By MYRON LOVE
Eytan Lerner uses movement with attention and neuro plasticity strategies to help kids and adults develop, learn and thrive regardless of initial special need, challenge and condition
By MYRON LOVE Several years ago, I read a fascinating book by Dr. Norman Doidge, a Canadian psychiatrist, focusing on what he describes as the brain’s plasticity and detailing non-surgical ways to “rewire” damaged brains to help adults and children overcome disabilities resulting from injury and illness as well as those that some children are born with
In his book, Doidge has dedicated 2 chapters to the Feldenkrais and Anat Baniel Methods..
For the last 5 years, these ideas are being put to work here in Winnipeg in the person of Israeli-born internationally-known therapist and teacher Eytan Lerner. “The brain has an amazing power for transformation and capability for learning, despite any challenges,” says the cofounder (with partners in Boston and Frankfurt, Germany) of the Moving Center , a global virtual and in person center where the cofounders work in various countries together – teaching professionals and parents as well as conducting periodic intensives for kids.
“We feel so privileged to witness this every day in children and adults that we work with. With the right approach this power can be awakened and restored and what seemed impossible to achieve will show itself in so many different ways.”
The therapy, he explains, is based largely on the Feldenkrais Method – a system of experiential processes that aims to improve human functioning by increasing self-awareness through movement and attention. The method was developed by the Late Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, by turns an early halutznik in pre-Israel Palestine, cartographer, nuclear physicist, judo expert and director of the Israel Defense Force’s Department of Electronics. He was also David Ben Gurion’s personal trainer.
Feldenkrais developed his healing learning method as part of an effort to rehabilitate an injury of his own.
Lerner, who was born and raised in Tel Aviv, was always interested in exploring how people are able to reinvent themselves
On his website, he avers that he “believe lasting changes are possible due to our ever elastic, constantly-changes brains, that adapts itself and to meet our needs”.
It was 33 years ago when the then 27-year-old Lerner, first learned about the Feldenkrais method. He trained and studied the method in Jerusalem
“From my first experience onward,” he recalls. “I knew that I had found what I am looking for. I felt how endless horizons of possibilities suddenly opened up for me. I realized that I can help others feel and change themselves in profound ways.
For most of his career as a therapist and teacher, he worked only with adults – those who were trying to overcome physiological and neurological injury or conditions as well as professional artists and performers, seeking to refine their function and express themselves in more subtle effortless ways. .In 2008, Lerner began to focus his interest mainly on children. He notes that he always planned to offer his expertise to helping children with special needs. To that end, he trained in California with Anat Baniel, a clinical psychologist, former dancer and close associate of Lerner’s original mentor, Feldenkrais
The Baniel and Feldenkrais Method, , is a science-based approach that transforms the lives of children and adults, helping them move and function beyond their limitations and their conditions. The method uses movement with attention in a gentle and subtle ways that take advantage of brain plasticity and the ability to transform and thrive regardless of initial condition and function.
“By accessing the amazing power of the brain to change itself,” he points out, “the method helps people discover how to improve the mind and body dramatically enhancing physical, cognitive, emotional, and creative performance.”
Lerner points out that he works with children on the Autism spectrum, children with CP and various other neurological conditions, genetic disorders, motor or cognitive impairments and delays, kids with ADD, ADHD and more. Over a period of what he call “intensive” therapy, he introduces to the parents and caregivers with the basics of The NeuroDevelopmental Playfulness approach that is his and his 2 colleges incorporated method that sprang out of their many years of working around the globe.
Each lesson is 45 min in which he both work with the child and also invest in educating the parents and caregivers of the ideas that can be implemented at home with their child
“The purpose,” he points out, “is to wake up the brain to a different experience of learning and help them thus get beyond their limits and experience. Each session is dedicated to working with the child while teaching the parents new strategies for carryover and supporting the child’s changes.
“The parents encourage and observe changes in their child’s life and shift the paradigm from fixing the child to meeting them where they are at and connecting with them.”
Over the years, Lerner has been much in demand – having worked with patients, led workshops and trained other practitioners in his methods, in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and North America. He relocated to Winnipeg with his family (he notes that his wife, Yasmin, is a niece of the late Golda Meir) from Israel to further develop his patient base in Canada.
He chose to establish a base in Winnipeg because, he says, our Jewish community’s effort to attract new immigrants made it easier to immigrate here than in other Jewish communities in Canada.
In our community, he notes, he has participated in many musical evenings – he plays the saxophone and sing– with Phil Spevack at the Grant and Wilton coffee house and sent his kids to the Brock-Corydon Hebrew Bilingual program.
“During these past thirty three years,” he observes, “I have been able to help many adults and children to change and improve their lives, and truly thrive regardless of their initial condition, age or initial prognosis In my practice I see newborns, toddlers and children change in front of my eyes.
“It is always a miracle and a wonder to see the results.”