When Learning Goes to Hell | a Feldenkrais teaching

A colleague recently posted an excerpt from one of Moshe Feldenkrais’s trainings. It begins with:

“We succeed in doing something, and the need to learn goes to hell.”
Senior man in suit jumping
And this is the rub. Once we master something, or at least learn it good enough, most of us seem to lose the interest in learning even more. For Dr. Feldenkrais, this was the beginning of aging—even at a very young age. Here is the rest of the passage and I couldn’t say it any better.

“Therefore, we stop learning and get old and become idiots—otherwise, we would not get old! As long as a person has the desire and curiosity to learn, he is willing to do what the little child does.
When he really turns around himself, he turns—really, really turns—
His head spins…
He falls down and gets up…
He turns around again…
He trains himself such that afterward he has power, intellect and flexibility.
For all of us who begin to avoid movements, who try to succeed immediately, this is the beginning of old age. You can see people who already are eighteen or twenty who are beginning to avoid these tricks.
They become more and more clumsy and awkward. And afterward, they need to go to a doctor so as to heal their joints, their stomach, their head, their eyes, and their behind. Nothing works.”

~ Moshe Feldenkrais, Alexander Yanai #519

Thanks Allison Rapp for pulling this jewel out of the text!

Allison’s website

About the Author


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Cynthia is a certified Feldenkrais practitioner, a Senior Trainer in Movement Intelligence, and a co-creator of Integral Human Gait theory. By day, she helps children and adults find easier ways to navigate life challenges and thrive. By night, she is dreaming up new options for how we can all become more fully human through awareness, curiosity, elegance and action.

Comments 14

  1. Thank YOU Cynthia for posting Allison’s find re the Moshe’s quote. Loved it and a great one to share with others.

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  3. Yeah! It’s nice to think that the kid inside of all of us, has the potential for maintaining our health. Thanks for sharing that.

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  5. Thanks for including this except, I relate!!! And on those days I am less active because I chose inactivity, I do get sluggish and feel blah…..like an idiot.

  6. Cynthia, there is so much treasure hiding in Moshe’s Awareness Through Movement lessons! I’m glad to have brought a piece of it to light… I think we could all work on it for a year and still have hidden gems.
    I think my favorite part of this one may be right at the end where Moshe just let his own playful part out — where he says that one ends up going to a doctor to heal one’s behind 😉

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  10. Thank you Allison for mining this rich vein, and Cynthia for harvesting it….I must have heard and thought this thought so many times, and acted upon it hundreds of different ways, but this was the perfect distillation at this moment of rising this morning! What I heard at 27 has more resonance at 77! The old man gave us the tools to live by these words…not all the time, but when the chips are down…when the urge for ‘security’ and ‘resting on one’s laurels’ takes over for a while, then something burning, from the curiosity within, strikes again ! Which must be followed or something vital shrivels up inside— thank the Goddess that the urge to learn is still stronger than the urge to procrastinate…. there is always something new to investigate and learn, and even one’s own behind becomes smart enough to rise up off its duff and move …and as Moshe often said, “There is no end to improvement”!

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    Thank you Deborah for sharing. I love this: “when the urge for ‘security’ and ‘resting on one’s laurels’ takes over for a while, then something burning, from the curiosity within, strikes again ! Which must be followed or something vital shrivels up inside.”

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