Moshe Feldenkrais’ lines

Ironically, practicing the method established by Moshe Feldenkrais seems to be about bypassing words to attain greater understanding of how we do things. However, here are some lines he wrote:


My purpose is to allow people to move closer to actually being creatures of free choice, to genuinely reflect individual creativity and emotion, freeing the body of habitual tensions and wired-patterns of behaviour so that it may respond without inhibition to do what the person wants.

 The nervous system is enclosed in the body and comes into contact with the world outside it through the senses.

 The earlier the fault occurs, the more ingrained it appears, and is.

 The human brain is such as to make learning, or acquisition of new responses, a normal and suitable activity.

 In man there is no genetic inheritance of language, gait, or any other muscular activity; every group can make their own.

 The environment & individual experience thus play a much greater part in the formation of man than any other animal.

 Learning, in the most general sense, is acquiring new responses to stimuli.

 The bulk of stimuli arriving at the nervous system is from muscular activity constantly affected by gravity.

 One cannot learn to stand properly unless one can go down to the floor with ease –

 Not to use an organ or a function is not only difficult but generally disastrous.

 For good posture, the pelvis must do the hard work. The head must be free to move.

 No one has correct posture! – since no one knows what it is, actually.

 The whole nervous system, therefore, participates in every act.

 Abstract thinking is possible only in conjunction with a special configuration or pattern or state of the body.

 We forget in the process of learning, that the principles we learn are themselves ephemeral and not absolute.

 We seem to know so much, yet are unable to use our knowledge to live a fuller and more satisfying life.

 The complexity of our life and the complexity of our nervous system are one.

We cannot stop ourselves from thinking any more than from breathing.

 Thinking is assuredly a natural and properly human function.

 If there is anything at all in evolution theories, it is certain that complexity will go on increasing as time goes on.

 We do tolerate certain limitations, physical and mental, just because we do not know that they are amenable to our influence.

 I have no stereotyped technique to apply ready-made to everyone; this is against the principles of my theory.

 I can accelerate your learning by presenting the experience under the conditions in which the human brain learned in the first place.

 It is bad Judo to try for anything with such determination as not to be able to change your mind if necessary.

 Don’t you decide how to do the movement; let your nervous system decide. It has millions of years of experience.

 Do not be serious, eager, avoiding any wrong move. The kind of learning that goes with ATM is a source of pleasurable sensations . . .

 I contend that a brain could not think without motor functions.

 The delay between thought and action is the basis for awareness.

 Each individual has the choice to wire himself in a special way.

To be functionally well integrated means being able to do what the individual wants.

My way of looking at the mind & body involves a subtle method of ‘rewiring’ the structure of the entire human being

Homo sapiens arrive with a tremendous part of his nervous mass left unpatterned, unconnected

If you take a friendly girl who can dance & she likes you & wants you to dance, she takes you by her hand & suddenly you can dance.

No part of the body can be moved without all the others being affected.

Babies never write before they can walk properly.


‘Jogging’ is cardiovascular masturbation.


We are not really interested in the ‘what’… the what is really simple — but ‘how’?

How we do things. The difference is not so obvious because we usually mix ‘what’ and ‘how’ and we don’t make a very big difference between the two.

But it’s not important what you paint. You can paint flowers, you can paint the sea, you can paint a forest, you can paint trees, you can paint a chair, you can paint a figure, you can paint a face, you can paint imaginary things — you can paint abstract — therefore, nobody has ever been judged whether he is a good painter after what he paints. It’s only HOW he paints.

Same thing in an author… writing. You don’t judge somebody because he writes a story about England or about America or about a woman or about a dog or about somebody fishing a shark in the sea. It’s about how you write it that’s important, not what.

Same thing here. We are not interested in what you do. The what issued only to improve your judgment, your sensitivity, your ability to perform what you want.


Find your true weakness and surrender to it. Therein lies the path to genius. Most people spend their lives using their strengths to overcome or cover up their weaknesses. Those few who use their strengths to incorporate their weaknesses, who don’t divide themselves, those people are very rare. In any generation there are a few and they lead their generation.

Habit formation is a terrible nuisance when not in the context in which they were formed


I have tried to write only what is necessary for you to understand how my techniques work. I have deliberately avoided answering the whys. I know how to live and how to use electricity, but I encounter enormous difficulties if I attempt to answer why I live and why there is electricity. In interpersonal affairs why and how are not so sharply divided and are used indiscriminately. In science, we really only know how.

Recognizing our insignificance, the unimportance of what we think, do, or cannot do, we find ourselves in full mastery of ourselves to the potential limit of our ability. That sort of unstable equilibrium that is abandoned in each action and recovered for the next is the essence of human maturity

The aim [of the Feldenkrais Method] is a person that is organized to move with minimum effort and maximum efficiency, not through muscular strength, but through increased consciousness of how movement works

When thinking in words, even subliminally, we are logical and think in familiar patterns, in categories that we have thought, dreamed, read, heard, or said sometime before. Learning to think in patterns of relationships, in sensations divorced from the fixity of words, allows us to find hidden resources and the ability to make new patterns, to carry over patterns of relationship from one discipline to another. In short, we think personally, originally, and thus take another route to the thing we already know.

The object of education should be to eliminate these compulsive states and to help the person to acquire the ability for potent action; that is to be able to control the body excitations and act as if in the case of spontaneous action

You can do that much better than me if you eliminate the parasitic movements that you enact because you want to succeed. Make your own mistakes and keep on doing it and pay attention to the little things you become aware of.

…I begin by asking people to lie on their backs (after the same principle of reducing gravity) and learn to scan themselves. That is, they examine attentively the contact of their bodies with the floor and gradually learn to detect considerable differences – points where the contact is feeble or non-existent and others where it is full and distinct. This training develops awareness of the location of muscles producing weak contact through permanent excessive tension, thus holding parts of the body up off the floor. Some improvement in tension reduction can be achieved through muscular awareness alone, but beyond that no improvement will be carried over into normal live unless people increase their awareness of the skeleton and its orientation…

Our breathing reflects every emotional or physical effort and every disturbance.

In order to change our mode of action, we must change the image of ourselves that we carry within us

What you truly learn best will appear to you later as your own discovery

We have more experience of movement and more capacity for it than of feeling and thought… We know much more about movement than we do about anger, love, envy or even thought. It is relatively easy to learn to recognize the quality of movement than the quality of other factors

People confound, misuse, interchange thinking and speaking, not realizing that speaking is for communication and thinking is for action…

Ultimately, we become aware of most of what is going on within us mainly through the muscles

There are multiple descriptions of the same real world situation. The only justification for language is to empower yourself. If the verbal description you create of the situation you find yourself in leads to paralysis and ineffectual behaviour, then throw those damn words away and find yourself a new set. There is always some useful description of the world that empowers and gives you choices and your task, if you are going to use words at all, is to find that set of words.

In order to recognize small changes in effort, the effort itself must first be reduced. More delicate and improved control of movement is possible only through the increase of sensitivity, through a greater ability to sense differences.

To produce the mental ease necessary for the reduction of useless efforts, the group is repeatedly encouraged to learn to do a little less well than is possible when trying hard to be less fast, less vigorous, less graceful, etc. They are often asked to do the utmost and then deliberately to do a little less. This is more important than it might seem. For if enabled to feel progress while not tensing, pupils have the sensation of being able to do better, which induces more progress. Achievements that otherwise may need numerous hours of work can be obtained in twenty minutes with this attitude of mind and body.

Learning to inhibit unwanted contractions of muscles that function without, or in spite of, our will, is the main task in coordinated action.

My purpose is to allow people to move closer to actually being creatures of free choice, to genuinely reflect individual creativity and emotion, freeing the body of habitual tensions and wired-patterns of behaviour so that it may respond without inhibition to do what the person wants.