Emotional Well-Being through the Feldenkrais Method®

Jeff Haller speaks about Moshe Feldenkrais teaching in Amherst, MA 1980-1981:

Moshe is saying, there's a difference between learning to care for your conditioning and learning to care for yourself. That's a paradox, because the students in the training program have set up the note taking process. Moshe basically says to them, "You want these notes in order so that you can have something at the end of the course by which you'll be able to establish a sense of value for yourself."

He's trying to teach people how to care for themselves, and the very process of Awareness Through Movement is built to care for yourself, rather than care for what you've historically done, which is to try---It's to make these separations within yourself.

In one lesson on the difference between exercises and learning, he says, "If you go through these exercises in order to gain something," which is just like the zen in where if you think you're meditating to gain something, it's not meditation, 'if you're going through these processes to gain an outcome, then the outcome will be gone within five minutes after you leave the class."

If you actually learn to be in the process, and this process is the process by which through the prefrontal cortex, you're paying attention to discrimination of what's taking place in the sensory motor cortex, that process then modulates to the limbic system, and it quiets the mind, and it brings you into a profoundly different way of being with yourself.

...it quiets the mind, and it brings you into a profoundly different way of being with yourself.

You might see a lesson as being for the hamstrings. It's not. He's teaching you this lesson so that you experience yourself in a way that you've never experienced yourself so that you can actually have a tone that's outside of the historic way that your muscular habit has hidden your history. And he keeps doing this...

Refinement of the Self Image

Moshe was certainly interested in emotional dignity and was refining his approach to a sense of wholeness through refinement of the self image.

In one sense the study of Amherst is a study of paradox, the question of having a room full of people who were there to learn the work so they could produce outcomes so they could utilize outcomes as a basis for their well being. This state was relative to Moshe's attempt to help them shift away from insecurity and anxiety into a way of caring for their self and restoring their physical integrity, emotional dignity, and health.

anxiety drawing turq.jpg

As a clue you can see Moshe's thinking in Body and Mature Behavior. The book appears difficult to read if you read it chapter by chapter and do not grasp the central tenet of the book. Moshe is in a sense writing a letter to Freud telling him that psychoanalysis as a "cure" for neurosis is inefficient at best. One's neurosis is hidden in one's conditioned, acquired muscular habit. Neurosis is described as the bringing forth of habits unconsciously, and that habits form before one can make conscious choice of how to act. The known historical muscular habit becomes how one identifies oneself with life, a life of compulsion rather than choice, insecurity and anxiety, rather than choice.

Moshe indicates that the process of coming to the simplicity of skeletal support serves to inhibit the historic muscular response allowing for a lifting of the burden of the historical response to the world, or as Dennis Leri stated, "a moment of unadorned worldly engagement". This state of freedom serves to alter the quality of one's life and provides the opportunity for emotional experiences liberated from protective and defensive patterns derived from life in the way the world conditions us. In this sense we become teachers of human transformation rather that teachers of movement.


Jeff Haller studied directly with Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, the founder of the Feldenkrais Method®. In 1983, Jeff graduated from his own professional training program in Amherst, Massachusetts.

From 1993 to the present day Jeff’s primary focus has been to train Feldenkrais Method teachers. In the following years, he developed and refined his skills, traveling and working in Feldenkrais training programs, while building an extensive private practice in his hometowns of Bend, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.