Moshe Feldenkrais’s Work with Movement – A Parallel Approach to Milton Erickson’s Hypnotherapy

By Mark Reese

The work of Moshe Feldenkrais and Milton Erickson epitomizes mastery of the facilitation of human learning. On the surface their approaches are dissimilar: Feldenkrais works primarily in the physical domain of touch and movement, while Erickson worked primarily in the symbolic domain of image and language. Nevertheless, there are striking parallels in their philosophical emphasis on human individuality, the importance of learning, and the role of unconscious processes. Even more remarkable are the similar innovations of utilization, indirect techniques, and pattern interruptions that each employs with a subtlety which defies verbal description and strains the powers of observation. Those who are familiar with Erickson’s work can discern many similar patterns of communication in the following Feldenkrais excerpt. In this workshop session, Feldenkrais had participants lie on the floor on their stomachs and do various slow, gentle movements related to childhood crawling. After a while, Feldenkrais asked the group to begin bending the fingers of the right hand “as in you’re going to make a fist”, and then to:

Undo it, as if you stopped thinking of the fist…That is the easiest movement we can do. It’s almost like moving the eyelid Close and open, as slowly, as comfortable, and as little as is nec- essary for you to feel that you’re actually flexing and stretching [pause]…We can do everything to our own comfort….You’ll find that in order to be able to do a thing comfortable, elegantly, and aesthetically right…we must do it with a minimum, of exertion, with the feeling of lightness, the feeling, the sensation of light- nests of lightness of the movement [pause]…You will see that the exists only when you flex it a little bit more and open it, but not completely. In order to make the hand completely flexed and completely open, you have to make a real effort, enough effort, but to flex it a little bit more and flex it a little bit less…gives you a sensation that it is easy, light [pause]…Now being easy light, will you please continue that movement…easy, light…so that the feeling of easy, light is actually connected…it will be…whether you want it or not…you can’t do it otherwise…Your entire motor cortex, the entire nervous system is now pervaded with that feeling, light, and you should know that in our motor cortex the hand occupies, nest to the lips, the largest area…so very slowly there will be a feeling of lightness permeating the entire musculature,…the entire self, making it…keep on doing it…and while you do that, while you feel it’s really light, you’ll find out the whole arm gets light and slowly you will feel the neck and the shoulder blade…over that…getting soft and nice and actually prepared to act without preparing itself. In other words, it’s getting ready for action and you will see when we get that, how quickly, how nicely, we will all be moving, doing the same thing independently, whether you have arthritis, whether you had an operation or not, you will still move infinitely better than you started [pause]…Don’t stop moving the right hand, flexing and …slowly, slowly see a remarkable sort of thing…If you keep on doing that movement, it will actually teach you…slowly, keep on moving the fingers gently and on top of that movement, lift you right shoulder and you will see that the gentleness of the movement, the skill of the movement permeates our entire being and therefore you will see that other things we do improve without doing them. You don’t have to exercise in order to improve. You only have to be your own self. (Feldenkrais, 1981b)

In this example, Feldenkrais utilizes a hand-grasping movement-an infantile reflex and embryological “growth action” (Blechschmidt, 1977) -in order to induce hypnotic-like learning. His students are placed in a situation where they learn from their own movements the means to achieve” comfort, elegance, and aesthetic satisfaction.” During the past 40 years Feldenkrais developed a somatopsychic discipline incorporating numerous effective techniques that in many essential respects complement and parallel the work of Erickson. Many of us in the Feldenkrais community are drawn to Erickson’s work because he so well conveyed certain implicit but unstated insights of Feldenkrais’s approach. Similarly, some Ericksonians have discovered in Feldenkrais’s work a subtle intelligence about nonverbal behavior, learning, and communication which makes Ericksonian skills more accessible.  To read more go to –  article link  

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One response to “Moshe Feldenkrais’s Work with Movement – A Parallel Approach to Milton Erickson’s Hypnotherapy

  1. Renee Lindstrom

    Reblogged this on Walk Victoria.

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