Five levels of abstraction

„The meaning and value [of a Feldenkrais Functional Integration lesson] may have nothing to do with the improvement of movement, but with something much deeper, more powerful, and more important to the person.” – David Zemach-Bersin

Live classes

A teacher of Somatic Education provides an environment where everyone – including the teacher – can learn to be comfortable, explore and study without rushing towards defining processes, fixed explanations or to fix things rather than acknowledge and live in the process. With the process being all that is and that occurs in the time of a lesson.

Video recordings

I don’t know of any recording where Moshé Feldenkrais was teaching without speaking to a specific person directly. He alone on his own, solitary with a video camera or microphone – such probably never happened.

He seemed to always have at least half a dozen people around him, at least, either for support, or to learn from him, or to be with him in some sort of master-apprentice sort of way. 

Moshé Feldenkrais always seemed to teach in group settings, and therefore there were always group dynamics. And even though „Awareness Through Movement” classes were audio only spoken instructions, students in class would get plenty of visual cues – either from gestures of Moshé Feldenkrais himself, or by looking at fellow students. 

And as it is with visual information competing with auditory information, some spoken instructions probably have been skipped or omitted, and neither the camera nor the microphone could catch all the things going on in the room.

Audio recordings

While most sensory information like temperature, smell, air pressure, the energy of the room, moisture, and a good bit of visual information is lost even in video recordings, audio recordings still can capture a lot. You could probably reconstruct a fair bit of the mentioned sensory impressions just be deeply listening to, by immersing yourself in an audio recording.

In fact, as Fritz Perls and Audio Books are proof, audio is a powerful category on its own.

I just threw those two, Fritz Perls and Audio Books, randomly together. Yes, that just happened. The hour is getting late, and I already did 8+ hours of writing today, I’m letting my hair down. Not that I still have much, but you get the point.

Transcripts

Written text, the language of those not present. Lost in transcription. Things that don’t lend themselves easily to transcriptions, in alphabetical order:

  • Much of their quality of speaking (warm, cold, rushed, laboured, enthusiastic, bored, cheerful, encouraging, compassionate, …),
  • Much of their pacing and rhythm
  • Other things I can’t think of right now

Benefits and Unique Selling Proposition (also in alphabetical order):

  • Highlight-able,
  • Searchable,
  • Can be revised many times over before being published (the same could be said about blog posts /tongue-in-cheek)

Summaries

This is a good one, one of my masterpieces, could be a blog post on its own, bear with me. Here it comes: hardly anyone would summarise, for example, the Shoulder Circles lesson into something like this: 

„In this lesson you will learn that about thirty slow, light, and short movements with your left shoulder are sufficient to change the fundamental tonus of the muscles, which then will spread to the entire left half of the body. Thus the action becomes easy to perform and the movement becomes light.”
 inspired by the book ”Awareness Through Movement”, Lesson 3, by Moshé Feldenkrais

In short: people don’t talk like this because nobody will know what they’re talking about. That’s why people will summarise like this: 

„In this lesson you will be side-lying on your right side, and move your left shoulder forwards, backwards, up, down, make clockwise circles, and lastly counter-clockwise circles.”

Which totally destroys the marvellous, precious, valuable and real, first description… but at least people now know what they’re talking about. Teach people to google for the nitty-gritty, the important aspects and practical details. Or send them to buy some of my stuff. Me, Alfons, I also need to make a living.

And maybe descriptions are not summaries. Cheerio.