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Practitioners: Learn to Apply the Method to Internal Organs

Recently I had the great pleasure of talking with Elinor Silverstein about her greatest passion, helping her clients to live their avowed – and unavowed – dreams. Both of Elinor's parents studied with Moshe Feldenkrais, so it's not an exaggeration to say she grew up with the Method. After completing her training in Amherst in 1983, Elinor recalls asking senior trainer Gaby Yaron what she should study further, and was surprised at Gaby's suggestion: work with the organs!

While applying the Feldenkrais Method® to the internal organs might seem like a complicated task, Elinor was the perfect candidate to take it on. In college, she studied chemistry, nutrition, biology and pre-med and, in her words, “Nobody loved cutting open cadavers and looking inside more than me, with a sandwich in one hand and a scalpel knife in the other!” After we both regained our composure following that comment, she continued to paint the picture of that early fascination with our insides: “It was like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea! I would travel through the systems to see where they would go.”


With over three decades of experience, Elinor has made many exciting discoveries about how the skill of listening with the hands that we learn in Feldenkrais® training programs can be applied to working with the enteric nervous system, that is, our organs. She will be sharing this and more in her workshop, “A Little Guts, a
Little Glory: The Inside Tract to Your Belly and Feldenkrais Practice” this summer in Asheville, NC.

What will you be offering the participants in your Conference workshop? What will they take home with them to their practice?

I will teach just enough organ anatomy and physiology related so that practitioners can understand their location and  function. We will really delve into this through ATM®, self-FI®, and FI lessons with each other. We will also talk about the vagus nerve which is very involved in our gut functioning, and our emotional state. We can sense and feel these things with our hands because there is no skeletal barrier between your hands and the organs just beneath the skin!

In our trainings, we talk about the skeleton, we talk about the central nervous system, but we rarely talk about the peripheral nervous system and almost never talk about the enteric nervous system. That being said,  we are not walking bones, walking nervous systems, walking lymphatic systems – we are all of these systems which are intricately tied in and involved with how we function as a human. In this class I am going to teach the Feldenkrais Method – doing it with the organs – it's not some other technique. It's our Feldenkrais Method, all inclusive.

How did you develop the material that you will be teaching?  
It took a long time for what Gaby said to resonate with me. Then, a few years ago, I was working with a little boy with severe cerebral palsy who had very serious seizures that would leave him hospitalized for two months at a time. I was just resting my hands on his belly and listening when I felt this strange sensation, almost like an electrical conduction. Just then, the mother was calling the son's name and blowing into his eyes. She said he was starting to have a seizure – and I realized I could feel the seizure starting in his belly before it happened in his brain! I started to quiet it down in the belly and the seizure stopped. I continued working with this boy, giving FI lessons with his organs, based on my understanding of their location and function. He was never hospitalized again for seizures and was able to stop using a number of seizure medications that hadn't been working.

When I think in terms of working with the organs, I think of it as something that has been top secret for many years while people are suffering angst - and Moshe's dream and desire was for people to not be suffering such angst. When I got an inkling of working with this child's organs, not only did it take his angst away, it took his parents' angst away. When I also started working in this way with people who suffer from anxiety and depression, suddenly their brains became clearer. It created a dramatic change in the quality of their lives.

What comes to mind when you think of this year's conference theme: The Tipping Point – Propelling the Feldenkrais Method into the Mainstream?

This isn't a technique! Body and Mature Behavior, The Potent Self, The Elusive Obvious...These are things that are deeply philosophical, thinking ways of being and touching our humanity that can't be pushed through the foot or rolled through the head. It's the way that you are already thinking of that person before they come into your room. It is the way that we greet and meet that person as they come in. It's about our two humanities coming together and making something better from that, so that humanity itself grows and becomes better.

Which is why “tipping point” has to do with what humanity is ready to be ready for. And that means for us, for everyone in the world to be ready to approach themselves and the way that they interact with each other from a higher place of acting.

The Feldenkrais Method is a way of thinking and Moshe knew the way to get to it was through the one thing we all have in common: our bodies. Movement heals because movement can show when there is dysfunction inside of us. So when we can work with that movement maybe we can make all of these things easier. People move and feel better inside and out.

The tipping point is when the world starts to feel the healing that can occur from simple "Awareness Through Movement."

Find out more about Elinor's workshop.

Seth Dellinger is a certifiied Awareness Through Movement® teacher, a 4th-year student in the Feldenkrais Training Program of Baltimore with David Zemach-Bersin, central organizer of the DC Feldenkrais Festival, and writes a regular blog at www.MoveLikeAChild.wordpress.com.

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