The importance of doing ATM in a consistent way at home

Most people's difficulties are almost characterlogical, in other words, the root causes lie deep within their organization and has been a part of their every action for a very long time. Between one Feldenkrais lesson and the next there are 24 hours x 7 days less 1 hour of time, and a lot of life and stress.

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One lesson a week is, as Moshe would say, "like throwing sugar in the ocean to sweeten it."

In an ideal world I think students would come for Functional Integration (FI) lessons four or five times a week, or even twice a day in some cases. With that kind of frequency, we would be able to make a difference that would make a difference. The lessons could interrupt their tendency to fall back on old habitual patterns, and build upon and sustain their learning and improvement. But in today's world, who can afford to be able to see a practitioner in this way? Not many people.

Functional Integration is wonderful, but I believe that if people are to get better, if they are to truly improve and heal, they probably need to do Awareness Through Movement. Occasional ATM classes and one-day workshops are good, but I believe there is no substitute for doing ATM at home.

When students have the skills to do ATM confidently on their own, they will almost certainly develop the tools for getting themselves out of trouble, and eventually, for staying trouble free. I am not suggesting ATM instead of FI, but I want to underscore the value of doing ATM in addition to FI.

Personally, I don't talk with my clients about ATM when they come for their very first FI lesson. Between the interview and the lesson, a new student is usually with me for 90 minutes during their first appointment. At the end of the first lesson my goal is to not to engage the student in conversation, but rather to have them take a walk so that they can feel the differences that have taken place. So, I usually wait to introduce the idea of doing ATM till the second or third session.

A practitioner can offer a plan, roadmap or schedule. Some people simply do not want to do ATM. Maybe they decide not to do ATM today, but in a month or two or three, something may change and they will be ready to give it a try.

Everyone has, in his or her own way, learned how to not pay attention to themselves, and to their own kinesthetic sensations. This is probably part of what got them into trouble in the first place.

Learn to respect your physical sensations as intelligent signals.

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By doing Awareness Through Movement, you will begin to learn to identify the sensations that precede your pain or discomfort. Then, you will be able to take the radical, proactive step of stopping whatever you are doing, and with a few minutes of ATM, interrupt the cycle of habitual stress and pain.

This is what learning to take care of yourself means.

The Feldenkrais Method helps you learn how to pay attention to yourself, to honor and respect your sensations, learn how to interpret them, and act on them. The Method will also help you to appreciate and like yourself more, and to learn to respect your physical sensations as intelligent signals.

I strongly believe that the Feldenkrais Method can help every person to make their life a little easier and a little more comfortable. My personal belief is that Awareness Through Movement, used intelligently and consistently has the potential to alleviate much suffering.

Awareness Through Movement can help people recover lost function, find pain free ways of moving, know themselves a little better, and be able to stand on their own two feet, sustaining themselves in healthy action.


About David Zemach Bersin:

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David Zemach-Bersin is one of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais’ original American students. He studied closely with Dr. Feldenkrais from 1973-1984 in the U.S., England, and at the Feldenkrais Institute in Tel-Aviv, Israel. For over 30 years he has been an international leader in the practice and development of the Feldenkrais Method. In 1983, David Zemach-Bersin co-founded Feldenkrais Resources, the primary publisher of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais’ books and audio programs. He is the co-author of Relaxercise (HarperCollins), an introduction to The Feldenkrais Method. Check out David’s new online resource for Feldenkrais practitioners and the public: Feldenkrais Access.

This is an excerpt from an article originally written for Feldenkrais practitioners in training: How We Can Be More Effective Agents of Transformation and the Importance of Awareness Through Movement by David Zemach-Bersin. With permission, the text was edited and adapted for students of the Feldenkrais Method by Tiffany Sankary.


David Zemach-Bersin is a contributor to Movement and Creativity Library, an online resource/ community with 200+ Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lessons, Organic Intelligence practices and creative resources. Learn more here.