Mind In Motion

A revolutionary approach to optimizing human ability when faced with pain, neurological disability, or the challenges of every day life.

The Pattern Makes the Problem

In the early 1990s, Mind in Motion published a newsletter twice a year. Each issue featured a case study or editorial and map displaying where I’d be teaching in the coming months. Here’s one of those pieces, one about patterns, limits, and learning:

“I exercise and I stay in shape.” Casey says, “I can’t figure out what’s wrong. My back never bothered me before, but I guess everybody says that.”

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Incompetent, irrelevant & immaterial

During the worst days after surgery, I wasn’t up for doing much of anything, not even reading. I could muster enough energy and focus to watch TV. I was pleased to discover that Amazon Prime had the first five seasons — over 200 episodes! — of the classic Perry Mason series available for my viewing pleasure. This show was comfort TV for me when I was sick and had to stay from school.

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From the vault, Part II

While digging into the vault of workshops that I’ve taught and recorded to decide what to release Black Friday this year, I also found the boxed collection of cassette recordings of a workshop about developmental learning. I taught this course, Foundations of Learning, to interested parents, teachers, therapists, and pediatricians in Innsbruck, Austria in 1993.

This workshop brought together my practice working with infants, toddlers, and older children in private practice with what I knew about systems theory and what I’d been learning in my graduate Kinesiology program. Listening to it after all these years, I was struck by how I’d used developmental movement as an example of thinking systemically . . . 

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The twins

Nearly eighteen years ago, Marcia Margolin, a fellow Feldenkrais® teacher here in Santa Cruz, asked me if I’d be interested in seeing two identical twin infant boys. She didn’t work with children and knew that I did. 

The boys were born prematurely and, at six months old, had no self-generated movement. Neither of them could grasp, reach, feed themselves, or roll from one side to another. One of the boys had little muscle tone, kind of like Raggedy Andy, and the other had so much that he was like the Tin Man. 

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She’s ain’t just clowning around

Back in the early nineties, when I was engaged as an assistant trainer at the Delman/Questel Feldenkrais® teacher training at Sarah Lawrence College, one of the trainers was talking about what it means to conduct oneself in a professional manner. Going over the basics such as appropriate attire and personal hygiene, the teacher was belaboring some of the details. After a while, one of the trainees jumped up, exclaiming, “Okay, okay, it’s me, isn’t it. Just tell me it’s me. Do I have bad breath? Bad body odor?”

More than twenty years later, I still remember that moment and the trainee: Lavinia Plonka. Lavinia was a mime and professional clown whose timing couldn’t have been better. She’s had an admirable career as a performer including nine years as an artist in residence for the Guggenheim Museum. Combining her theatre background and Feldenkrais® skills, she’s served as a movement consultant for television and theater companies from the Irish National Folk Theater to the Nickelodeon TV channel.

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Turning on a dime

Once I received a diagnosis of stage two HPV-related Squamous Cell Tonsil Cancer, all the docs on my treatment agreed that treatment should start immediately. 

Michael Yen, the hematologist/oncologist coordinating my cancer care, came up with a plan the entire treatment team deemed medically sound and that also allowed me to keep my promise to the trainees in my Dutch Feldenkrais® teacher training. I was to start chemotherapy and then go to Holland to teach the first week of the final segment of the Amsterdam V training. I’d return home to teach the second week remotely, via the Internet, and get started on seven weeks of radiation five times a week and chemo once a week.

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From the vault

For Black Friday 2019, we dug back into the vault of workshops that I’ve taught and recorded over the years to come up with two gems that had, up until now, only been available on a very limited basis.

Back in August 2012, the Australian Feldenkrais® Guild sponsored two sold out public workshops in Sydney over the course of a weekend. Each one was an introduction to the method and what it has to offer. The workshops built on classic Awareness Through Movement® lessons, expanding on them and demonstrating how Moshe’s method addresses contemporary concerns and interests.

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The candle holder, aka Alexander Yanai 18

For all the bother about email, one aspect of this means of communicating that I love is how easy it has become for students to interact with the teacher. Along with exchanging text messages/SMS and interacting via each course’s MIM online forum, following up on a student’s questions no longer has to wait until the next class session anymore. Whether it’s the student who is struggling with a question or someone who needs time to reflect on their experience before they have any questions, these modes of interacting keep the conversation alive and allow for a personal, dyadic dialogue. 

After one such recent exchange, one student wrote to say, 

Thanks, Larry that really clarified my understanding tremendously. I was a bit flummoxed by the constraints I asked you about. I have a long way to go but I’m progressing slowly but surely. It’s like learning a new language in some ways.  Your approach to unlocking and deconstructing the lesson has been wonderfully helpful in deciphering the lessons, so I feel more competent to teach them.  

Thinking you might be curious about what she’s referring to, I asked my colleague for her permission to share our dialogue and she graciously gave her blessing.

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What number is that?

These days, after I finish teaching an Awareness Through Movement® class at a Feldenkrais® Teacher Training program, it’s not uncommon for one of the participants to ask, 

“What number is that?”

The question would seem out of the blue if I didn’t know that the asker was curious about which of the 550 published transcripts was the source of what I’d just taught. Because these transcripts chronicle the public classes Moshe Feldenkrais taught on Alexandar Yanai Street in Tel Aviv from the 1950s through the 1970s, we refer to them as the AY lessons. They are the largest, most wide-ranging, and comprehensive collection of MF’s incredible creativity and ingenuity.

The AY numbers have become part of the professional parlance, aka jargon, of contemporary Feldenkrais teachers and practitioners. For instance, referring to the next lesson I’ll be posting here, CHANUKIA, THE CANDLE HOLDER, as AY 18 means that you’re “in the know.”

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How long does it take to change?

Learning any new skill set — along with developing the essential framework needed to understand and implement it — is an incremental process. It takes us time to figure out what to observe, how to understand it, and what to do about, or with, it. So often we are held back by what we’ve already learned, struggling to make changes, and leaving us to wrestle mightily with our unconscious, self-imposed, habitual ways of doing and noticing. 

The thing is that though the lead up may be long, so often change comes in an instant. Love walks around the corner; a book, question, or comment shifts your perspective; something impossible to do becomes possible and easy; or news arrives in a seemingly ordinary sentence, one word following another.

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