Feldenkrais, Willpower and Self-Control

Those of you who have both used the work of Moshe Feldenkrais and studied his written ideas, likely know that he had some unique ideas on the concept of willpower. Feldenkrais saw the use of "will power" as something that could have negative consequences. He felt it was often was used to mask an inability. That is, people often "try harder" to do something rather than spending time developing their capabilities to act and do with more skill and awareness.

This does not mean that he thought willpower was bad or useless. On the contrary, Feldenkrais had a nuanced view on the topic:

This does not mean that we should avoid everything that seems difficult and never use our willpower to overcome obstacles, but that we should differentiate clearly between improvement of ability and sheer effort for its own sake. We shall do better to direct our willpower to improving our ability so that in the end our actions will be carried out easily and with understanding. - Moshe Feldenkrais, Awareness Through Movement, page 57.

But here is the problem: As fascinating as those ideas are, how do we take them into domains such as eating healthily, checking email less and spending less time on Facebook, or engaged in other potentially time and life-wasting activities?

Well, in yet another scientific domain, we are finding how science is not only catching up to - but also adding to - the work of Feldenkrais. Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. author of, The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It, explains how most people's view of willpower can actually hinder their self-development and self-control. The session will also add to your own ability to use Feldenkrais' ideas on the subject for your own benefit and for those of your clients.

The so-called "Brain sciences" are helping us to clarify our understanding about willpower - including where it lives in the brain, how to activate it, why the brain doesn't always act in our best interest (even for use "Feldenkrais Folks"), and some surprising ideas about exercise. Moshe often spoke out against exercise, taking note of the mindless and repetitive nature of it, but some of his ideas on the subject likely need to be revised. Exercise has huge benefits for brain health, reducing depression, increasing lifespan, and helping people simply feel good.