Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Moshé Feldenkreis, fully Moshé Pinchas Feldenkrais

Russian-born Israeli Physicist and founder of the Feldenkrais Method for effective neuro-muscular re-education

"When you know what you're doing you can do what you want."

"What I understand by maturity, is the capacity of theindividual to break up total situations of previous experience into parts, to reform them into a pattern most suitable to the present circumstance, i.e., the conscious control effectively becomes the over-riding servo-mechanism of the nervous system."

"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."

"I believe that the unity of mind and body is an objective reality. They are not just parts somehow related to each other, but an inseparable whole while functioning. A brain without a body could not think."

"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."

"What I’m after isn’t flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I’m after is to restore each person to their human dignity. "

"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."

"Movement is life. Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself."

"No matter how closely we look, it is difficult to find a mental act that can take place without the support of some physical function."

"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."

"An immense field for inquiry is opened once the organic ties of social orientation are followed up into muscle, nerve and skeleton. Not only individual development or abnormality can be followed through the soma but ever wider cultural and racial attitude development."

"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."

"A human being is like a computer that is capable of thousands of things. But we put in a card that only lets it do one thing. Until you change the card, that is all the computer will do: that one thing, over and over and over. That is the state in which we function and we believe that no other cards exist, that this card is the one and only card that we can function upon. I say that the difference between human beings and machines is that we make the cards. So, when one card doesn´t work, take it out and put in a new card."

"I can restructure your mind and all your habits; of thinking, talking – restructure for your sake, not for mine – not that I will teach you that it is right or wrong but to do something to help you to feel more yourself and actually give you the kind of person that you have always dreamt to be."

"Health is measured not by the capacity to stay standing but by the ability to be knocked down and then return to standing."

"If the head is not organized, the rest of the body will not be fully functional."

"Each one of us speaks, moves, thinks and feels in a different way, each according to the image of himself that he has built up over the years. In order to change our mode of action, we must change the image of ourselves that we carry within us."

"Make your training a habit. If you choose a convenient time, you will be able to abide by regular exercises. If you make it difficult, you will soon find a-hundred-and-one alternatives instead. Occasionally break the regularity. Do not make your habit a compulsion."

"Learning that is not conducted through a new way of action is not learning."

"In order to arrive at the right movement, it is first necessary to think of a better movement rather than the right, the right movement has no future development, the latter can be improved – the right remains the limit forever."

"Most people spend their whole lives using their strengths to cover up and hide their weaknesses said Feldenkrais. But if you surrender to your weakness theirein lies your pathway to genius."

"My way of looking at the mind and the body, if you want to understand it is to help make that structure of the entire human being to be well-integrated, functionally well-integrated. To make that change you have to rewire the mind in a special way. The way we do things now is completely futile. It makes everybody alienated from themselves."

"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-patters of behaviour so that it may respond without inhibition to do what the person wants."

"Our intelligence depends upon the opportunity we take to experience and learn on our own. This self learning leads to full, dynamic living."

"The psychological phenomenon of fear and anxiety is grounded in the unconditioned reflex fear of falling."

"The aim is a body that is organized to move with minimum effort and maximum efficiency, not through muscular strength but increased consciousness of how it works."

"Ordinarily, we learn just enough to function. But our ability to function with a greater range of ease and skill remains to be developed."

"Training a body to perfect all the possible forms and configurations of its members not only changes the strength and flexibility of the skeleton and muscles but makes a profound change in the self-image and quality of direction of the self."

"Trust yourself to work out what is right for you."

"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."

"Until you know what you are doing you cannot do what you want. Whether you do it right or not, until you know what you´re doing you are not right."

"Through awareness we can learn to move with astonishing lightness and freedom-at almost any age-and thereby improve our living circumstances, not only physically...but emotionally, intellectually and spiritually."

"You can, at any time of your life, provided I can convince you that there is nothing permanent and compulsive in your system except your belief that it is so, re-learn anything that you would like."

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

"Nothing is permanent about our behavior patterns except our belief that they are so."

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

"Functional Integration turns to the oldest elements of our sensory system- touch, the feelings of pull and pressure, the warmth of the hand, its caressing stroke. The person becomes absorbed in sensing the diminishing muscular tonus, the deepening and the regularity of breathing, abdominal ease, and improved circulation in the expanding skin. The person senses his most primitive, consciously forgotten patterns and recalls the well-being of a growing young child."

"You will note that when you push a movement beyond the point where it is easy, then those parts of the body that are involved in that extreme effort will feel much shorter than they actually are. We will do that intentionally and you will see that if you are asked to do something which you really can’t do, let us say with the leg, then the leg feels as short as a baby’s leg. Close your eyes and see where it is, how long it is, and you will see that it feels like a small part of what it really is."

"Self-knowledge through awareness is the goal of reeducation. As we become aware of what we are doing in fact, and not what we say or think we are doing, the way to improvement is wide open to us."

"If you want to be yourself as you dream, you have to take out the rubbish that you learned which is not yours."

"Make the impossible possible, the possible easy, the easy elegant."

"Learning is the gift of life. A special kind of learning: that of knowing oneself. (People) learn to know ´how´ they are acting and thus are able to do ´what´ they want – the intense living of their unavowed and sometimes declared dreams. "