Augmented Reality & Multi-Sensory Skeletal Modeling In The Feldenkrais Method
Re-Imag-in-ing What Was Always Already There
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
by: By Tim Sobie

Section: Practitioner Spotlight

One of the beauties of a conversation with Tim Sobie is the opportunity to expand both your mind and your vocabulary. Tim’s upcoming workshop for practitioners offers a unique opportunity to explore “experiential anatomy” and how to apply various tools towards helping people move better.

Tim Sobie


IT: Tim, what began this journey?

TS: From my first ATM® Lesson and onward through continued ATM and FI® sessions during my FPTP training, my first experiences in the Feldenkrais Method® were ever-evolving and surreal. They were surreal in that the multi-sensory experiences in ATM and FI invited novel looks at my self image. The lessons somehow distorted my sense of my own physical reality, especially in terms of body part representation, size, accessibility, length, and proportion. Perhaps you’ve experienced that yourself after a lesson! While this new sense of being and becoming was delightfully refreshing, it was difficult to explain. It continued to create change beyond expectation. This storied experience keeps us engaged in this work! 

Demonstration of Skeletal Model Overlay ( aka. Haptic Contact)​

IT: So you decided to turn it into a PhD.

TS: I was motivated by fascinating experience and the continued applications of the Feldenkrais Method in clinical practice. I then began a doctoral program in a unique field that seeks to bridge the gaps between psychology and medicine, especially as applied to chronic disease and lifestyle disorders: linking thought, emotion, and perception to physiological function. It’s called Clinical Psychophysiology. The work is mostly concentrated in using biofeedback / neurofeedback as “technological informants” for augmenting distinct and refined signaling about what is going on in one’s body, but normally occurring below a person’s ordinary perceptual awareness. 

When it came down to designing and implementing a comparative research study for my clinical trial, I needed something more tangible to solidify and replicate the Feldenkrais experience, but without losing its essence. The control group were working “core” muscle groups to demonstrate some purported efficacy in successfully managing chronic low back problems. Having been tasked to match an experimental counterpart as a comparative cohort, what similar mechanism might we point to that was specifically beneficial in Feldenkrais sessions? I realized that I could use a collection of full-scale anatomical bones to clearly demonstrate ”a different kind of core” by highlighting the pathways of highest skeletal density above and below the lumbar spine. I call my approach Virtual Reality Bones™ . Using these skeletal models and a Vicon Computer generated model, I can teach people to see their anatomy and understand better how they move. Here’s a short video I created to give people an idea of the material we will cover in the workshop.  

By using Virtual Reality Bones™, and especially by applying “virtual reality hip replacements” in their first orientation session, clients are instantly surprised and pleasantly bewildered to recognize their life-long inaccurate idea about the exact location of their hip joints. When they realize that they both feel and function better with enhanced neuro-perception during the resting body scan, sitting, standing, and walking, they are spontaneously and automatically more hungry for more expansive awareness experiences in future sessions.

Vicon Motion Capture as Kinematic Avatar for Imagery of Gait ( aka. Low Immersion VR)

IT:  How will a PRACTITIONER OR TRAINEE benefit from the learning in your workshop?

TS: Practitioners only have one opportunity to make that all-important first impression. By the time you have concluded the interview and rapport building, there may be little time left for a full FI session. 

Why not give people a concrete example of a transformative Feldenkrais experience, rather than just talking about it?

Practitioners will learn how to use a validated protocol using Virtual Reality BonesTM that takes just 15 minutes of a session. The protocol provides a multi-modal experience (hands-on, visual, kinesthetic) and correlative assessment, in which the client instantly feels “the difference which makes a difference” in the way they stand, walk, sit, and rest. With the results of the assessment, the practitioner can more clearly identify their clients’ previously undetected disparities in both sensory acuity and movement dexterity. The practitioner can then work with greater clarity and precision to help the client improve their movement dysfunction, and reduce symptoms at the same time.  

The client, with a newfound internalized sense of where the bones are, suddenly and spontaneously improves their alignment, standing, acture, and gait. Since the client feels improvement immediately, they are eager to continue, and you have their full commitment for further sessions. When you add Virtual Reality BonesTM to your practice, you become a more effective practitioner, get better results for your clients faster, and grow your practice.

Furthermore, that skeleton that’s just been hanging around in your office will have new function and relevance for you and your clients.

The conclusion of my dissertation arose from both my Feldenkrais training and my doctoral research. This statement helps us all to communicate the crux of our work:

...unless there is significant change within a person's internal model for the sensory representation of effective action, becoming expressed and confirmed through new attention to new movement, then there is really no change at all..."   

I developed Virtual Reality Bones™ as a new tool that helps clients to clarify and shift their internal model - their “self image” -  so they can make changes for effective action in the world. I look forward to sharing my work with you.


IT: You can read the results of Tim’s extraordinary dissertation here.
Learn more about Tim’s 2019 Conference presentation in this interview with Elinor Silverstein.




Tim Sobie PT, Ph.D. , GCFP envisioning Virtual Reality Bones (tm) - aka. VRB3

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