Just as the brain differentiates and grows when alive and working well, so do man-developed systems, approaches, and methods created to help the brain and body. The Anat Baniel Method (ABM) has evolved out of three decades of breakthrough work she has conducted with adults and children with special needs as well as her background in clinical psychology and dance. Her unique perspective as Moshé Feldenkrais’ closest student and long-time professional colleague put her in a most advantageous position to study the body-mind connection.. Following in the footsteps of her great mentor, Dr. Feldenkrais, Anat has continued to develop her exceptional system of movement and learning, based on the science of brain plasticity that has transformed thousands of lives. Learn more at anatbanielmethod.com.
When Anat was three years old, she watched Dr. Feldenkrais teach movement lessons in her parents’ living room. She began doing his movement lessons with her dance teacher when she was seven. Years later, while studying at university to become a clinical psychologist, she looked for a method that would involve kinesthetic, body-based movement to include in her psychology work. Recalling her earlier experience with Dr. Feldenkrais’ method, she looked him up.
Although an old man when she took his training program, the two quickly became close friends and Feldenkrais became her mentor. Anat traveled the world with him, continuing her studies, teaching with him, and working jointly with clients. From the beginning she experimented daily, exploring alternate techniques and approaches while trying to help both his clients and her own.
In 1982, shortly before Feldenkrais’ death, she began teaching Feldenkrais professional training programs across the US, in Europe, Israel, and Japan. At the same time she ran a thriving private practice.
Anat grasped early on that it is the brain that needs to change. Her ongoing work with many professional high-level performers—top athletes, musicians, and dancers—gave her enormous insight into what it takes to move to the next higher level of performance, to repeatedly advance one’s personal best. But it was her work with special needs children that compelled her to question the “hows and whys” of the brain’s ability to bring about the miraculous transformations in movement, thinking, emotions, and social skills she had witnessed over and over again within the span of decades.
“Dr. Feldenkrais didn’t talk much about how or why anything worked,” says Anat. “It was the kids that got me searching for ways to understand the actual mechanisms and triggers behind the amazing results I was seeing.”
Puzzling out the dynamics of brain plasticity, many years before science caught up and actually began validating her mentor’s and her own evolving work, her lifelong inquiry lead to the development of the “Nine Essentials” that formed the basis of the Anat Baniel Method.
Trusting in the evolutionary quality of the process, Anat constantly develops new techniques and encourages her trainees to do the same, helping clients overcome limitations and discover delightful, life-giving possibilities. Her method continues to promote not only the development of better movement and awareness, but also incorporates evolution and improvement in the areas of thinking, feeling, emotion, and human interaction.
The Nine Learning Essentials
1. Movement with attention- research shows that movement done automatically creates little or no new connections in the brain.
2. Slow- slow gets the brain's attention and the chance to feel. The feeling of what happens dictates one's ability to think and move.
3. Variation- growth and development happen through the perception of something new that stands out form the background and habits.
4. Subtlety- working with subtle sensory awareness the child can recognize finer distinctions and increase their ability to feel and perceive.
5. Enthusiasm- as the child senses differences within themselves positive emotions and enthusiasm tells the brain the changes are important and the new neural pathway is grooved in.
6. Flexible goals- being flexible with goals allows space for learning and moving around the edges of present ability where the experience of success are most accessible to child.
7. Learning switch- this is a child being in a receptive curious space created by safety, playfulness, comfort, and acceptance.
8. Imagination- imagination has the power to upgrade the functioning of the child's brain because they begin to create a broader image of themselves and the action which helps them move beyond limitation. Action exists form the clear intention to act. So how the child imagines what they are doing or wish to do creates new possibilities.
9. Awareness- awareness elevates the brain to discover choice rather than being reactive and habitual. Awareness is an action and humans are designed to generate the capacity to be aware through experiences.