Episode 48: The Movement of Feldenkrais with Dr. Frank Wildman
Join OneTaste's Harmony Niles in this fascinating disscussion with Dr. Frank Wildman, one of the nation's top experts in the study of the Feldenkrais method. The Feldenkrais Method is an educational system centered on movement, aiming to expand and refine the use of the self through awareness. Dr. Wildman answers questions on a variety of topics, such as the origin and history of Feldenkrais, as well as guiding listeners in an interactive exercise of the Feldenkrais method. Tune into this episode and get a taste of what the Feldenkrais method has to offer.
Dr. Frank Wildman is a producer and educational director for Feldenkrais professional training programs. His most recent works include the books 'Your brain is the core of strength and stability' and 'improving with age'. Dr. Wildman travels throughout the world holding workshops and lectures, educating people about the Feldenkrais method.
Narrator: This program, brought to you by personallifemedia.com, is suitable for mature audiences only and may contain explicit sexual information.
Harmony Niles: Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us on A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews. This is Harmony Niles recording at the Onetaste Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco.
At Onetaste, we strive to make the body a more pleasurable place to be. Our meditation, yoga, and massage programs empathize the ways in which connecting with the sensations in your body can bring more clarity to your life.
So our guest speaker tonight is particularly well chosen. We are joined by Dr. Frank Wiseman, a producer and educational director for Feldonkris Professional Training programs. His most recent materials include "Your Brain is the Core of Strength and Stability" and "Improving with Age".
Dr. Wildman, thanks for joining us.
Frank Wildman: Thank you Harmony.
Harmony: Welcome. Can you tell us about how you came to this work? What is your personal connection with it?
Frank: Well, I was always trying to find a way to integrate a certain kind of intellectual life with a physical life. Some people would call it a head/heart split or body/mind split, or whatever. So I was always trying to resolve that and I found that through the body centered learning methods, through which the Feldonkris method is one, that I was able to do that.
And along the way I was able to help a lot of people because you can teach the Feldonkris method to large audiences and groups of people. And you can focus the way that you learn to move towards any kind of movement disorder you might have or difficulty you might have, or pain problem. And you can also just play a musical interest better if that is your interest or sing better. All of those things. Have more fun dancing.
Harmony: Can you tell me how this work has affected your sensual life, your sexual life?
Frank: Well, I think that the Feldonkris method helps everybody feel more because it is based on an idea that is really the reverse of how we learn most things. Most of the time when you go to school, you are told to get better test scores and do better, and just do it. So people go, well, all right, I will try to do better. And I will study and I will put forth more effort and I will do better.
And that applies to the physical realm. It could be things to do; sports, clubs, even dance clubs. So everyone wants to sort of be competitive a little bit with themselves and their image of themselves, and competitive with some idealized body image that they don't have.
And in that competition, we don't feel so much. We are paying attention to how we think we should be, or maybe think we could be. And generally, we are rewarded when we achieve certain things statistically. You have good grades or whatever. But in the Feldonkris method it is really quite the opposite, because what you are taught is, feel. There is no way to measure how you feel, so we are just going to have you sense more and move from what you are sensing. Move from a place that you find in yourself where you sense and let the sensual nature of the movement be the determiner of the movement.
And that is quite unusual. A lot of times people will be told, Oh, just feel the flow of movement going through your body. But that is pretty boring after a while. In fact, really boring after a while, because it all comes out the same way.
The Feldonkris method has a lot of structure; a great deal of structure. Many, many lessons; movement lessons. It is the largest collection of movement lessons on Earth. So when people face a 1,000 hours of movement lessons that work with all parts of the body in every conceivable way, they realize that they can be moving from an inner place, but the structure of the method will provide the structure for them.
Harmony: How mainstream is Feldonkris? Do you think that it is on the road towards that?
Frank: Good question. I have no idea. I think that it is never going to be mainstream, because mainstream is usually a mis-aimed stream. And this is too different. The nature of this work is too different. It requires that people really think. They can't just say "Oh, I feel this or I feel that." or "Oh, I feel so much of my shoulders. I feel so much of my back." Actually, they have to feel it and demonstrate through movement that they can feel it, and that they are feeling it in certain ways that enables them; that empowers them.
It is very empowering to be able to go "I feel my hand more. And as I feel my hand more, I notice fr the first time that I can do these neat movements in my fingers that I never knew I could do before." That is different. It is a much more empowered way of sensing your inside than having.....It is kind of like if somebody said "What can we do and who has higher consciousness?" Who knows. You can have more or less awareness. You can be specific. "Oh, I am aware of those colors or this smell, or particular features of the environment or myself or our relationship." But somebody can have a higher consciousness and not necessarily be aware of anything.
So in this method, the focus is on structural specifics, which sounds kind of boring I suppose. But how do you actually move? What do you need to do? It is the same way that any athlete or dancer needs to know. Where do I plant my right foot when I am going to do a Chatte [sp] to the left? How do I do it? And it has to be very precise. Or the way that someone needs to learn to balance superlatively. Or, just balance well enough as they are getting on [xx] so that they don't fall down.
But these things are very specific. The Feldonkris method takes you into a place where you can be specific without being harsh. It is really fun to do. You can say it is complicated, but it is not really. It simply offers a rich complexity.
Harmony: Thank you. We are going to take a very short break. You are listening to A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews with Dr. Frank Wildman.
Harmony: Welcome back. Every week here at Onetaste we hold a Tuesday night forum. You can come to our center at 1074 Folsom street on a Tuesday night and converse with educators on topics that touch some of the most human parts of life. Sex, the body, nutrition, spirituality.
Tonight we are hosting Feldonkris educator Dr. Frank Wildman. And his lecture tonight is entitled "The Evolution of Human Movement". Can you talk about evolution connects to Feldonkris work?
Frank: Well, since Feldonkris work is very sensual and can lead to sexual experiences for people, evolution is definitely about sex. And so it must be about Feldonkris too. But I think that evolution is something that is such a large and encompassing field that only through a method that is as systematic and thorough as something like the Feldonkris method can you come to understand how other animals actually move; what the physical requirements are. The mechanical requirements for their movements.
And those movements, again, a lot of the animal world moves in and around and for sex. Finding a partner, mating rituals, the sex act itself. Running away. All those kinds of things.
Harmony: And I know your lecture tonight is going to have a lot of experimental exercises. Is there anything that you can share? Anything that translates over the air?
Frank: Well, we are going to probably do very simple things that will introduce people to different ways of using their body that might surprise them. I don't know if the things we will do will be, in an introduction like tonight, will suffice to give a person a feeling of how they might move like another animal. That might take a while. It depends on the coordination of the class.
But I think that people get an idea of how they can feel better and move much more easily. I could give you a simple example of that now. But everyone who is listening would have to do it.
Harmony: Everyone, let's do it!
Frank: You see, you have to do these things. So, in whatever position you are in, could you come to sitting? And that could be sitting on a floor, sitting in a chair; a simple thing like that. And could you close your eyes? And now, turn your head only to your right side as far as it is very easy and comfortable to go, and then come back again to wherever you think the middle is. So you don't open your eyes as a reference. You stay inside for the reference. And turn to the right and back to the center again. And only go to that reference that is inside. And do that two or three times.
Good. Let's say you have done it now three times. Go ahead and open your eyes. And now look the the other way and see does it feel different than if you turn your head to the right. You may feel that your capacity has grown in some way to turn to the right side. Or if you wanted to, what you could do is turn your head to the right with your eyes open, but look in front of yourself. Keep your eyes open and look straight in front of yourself so that your eyes stay centered and your head moves to the right.
So you have to separate your eyes from your head just a little bit. And then come back again. And do that two or three times so the eyeballs are just...you are looking out the window or whatever it might be. But you look at just one thing. And you keep your eyes on that one thing as your head swings a little to the right and back.
And you break up habits that connect your eyes, neck, and your spine. Your brain is breaking up those habits. And then you just do that a few times and stop. Once it is a clear enough movement; simple, no stretching involved. And now once again turn to the right and back again any way you like, and you will find that it is easier and that your motion is improved on that side, as if you have been exercising.
And if you turn your head from one side to the other now, left side, right side, you will find a difference between the two sides. And that difference might never have been noticed before. Can you feel that difference Harmony?
Harmony: I can. I've been doing it. When I started, I felt terribly self conscious, like I couldn't move. And then after I did it a few times and we went to the point of relaxation and I just looked and looked, then it seemed like effortless and easy in a way that it just hadn't before.
Frank: And it is a good way, a good example, a very small example of something that you might do all the time in a Feldonkris method, which is break up, melt, the habits that we are locked into. The habits that make us get weaker, older, and more feebled. And as we break up those habits, the habit of lets say moving our eye with our head all the time the same way, or moving our head from one side to the other, never getting a chance to feel what the difference is until there is a pain in our neck.
Once we feel those things, we automatically improve. Our brain is going to go "Ah. OK. I can tell how to move now. I can feel how to move now." So there is the structural development of an internal world. And a lot of people then, when they think of just moving from inside, then have much more to rely on. So you are almost building an interior for someone.
And a lot of people, in fact, work with babies with this work a lot, and infants and children, because they have to build their internal world anyway. And if they have any kind of neurological damage then they really have to build their world. And this is the perfect kind of method for that. I've been interested in applying it on the other end of the spectrum, so I work alot with older adults. And the best thing to do with older adults is to get them to play like babies. But if they just play around, they will feel sort of silly. And they run out of things to play. But if you give them very structured movements like a child goes through as it is developing, they can learn to play themselves out of the difficulties that they get in and find that they can move younger and more easily.
Harmony: That's fascinating. Is that some of the work that you have been doing most recently?
Frank: I've been doing it actually for a long time. I developed the University of California's movement program for the elderly long ago, as well as the state's back care program. I do a lot of things. I am writing a book that is coming out called "Change Your Age". And it's movements from this method that you can use to put together in a program that you could functionally change your age and kinda retrain your brain while you are doing that.
Harmony: What else have you been working on recently?
Frank: Well, you know most of my time I have to work on the road. I run training programs in Japan, Italy, Los Angeles. So I am in flight from somewhere to another producing and directing training programs. It involves many hours of teaching. I am teaching people to train them to be practitioners of this work. So that is the main thing that I am doing when I am not writing something or producing a product.
Harmony: Well, we are coming to a close. You have a lecture to give. Is there anything else that you would have liked me to have asked you?
Frank: Well, I think that people should know that when they embark in something like this, part of what interests me, and it goes back to your first question. Part of what I think interests a lot of people is that they just feel good. And as movements, they feel good, it is a different kind of feeling good than a "I worked out the gym" feels good or "I went for a hike feels good". You are sweaty and your heart rate is up; that's good. Yummy.
But there is something about very quiet movements that require that you use your brain a lot to do them that are more refreshing and they are mind expanding. And I think that experience of physically moving and expanding your mind is something fairly unique to the method. And like I had mentioned, that is kind of what originally drew me in. And I think that is something that this culture has yet to discover.
Harmony: Dr. Wildman, I am sure you have a website. Is there an address you would like to give?
Frank: Sure. I can be reached at www.feldonchristinstitute.org. Now I will spell it for you, because it is a tough one. It is one word, so Feldonkrisinstitute.org. It is a nonprofit.
Harmony: Awesome. That's a mouthful. Thanks for joining us on A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews. On personallifemedia.com you will find transcripts of this show. Or, check out our other pod casts, a reality audio show that peaks into the lives of Onetaste members, and the live recordings from our hot erotic open mic.
If you have comments or questions abut the material in this show, please join us on our online chatboard at onetaste.us. We welcome you to our conversations. Thanks for listening. This is Harmony Niles.
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