Embodied Wisdom includes all of Moshe’s English language articles and interviews and is a must-have for anyone interested in the Feldenkrais Method®. Carefully edited by Elizabeth Beringer, Embodied Wisdom contains some of Feldenkrais’ most concise and accessible writings. These thoughtful articles and lively, sometimes humorous interviews explore a diverse range of subjects: the importance of bodily expression, the primacy of hearing, the mind-body connection, martial arts, sleep and consciousness, movement and its effect on the mind. Embodied Wisdom gives readers the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the scientific and spiritual principles behind the Method and offers sound strategies for incorporating it into their lives.
- Editor’s Introduction
- Part 1: Articles
- Bodily Expressions, translated from the French by Thomas Hanna
- Mind and Body
- On the Primacy of Hearing
- On Health
- Man and the World
- Awareness Through Movement
- Self-Fulfillment Through Organic Learning, edited by Mark Reese
- Part 2: Interviews
- Image, Movement, and Actor: Restoration of Potentiality, interview with Richard Schechner and Helen Schechner, translated and edited by Kelly Morris
- Feldenkrais Revisited: Tension, Talent, and the Legacy of Childhood, interview with Joanna Rotte
- The Extraordinary Story of How Moshe Feldenkrais Came to Study Judo, interview with Dennis Leri
- Moshe Feldenkrais Discusses Awareness and Consciousness with Aharon Katzir, edited and with an introduction by Carl Ginsburg
- Movement and the Mind, interview with Will Schutz
- The Forebrain: Sleep, Consciousness, Awareness, and Learning, interview with Edward Rosenfeld
- An Interview with Moshe Feldenkrais, The New Sun
- Photograph Credits
- A Biography of Moshe Feldenkrais
- About Elizabeth Beringer
- About David Zemach-Bersin
Embodied Wisdom: The Collected Papers of Moshe Feldenkrais contains Feldenkrais’ most concise descriptions of the Feldenkrais Method. The first two articles — “Bodily Expressions” and “Mind and Body” — are especially complete, lucidly covering many aspects of Feldenkrais theory and interspersed with small exercises to embody the ideas. In “Bodily Expressions” he develops at length his thoughts about self-image, a central tenet of his work. The article also includes the most in-depth discussion of the concept of reversibility, as it applies to movement, to be found anywhere in his writing. In “Mind and Body” he lays out his arguments for the integrity of body and mind and goes on to talk specifically about his work in this context. All the articles return to the theme of learning, and how the human ability to learn is both our biggest challenge and our greatest hope. Learning is the main theme of Will Schutz’s interview “Movement and the Mind” as well as the transcribed talk “Man and the World.” The two articles approach the theme of learning from different angles, but both explore the impressive ability of the human nervous system to adapt and learn. The article “On the Primacy of Hearing,” on the other hand, delves into one aspect of the learning process, investigating the relationship of hearing to the development of spatial orientation.
One of the shortest pieces in the book is “On Health,” a lovely piece discussing Feldenkrais’ ideas about what it means to be healthy in the largest sense. These themes are picked up again in more detail in “Self-Fulfillment Through Organic Learning,” a rambling talk artfully edited by Mark Reese. The importance of awareness and its definition is another big theme returning throughout this volume. We can see Feldenkrais developing his early ideas about awareness and learning in the discussion with Aharon Katzir, skillfully edited by Carl Ginsburg. These themes are later forefront in an interview with Edward Rosenfeld from 1973: “The Forebrain: Sleep, Consciousness, Awareness, and Learning.”
While Feldenkrais’ passion for his work is apparent throughout the book, for the reader with no experience of the Feldenkrais Method, it may be challenging to construct from the articles just what the practice of the Method look like. For this reason, photos of Feldenkrais working have been added to the text. In addition, the first article specifically suggests movement experiments for the reader to help embody the ideas being discussed. I highly recommend taking the time to engage in the proposed experiments, as these early experiences will continue to be helpful throughout the rest of the book. Two articles that discuss the practice of the Method more specifically are “Awareness Through Movement” and “An Interview with Moshe Feldenkrais, The New Sun.” The first is a version of a handout Feldenkrais used at his institute in Tel Aviv to orient new students to his Method. The Sun interview happened just after the interviewers witnessed a hands-on session. Many of the questions thus focus on Feldenkrais’ thinking process as he engages in a session of Functional Integration.
Two of the interviews concern the relevance of Feldenkrais’ ideas to theater. Richard Schechner, a well-known director, interviews Feldenkrais in “Image, Movement and Actor: Restoration of Potentiality,” which includes discussions of self-image, neutrality and reversibility as applied to acting. When I contacted Schechner in the process of preparing the book, he sent a delightful reminiscence from the time he met Feldenkrais. It is now included at the end of his piece. The interview done by theater professor Joanna Rotte, “Feldenkrais Revisited: Tension, Talent, and the Legacy of Childhood,” takes a different, and equally interesting, turn focusing on talent and its development, among other themes.
“The Extraordinary Story of How Moshe Feldenkrais Came to Study Judo,” the interview with Dennis Leri, is perhaps the interview where Feldenkrais’ personality and style shine through the most clearly. Leri knew Feldenkrais well and gave him the space to expand his story. The result is the weaving of a great tale and a window into Feldenkrais in a relaxed and conversational setting.
Taken together, the articles and interviews become greater than the sum of their parts, forming a diverse and textured whole. The text offers many different points of entry for those unfamiliar with Feldenkrais’ ideas and at the same time provides plenty of territory for in-depth study for the serious student of Feldenkrais’ work.
From Embodied Wisdom: The Collected Papers of Moshe Feldenkrais, edited by Elizabeth Beringer, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2010 by Somatic Resources and the Feldenkrais Estate. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.