Awareness Through Movement® - often referred to as ATM
Moshe Feldenkrais's great and simple innovation in the training of movement and thinking was to create a space between the intention to make a movement and the execution of that movement. Into that space he puts awareness.
In Awareness Through Movement® you are led on a journey of movement discovery. Gentle but precise instructions are given by the practitioner that bring your attention to the way you carry out your movement. The movements themselves are often simple but the effect and resonance of the act of bringing awareness to movement is anything but!
You begin by lying quietly on your back, and during the course of a 45-60 minute Awareness Through Movement® 'lesson', you begin to re-explore, re-define and re-engineer both your moving and your thinking. Over time, with continued experience of Awareness Through Movement® lessons, your instinctive sense of what your body is capable of changes as more and more choices are offered to you.
As you lie on the floor, calmly observing yourself moving, taking apart your movements to examine hidden corners in them (the process of differentiation), you are beginning to open up new thinking spaces for yourself. In this unhurried space of developing curiosity, even people who move well (dancers, golfers, walkers, Mums, gardeners etc) have something more to learn. You are often guided to stop all movement and rest. In periods of rest, your nervous system is given time to reorganise itself - to rewire itself - so that any difficulties you might have had in carrying out the movements of the class simply disappear.
Awareness Through Movement® is not restricted to people who already move 'well'. As a Feldenkrais practitioner my core belief is that we all can learn something new about our movement. A wise teacher once said to me We are all always beginners all the time.
It is not necessary to press, push, strain or strive to learn new movement ideas - doing this simply means that we learn to exert too much effort. Effort produces restriction to freedom - and that is exactly what we learn if we try too hard!
In ATM, you will repeat movements often and be guided to observe those movements in different ways. This joins up your thinking with your doing - effectively using more of your brain then simply the movement centres - and by extension developing your creativity in movement.
The effects of Awareness Through Movement® can be felt in improved balance, a greater sensation of being grounded and of being able to carry yourself with greater lightness. Some people even report improved eye-sight after class and some later report that their sleep patterns have changed for the better. For those who seek to improve specific movement abilities, the effect is of expansion and extension of their skills.
Feldenkrais himself said that his method helps us to give a better account of ourselves to ourselves. The more Awareness Through Movement® we do the clearer idea we have about ourselves, the way we think and the kind of choices we could make.
Awareness Through Movement® is mindfulness in movement and brings all the benefits of spending a bit of well-earned time with ourselves, exploring our ingenuity and expanding our current limits.
The genius of Awareness Through Movement® lies in it's focus on differentiation – a process of separating movement (and thinking) into its parts – and on changing our ideas of time and space.
Feldenkrais was at source an engineer - he designed some the first contraptions used to develop nuclear power. After the war he was employed by the UK government to support business innovation, exploring the invention of new systems of operating. Starting with his own body and its tribulations, he developed a life-long fascination about how human movement develops, its relationship to processes of thinking, why it sometimes go wrong and how it can be optimised.
He devised his method as way of exploring and re-combining our physical abilities to produce new insights about ourselves. He himself devised over 3,000 separate ATMs. Through the training process he inspired, his insight into the process of learning is in a constant state of development and his stock of lessons is being added to every day.
Awareness Through Movement® harnesses the capacity of the human nervous system to continually observe itself, to re-assess its level of satisfaction and to adapt to changing circumstances. The Feldenkrais Method® makes us engineers, inventors and innovators of ourselves. The nervous system will always, given the choice, choose a simpler way of doing something over a more complicated way. Once a less effortful and more satisfying choice is made at the level of the nervous system, this brings a sense of effectiveness to our actions and instils a desire to continue exploring. The knock-on effects of these feelings are felt in increased generalised sensations of self-confidence, ingenuity and resilience. This is the process of learning that we first experienced as infants - we were learning before we knew we were learning. The Feldenkrais Method® opens up this formerly hidden process up to us to help us maximise our choices in action as adults.
Through Awareness Through Movement® we learn to give a better account of ourselves to ourselves, to be less bothered by what happens to us because we have become more resourceful. The more Awareness Through Movement® we do the clearer the idea we have about ourselves, the way we think and the kind of choices we could make.