Thank you for coming here to my blogspot. J Please let me start by saying that in order to become a Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner, one needs to complete a 4-year, Guild-approved, Feldenkrais Professional Training Program. This 1600 hours of course work, spread over 4 years, is necessary before a student or Practitioner-in-training finally “gets it”. In this light, let’s explore together what a Feldenkrais Practitioner does. …
Are you able to recognize an approaching acquaintance long before you can see his or her face? The way we move is an identifiable part of who we are.
We, as human beings, enjoy movement. We love to move. Babies love to move. They love to learn. It’s within the innate desire and curiosity of a child (and adult) to learn about themselves and their environment. They enjoy to learn how to, for instance, roll, turn, bend, walk, or run. It’s within our being the natural desire for rotation or rotating, flexing, extending, twisting or other kinds of movements.
Feldenkrais is about learning. It’s a way to learn. However, in order for someone to learn, it has to be fun and interesting to the individual, as well as comfortable. Thus, trying to, say, abruptly do a somersault or roll on the ground, or to strain by forcing your hands to touch your toes with locked knees, if this is uncomfortable, your Self (your body) is not learning.
Clients originally come to me because of an injury … a back or neck injury, joint pain in the shoulder, wrist, elbow, knee or other orthopedic problem.
As a Feldenkrais Practitioner, I do not directly go in with the intention to “fix” the other person or to even change the other person. However, I stay in tune with the “process”. I do the “process”. As part of the “process”, I am always staying observant, to be observant or aware, of the “process” that is happening or continues to occur between myself and the client before me. By me, as the Feldenkrais practitioner, being engaged in this “process”, this ultimately has wonderful therapeutic results, such as eliminating pain or improving the quality of life function, actions, or activities for the client.
As I am working with a client before me, the following are questions that continue to reverberate in my thinking as I am engaged in the process, or "working" in my relation to the client.:
“How can we ‘dance’ together? … How can we move together? … How do we move together? … What movement is it that we want to do together? What is it (from preventing us) from moving together? What do I put out? What energy do I put out? Where do they meet me? …”
“Where my hands currently are on this person, rather, from where I'm currently working, what else within this person moves? … How much of them goes along with this movement? Where along them does this movement stop? How can I ‘catch’ the rest of themselves within this movement? … Are we dancing together differently? …”
“As I push here, how much or how far does this movement or action trickle along them? …”
I may or may not get immediate answers, or, at least, no cognitive or articulate answers to my questions. This is very typical. As part of the process that I am engaged in, I continue to move or “dance” with the individual, or continue to see where I can dance or move with this person, continuing to re-circulate these kinds of questions.
A physical example of what I do would be the following. A client comes to me complaining of back pain. I ask the client to lie down on my table on their back with supporting rollers placed under their bent knees for further comfort. I am having them lie down in order to give their body the opportunity to be taken out of their habitual pattern of holding or tension while upright, in order to make them more comfortable, so that they can be more open to Learning.
Questions that begin to pervade my thinking as I am engaged with this person are.:
“What am I attracted to or drawn to within this person? … What catches my eye? … What ‘dance’ do I wish to do? What dance do we wish to do together? Where does this person want me to touch them? … to dance with them? … to move with them?”
Sometimes, I might be drawn to the shoulder area. Yes, the shoulder, even though the client complained of back pain. As I "work" the shoulder, I allow myself to stay aware and observant of where does this shoulder wish to move? Where does it want to go? How much of the rest of the person comes along with this movement of the shoulder?
Where within them, how can I "catch" the rest of their body within this movement? I may then move to another place that I am drawn to. I decide to lift their leg. As I lift, what else of this individual is connected to this movement? I continue to move and dance with the individual and allow myself to remain aware and observant of the process.
After a session, a client will sometimes say how she was surprised that I never touched her back but her "back pain" is gone now. Again, I don't "fix", or rather, I don't have the intention to fix. However, The Feldenkrais work, movement education work and awareness, brings therapeutic benefits. Thus, it ultimately brings helpful results or fixes.
Another word we Feldenkrais Practitioners use is to refer to this session with a client as a "Functional Integration" lesson. Note the word "functional". We are working with a person's functionality, or how they function, how they move or act. Feldenkrais is functional work. It is not structural work. We Feldenkrais practitioners don't have the direct intention to change or manipulate a person’s structure, albeit, their physical anatomy. This may happen ultimately, but it is not my direct intention. The functional work of Feldenkrais is unlike other structural workers such as, for instance, rolfers, who's intention is to manipulate or work the fascia structure of an individual, or the chiropractor, who manipulates or adjusts bone placement.
Every single Feldenkrais session, or "lesson", as we refer to them is different. Each session is customized to the individual. Each individual, each individual's body, his or her needs, is unique, just as each snowflake.
As a Feldenkrais practitioner, using my hands-on tactical feedback, I help to expand a client's kinesthetic, or bodily, awareness of themselves. By a person encompassing more of themselves, rather, a greater self-image, pain or discomfort is eliminated.Conclusively, I have given this individual the sensory-motor experience of moving easily, rather, what it is like to move effortlessly without strain or discomfort. Thus, they now have a better “organized” body for movement. Having a better organization, they are now pain-free. They have learned a new pattern for movement.
Some of the conditions I have successfully treated include:
Acute and chronic joint pain, arthritis, sciatica, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, as well as other orthopedic or neurological conditions.
As a keyboardist, as well as former all-state trumpet player and all-county cross-country runner, I especially enjoy working with musicians and athletes, for enlarging their body and self-awareness to enhance performance. I was previously honored to have presented Feldenkrais, twice, to the International Association of Fitness Professionals (IDEA) at their 1996 and 1997 World Fitness Expo & Conventions, as well as at the 1996 North American Feldenkrais Guild conference.
I completed, as required, 4 successive summers of study from 1991 through 1994 at Sarah Lawrence College in New York City, with the in-between times filled with curriculum activities for movement learning, to ultimately graduate from the Feldenkrais Professional Training Program in 1994, and have ever since greatly enjoyed my work as a Movement Education Therapist.
If you haven't already, you may be interested in viewing a short, 2-minute video of me (made within a full, 45-minute session) working with a client, by clicking on the link above.
Please feel free to contact me for any further questions you might have.
Your first Feldenkrais session:
Feldenkrais is a wonderful, body-centered method for self-exploration using movement. I recommend to my clients to wear loose, comfortable clothes. You will find that this special form of bodywork is very relaxing. In fact, you’ll probably find that as a result of the pleasant unwinding experienced, your body begins to slow down. Therefore, you may have a tendency to more easily feel cold during a session. For this reason, you probably do not want to wear shorts. Thus, I recommend you wear long pants. Some clients like to wear sweats.
Also, you may want to wear socks and possibly even a sweat shirt if you might need, otherwise, to avoid feeling cold.
After the session, you will be in a nice, calm, relaxed state. Some clients after receiving Feldenkrais work desire some quiet time afterward to be by themselves to be alone. This may be as little as 15 minutes, or substantially longer. After your session, your body is still continuing to nicely process the “lesson” for some time afterward. Therefore, you probably don’t want to do anything especially hectic or active, or any heavy lifting, after a session. Preferably, you may want to wait until the next day before doing anything especially active as your body continues to process. However, living in today’s fast times, within our fast, familial and societal obligatory world, this isn’t always possible. Therefore, I usually tell clients to at least not do anything especially active for at least 3 hours after a session.
Clients ask me about “working out”, or a “workout”, afterward. I tell them that it’s better if they work out before they see me, and then they have the nice, relaxing Feldenkrais session to look forward to afterward. This is more productive than the opposite, that is, to receive Feldenkrais work and then to immediately afterward go out and do a rigorous workout.
However, I should add that if you have decided for yourself that it is imperative that you work out, and there is no other time to schedule your workout than for after a Feldenkrais session, then, fine. Receiving Feldenkrais before working out and then working out afterward, … this is probably better for you than only solely working out and never receiving any Feldenkrais work at all.
Come on in and enjoy!
Dr. Lin Cheng Speer, LAc, OMD, PhD
James Speer, Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner®
1003 Wilshire Blvd. Suites #203, 208
Santa Monica, CA 90401
"Health Is All that Matters!"