Moshe Feldenkrais

Articles

Why Cranio-Sacral Treatment? by Arnie Lade

Did Mother Nature make a mistake when designing the bones of your head? Some anatomists might have you think so, such as when they state that the bones of your head are not meant to move! That’s what I was taught in my anatomy class back in the early 1970s (along with such defunct ideas such as that brain tissues cannot regenerate, and that consciousness is strictly located in the brain).

I too accepted the belief of the immobility of the cranial bones in the early days of practice until experience taught me otherwise. I first heard about an innovative therapy focusing on the cranial bones being done by osteopathic doctors in the United States in the early 1980s. I became intrigued, and so I bought a newly minted book called Cranio-Sacral Therapy by John Upledger. This book was certainly interesting to read, but it seemed nearly impossible for me to comprehend and apply without practical instruction.

As fate would have it, I was in Chengdu, China a short time later doing some advanced acupuncture studies when I heard about an interesting Osteopath from Seattle who had recently given a short course on Cranio-Sacral manipulation to my Chinese teachers at the college. And that’s how I was introduced to my Cranio-Sacral teacher, Dan Bensky DO, in 1985.

I found that osteopathic anatomy embraced the notion that the skull is mobile – that nature makes all things for a reason – even though we just might have to dig deeper sometimes to understand it’s reason.

In simple language inherent mobility of the skull means that the bones are designed to move, and that’s why we have cranial sutures. If there were no need for movement we would surely have only one skull bone not 22. Sutures are spaces between bones, the human equivalent to the earth’s fault lines that separate larger plates of the earth. And sutures are not empty spaces, they are richly filled with connective tissue, blood and nerves. They move in relation to the internal forces within in the skull. The cranial bones also allow for absorption of outside forces that you may encounter whether it be a bump, a fall or blow to the head or the tremendous compressive forces of birth.

Indeed nature loves movement in all forms. In our bodies there are many subtle rhythms constantly working to keep the entire organism going. Breathing and heartbeat come easily to mind. Then of course there is digestion, muscular activity, nerve firings, urinary production, lymphatic movement and so forth.

Another even lesser-known movement is also occurring inside your nervous system! The brain itself has it’s own perceptible inherent motion, and so does the surrounding cerebrospinal fluid. These two movements emanating from the brain and it’s surrounding fluids create a reciprocal wave like motion throughout the bones of your head and spinal cord all the way to your tailbone. This movement is called the cranial rhythmic impulse: a quiet, profound rhythm which I learned to feel more than 25 years ago in my first Cranio-Sacral training.

We all know that we are each unique and that our health fluctuates over time, and that the effects of illness and injury can stay with us far longer than we would wish. This past and present state of our wellbeing is very much reflected in how our body moves and functions. This too can be assessed via the cranial rhythmic impulse.

As a therapist I learned to appreciate both normal and abnormal functioning within the Cranio-Sacral system. I learned to sense the effects of trauma and tension, and how these can distort healthy functioning. How trauma changes our structure over time, and how we accommodate to illness and patterns of strain and dysfunction. How the brain and nervous system can also distort itself, and function below it’s capacity. Problems may arise after injury or trauma that only show up with time. I’m think of both infant and adult where birth trauma leads to learning impairment or the seemingly slight head injuries of an adult in time give way to sleepiness or headaches.

For example, I had a mother come with her infant son a few years ago, referred by their midwife. He was just a couple of days old, and he could only nurse when lying on his left side. Lying on the right side, he had no ability to suck! On examining his little skull bones it was obvious that the right occipital and temporal bones were still overlapping after the normal compression during birth. For some reason his bones had failed to decompress and spread. Also the occipital bone was not aligned properly. With gentle coaxing I was able to free the bones and reposition them then and there, and immediately he was able to suck normally on both sides to the great relief of his mother!

Of course, injuries do not always lead to such dramatic dysfunction. We as human beings have a marvelous self-healing and self-corrective capacity, but not in every case. And those are the ones that I see at my office.

This leads to the primary purpose of Cranio-Sacral Manipulation, which is to restore normal functioning to this system. Through touch and gentle manual manipulation of the bones and tissues the system is gently guided towards an optimal state of functioning, so that the brain and nervous system can flourish. This leads to a renewal of vitality and functioning in the entire self. People often tell me of greater ease of movement, feeling more rested and alive, of better thinking and feeling.


Feldenkrais Method and Recovery from Addiction by Marylyn Horsman, MA, Feldenkrais Practitioner

A pattern of self-abuse is often ingrained in substance abuse. The Feldenkrais Method helps let go of many self-abusive patterns that often continue long after one has quit the substance abuse. In my own experience, I have done many years of 12-step recovery work, which helped me immensely, but the Feldenkrais work contributed extensively to my personal transformation and behavioral health. I am not suggesting that the Feldenkrais method should replace the 12-step recovery process but I do think it is very complimentary as a powerful nonverbal means of communicating self-awareness. The method works on a deep sensory level bypassing the intellect to deliver information directly to the nervous system. In a very non-intrusive and non-offensive way Feldenkrais Method first helps us become aware of how we are in the world and then offers alternative ways to be in the world through movement.

My own experience of these kinds of patterns ranged from obvious behaviours like verbally or mentally berating myself for the simplest mistakes like making a wrong turn while driving, to a habit of ignoring my body’s signals of fatigue and driving myself to the point of pain or exhaustion, to more subtle patterns of choosing relationships with people who were really not capable of supporting or loving me in healthy ways.

Self-abusive patterns are addressed through an underlying message of gentleness that is articulated in both Functional Integration (FI) lessons and Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lessons. Students in ATM lessons are told to move slowly, with less effort to gain more ease. They are taught to try less and rest often, not to use effort and strain, thereby being gentle with themselves. In Functional Integration a practitioner gives a lesson by way of very gentle small movement to allow the student to sense and feel themselves and their own patterns of movements. This is a missing link for many – to slow oneself down, to allow oneself to feel and sense – interrupting a long-standing pattern of ignoring one’s own inner cues. This is the beginning of a new ability to be present, and new behaviour can arise from this kind of awareness. The Feldenkrais Method has taught me self-acceptance in the whole of my being as well as ways to love and honor myself at a deep level.

I recently listened to a talk by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais where he expresses how difficult it is to let go of bad habits or patterns - but we can if we become aware of them and are able to observe them without judgment or emotion. For me it was important to receive information in ways other than though the intellect because often my rational thinking interferes with my ability to change. Feldenkrais Method helped me to let go and change patterns by delivering messages directly to my brain and nervous system through paying attention to myself in very subtle gentle movements. So my nervous system was able to reorganize and let go of patterns without interference from my thinking, as often my intellect tends to provoke emotional judgments.

Moshe said change will not stay unless we are able change our view of ourselves in the world. Here lies, I think, the key to personal transformation and behavioral health in people suffering from substance abuse. Alcoholics and addicts often hang on to certain images of themselves associated with their substance abuse long after they have quit the substance abuse because they do not know any other alternative ways of being in the world. Acting out of the old self-image, they repeat habitual self-abusive patterns. As the Feldenkrais method brings about changes in the motor cortex the old self-image changes, and the old behaviours and patterns that were attached to that former image are more easily let go of as well. It is in letting go of these images of ourselves that we are able to experience true personal transformation.


Therapy Versus Learning by Diane Lade

Therapy and learning encompass differing yet complementary roles. Learning can be an extension of therapy and can take us to the next level of healing from physical difficulties. Learning with the Feldenkrais Method allows us to reclaim our self-healing ability, and becomes a resource for profound physical and mental change. Let’s address some of the issues involved with the limitations of therapy and when learning comes into play.

One of our roles is to receive clients in distress. “I’ve hurt myself.”, “I don’t know what I did but…”, “I need you to fix me up.” Therapy begins with a problem that has become serious enough to interfere with normal function. It moves forward with the hope that the problem can be fixed, and if successful, it results in a return to normal function. For the one in need of therapy, attention is usually focused on the unpleasant symptoms.

You might know the situation in which you injured yourself, but not be able to pinpoint the exact insult that caused harm. Even in the case of an obvious insult like a whiplash injury, you still don’t know what is maintaining the pain or the difficulty, long after the tissue has healed. If the therapist doesn’t know either, then you end up trying different techniques ‘shotgun’ style, moving through different therapies, or many therapies at once, still seeking that resolution.

Learning presents a different orientation. Certainly, most of us are still motivated most directly by pain. Loss of function and an activity you love may be another strong motivator. The question that guides our inquiry is, “HOW?” How did I hurt myself moving that planter? How do I repeatedly injure my shoulder? My knee? Is there anything I could do differently that would give me a different outcome when I vacuum, for example?

The results of an inquiry like this may be surprising and unexpected. Very often pain is diminished or resolved along with a general improvement in function. But the impact of the discoveries made along the way has wider-reaching effects than one can anticipate. For example, more than a few clients have discovered for themselves that their attitude of overriding their own internal cues is the main thing that keeps getting them into trouble. They ”knew” they shouldn’t have shoveled that driveway. Training in paying more careful attention, noticing strain before it becomes injury, allows them to move more safely through everyday tasks. Working with mental attitudes like impatience, or with myriad emotions that arise that they’d rather sweep aside- for example shame about needing to ask for help… all this awareness can lead to new kinds of freedom, and a gentler, more comfortable life.

For us learning fanatics, returning to ‘normal’ may be a dubious goal. For most of us, normal function is mediocre at best. I have met a surprising number of Feldenkrais students who claim without reservation, that they are much better in every way, than they were before their difficulty arose. How can this be? And even in the face of progressive disease such as Multiple Sclerosis, or devastating accidents involving head injury? Improving general function, they find themselves thinking better, moving more easily, and knowing themselves more thoroughly than ever before. One can continue to improve, even as age progresses, and disease processes continue. Continuing to learn is the key to maintaining the best quality of life imaginable.

Therapy has an important role when things go wrong for us, and we are grateful for so many resources in that realm. If it succeeds, whatever type of therapy it is, it triggers our innate healing response, which failed to resolve the healing in the first instance, to a happy conclusion. This innate response is involuntary; as such, one is dependant on the therapy/therapist to provide the nudging our system needs. We need these external experts.

However, there is a huge realm of experience in which we can become our own expert. We can regain the confidence to trust our own experience and sensation.

Should I choose the memory foam mattress, or the very firm? Which is better for my back? There are many opinions; how can you know, for yourself, which is truly better for you? In the Feldenkrais Method, you practice recovering your ability to sense, to differentiate, to know and to decide for yourself based on your experience, not an external authority. This is empowerment; it enhances independence, and leads to informed decision-making.

Yes, sometimes learning happens in or as a result of therapy, and indeed in many life situations. But to make it a deliberate study, is very powerful; it can restore choice in our lives. As Dr. Feldenkrais said “When you know what you’re doing, you can do what you want”. This way of attending to yourself becomes a resource for living the life you want. - by Diane Lade


Part 2: Awareness Through Movement an extract from Awakening Your Inner Healer by Arnie Lade a forthcoming eBook

We naturally have different abilities and requirements for movement in our lives. The way we move reflects our physical structure, culture, environment, education and personal history. Indeed, movement is an essential part of our individuality. It’s our silent signature, revealing who we are – in every move we make. We may move with pain or comfortably, with effort or effortlessly, with agility or stiffly, with elegance or awkwardly. But one thing is certain: move we must.

This section includes lessons that explore a variety of simple movement patterns designed to facilitate awareness of, and change within, your present movement abilities. My intention is not to prescribe what is correct movement. Rather, I wish to help you awaken your ability to move freely. As you explore (or learn), you will discover satisfying new ways of functioning that will enrich your life.

All of the following movement lessons are based upon the principles and methods of Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984), an Israeli pioneer in the application of movement in learning. Dr. Feldenkrais was a distinguished scientist in the fields of physics and engineering, as well as a recognized master in Judo. Using his knowledge of Eastern martial arts and his Western scientific understanding, he developed a unique form of movement-based learning, in a field now known as Somatic Education.

Feldenkrais’s own body was his principal laboratory, while his own injuries were the catalyst in his search for well-being. He also studied the knowledge then available in medicine, psychology, martial arts, yoga and the movement arts. Over time, Feldenkrais developed a hands-on method, using movement to help others lead improved lives. In the 1950s, after years of research, self‑inquiry, and working with others, he started to teach verbally directed movement classes in Tel Aviv. Feldenkrais eventually referred to these classes as Awareness Through Movement lessons to emphasize their learning and transformative nature.

The Feldenkrais method essentially uses movement to increase awareness and facilitate learning. The method helps free us from our compulsion to follow established patterns of action in the world. Those habituated patterns are reflected in our movement and behavior. Through this work you can learn to move more comfortably and in a more satisfying way, and to change behavioral patterns that are no longer needed. You can learn to improve everyday activities, such as walking, sitting, playing a sport, writing or working at a computer. You can also use this approach to enhance already refined abilities, such as dancing, singing or playing an instrument.

This is the unique beauty of the Feldenkrais method.

If you wish to read more please click here.


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The Origins of Acupuncture - presented at the Healthy Living Expo 1999 by Arnie Lade

Today I'm going to talk a little bit about some material from my new book, Energetic Healing: Embracing the Life Force by Lotus press. Specifically I would like to address the issue of how acupuncture arose and the uniqueness of the system that was developed in China.

Acupuncture is an ancient system of healing that probably most of you identify with Chinese medicine or culture. Indeed it's been around for a long time in Asia, and China in particular. As far as we know acupuncture has existed for about three-and-a-half thousand years, in China. However, independent systems of acupuncture have arisen outside of China. For example in South Asia on the island nation of Sri Lanka there is a unique form of acupuncture which has been in use for more than two-and-a-half thousand years.

According to the ancient Chinese text, The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, written around 500 BC, acupuncture first appeared in the East, which scholars assume refers to the region of the Korean peninsula. Historical records tell us that the first types of needle were probably made out of stone or splinters of wood or perhaps sharp thorns of trees. The Yellow Emperor's Classic also describes moxibustion, which is a method of cauterization or burning the skin, that first began to be used in the North, what is present day Mongolia. In the ancient times there were in Mongolia many types of cauterization techniques, such as burning the skin with hot irons or with various types of herbs for the purpose of healing.

Eventually these two streams, acupuncture and moxibustion, came together as one medical art sometime before The Yellow Emperor's Classic was written. I don't have any precise dates, but we know from writings and artifacts found in ancient tombs in China that there was indeed a system of moxibustion which described meridians, lines of energy that flow through the body, but no acupuncture points. Furthermore, the acupuncture that was practised back then utilized different points upon the body that could be pierced but no mention of the meridians or lines of energy is made. The acupuncture texts referred exclusively to points that appear on the body here and there. The ancient scrolls and illustrations refer to the usage of those individual points without necessarily describing flows of energy within the acupuncture meridians, as we know them today. Nevertheless, somehow these two systems, acupuncture and moxibustion, came together before The Yellow Emperor's Classic was written.

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As previously mentioned, we also find acupuncture being used in other parts of the world. For example, in Sri Lanka there are written accounts of acupuncture with diagrams that show acupuncture being performed on humans and on animals such as elephants and water buffalo. Indeed to this day you can find people, Mahouts, who work with and train elephants using acupressure points to control the elephant's behaviour. Apparently, elephants can at times become quite temperamental and dangerous when they're upset or angry. Acupuncture and acupressure are both used by the mahouts to calm and control the elephant's behaviour!

Acupuncture can also be found in other parts of the world. A while back I lived in South America, in Chile for a couple of years. Down there an indigenous people, the Mapuches, had their own system of acupuncture. The women healers, called Machis, used long and thin thorns of a certain tree that could pierce the skin and treat different diseases. They clearly understood the uses of the individual points to treat illness. Interestingly, this healing art was a female tradition that was passed orally down through a family line. Unfortunately, this tradition has all but been lost as far as I know. They didn't have a written language to preserve this knowledge and like so many other traditions it has disappeared.

In Peru, however, there are still some living traditions that use stones to massage the energy points of the body. The origin of the use of stones in healing is very old and you can see evidence of acupuncture in pre-Incan cultures. For example, there are some amazing rock carvings found near and preserved in a museum in the town of Ica, Peru. It is called the Stone Library of Ica, where 20,000 stones are now housed that were uncovered a few decades back in a river bed near the village. These stones reveal a lot of fantastic things. They clearly show acupuncture for cesarean delivery and other forms of surgery such as cranial and heart surgery. Perhaps these ancients used acupuncture for the same reason as we use acupuncture in surgery today, as an analgesic for pain.

A Brazilian friend of mine, who has done a lot of work with Amazonian Indians, insists that he has seen acupuncture, using sharp thorns, being applied by healers in remote parts of the forest.

So the idea of piercing or rubbing specific points on the body is something that is not unique to one culture. People, perhaps intuitively, have known that there is a relationship or connection between the body's surface and what is inside of us. Healers have found links between points and the alleviation of disease and imbalance. I truly believe humanity has always known this wisdom. Today modern science agrees that acupuncture has sound medical abilities despite our lack of ability to explain how it works. It works and works amazingly well in many cases. There have been many theories put forth to try to explain the mechanism of acupuncture, but nobody has really explained it in a convincing and foolproof manner. For example, a number of neurological explanations have been put forth, but such explanations fail to explain how very small stimulation on, let's say, a point in a foot, can create all sorts of systemic effects from changes in the blood circulation, endocrine functions and so forth.

Not long ago, Discover Magazine featured some interesting research that showed the effects on vision by acupuncture stimulation to points in the foot. The researcher used real-time fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), which is an imaging system where you can watch the energy uptake in the brain (thus brain activity). First, the researcher shone a bright light into the subject's eyes and then he measured the response of the visual cortex in the occipital lobe or back of the brain. Naturally, he found that if you shine bright light in somebody's eye the visual cortex lights up and when you turn off the light that part of the brain becomes quiet again. No surprise there. Then he got a colleague, an acupuncturist, to stimulate an acupuncture point in the foot with a needle. According to Chinese Medicine this point was related to the eyes, it treated all types of eye disorders, and once again the same thing occurred, the visual cortex was stimulated. Then other points were used on the foot that had no direct or known effect on the eyes and nothing happened. Only the points classically linked to the eyes and vision had this effect. We currently do not have a scientific model to explain what is occurring. Neurologically, we know very little about the nervous system and how such a stimulation can create such a precise effect within such a diffuse system.

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Like I said just a few moments ago acupuncture not only stimulates the nervous system, but it stimulates other mechanisms and structures. Scientists have done research on rabbits, for example, needling the poor rabbit's leg and finding that you can create a vaso-dilation or vaso-constriction of the blood vessels simply by changing the quality and amount of stimulus. These changes were measured in the rabbit's ears by enhanced optic magnification. Thus the same point manipulated in differing ways can produce opposite effects, vaso-constriction, a closing down of the blood vessels in the ear or vaso-dilation, an opening up of the blood vessels. Marvellous, isn't it?

This brings me back to what the ancient Chinese discovered. Before the Yellow Emperor's Classic was written the ancient sages and healers had melded together two fundamental ideas; that there exist individual points that can be stimulated by needle or pressure, and there is a system of energy lines or meridians which connect one part of the body with another. These lines are not nerves or blood vessels or any other structure. Rather, they referred to a biological energy, called Qi, that utilizes certain tissues for conduction just as electricity uses wires. Thus long ago in ancient China two separate methods of healing were brought together and made into one. They spoke of precise points with unique therapeutic applications that are found on lines of energy flow which connects the surface with the inside. These meridians also act like antennas to connect us with our environment. They link us inside and outside, a kind of interface. I think this is the brilliance of Chinese acupuncture. No other people developed such a sophisticated system and through its written language developed such a rich body of knowledge and recorded experience.

No doubt acupuncture is evolving for it is no longer tied to its primary culture, China, and modern science and medicine will invariably add new dimensions to the way we understand and use it in healing. Nevertheless, I believe that the meridian theory is an important and vital legacy in humanity's search for health and treatment of disease, a legacy that we need to explore in the years to come.

From a talk presented at the 1999 Healthy Living Expo ~ Victoria, BC


The Ancient Art of Acupuncture By Arnie Lade, 1997

In the spring of 1982 I went to China to study acupuncture through a program sponsored by the World Health Organization. Unfortunately, en route I developed conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the eyes. I felt very sick. On the train through the seemingly endless countryside of rural China I was given some drugs to temporarily ease my pain and fever. Upon arrival in Beijing I received acupuncture for my conjunctivitis. Almost immediately the fever and pain subsided, and by the next morning my eyes started to clear up. I was already impressed by this ancient healing art when my course of study began at the Guananmen Hospital.

With each passing day, I experienced first-hand the therapeutic effectiveness of acupuncture. People come to our out patient department suffering from visual and hearing problems, headaches, hepatitis, depression, insomnia, gallstones, backache, sciatica, menstrual difficulty, sprains and strains, diabetes, epilepsy, asthma and a myriad of other complaints.

We treated infants just weeks old to elderly people brought in on stretchers. We treated chronic and acute illnesses. There was always a flow of people through the clinic, and usually we saw about sixty people a morning. Most people got better after a short course of treatments. The number and frequency of treatments would vary according to the patient’s constitution and nature of the disease with ten to fifteen treatments over six to eight weeks being the average. But sometimes acupuncture was not so successful by itself, and the patient would be referred to other departments in the hospital, such as the massage, herbal medicine or western medicine clinics. The doctors had no problem using whatever treatment was necessary to get the patient better.

Without doubt, Chinese doctors considered acupuncture to be an important component in their health care system. To them the art of acupuncture is based upon knowledge of subtle energy flows or Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) that circulate along minute channels or meridians within us. There are numerous points along the meridians where the flow of energy can be manipulated by the use of fine needles, finger pressure or the application of heat. I learned that patients often sense for themselves this flow of energy, a pleasant and reassuring feeling. Usually acupuncture is painless but a number of sensations accompany the arrival of Qi at the site of the needle; these include warmth, tingling, heaviness, and floating for example. Besides alleviating whatever symptom brought them in, patients report that acupuncture leaves them feeling more balanced and vital. This Qi is understood to exist in all living things, as acupuncture has always been as effective in treating animals as humans.

To properly understand acupuncture we were taught all the essential aspects of Chinese Medicine, which were first codified more then 2,500 years ago. We learned the traditional view of how diseases emerge and change, how to recognize the uniqueness of each person’s illness, diagnostic techniques to determine the quality and movement of Qi within the body, the subtleties of selecting points, the methods of applying needles and so forth. The kindness, insight and caring of my teachers was a real gift and how could I ever forget all those trusting and generous patients who happily let a novice needle them. I learnt well the meaning of that traditional Chinese saying “one small needle cures a thousand diseases.”

Today, many governments around the world are actively promoting acupuncture. Here in British Columbia, the provincial government has recognized acupuncture as a health profession. Locally, numerous acupuncture practitioners offer their services and three schools are open to teach this profession. This is a far cry from when I started practicing in Victoria when there were only a few traditionally trained practitioners working on the Island. No doubt about it, acupuncture is here to stay.

First Published in Insight Health Magazine Vol. 2, No. 6, 1997