Embodied Life™ Newsletter Archive

All articles written by Russell Delman

Understanding the connection Between The Embodied Life™
and The Feldenkrais Method®

October, 2011

When Rabbi Mordechai's son Rabbi Noah took over after his death, the disciples noticed that he did many little things differently. When asked about this Rabbi Noah said, I do things just as my father did, he did not imitate and I do not imitate.

From Moshe I received many blessings for which I am eternally grateful, two of the most important are: commitment to the process of awareness and valuing my unique 'handwriting'.

Prior to meeting Moshe, I was devoted to a practice of Zen meditation. My initial insight "on the cushion" revolved around the central importance of being awake in the present moment. In addition, because Zen is above all an embodied practice, I saw how our embodiment could be a great ally in the process of awakening.

Early in my training, ATM's became a laboratory for exploring embodied presence. Before, during and after the training, I was also investigating present moment awareness (is there any other kind?) in the realm of feelings/emotions through Gestalt Therapy, various awareness practices and other approaches to somatic-based psychology.

My professional identity from 1975 onward has been as a Feldenkrais teacher and trainer. In addition, for about 15 years, I also have conducted retreats and seminars, which integrate meditation and "guided inquiry" (an original system for investigating thinking, feeling and communication patterns) with the teachings of Moshe. About six years ago, while in a time of deep self reflection, I investigated the question, "if I had 5 years left to live what would I do?". The clear and unmistakable answer was that I would devote myself to teaching the most direct and complete path to inner freedom that I could. This questioning led to the creation of "The Embodied Life" as a mentorship program in which I would guide people in the practices that have been of most importance to me.

For many years I have felt very grateful for the freedom and support that lives within the Feldenkrais community for growing our own styles of teaching. In spite of this, there are necessary limits to a collectively defined methodology. For example, it would not be appropriate to teach sitting meditation or to use practices focusing on thinking/feeling patterns that are not directly connected to FI or ATM. Because of this, I have decided not to start any new FPTP's and am now offering Embodied Life Mentorship Programs. These programs are organized around six week-long, residential meetings- two per year for three years. Each week is an intensive and often exhilarating exploration of awareness and the art of living.

Three Practices: Meditation, Guided Inquiry, Movement Lessons of Moshe Feldenkrais

All of these practices include the same inner attitude of curiosity, warm-heartedness, objectivity and respectfulness applied in slightly different ways.

The meditation we practice is a direct, bare-bones approach to experiencing our mind/body 'as-it-is'; this is the basis for being at home in ourselves. Beyond ideology, it directly addresses the questions: can I be at ease within my own self-created mental stories?; can I have a basic friendliness with my own mind? Rather than offering mantras, pictures or other forms of "distraction", we practice becoming friendly with the present moment.

Guided Inquiry includes a variety of awareness experiments based in the Focusing method of Eugene Gendlin. I have been developing these experiments for more than 30 years. Learning to bring a warm, caring, curious yet objective presence to our feelings/emotions/situations is transformative. Becoming skillful with both inner and outer communication is part of this study.

As you know, the movement lessons of Moshe Feldenkrais are perhaps the most neurologically sophisticated ways of transforming our motor patterns and self-image. In this program we focus in-depth on 5 essential embodied qualities: grounding, centering, breathing, lengthening (lightness) and contacting the world (spatial awareness). The lessons are specifically chosen to invite a softening of the infrastructure of our learned self-limiting identity.

Transformation and Integration
The integration of these modalities is profound and unique. Working with mental/emotional habits, while simultaneously exploring the underlying physical patterns- all from the same perspective- potentiates each approach exponentially. Finally, the power of a committed, compassionate group of people often from various countries doing these practices over a period of time creates an unexpected support for inner transformation.

"I believe we are in a historically brief transition period that heralds the emergence of the truly human man." (Moshe Feldenkrais, "Awareness Through Movement", p.48)

The Embodied Life™ is directly oriented toward Moshe's vision of the integrated human being in whom sensing, moving, feeling, and thinking function as a unified whole. Moshe predicted that this integration would be spontaneous when the movement patterns were no longer compulsive. When I shared with him my observation that while some people seem to generalize their learning from the movement lessons into other areas of their lives that many did not, he said, "it is the greatest disappointment of my life".

We are living in a time a great transformation and evolution of consciousness. I encourage those attracted to the ideas presented here to consider coming to an Embodied Life retreat.

Wishing us all many blessings and much joy on the path of awakening.

"In those moments when awareness succeeds in being at one with feeling, senses, movement and thought, the carriage will speed along on the right road. Then man can make discoveries, invent, create, innovate and 'know'. He grasps that his small world and the great world around are but one and that in this unity he is no longer alone." (Moshe Feldenkrais, "Awareness Through Movement", p.54)

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