Which came first: the chicken or the egg?

“Interviewer: How do you know where to go on each person? Moshé Feldenkrais: When you will have my experience and knowledge you will also know. Interviewer: Obviously it comes from your experience and years of work with this. Moshé Feldenkrais: No, it comes from the theory, first of all. Many people work with bodies; why don’t they do the same thing? Nobody does what I do. Obviously it doesn’t come from working with people.” Quote from Embodied Wisdom, the collected papers of Moshé Feldenkrais.

In a Youtube comment on one of my videos I was asked if there’s a video series on the movements from Moshé Feldenkrais’s book The Potent Self. I answered, “Not that I know of, but interesting idea,” and then went to flip through the book to see what the movements are.

And while flipping the pages, once again I was thinking, “Say what you want but this man knew how to put thoughts in a row.” What I did not find, however, was an explanation of his process of how he put his ideas into practice. How did he go from thoughts, theories and hypotheses to movement instructions?

In his book The Case Of Nora, Moshé Feldenkrais writes “The freedom to learn is a great liability, and a restriction from the start. There is no freedom of choice or free will where there is only one way of acting. Learning makes it possible to choose among alternative ways of acting. The ability to learn is synonymous with free choice and free will. But once learned, the choice is made, the die is cast, and the tabula rasa is no more. Herein lie the liabilities as the restrictions.” How did he turn that thought into a lesson? I mean, of course, I can see it in hindsight, it’s in every lesson. He put this thought to practice in literally every lesson. To loosely quote Peter Elbow again “Experience is what you end up with, not what you start out with.” So how did he come up with his theory, and how did he turn that into his lessons?