Rather than saying “What is awareness?” I would ask “When is awareness? When are we aware?”
During a flying visit to Paris I dropped into ACCORD MOBILE, Myriam and Sabine Pfeffer’s Feldenkrais centre, where Larry was teaching. Myriam had suggested interviewing him about his ideas concerning ‘awareness’. After ‘class’ Larry made himself a cup of tea and then was ready to talk. Once he had heard what questions had been put to the first generation of Feldenkrais trainers, the tape-recorder was switched on.
Could you say something about “awareness” please – from your angle, referring to your experience, and in relation to what you feel Moshe gave you?
Let me see if I start with this. It may not exactly be an answer to what you asked. I am thinking about what happened in class today. We were talking about FI and what happens in a FI: The object of the work is not to notice what somebody is doing and make them different, but to notice what somebody is doing in such a way that they can begin to notice what they are already doing. There is a nice phrase from the feminist theologian Mary Daly. In one book she is talking about women’s conversations with each other. She says that the attribute that they share is that women – and this is the quote: “They listen each other into speaking”. I think that there is something of that in a lesson; by our becoming aware of somebody else’s movement they become aware of it. By our listening we bring them to listening. So there is a kind of circle of listening, of awareness. So much of the technique is helping somebody notice what they are doing. The question is not to do something different but to notice what you are doing so you know what to change.
But then there is also the question: To what extent is that listening and understanding or knowing explicit or more implicit? Because some people seem to believe that being aware means being able to explain or even justify what they are doing.
The biggest problem I actually have with the question is that we are talking about a noun, we are talking about ‘awareness’ as a thing rather than being aware as an activity, as a verb. Rather than say – and this is a kind of Herbert Brun twist on it I guess, to give credit where credit is due – rather than saying “What is awareness?”, I would ask “When is awareness? When are we aware?” So part of that is... the framing of the lesson. If we talk about function, then we are talking mostly about doing things in the world, or being in the world. The frame of the lesson is a gerund-form verb, is an “–ing”. It’s something that we are doing; or, sometimes, it’s a way that we are being.
You know Moshe said that “thinking leads to new action”. So, for me, the work is about action. And I think it has to be about the way towards developing a general way of being aware through a particular way of being aware. So the door to awareness is awareness in a particular context in a particular activity or function; then you have a frame where you can start.
What I have been teaching this week is really about how it’s not a matter of moving the other person, but being aware of how you yourself are moving in such a way that you invite the other person to move. Unless my awareness as a teacher is part of the lesson, there is a kind of hypocrisy. It’s not about making other people aware. It’s about entering a conversation in which these distinctions matter.
Moshe occasionally talked about participation, co-operation, working together to find an answer, a solution for the person...
In the way I usually say it: A lesson isn’t something that happens in the student or to the student; it is something that happens between us. So there is that idea of it being conversational. Moshe said a lesson is a dance, a lesson is a conversation; and in a conversation there isn’t a pre-existing meaning. Developing meaning and relationship is a matter of converging in some kind of iterative process.
Anyway, to go back to this notion of awareness, I just get uncomfortable when we talk about it as a noun, as if someone could be aware, and then it’s over. Ok, I’m aware now...and I can go on and I’m going to be aware forever... – as opposed to understanding that this kind of ongoing process is one of continually becoming aware. Also, if we are going to talk in the domain that we are working – working with movement to develop awareness – there are many types of awareness. I think of working with different people and how each has a different perspective, a different way of experiencing the life of the body. Some person, like a contact improvisation dancer or a musician, may be really aware of weight and time but may have no sense of their skeleton or their muscles; or somebody from my gym who is very muscular, very aware of the muscle work that he is doing but has no sense of where he is in gravity...
So there is a kind of...Heinz von Foerster used to say “sensory-motor competence”. If we are talking about a kind of competence we can develop, then in a way there are many aspects or flavours to it.
One of the challenges of becoming a teacher is to develop those aspects which for ourselves don’t seem so natural or easy. For instance, sensing where I am weight-wise in space, where I am moving in space, is really easy; but feeling what my muscles were doing was pretty far from what I could do when we started with the work; or (like most of us) feeling my skeleton and what that means, and feeling force moving through the skeleton, the sense of where you could start the movement - that kind of idea. So rather than talking about this enlightened state of awareness, which is pretty vague, it might be more useful to talk about the capacity to notice different kinds of things and to be able to respond to them. And there is that looping again in the sensory-motor competence of noticing and doing and the relationship between – well not just noticing and doing, but intending, noticing, and doing, and how these fit together. There is this wide range of competencies that we are talking about, that are part of the kind of awareness we want to develop.
And you know, making it a noun also makes awareness seem more like a destination, like you could get there... In my 23 years of teaching the method and the 27 years of doing this work, have I arrived? I don’t think I will arrive! But there are these layers of refinement you know. Last year I have been thinking a lot about the shapes that the spine makes. We do all these movements around flexion and extension – just the “c-curves” – or side-bending; and then there are all the “s-curves” that happen. I didn’t see the s-curves for years and remember the moment I saw that and thought “Oh well, that’s a fundamental form - and that appears in these lessons.” That changed my whole relationship to the work; I anticipate that process will continue. I think we’d profit from taking it away from being a state, a destination, and making it more of a process, and also from trying to define what are the aspects that count. So for instance working with Russell, working with the notion of what you do with your attention – again I would say ‘attending’ - you know this idea that you can attend internally and externally, that’s a whole other aspect of what we do with our attention.
If there is a goal to this then we perhaps we can consider what Moshe talked about as giving us an idea of where we are heading. What is it to have 360 degrees of awareness? To be incarnated internally and to have spatial awareness too - of the environment, I mean gravitationally, spatially, maybe socially. The fact is I don’t think you can be aware of everything, right? I have this clear memory of being on the floor in Amherst and Moshe teaching this ATM in which he said “Notice what happens with your knee and your whole self; notice what happens with your breath and your whole self.” So it is like the aperture closes and opens, the focus gets narrower and wider. I don’t think we reach the state where we can notice everything. In a way it’s kind of having this meta-awareness , being aware of what we are aware of and having the practice of shifting our attention. So in doing an ATM, in giving a FI, part of the challenge - on a psychological and emotional level, and if you want to be esoteric on a spiritual level - is for me to be able to sense myself and be present with myself and with someone else at the same time. There is the kind of having a sidecar, making enough room in your attention for both you and the other person. That seems to be a really big challenge. People tend to be more focused on themselves and forgetting others, or maybe more people in our work are focused on other people and forgetting themselves.
And then all of a sudden, once I say “forgetting themselves” that takes us into a Gurdjieffian direction, to this idea of “What does it mean to forget yourself?” There is that whole aspect of the work being about developing your own authority. I would think of that as “What does it mean to remember yourself – ‘self-remembering’?”
How much do you think Moshe actually had Gurdjieff at the back of his mind when he was talking about these things?
I don’t know; I am only peripherally on the Gurdjieffian edge, I am not a closet Gurdjieffian, so I don’t know enough about that to be able to say how much of a relationship there is – but with enough knowledge to be dangerous, you know. I think that there is a real relationship there because I would put the work, our work, in the domain of “waking-up” practices. It really is about becoming awake; and this whole idea of habit seems to fit with this notion of self forgetting and being asleep and being automatic. So this whole notion of having choice is about waking up. And the fact is, I mean for me, it seems to be human nature to fall asleep. So the point is not to stay awake all the time, right? The point is to have practices that help us wake up.
In a way it’s so good to have habits. To move totally consciously is so laborious. If you see somebody after a brain injury trying to walk intentionally, they have no fluidity. There is this nice kind of way of talking about this some neuro-physiologists and philosophers have. They make a distinction between what we would call the ‘self-image’ which is the conscious representation of your self to yourself, and what they would call the ‘body schema’, which are all the unconscious processes that make that possible.
Sometimes practitioners say in advanced trainings “Oh, you know I still have my habits” and I don’t think that the Method is a way of escaping habits. It’s more a way of recognising who you are and learning to accept and deal with that.
There is a practitioner who lives near to where I live; she is a carpenter and makes beautiful work, like feathers out of wood. Her stool is made not with inlay wood but with ‘through-lay’, like jigsaw puzzles. I always think of her when I think about this question. For her to do what she is doing she has to recognise that the grain is in the wood. And I think we have to accept that about ourselves. It’s not about not being me, it’s about learning how to recognise who I am. And I think of that story of Moshe here, somewhere in Paris in his Dojo filming his students when they were attacked, and then analysing the film to see their unconscious responses. There’s somebody who pulls back when they are attacked, or moves to the side, or moves into the attack. And then he taught them a martial arts technique of self-defence based on their unconscious response.
Accepting the unconscious is important. We actually had that conversation at lunch the other day when I was talking about the Alexander technique and my experience with it - because when I lived in Champaign, Illinois, (where I did my graduate work) that was the only intelligent touch you could get. The biggest difference for me between Feldenkrais and Alexander at the root is that Alexander is pre-Freudian and Feldenkrais is post-Freudian.
So when we talk about awareness we also have to talk about the unconscious. Becoming conscious to the point, to the level, of having no unconscious – I mean!?... I love talking to Californians about the unconscious because when I talk to them about it they go “Oh, yah, but I am really aware” ...like I am sorry, you don’t get to escape from this - and I don’t think we do either.
Last summer I had my twentieth anniversary as a practitioner and somebody at the party asked me “What have you learned in twenty years of doing this?” and I said “Well, I think the most important thing I have learnt is to be humble. Because I know the same trap that catches the people who come to see me (which is that it’s what they can’t stop doing, that they don’t know that they are doing because it’s out of their conscious awareness, the same thing is true for me).” It’s the things I can’t stop doing that I don’t notice, actually the things I do so well, that get me into the most trouble. And so in a way, some people take the promise of awareness as an escape from being human rather than a way of dealing with being human and understanding that yes, we have awareness, but we also have to respect the unconscious. To talk about awareness without talking about the unconscious is to miss something really important about the Method.
Could you also say just a few words about the kind of environment that nourishes this process of ‘awaring’, [ mocking echo: ‘awaring!’]... of becoming aware.
Well, the way it takes me, especially the way you ask the question, is: If we think of this as a conversation then – now I get very theoretical, very esoteric for a moment, I mean academic – that makes me think of Humberto Maturana and his ideas about language. For him language means any domain in which distinctions drive what’s going forward. So sign language counts, massage counts, making love counts. There are all these things in which differences are what drive the action forward. It’s not a matter of energy, it’s really a matter of information. Maturana talked about languaging as “the recursive co-ordination of co-ordinations of action”. So there is this co-ordination of action: we are dancing with each other, and as we go through the process over and over again, we converge on something, we reiteratively co-ordinate our co-ordinating of each other. There is that sense of this back and forth of something that happens between us. I think that’s what we are looking for; it’s a situation that’s a conversation. One of the things I said to the students when talking about teaching ATM this week was: “In an ATM lesson we ask questions, we give suggestions. It’s not a military thing, we are not giving commands, right?! That notion of a question is in the best way possible a kind of manipulative thing because it can change somebody’s world.” For instance, if you say to somebody: “Who did I see your mother with yesterday?”, all of a sudden that can change everything because they never thought of that before. So there is a great responsibility that comes with the questions that we ask. But questions are a way of opening a door that maybe somebody didn’t see before. It’s this kind of recursive situation where I ask something in an ATM or a FI, make a request, and then notice what the person does, and then that changes what I do next. - Part of the responsibility as a teacher is having some sense of what kind of conversations are worthwhile and what kinds of topics are worth investigating.
Back to Herbert Brun, who was one of the original ‘cyberneticians’. A musician and a composer, he lived in Champaign when I did my doctoral work there. Actually his piano lived in my house because he didn’t have a place for it. He let me have his piano there if I would make him dinner once a week; and I let him come to dinner if he would play the piano. After one and a half years of living there and after knowing him for four or five years he finally said one day he had been really good friends with Moshe; that it was Moshe who gave him the money to leave Israel and come to Illinois for a job. After his death they published some of his writings and there is a sentence in there which I think is such a beautiful sentence. He says: “A problem is not in search of a solution; a problem is in search of a method.” And that’s what we have. It’s not the solution that counts. We really have a process-oriented work, that’s the idea of being a method, of having a method, of having a way of being in conversation with people... for instance in the beginning of a lesson, talking to somebody and observing their movements and all that.
You know the fact is I don’t know the answer when I start the process of evaluation. The question I ask is: “How is the way the person is moving related to their difficulty?” It’s a legitimate question, I am engaged in finding out, and I think it’s in my answering the question with the other person, not as a competitor but as a collaborator, that they also get drawn into the process. So in my beginning to find the answer they begin to find the answer. You know Russell does it so well talking about knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do – you don’t know what to do with this person, you don’t have an answer, but you know what to do because you have a way of going about things. You have a method, and I think that’s where our faith belongs - in the Method.
Personally, when I’m giving a lesson, I never feel like I’m being tested because I feel I’m just a representative of the Method and if it doesn’t work, well, maybe it’s not the right thing for the person; but it’s never a question of failure because there is this process, and it’s the process that carries us along.
Moshe sometimes talked about the Method being very similar to language where everything, all meaning, depends on context...
Well, that could be a whole new set of interviews. I would say that Moshe had a troubled relationship with language. In this conversation, and maybe because it’s the end of the week, I am thinking about all these cybernetic and systemic ideas. There was a moment in working on my thesis with Heinz von Foerster where we had an expansive discussion because in one of his papers he makes the distinction between the structure of language and the function of language: In the structure of language it looks like words have meaning, but in the function of language the meanings are generated between us. I think actually if Moshe had made the distinction between structure and function of language, then some of the problems he’s pointing to go away because they are really a matter of not realising that words don’t have meanings but meanings emerge out of a relationship. Maybe that means he’s a person of his time or whatever, but for me, when I think about language, that’s what I think about this whole idea what a conversation is. Again I’d say conversation is something that happens between us. It’s not in the words. The people who study non-verbal behaviour say that ninety percent of conversation is paralinguistic, it’s not the words. So it’s all this stuff, and anybody who had an e-mail blow-up of communication knows that. If you just rely on the words alone, it’s truly not enough.
But if you take that now into ‘teaching’ awareness – this idea that a lot of the conversation between teacher and students is actually not verbal - and there are so many people who make the words in the Alexander Yanai lessons the centre of what they teach. What happens to the awareness then?
Actually, my temptation or desire would be to step back from that question and to say: I remember the day – and it’s not really that long ago – before Alexander Yanai got published and before most of us knew that those lessons existed, when we had to go and study with the first generation because they had either their notes or their experiences from working with Moshe; so they kind of knew where the secret entrance to the goldmine was and in a way the only way to get it was through them. We didn’t even know what the ‘IT’ was at that time. Now there’s a kind of change in the dynamics of the community, the sociology of the community, because the playing field is a little more level if everybody has the same materials available to them. But now what we have in a way is all those materials that were generated because Moshe followed certain guidelines
... doing his own research at the time...
Yes, exactly, he was doing his own research by recording and watching. Well, let’s take that idea: A lesson is in fact an experiment. It’s an experiment because what we’ve done is we have taken from the natural environment and developed a highly constrained situation where we can change one variable and notice the consequences of it. So it’s very much like an experiment. That idea of creating a special situation where questions can be asked and answered and the necessity of constraints and how you do that informed every lesson that Moshe gave. That’s kind of an aesthetic of the lessons if you want.
I think until we share, as a community of practitioners, at least a basic sense of that – and explicit models of what makes a lesson, for instance that it’s a conversation – I think we should be asking “What makes a lesson a lesson?”
...rather than just taking the lessons ready made?
No, look, I think they are great for the most part and repeating them is fine. One of the biggest disputes, which maybe you have been a witness of, which I have been a part of, is that someone is teaching a lesson, maybe an assistant, someone who is pretty new, and they teach the lesson and they are being ‘creative’, and they add stuff, and the trainer says “That’s not the lesson, that doesn’t belong there.” Well, the question is: What is it - without knowing ahead of time - how is it that you could figure out what belongs in this lesson or not?
In a way it’s like in the community of music: Yes, there are masterpieces and then there is the analysis which is lively and ongoing. It’s not a finished matter where we begin to try to understand what makes this a great piece of music and how can we take those elements.
I am thinking of the level of composition and design, of what makes a lesson a lesson, what are the strategies, and what are the elements,... the “rote Faden” or red thread, the connecting idea, the movement gestalt, whatever you want to call it... Unless you are clear that there is something behind a lesson guiding a lesson then you don’t have a sense of what belongs to it or not. What we need most is a way of having these conversations, so we can approach those lessons not with a kind of unthinking attitude, just following and repeating what Moshe said, but really understanding and then being able to use it in a fashion where it stays alive.
We are talking about a guy who wouldn’t repeat anything. If you take the lessons from the ATM book and then listen to the recordings that he made, they are the same lessons in an abstract way – actually one of them isn’t even the same lesson. Take for instance the way he teaches co-ordinating flexors and extensors in the ATM where the arm start to go in an arch and he starts to get all this extension happening. That’s so different from the way he teaches it in the book. He couldn’t repeat himself, so why should we repeat him? That doesn’t seem to be very feldenkraisian; but on the other hand, invention and creativity for its own sake doesn’t recognise what the lesson is about. I remember Mark
actually doing me a great favour once when I was assisting him in LA; I did a bad job of teaching the lesson, and he was kind enough to tell me. I always think it’s better that people tell you than they tell everybody else. For that alone I was really thankful. But he was also supportive in that he gave me some clues. One of the things he said in that conversation was: “Look, you can change the steps of the lesson, the order of the steps; you can change the order of the way the story gets told, but you can’t change the constraints, because then you have changed the lesson.”
I think the community understands what that means. What are the constraints? What purpose do they serve? What does the movement behind the lesson serve? How is that a constraint? Without constraints you can’t have creativity; what you have is chaos. Because even though we have a pedagogy that is about ‘Do what you can, do as much as you can’, behind every lesson there is an idea. It’s not necessarily a destination, but it’s a direction.
Unless you have an idea of what would be a ‘better’ way of moving in terms of what leaves more options open, in terms of what helps you last longer and enjoy it more, of what keeps opening doors rather than closing them...till you have an idea of that, you don’t know in a lesson whether the direction you are going is going to leave somebody in a place that’s better for them. I think we have to have an idea of that.
Sometimes it seems that because we have a pedagogy in which we tell people to experiment, people think that just experimenting, in and of itself, is the Method, which then becomes movement exploration, or it becomes “gymnastique douce” like we say in France. There is something compelling about a lesson that leads to change, and until we understand the kind of internal workings of the lesson - of lessons in general – and we can all talk about that...
Look, it is so strange to be in a community of people where the most vocal and in some way the most fundamentalist perspective is about being aware of ourselves and becoming aware, in which there isn’t an equal weight put on the practitioner being aware of what he or she is doing while she is doing it. That’s a kind of awareness and responsibility, and an accountability that I think is really important. We should have that same kind of awareness.
We were talking earlier about Claxton, the other person we should talk about is Donald Schön and his idea of a ‘reflective practitioner’. To come back to our topic, how awareness plays a role in the practitioner’s way of being: “I want to be able to reflect on what I am doing” and that kind of reflection. I don’t need a radio station in my head, I don’t want awareness to become self-consciousness which is like I’m running with my shoe-laces tied together.
The question is: when do we need to be able to reflect on what we are doing? To paraphrase Blake, we need that ahead of time, when you are planning or designing a workshop or an ATM; we need that afterwards when we want to review, critique, and learn from what we did, and we need it during when, frankly, our intuition fails us because our intuition is kind of based on habit. So at that moment we need a way of thinking about it. And we also need to have that when we want to have a community. In a community in which we make public and vocal, heard and seen, what it is that goes on behind the scenes in our specific kind of pedagogical reasoning. Developing a kind of talking aloud which is congruent with the values of the work is really important. I don't think it's impossible. Quite the opposite. If we are to preserve the integrity of our work – and to develop the method – then we must find these ways of thinking and speaking.
In this conversation I keep going back to my kind of basis of orientation or perspective which is thinking about cybernetics and systems because for me that’s a scaffolding. I can put it against the work; it helps me getting around it. It doesn’t replace it, but somehow it gives me a way that the work becomes something I can think about, I can talk about, and I can understand in a way that doesn’t take me further from the experience but keeps bringing me back to it.
Could you can bring all that down to something both general and precise in terms of a ‘culture’ that has to be developed in our community, and a language to go with it?
There is this nice word you can say in French: “apprentissage”, “apprenti [apprentice] – “sage” [wise]. There’s this idea of learning the wisdom of apprenticeship.
The first training - the first two trainings we could say, so Mia’s and the Tel Aviv Training, those are two different experiences (and every training Moshe did was fundamentally different) – those really were kind of medieval guildish apprenticeships, learning a skill through apprenticeship. In a way, and more than we needed to, we’ve lost that feeling of individual guidance and support.
For instance, we have assistants in a training not so they get a chance to read the newspaper when there is FI practice - like it was years ago when we started doing this - , but so they can go round and help people. For me it means getting on the table and feeling from the inside what trainees are doing so that I am able to give them feedback. But it is really this idea of the stewardship of the process, of being present for it with the students to create that kind of thing.
For Claxton there are these four educational modes: immersion, intuition, imagination, and intellect. We certainly have immersion through experiencing ATMs. We have an appreciation of their intuition, though you know Moshe said: “Intuition is the good grace you get from doing something long enough.” So there is something about intuition here which is really about developing a sensitivity, which is what we are talking about in the work. We work with the imagination in terms of addressing the self-image and working with imagined movement. Where we could do better in terms of training students is in really helping them understand the function of the skeleton and being able to imagine it in their hands as well as in their eyes. But there are two things that are most important in changing the culture. One is co-operative education, wwhich I talked about in class earlier today.
In some ways the teachings in the Method are very traditional. The teacher instructs, the student learns.
Wasn’t that in a way against the spirit of the Method?
Well, the man was a man of paradoxes; he was a Taurus but he lived like a Gemini in some ways. I don’t know whether we have to discuss this, whether it’s important here; but it’s a traditional way because it’s very hierarchical, it’s very much one-way. Moshe was certainly like that in terms of his teaching, and I think that we could make the training of future teachers more like an ATM. Moshe said that an ATM is an environment for learning. I rarely give lectures any more. I would talk and then I want people to do something where they learn from and with each other – I call that ‘collaboratories’ because they are collaborative learning experiences. I create a situation where the students are all involved in working with ideas and putting them into action. The ideas can break down so that we then get to more levels of definition and refinement. So there is this whole kind of process that works there...during the training and between trainings in terms of study groups and study buddies. Getting people to work together, that is really important for learning and for creating community!
And the other thing. We need models of having ways of thinking about it. That’s part of the work I have been doing lately, developing SPIFFER and the “7 Cs”, the “Bull’s Eye”. All these things are trying to do is give people ways of thinking about the work. I always think of them as provisional, as temporary models; they are just something for the moment. I’d be really happy if somebody came up with something different and better, because then everybody would go and ask them questions.
We are moving through this complicated multidimensional territory and I think having maps is really important. I say ‘maps’ rather than ‘a map’ because it would really be useful to have a metro map to get around Paris, but if you grow a garden, it might be better to have a rainfall map. Different maps serve different purposes, so I think it would be worth having conversations about what kind of maps we need for which purposes.
One of the conversations I had here with the students at the beginning of the week was about these different categories of observing. That led to somebody saying that to teach a lesson you just have to do the lesson and experience it. I told them that is actually not enough, because then you become something like a dance teacher. You will learn the thing that you learnt and make everybody else learn it, which is (from my own experience) what every bad dance teacher did. They mistake their experience for something universal.
There is something bigger in the lesson. The first time you do the lesson, it’s your lesson and after you do it for a while and maybe you think about it, maybe you put your hands on somebody, just accompanying them while they do it, you start to understand the lesson. And that is what we need. To be a good teacher is not the same thing as being a good student. In a training the future teachers need to know things that are different; certainly they need to understand it from the student’s point of view, but then they need the next thing. [The telephone in the little office where we are sitting rang for the third or fourth time] I think we should stop here because they need the office.
Just one final question, please. Do you remember a moment in your own life when you realised ‘Oh, I am really aware right now!’?
I can tell you one of the most important moments. Somewhere towards the beginning of the Amherst training there is all this work we are doing with the arms – very babyish type movements – and there is all this turning and moving in the chest. I got the sense of the three-dimensionality of my own body. I had the feeling of distance between the front of my spine and the back of my breast-bone, that I had depth; and I realised that before I really was kind of living in flatland; I didn’t have any sense of that other (front-back) dimension. The most startling thing was when I got up from the end of that lesson my vision was different, I really saw in three dimensions; I really saw – almost felt at the same time as I saw –something being in front. It wasn’t just two-dimensional depth cues out there; there was a kind of incarnation, embodiment of that sense of space. I think from that moment on I’ve been different. That moment was so ... it was really one of those moments when everything turned on a dime – ‘turn on a coin’ we say in English. I think I have never gone back. There was that sense of the world just changed, my seeing, the world changed, everything was different.
The interesting thing is that through experiencing yourself differently you saw everything differently... Exactly! ... and that has to happen for every teacher in the Method in a way.
Oh exactly! ... and that is a big job!
But it is only by us doing this that we can understand the kind of process that we are asking of other people.
When I first started working in trainings,I thought that we needed some kind of ritual both for social reasons and for individual reasons at the end of a training. I realized that by getting rid of tests we’d gotten rid of the kinds of rituals that mark a coming of age and development. If you don’t tell people what they know, then they can’t move onto the next step. I thought we need some kind of thing at the end; I don’t know if it’s a thesis, a process, or a ritual whatever so people kind of know that they’re ready – and also so they give back to the community and show others that they were ready. And then I learned something; I realised that it is already there because the real test is being the best kind of human being you can be and being able to give a FI and take care of yourself at the same time. I mean that being present for yourself and with someone else, it is pretty demanding ...
When I am talking about Moshe or about martial arts and stuff and people say ‘Do you practise martial arts?’ I always say “Yah. It’s called Functional Integration!” because my definition is: ATM is giving yourself a FI and FI is doing an ATM for two people, and the kind of awareness, and attention, and presence that requires that’s what’s really interesting; that’s what keeps me coming back every day.
(Transcribed and edited by Ilana Nevill)
Interview with Larry Goldfarb, Paris, 20 January, 2004 by Ilana Nevill