"I do not treat people, I do not cure people and I do not teach people. I tell them stories because I believe that learning is the most important thing for a human being"  Moshe Feldenkrais


Functional Integration® - mostly referred to by its initials FI

  • the one-to-one, hands on technique of The Feldenkrais Method®
  • takes place on a low padded therapy table, on the floor, or on a chair
  • involves very low impact, non-invasive manipulations by the practitioner
  • lasts between 45 and 60 mins
  • not a medical or quasi-medical intervention, but about (re)learning and (re)discovering physical abilities.

During FI you are manipulated by the practitioner who makes contact with your skeleton through your clothing and your soft tissues. It is not massage and does not work with 'deep tissues' or directly on the musculature, nor does it involve quick movements designed to 'click' or 'pop' you.


The aim of FI is to bring a tighter focus on any issues you might have with your movement. Often it is the case that you might need a more concentrated intervention than is offered by Awareness Through Movement®. In terms of the the method as a whole, the two are designed to interlock and your insights from one are carried over into the other. 


FI brings benefit to anyone who senses that they are not getting full functioning out of their physical body. Moshe Feldenkrais used the simple analogy of the impact of friction in an engineering system. If an element of a structure begins to malfunction there begins to be 'friction' within the system. This friction causes the whole system to begin to labour harder and harder to fulfil its functions, until a more radical breakdown occurs.


The human engineering system is an integrated and complex whole made up of skeleton, musculature, nerves, fluid systems and cognitive functions. Friction in the skeleton is first experienced as feeling 'wrong', uncomfortable, off-kilter, or even a nagging pain somewhere. This gradually interferes with the general sense of well-being, and leads to annoyance, inconvenience and even anxiety.


A state of ease and simple comfort

The first stage of FI is to place you in a state of ease and simple comfort – usually in lying on a low, specially constructed table that enhances the fact you have left your everyday, upright state behind for a while. By removing yourself from the everyday hold of gravity, it is then possible for the practitioner to begin to work in partnership with your central nervous system. 


Signs and signals of a calm nervous system

Functional Integration® is the process of bringing your nervous system's attention to the place where it might be organising the application of too much effort. This is experienced by the practitioner by structural blockages in the flow of communication through the skeleton. By gently holding and manipulating your body, by carefully and patiently rebuilding the flow of skeletal communication, the ineffective habits are gradually removed. In this way the balance between your nervous system's desire to organise itself for action and its need for rest is re-established, bringing a sense of calm – the kind of calm we see in a cat sitting watching and ready to do whatever it needs to do next.


Your body/brain system has ways of showing when it is calm – signals in the eyes, the skins, the respiratory system, in the way that the joints lie and respond to each other. A Feldenkrais Practitioner is trained through the use of observation and fine touch to recognise when your nervous system has reorganised itself.


Expanding choices in an increasingly 'sitting-down' world

Feldenkrais proposed that the only mental ability that we are born with is curiosity. He developed his method as a way of giving everyone access to the adaptability and inventiveness that is a result of having a free, easy, comfortable and elegant quality of movement.


During a course of lessons in Functional Integration®, your range of movement choices is expanded. Since the human frame is always in movement (think about! - there is never a moment where something is NOT moving...). Moreover it is constructed for movement - inherently unstable, two-legged, high centre of gravity, heavy skull balanced on a tiny bone. For being a problem, this instability is the source of our endless ability to explore, adapt and learn.


The human engineering system is primed to favour ease, simplicity and effectiveness of movement over anything that is more effortful. By reducing the friction caused by ineffective habits of doing and by introducing a range of more effective choices the results are feelings of satisfaction and comfort in action.


We live in an increasingly 'sitting down' world – at desks, in cars, in public transport, on sofas, in front of many types of screens...and so on and on. Not everyone has the taste for sport or regular physical activity – but what is most assuredly true is that EVERYONE has a taste for movement. In fact everything that your body/mind/brain is is dependant on finding the right level of movement to keep all your life-systems maintained and ready for action.


A state of simplicity

The effects after an FI lesson is the sensation that our physical self, rather than restricting us, is behind everything that we choose to do. Moshe Feldenkrais suggests that it is through working with the physical body that we can access the nervous system and can being about life-changes. For Feldenkrais, health is not the absence of illness but a state in which the human system can reinstate itself quickly and easily after a shock.


I recommend that you undertake an initial course of five Functional Integration® sessions. This process of building a deep cognitive sense of confidence takes time, as your nervous system is patiently introduced to new ways of thinking.The aim is not to create dependance on the process, but to pass on skills to increase your own ingenuity and resilience.


For more information about whether Functional Integration® could be useful to you, contact me on the details you will find here.


I will be more than happy to talk things over with you.




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© Alan Wilson