When I say slow, what do I mean?

This is an eLearning video. I demonstrate two very slow moves. Usually Feldenkrais movement sequences (the technical term is ATM or Awareness trough movement) are done way faster, and consist of probably at least three moves (primitive movement, differentiation, reference movement). Here each movement is to demonstrate what I mean when I say slow. I also explain why this is important.

Audio transcript:


Hi, that’s   me, Alfons, standing in front of the Botanical Garden in Taipei, Taiwan. I’m going to do a little movement exploration here, Feldenkrais style.

The movement I’m going to explore is to turn to look from the left to the right.

Now let’s go.


By now you will have noticed two things: for one, that I’m doing this amazingly slow. In class I often tell my students to do their movements slow, but they will continue going too fast. That’s because the slow I have in mind, is way slower than you would ever have thought. So here you have it: this is what I mean when I say slow.


audio clip insert


The second thing you will notice is that I sometimes wiggle my head a little bit, sometimes I check the tension in my eyes, my jaw, my neck and so forth. I’m not trying to execute this movement like a robot; that’s because I’m human with a heart. A to robots superior human being.

In order to be able to learn, we have to be comfortable and to move slow. Only then we are able to focus on breathing, on the heartbeat, on relaxation, on the many other parts of ourselves and how everything plays together. You see I often check if there is tension somewhere, or tightness, or effort.

I do this because effort is a signal that tells me that I am making a mistake, that there is something wrong. If a movement is done right, then there is no feeling of effort. Therefore I look for ways to make my life more easy, to find pathways that feel nicer, that feel smoother, that feel more pleasant.


[not used]


Let’s look at the same video but 3 times the speed:


Now I will introduce you to some of the most important concepts you will ever hear concerning personal  human development.


But first let me arrive at the floor. In order to lie down on the floor I must not only change my position, but also my posture. Here you can see, I breath in, I breath out, and gone is the muscular tension around the center of my body; gone is the tension I only need in standing. I change my posture to what is appropriate for what I want to do. The keyword here is “appropriate”. On the floor, I cannot fall. I don’t need to organise myself against gravitiy. Therefore I let go of tension patterns I only need while standing up straight.

Btw, if you go to bed at night and fail to adjust your posture, you will not be able to sleep. You will literally stand in bed all night.


Now what I’m doing here is the beginning of a very common lesson in Feldenkrais classes. It starts with crossing the right knee over the left knee, and then tilting the legs towards the floor on the right. Here you can see I already crossed my legs and they are poised over my left foot. Poised means they are balanced, balanced over my left foot. It doesn’t take me any effort to hold my legs in place.


What I’m looking for now, is how I can tilt my legs to the right. Of course I could use willpower and force them. But I don’t want that. I’m a human being, not a robot. I don’t need willpower.  I have my intent and now I’m just looking for an organic, clever and efficient way that is dear to myself.


One thing that comes to my mind is to elongate my left side, and shorten my right side.

Now that’s easy. I just need a tiny lateral pelvic tilt, that means I tilt my pelvis a tiny little bit up on the right side. And there I go. The rest is just me deeply enjoying a feeling of connection to myself.


So the key concepts here are quality of movement and switching of willpower. I have an intend, which is tilting the legs to the right. That’s enough. Now I just need to explore and learn. I don’t need to force it.

A simple movement, like tilting the legs over, should never involve any feelings of effort, pain or limitation. And it should never require willpower to overcome those. I don’t correct myself, I do not adjust myself. I simply look for better alternatives. If the movement feels bad, uneven or uneasy, I don’t try to change that. Instead, I explore more about my intended move, I look for ways that feel good, functional, smooth and pleasant.


Now there’s an important implication here. The more you practice in this way, the more you will be able to expand this to other movements. Eventually you can apply these concepts to all areas in your life.

# about why this movement

which movement is not important. important is how you move, the quality.

# about aging

people who don’t attend to their development lose their knowledge
they become worse and worse at the most simple things
until they can’t sit up and can’t go to the toilet anymore
they call it old age, when in truth it’s just a loss of function
a tragic neglect of self
however most people have a choice and could go the opposite way:
to improve, to learn, to explore


One last thing I want to tell you: this only works if you are not speaking to yourself or other people in your mind. That means, during this movement you cannot think about your work, food, past or future conversations, or about shopping or anything else that’s not directly related to what you are doing right now. The scientific term for speaking in your mind is subvocal speech. Can’t do that.


So that’s all for now. Probably will spare  you 20 years of meditation. Now let’s see this in fast forward, with 8 times the speed:

[knee tilting 800% speed + music]

time needed
for video recording: 15 minutes
for voice-over text writing: 12 hours
for video editing: 8 hours

share this video with anyone who is old enough, interested in human development, or practices meditation, mindfulness, awareness or needs peace and healing or simply wants to move better

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2 Responses to When I say slow, what do I mean?

  1. stephanie stone says:

    thank you for detailing what you do.

    i’m studying the Feldenkrais Method in melbourne, in my 3rd year. your words confirmed something someone indicated to me about the slight pelvic swivel (that’s what i call it) and when i did that, it was at least 90% easier. i’d been playing with
    this movement for ages and couldn’t figure out how to make it easier for myself.

    i really like your work, and it has helped me to approach my movements with more understanding and attention.

  2. enrique says:

    Thanks for this information.
    I was stuck in my sessions.
    Using will power and not testing diffrents ways to move.
    With this information now i feel the lessons are giving me more.

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