi drivers. London is famous for the difficulties of its street plan, which taxi drivers must commit to memory. The studyfound that a part of the brain involved in spatial memorywas larger in taxi drivers than in a control group of subjects. Similar findings have been shown for musicians and other especially skilled people. Goldberg discusses many other discoveries relevant to our work. In one especially interesting study a group of healthy subjects were asked to train themselves within a three-month period to juggle three balls. Each subject received brain scans before and after the training. These utnl scans revealed clear growth of both sides the temporal lobes and the left parietal area. When the practice was stopped the effect decreased and the brain regions diminished in size again. Brain scanning could be an effective way of demonstrating the power of our own work. This kind of evidence of plasticity is hard to ignore. Goldberg reports many other such discoveries. He suggests that lifelong learning can keep us functioning better, and promotes the notion of cognitive fitness programs for all of us as we grow older. Certainly our Awareness Through Movement lessons could be a vehicle for keeping the nervous system growing and alive. I consider this book a must-read for up-todate Feldenkrais practitioners.

ARE HUMANS THE ONLY INTELLIGENT BEINGS? Anthropologist feremy Narby's Intelligence in Nature takes the very different point of view that intelligence, meaning adaptability andvariabilityin response to environmental conditions inwhich life can be maintained, exists at everylevel of life. Narbybegins his narrative in the region of the upper Amazon where he trekked into the jungle with a group of people 49



Matsigenka Indian guide. In this first journey he was taken to a clay cliffwhere a Iarge flock of macaws gathered in the early morning to eat the clay. It was a great social occasion for the birds as they gathered and called to each other. The clay turns out to be an important part of their diet that allows them to eat toxics seeds. The clay lines the stomach and protects against the toxins. For Narby this was a striking example of intelligence in nature. In subsequent trips into the jungle with his guides he began to realize how much the native people knew about the nature around them and how aware they were of many details of the life of the jungle-details that eluded outside visitors. Narby continues his quest for natural intelligence visiting many laboratories around the world where scientists are exploring insect minds, octopuses' braininess, smart slime, plant intelligence, etc. It is a very readable story. Narby footnotes his information with detailed references to the scientific literature to backup his contentions. He points out that Charles Darwin undermined the common Western notion that animals are machine-like in everything they do. Darwin wrote that "the mental faculties of man and the lower animals do not differ in kind, though immensely in degree." (Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, tBTr as quoted in Narby, p. 49). Even today biologists are only beginning to acknowledge this view. and


PERHAPS IT,S NOT ALL IN THE GENES Mechanism and determinism still reign supreme, especially in molecular biology evolutionary theory, and genetics. The popular view of genetics runs something like this: The discovery of oNe as the basis of genetic information means we now know the plan of life. Genes determine how life unfolds and how a particular life form will grow and develop. Genes are passed from generation to generation and accidents cause a change to happen, which changes something in the life form. The new form is then tested in life to determine viability. An unfortunate genetic shiftwill die out. In otherwords selection culls out errant forms. Genes nevertheless determine life's order. Some people even speculate thatthey regulate social interaction. The sophisticated version of this story is called the Modern Synthesis or neo-Darwinism. Darwin proposed the idea of natural selection in order to solve the order problem. He was not, however, dogmatic that natural selection is the only

contributing factor. Richard Dawkins is the best known and most popular expositor of the Modern Synthesis. In his view, without a designer, life forms seem to be cobbled together by a "blind watchmaker." He has even gone so far as to metaphorically attribute autonomyto the gene itself in his image of "the selfish gene." Dawkins further argues strongly for selection as the force driving life forms up "Mount Improbable." He does show thatwith computersimulated genetics simple forms can become more complexwith succeeding generations. He postulates that the argument has only two sides and that the selection side is proven far beyond his own satisfaction. Selection certainlyis a factor. Those organisms in nature that do survive, if we can find and describe them, must have been selected to fit the conditions of the environment. If you do not have a designer, this is a tautology. Ihe problem is that the order problem has not been completely solved with Dawkin's computer models. fhere are deep problems with the Modern Synthesis. Evidence has been accumulating in research for manyyears that the action of genes is a far more complex phenomenon in the development of organisms. It is a difftcult area of research. Only recently have scientists been able to piece together a more complete view of what is going on. The next two books reviewed tell the story in an accessible wayto the non-specialist. Sean Carroll's Endless Fornrs Most Beautiful: The New Science of Euo Deuo explains the details as simply as possible for the reader while celebrating the wisdom of Darwin. Evo Devo refers to the strong interlinkbetween evolution and the developmental process of organisms. Carroll is one of the researchers most involved in developing the new understanding of the relation of genetics to the form of animals. He stresses the importance of genetic interaction in the developmental process of organisms. Carroll 5o


"l'ItE FELD!rr"



argues that the Modern Synthesis is incomplete. While just a tiny fraction of our DNA (r.sZ) is involved in protein synthesis, 3% is involved in regulatory activity. Some genes regulate form. Some genes act as switches turning on specific genes and turning the activity off. Some genes, when turned on, build specific parts of an organism in the developmental process. The same genes are involved in organisms as different as the human and the fruit fly. In other words, the basic tool kit for building an organism exists in many creatures. The outcome is the tremendous variability of form. While Carroll retains the basic evolutionary story and believes the new discoveries fill the gaps in understanding the mechanisms of development, an aspect of his description of switches and molecular signals, needs modification. We will come to this possibility at the end of this essay in

discussing coordination dynamics. Marc Kirschner's and Iohn Gerhart's The Plausibility of Life: ResoluingDarwin's Dilemma is a more difficult read but perhaps reveals more clearly the importance of plasticity in development. Both books put to rest the speculations of Rupert Sheldrake. Form in nature is not impossible to understand as Sheldrake contended, and the postulation of some outside mystical morphogenic field is not necessary to explain an unknown process. Here are some striking facts from Kirschner and Gerhart's book to consider: While the evolution of life appears to involve a vastly increasing complexity of life forms and the evolution ofvery novel creatures, investigation ofthe genetic history oflife reveals striking continuitythroughout this history. Kirschner and Gerhardt note that after "millions of millennia of evolution, many metabolic enzymes in the bacterium E. coli are still more than 5o percent identical in their amino acid sequence to the corresponding human enzymes." ". . . of 5+B metabolic enzymes sampled. . . . half are present in all living life forms, whereas only r3 percent are specific to bacteria alone." Now that biologists have been able to map out the genetic codes of some life forms, it is clear that the differences in the genetic maps of different related species is very small. Apes and humans have differences amounting to about two percent of the code. But even a mouse and human share manygenes in common. The degree of conservation of genes in evolutionwas a surprise to everyone, and resulted from the projects to map out the entire genetic code of humans and other organisms. Humans have zz,5oo genes. There is not enough information hsre to account for the complexity of an organ such as a human brain. The brain and nervous system involves a hundred billion nerve cells and a million billion synapses all arranged into a very complex network in space involving a myriad of functions. Therefore the structure and complex interconnections of a human nervous system cannot be programmed directly by genetic information. But this is also true for other aspects of the body plan such as the distribution of the muscles and the blood-carrying capillaries. In other words, there are other sources of order in the development of human beings or any other living creature. Moreover, while there are three hundred different cell types in the human body, each type contains the same genetic information. Therefore the expression of the genetic code is variable according to a complex interaction, rather than a direct transfer of genetic information to cell type design. Lastly, the books point out that genetic mutation, which is supposed to be the source of variation has not produced as much variation in life forms as one would suppose, if there were only random changes in the genetic information. One of the surprises of evolution is the degree of conservation of basic features of cells and organisms. Each fundamental innovation in evolution has remained over millennia. Some examples: The first basic innovation that we can trace involved synergistic inclusions of simple single cells that live without complex structures such as a cell nucleus, or organelles such as mitochondria, into much more complex organisms. In other words, a new cell type, the eukaryotic cell, evolved as a major innovation involving internal compartments, and a cytoskeleton built from microtubules. This innovation has remained unchanged until today after approximately two billion years. The three hundred or so cell types of today's human being are xr



all eukaryotic cells. Cell types arose of course in the context ofthe innovations leading to multi-cellular creatures. Multi-cellularity allows for the innovation of basic body plans. These innovations also have been stabilized in evolution and are still represented in today's living creatures. Important examples are, bilateral symmetry, originatingwith the annelid (worm), arthropod (outside skeleton), chordate (nerve cord), and vertebrate (inside skeleton) body plans. We too have a tube form like the worm with a mouth at one end for food and an anus at the other too eliminate waste. We also retain the nerve cord of the chordates and the inside skeleton ofthe vertebrates. In other words, phenotype variation is not random but depends on modifications of what has already been developed. All major core processes are conserved. One other conservative factor is remarkable. And that is that certain core processes, especially in relation to development and gene expression, have remained stable over long expanses of time. Kirschner and Gerhart write about what they call an invisible anatomy

that guides the development of an animal from egg to adult. It involves a compartment map in the embryo that allows for individual gene expression in different areas of the growing organism. This basic map directs both the formation of the fruit fly and the human. The complexity of the process is extraordinary and the variations from one creature to another involve the control and expression of the genes in each compartment. It took fiftyyears ofresearch to tease out the process for the fruit fly. Kirschner and Gerhardt do not abandon the basic genetic theorywith respect to evolution. What they do is to fiIl in the gaps and see where the conservation of core processes actually allows for innovation and facilitates variation. They develop a theory of "facilitated variation," which shows how adaptability is a long-standing feature in biological systems, and how plasticity is available to this end. What they touch on without explicitly stating it is that the implicit order in biological systems is conserved throughout the entire history of the development of living beings. Their detailed and complex theory involves mechanisms by which genes turn on to interact within the organism and on the other hand turn off in response to the contingencies organism's internal and external environment. While their theory has advanced the thinking in biology, they have not completely solved the order problem. We still have no idea how life began. Kirschner and Gerhart also give a general overview of plasticity in all aspects of living creatures. For example, in a section on "How Cells Get Their Shape" they note that "there is no genetic information for large-scale cellular organization" and "Cell shape responds to developmental and environmental cues independently of genetic control" (p. 148). They describe, for example, the activity of microtubule exploration within the eukaryotic cell in which microtubules grow inward and outward. When the microtubules encounter a signallowards the periphery of the cell stabilizing agents fix the end of the microtubule. The microtubules do not shrink. The cell is now shaped by the stability. Thus a dynamic process involving movement and growth and a kind of coupling of cell and environment results in structure based on the history of this coupling. The process allows the organism to adapt, even at this very basic level. Similar exploratory processes are involved in complex multi-cellular organisms, which regulate how muscles grow toward bone, capillaries grow toward where oxygen is needed in muscle tissue, and nerve cells grow toward muscle tissue and are pruned so each muscle cell is contacted by one nerve cell. All of this involves feedback loops that regulate the dynamic activity. Kirschner and Gerhart also describe howplasticity coordinates brain and sensoryneurons at the sensory surfaces. These neurons do not develop together in the embryo as one might expect. Movement and exploratory behavior stimulate the sensory surfaces, which in turn stimulate a complex pathway in the nervous system that finally connects to specific regions ofthe cortex. A particular case studied in detail involves the relation offace whiskers of the mouse to a topographic representation of the whiskers in the mouse cortex. The whiskers help the mice navigate in dark spaces. As these authors describe based on the research literature, within five days after birth, certain structures in the cortex called bar-



rels form in correspondence to individual whiskers. Normally this development remains stable. In some of the experiments, however (p.r6s), "Trimming some whiskers causes elimination of their barrel domains in the cortex and enlargement of other barrels to take up the space." The actual brain structure changes in relation to the activityproduced b1,the sensory surface. Thus the mouse has a way to connect whisker sensations to its environment based on its particular arrangement of whiskers.

THE NECESSITY OF DYNAMICS A11 of this new information about intelligence, plasticity, and adaptability in nature shouid lead us to a new basic theoretical understanding of life. It can be a guide to promoting acceptance of our Feldenkrais Method since the Method is so intimately linked to these new discoveries. This new science has been a long time in developing, and if humanity survives its current crises, we can look forward to at least another hundred years of further research and explication. J.A. Scott Kelso and David Engstrom have r,r.ritten a surprising synthesis on the subject of this new understanding, which they designate coordination dynamics. The book in question, The Complementary Nature, brings us thoroughly out of the dark ages of mechanism when considering living, moving beings. And it provides a context for all the discoveries reported in the previous four books. Kelso and Engstrom begin their book with a discussion of a peculiarity of human thought: the wav we humans divide our world into contraries. These contraries are ubiquitous in our discourse, and conflict with each other. We label the contraries as dichotomies, or polar opposites, and become attached to taking positions on one side or the other. Fixating on one polarity of a complementary pair can lead to an impasse or worse create disaster. One can think of many examples in history including the present time. There is a strong human tendency to fixate one's position with respect to a polarity. The authors, however, note that polarities are complementary, that is, there is always a relationship between the two poles. The one poie cannot exist without the other. They therefore designate such opposites as connected by the tilde sign (-). They note, for example, that "Human awareness is

teeming with contraries like self-other, us-them, physical-spiritual, good- evil, friend-enemy, grief-joy, heaven-hell." We can add others such as materialism-idealism, mind-body, top-down-bottom-up, reductionism-holism, determinism-free will, naturenurture, and so forth. The connection between such polarities opens up a space for reconciliation. Historically this has not been an easy task. Some polarity positions have been opposed to each other through thousands of years. What the authors note is this: ". . . though contraries are diametrically opposed by definition, they are nevertheless coexistent, mutually dependent and inextricable. We say they are complementary in nature." The authors, however, do not wish to cover the gap through metaphor and philosophical reconciliation. They suggest as a model the reconciliation of the wave-particle duality in quantum physics and list other dualities reconciled in modern science, such as space-time, energy-matter, electricity-magnetism. Their ultimate aim is to create hope that a new scientific approach, coordination dynamics, ". . . may provide the scientific underpinnings of all complementary pairs in nature and that all complementary pairs posses a discoverable coordination dynamics." The beauty is that the underlying relationships and outcomes can be described in mathematics without necessarily using linear forms. One can appeal to a higher logic that allows for bifurcations, splitting and uniting, stability and instability, attractors and repellers. The important thing is that these abstractions can be related to the actualities of our existence. For example, in Iearning, new patterns form through self-organizing processes. These new patterns become semi-stable (attractors), which provide options. One can move from one pattern to another, and give up patterns that are no longer necessary. Patterns can also bifurcate, that is, divide into two other possibilities. In classic dynamics this can be described mathematicallywith changing the order parameters of the process. In some realms there is one pattern and in the other two. These also can




split resulting in multiple solutions. The authors review the history, particularly of Western thought, to elucidate the way polarities have played out. Some thinkers, of course, have come to reconcile positions. We now have to look at coordination dynamics in relation to living systems. First we have to establish the necessity. Heinz von Foerster perhaps made it clearest with the folIowing statement: Take, for instance, a colony of about a hundred million flatworms of the genus, planaria. Each ofthese creatures has about one hundred nerve cells. Thus, all together they have about ten bi1lion nerve cel1s. The human brain has ten billion nerve cells. Why don't these hundred million

planariae represent the intelligence of a human brain?

To make the point more clear, the brain as an organ is not only




systems we know, it is also highly coordinated, that is all its parts can signal to each other and coordinate activities to form higher integrations and complexes. Nowwe can provide two basic statements to define the territory and its application:

Coordination dynamics, the science of coordination, is a set of context- dependent laws or rules that describe, explain, and predict how patterns of coordination form, adapt, persist, and change in natural systems. -KELSO


possibility of waves, osciliations, macrostates emerging out of cooperative processes, sudden transitions, pre-patterning, etc. seems made to order to assist in the understandit-tg of integrative processes. . . particularly in advancing questions of higher order functions t]-rat


remain unexplained in terms of contemporary neurophysiology. ^,

;::il;)^";,": :::'.T;"H ;' :'J

Dynamic systems always involve some elements (individual coordinating elements) that are in relation in two or more directions: upward to higher levels, downrvard to lorver leveis and also in relation to each other. For example, if we can identify genes, thev are in relation to forming the cell and its components and to the DNA, which is the major component of the gene. At the most basic level DNA is in relation to the proteins formed and the proteins caralyze the formation of oxe. The organization of processes is circular as depicted in Maturana and Varela's image of autopoiesis. Three aspects spin out of this cornplexitr': Causation is both upward to a higher level and downward to a lolver leve1' Self-organization processes lead to higher levels through some form of integration. Functional coupling leads to further integration and Iearning at different levels which can include coupling of the organism in social and natural environments. But functional coupling is possible within a part of a system, between different parts of the same system, as rvell as benteen different kinds of things. Characteristics of such systems depend on what are Iabeled coordination parameters, Changes in these parameters can result in the following: shifting from linear to non-linear behavior, shifting from convergence to divergence and the reverse, creating attractors or repellers (stability-instability-metastability are all possible for attractors), and creating multi-functionality. Outcomes involve synergies, coherence, functionalit-v, usefulness, intentionality, and agency. The levels move upward from the molecular to the cellular, to the multi-cellular, to specific organs, to the organism, to the social realm, to the environment, to the earth as a whole, and of course downward. Now we can see that the developmental process in forming an organism must be a dynamic process. The causation cannot be just upward, the unfolding of a program. Complex coordination and interrelating from different levels have to be involved in switching on processes and switching them off. Equally everything in our Feldenkrais work involves dynamics and coordination processes 54



from the coordination through touching in FI to the dynamics of movement coordination

itselfto the relationship ofpatterns in life. While the authors do provide an overview of the technical and mathematical aspects of coordination dynamics, the book is most important for its sweeping overview. They address many important issues in society, thought, and scientific process. For our purposes dynamics are essential to learning and developing alternative patterns of acting and functioning as we do in our work. PIease read the book if you are at all inclined. The details are impossible to convey in this essay. But the broad view is vital to staying alive in our work. The book is a clear indication that fixations, polarizations, being caught in ideologies are just not effective l^r'ays to be in our complexworld.

NOTES 1 We met Katsir in the last FeLlenkrais Journal # r9 in dialog with Feldenkrais on the subject of arcareness. Considered one of the fathers of dynamic systems theory (he was tragically killed in rgzz), he created some of the first notions that biological systems were integrated through dynamics. Manv of Feldenkrais's later ideas stemmed from discussions he had with Katsir including reversibility, dynamic stabilitr', and the importance of entropy in the organization ofliving beings.


FALL 2007



Elizabeth Beringer is a lor-rg time Practitioner and the founding editor of this /ouriia1, n'hich she edited for eighteenyears. She lives and t'orks in San Diego, California with her husband at-rd daughter. Guy Claxton is Professor of Learning Sciences at the Graduate School of Education, Unilersitr of Bristol, UK. He has rvritten extensiteiv on Learning, psvchology and Buddhisim. His rnanv books ir-rclude: Hare Bratn, Tortoise Mind; I{ise Up: Learrting ro Ltt e the Leanting Life; TheWayward trIind, -\rt Inritnate Histort of the Unconscious,

Carl Ginsburg, has been l ritir-rg about the Feldenkrais Method since the begin r-r i n g of his training rvith Moshe Feldenkrais (rsz;-;;) in San Francisco. ir-r his incarnation prior to his Felderi-krais career l-re taught chemistry at the college ler"el. In addition to his manyrvritings he also edited Feldenkrais s book, 7fte -Ifaster Moues, and wrote a book of short srories, Jledicine Journeys.He currenth- 1i\-es in Germanv.

Dennis Leri liles in San Rafael, California

II.A. trained rvith Moshe Feldenkrais in San Francisco, Tel Aviv, and Amherst (r9zs-rgBr). Roger Russell,

a physical therapist, movement scientist and Educational Director of the Feldenkrais Zentrum Heidelberg, in Germany. From r995 until zoo5 he coordinated the Internationai Trainer and Assistant Trainer Academy (rrara). He is engaged in bringing the Feldenkrais and scientific communities together for fruitful exchange including the Seattle zoo+ svrnposium, "Movement and the Development of Sense of Self," and the upcoming svmposiurn in Boulder, Colorado in ]ul-y zooB, "Exploring Human Development."

He is


Keith Wilson received his BA and N{A fronr UC Berkeley and was an Adjunct Professor at the California College of Art in the Architectural Program. After z5 years of Architecture he 1-ras Ieft active practice and is concentrating on watercolors inspired by vernacular structures, public spaces, and landscapes inspired by Chinese brush paintings. A selection ofhis architecturai rvatercolors can be viewed at wr,r,w.I(



Gay Sweet Scott

Editorial Advisor:

Elizabeth Beringer

Editorial Assistant:

Elaine Yoder

Editorial Board:

Connie Butler, Isabel Ginot, Carl Ginsburg, Pati Holman, Carol Kress, Margaret Mayo, Dolores Ransom, Steve Rosenholtz, Gav Sweet Scott


Margery Cantor

Proofreading a copyediting:


Cover & interior art:

Keith Wilson



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