Welcome to TCF, Twin Cities Feldenkrais

Group and private Feldenkrais study with Nick Strauss-Klein

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

- Moshe Feldenkrais, D. Sci., 1904-1984


Notes, Announcements, & Updates from Nick and TCF

Pain, willpower, and skill

Moving Out of Pain starts Oct. 14

We all experience pain. It’s a natural and essential message from our nervous system, designed to keep us safe and tell us when we need to rest and heal. Sometimes it seems to take over our lives. Whether it’s brief or chronic, mild or severe, physical or emotional, research shows that it’s how we relate to our pain that makes the biggest difference in our ability to perceive the causes and make the changes we need to find relief.

Unfortunately we’ve all heard too much cultural programming: “Push through the pain.” “No pain, no gain.” “Good pain.” These point to a willpower-based response to pain, where our experience is denied and we try to “tough it out.”

Anyone who has struggled with pain for a long time knows meeting pain with an iron will is a dead end. A favorite teacher of mine once told me,
 “Willpower is what we use when we lack skill.”

So how can we relate to pain differently? How can we become more skillful in encountering our sensations–unpleasant and pleasant–and learn from them to guide our own healing and improvement?

Moshe Feldenkrais taught us that curiosity is the foundation of skill. Once we find a fascination with the details of what we sense, how we move, how we handle ourselves in the world, our natural curiosity nudges us to find our own solutions. New, less painful movement options become available. Using Feldenkrais’s ingenious movement lessons, we can restore our curiosity about ourselves, even when we start from a very painful or limited situation.

In a few weeks I’m offering my most comprehensive introduction/refresher course in the Feldenkrais Method, called Moving Out of Pain. This five-week, 90-minutes per session Tuesday evening class is focused closely on these principles of pain, willpower, curiosity, and skill. The class will use a textbook, and includes lecture and discussion, and beginner Feldenkrais lessons designed to be accessible for people with significant pain or movement limitations. Many lessons will be done in simple chair-seated positions.

I’ve gotten very enthusiastic feedback each time I teach this course. Here’s one example of a student’s process as she encountered Feldenkrais Method for the first time in my Moving Out of Pain course:

“Body movement awareness has been outside my consciousness–frankly, it has never occurred to me that I could engage in such an impactful and intimate relationship with my body–that is, to actually tune in to it, to observe how I move my body or how it moves me, or even consider that being conscious of body movements could be therapeutic, or that I could experiment with the movements and modify my habitual way of moving in the world.”

I’m pleased to be offering Moving Out of Pain at The Marsh, in the West Metro, for the first time. Please click here for full information. Feel free to be in touch by email or phone (612-412-8060) if you’re wondering if this course is appropriate for you.

Alan Questel on Balance

For my ongoing Tuesday morning JCC Awareness Through Movement class I’m studying Alan Questel’s recorded workshop called Balance as my primary source this session. You can drop-in any time. For class students and others interested in diving deeper, here is a link to an article by Alan, and here’s 6 minutes of audio with Alan discussing balance, from the introduction to this workshop, in free sample mp3 form. Both sources touch on many of the issues that we will in class, at least indirectly. The article is written for practitioners, so it’s a little “inside baseball,” but it talks about the issues, and how Feldenkrais Method problem solving is applied to balance concerns. It also seems to have never been edited. Alan is a fine thinker and teacher–I’m not sure why the article lacks some polish.

"Which comes first--the motor pattern or the feeling?"

Which comes first–the motor pattern or the feeling? [A “motor-pattern” is any neuromuscular organization of the self: an action, a tension, etc. A “feeling” as Moshe uses it here is an emotion.] The question has been the object of many famous theories. I stress the view that basically they form a single function. We cannot become conscious of a feeling before it is expressed by a motor mobilization and, therefore, there is no feeling so long as there is no body attitude.

-Moshe Feldenkrais, Embodied Wisdom, pg. 30

Feldenkrais Resources treated me with that succinct quote yesterday. Moshe was very good at making himself clear in a few words. He’s just often hard for us to hear because he was decades ahead of science in what he intuited about being human. His ideas chaff against our notion of having both a body and a mind (he might instead say that we are a self).

But science is catching up! Also yesterday (a great coincidence) a student in my Tuesday morning class put this Wall Street Journal article in my hands, which included this:

New research is also demonstrating links between body position and mood. It has long been known that depression can lead to a slumped posture. But new evidence suggests the reverse is also true—that slouching can spark negative emotions and thoughts.

The article is worth a quick read for its discussion of what our seated life is doing to our standing and active life. I think there are better ways to sit and to learn better posture than what’s presented in this article, but there’s some good info.

It’s great to see in the mainstream press the idea of our physical and emotional manifestation being one and the same!

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