In November I was in Israel on vacation.
We visited Mitzpe Ramon, Israel’s largest crater, in the Negev desert. It was formed by erosion rather than an impact crater or canyon. It is breathtaking and seemingly goes on for miles and miles. We were able to hike in the crater, almost on our own and in bearable November temperatures.
On our way to Mitzphe Ramon we stopped at Sde Boker, the retirement home of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister. There we saw the bronze statue of David Ben-Gurion standing on his head. I knew the story of Moshe Feldenkrais teaching David Ben Gurion to stand on his head; it is part of the folklore of the Feldenkrais Method®.
It is not clear how David Ben-Gurion first met Dr. Feldenkrais. It is said that Feldenkrais felt that Ben-Gurion would be a more rounded person and better leader if he was more connected to his body and specifically offered to teach him how to stand on his head. If he learned to stand on his head Feldenkrais told Ben-Gurion he would better understand other peoples’ points of view! Ben-Gurion was already well into his 60s and many thought he was foolhardy to attempt such a thing. Feldenkrais assured him that it was safe saying, “If I kill you, you will go to heaven and I will go to jail. So trust me, you are safe.”
This famous picture was taken by Paul Goldman on the beach in Tel Aviv, when Ben-Gurion was 71 years old. In addition to the bronze statue at Sde Boker, there is also a caricature statue on the beach in Tel Aviv. When you mention Feldenkrais to Israelis many remark on Ben-Gurion and his head stand.
When he was able to stand on his head, Ben- Gurion supposedly said “I have to stand on my head so the state of Israel can stand on its feet.” However his wife Paula was not impressed with Feldenkrais and the lessons he gave Ben-Gurion, referring to him as Mr. Hocus Pocus.
While there might still be people who think that the Feldenkrais Method is hocus pocus, too many of us regularly experience the benefits of learning to move with awareness and of learning how to change habits that might not be effective or useful for easy movement. You don’t have to have an injury or chronic condition to explore how things can be different, easier, more comfortable and lighter. And these benefits extend beyond movement, when we move with more awareness and feel better, we have different views of things, we act differently and we generally have a more comfortable life. What a way to be!
I invite you to try a class, workshop or talk to me about an individual session. In all aspects of the Feldenkrais Method, we have fun learning how to do things we have done for years but in new ways we never imagined. We also learn that it is possible to conceive of doing things we never thought possible – like standing on our heads!
You won’t be sorry and I promise you it is not “hocus pocus”.