The LearningMethods Library
An Interview with David Gorman
Broadcast live on KFAI Public Radio,
in Minneapolis MN, USA on April 30, 2001
Copyright © 2001, David Gorman, all rights reserved world-wide.
The LearningMethods name and logo are trademarks of David Gorman.
Transcript from the original recording, by the Queen of the Desert, 2001
NOTE: This is a transcript of a one-hour live radio broadcast on KFAI Public Radio in
Minneapolis on April 30, 2001 of a interview with David Gorman who was reached at his home in
southern France. It has been slightly edited to make the spoken words read more easily in print.
Good morning. This is "Health Notes from the Heart of a Natural Woman" and of course you are listening
to Fresh Air Radio, KFAI, 90.3 FM in Minneapolis and 106.7 FM in Saint-Paul. We’re your community
radio station and we are moving into a new way of looking at our learning methods… learning methods,
isn’t that funny, because what we are going to be learning about is LearningMethods and the things
that is so interesting is that we have the founder, David Gorman on the line from the south of
France and we have Elizabeth Garren and Rebecca Frost in the studio here and we are going to talk
about this method of learning and as I was looking at the… but anyway, first off, Good Morning,
I am so glad that you are able to be a part of this conversation with us as opposed to me trying
to introduce your work. Let our listeners know, what is LearningMethods?
I am very happy to be here too, calling you from across the world. So, what’s LearningMethods?
That's a big question. How much time do I have?
Actually you’ve got an hour.
Well, I won’t take up the whole hour with this, but I sometimes find that the easiest way to give
a sense to people of what the work is when they aren’t coming in to explore it themselves is just
to give a little bit of an idea of where the approach came from for me. So if it makes sense for
me to take a few minutes and just talk about the evolution of why I stated to work this way…
Oh please do.
I have a background in anatomy and physiology from many years back and out of some of the discoveries
I was making about the way we function, I got interested in some of the practical techniques that
were evolving in the early 70’s to help people change their habits of tension and pain — techniques
like Feldenkrais and the Alexander Technique.
And at one point — I was living in Canada then — I was turned on by a friend in Toronto
to the only Alexander Technique teacher in Canada. I went for a lesson and within a few moments
in that lesson I had the most amazing experience of changing from a very awkward-feeling person
whose parts didn’t seem to fit to this incredible experience of wholeness and ease and effortlessness
along with a sense of vivid presentness and just a complete change of way of being.
Now, that kind of experience is not just unique to the Alexander Technique, but
I thought, "Whoa, something is going on here! Something that can change us into such a revolutionary
reorganization from the day-to-day heaviness and problems we have."
Aside from wanting to learn more about this for my own use in my own life, it just
intrigued me what could possibly be going on anatomically or physiologically in our systems for
that change to happen? What changed? What is it that suddenly happened that can make us feel, and
actually be functioning, so completely differently?
So while I carried on having lessons, I began to bring my anatomical knowledge
to bear on these questions. What is it that could be happening physically to create such an experience?
Over a number of years, I came to a number of explanations, most of them using the kind of standard
physiology and kinæsiology ideas of coming to a state of balance where the actual work we were
doing was the minimum needed in gravity and through minimizing forces we then felt a minimum of
But it never quite satisfied me because there were just something so dramatically
different about that experience and not just about the experience, but also about the actual ways
one ended up thinking and seeing the world when the change happened.
At that point, I was so fascinated by the implications and possibilities that I
decided to do the three-year training to become an Alexander teacher at the same time as I also
carried on with my researches.
The more I saw of how deep these changes went, the more I realized that I really
needed to put together all the current state-of-the-art anatomy and physiology knowledge and rethink
exactly how muscles functioned in posture to see if I could get some other insights. Out of all
this research came my book on our structure and function, "The Body Moveable".
Then, it all came together and I remember very clearly that day. I had been working
to put together what I had learned on every level, from the most minute level of cells right on
up to this lovely entire-being experience. And then, that day, I had the sudden insight that what
was going on was that our very instability itself in gravity was organizing us. — that the instability
itself actually activates the tonus in our system needed to support and integrate us.
And I saw it as an entire instantaneous gestalt. It suddenly came to me
that when we come into that wholeness, all the separate little tensions and conflicting parts let
go and come together into a web of evenly-spread activation like a muscular suit that creates a
kind of elastic suspension where we are charged up and spring-loaded, ready to go into activity.
I also realized that this was what happened when we stopped all the other interferences.
That is, it was an insight that we have an inherent or pre-existing integration of our whole being
with the whole world around us. It suddenly made sense of the experiences I had.
This was during the period when I had just finished training as an Alexander teacher
in London, England and I was starting to teach others about what I had found and to travel and
give workshops all over the world.
The years went by and in my teaching I got better and better at being able to facilitate
that wonderful change in other people. They would come to me and I would be able to get them free
and released — get rid of their tension or their pains — and they would go out feeling like totally
But I began to wonder, "Why aren’t people able to integrate this into their lives
on a day-to-day basis?" Of course, some would be able to change deeply, but most would come back
for one lesson after another, still going out and losing a lot of their freedom when they got back
to their lives. So somewhere in there, there was just something that kept me asking, "There must
be something more going on. What’s really happening for those people who can’t sustain this change?
Why can’t it be taken out into life and just lived that way?"
Then one day — I’ll give you a little example which was very pivotal — I had somebody
in for a lesson and I was working with him.
I don’t know if you or any listeners know the premises or the process of the Alexander
Technique, but it is fairly simple in terms of activities and movements, often just sitting and
standing or moving and helping people see their kind of ways of using themselves and where there
are pulls and tensions, etc. The theory being that we have acquired unconscious habit patterns
and if we can learn to bring them to consciousness then we can release them. I’m simplifying here,
but essentially, the teacher’s job is to help someone learn how to do that for themselves.
Anyway, my student was standing up and sitting down and I was helping him and I
said, "Do you notice how you tightened your back when you sat down?"
And he said, quite definitely, "NO, I DIDN'T!"
"I can show you in the mirror how your head pulled back and your back tightened,"
And he said, "I am sure you can show me in the mirror that this happened… but I
didn’t do it!"
And it suddenly struck me that he was absolutely right! He wasn’t pulling his head
back. He didn’t even really know it was happening until I pointed it out to him. It definitely
was happening, but he was not doing it.
Normally I would have gone ahead and convinced him that he was doing it unconsciously
as a habit and he could learn to more consciously direct himself, but it suddenly struck me that,
if it was happening but he wasn’t doing it, what was he actually doing during the time when those
things were happening?
It was an amazing moment for me because, you know, I had simply never thought to
ask the question about what the person was up to when those ‘physical’ things happened? What is
the person up to when they end up feeling all strained and tense? What are they actually doing?
And it sounds so obvious to me now, but at the time I didn’t have a clue. So I began to question
people about what were they actually up to when their symptoms appeared, when they were feeling
very tense from frustration?
And, of course, they began to describe what they were thinking and what they were
feeling and how they were interpreting the situation they were in. Maybe they were a performer
and feeling nervous or they were rushing at work to meet a deadline or whatever…
What it really started to open up for me was that the problems that people have
weren’t really so much about their physical state or functioning. the problems were more about
their interpretations, their way of seeing things, their beliefs, and their ideas.
And as I observed more and more what was actually going on physically and then
began to correlate people’s described inner experience with what I was seeing from the outside,
it started to make much more sense to me why people were having the problems that they were.
Out of this I saw that I needed to find new ways to uncover and work with the way
the person saw their own reality, their own way of interpreting life and situations. And the new
work of LearningMethods was born.
Perhaps it would make more sense at this point to give you an example?
I want to clarify something for me first and I want our listeners to know that we are talking to
David Gorman this morning… We were talking about LearningMethods. And the one thing that I… The
things that you are saying are fascinating.. What I want to do is that I want to take it in little
pieces to make sure that our listeners are able to follow. So I want to go back to the thing that
I got stuck on.
So I am thinking of your work… From the little that I understand about it, one
thing that LearningMethods will do is to help me to get unstuck and so often times when I think
about the whole issue of stuckness, to use my language, from what you said at the beginning is
that we will go to a seminar or have a experience… I have Rebecca and Elizabeth here and I can
be in conversation with the two of them and just have this profound experience for today, and then
tomorrow go back to being stuck like I was yesterday.
So one aspect of your work is that once we begin to get unstuck, we don’t go back
into that entanglement again. I think that you called it kind of… You use all those beautiful words
like web… But we don’t go back into those things, we actually get free of that. You know, I guess
when I think of it visually I think of going down a certain road and every time I go down that
road I always hit the same pothole. But this time, I go around it as opposed to going in it. This
time I know that it is there and I don’t keep on doing that same thing over and over and over again.
Did I get what you have been saying so far? Have I heard you alright?
That’s actually a very good image because when you look at that kind of situation where people
have a certain problem and they end up hitting the same pothole each time, you really have to ask,
"Well, why would somebody keep going down the same pathway if they keep ending up in the same pothole?"
Well because I know that it’s the only way I know to go, of course.
Well, it is certainly partly that, but when you look really closely at what is going on for somebody
you’ll see, of course, they are not setting out to go down that pathway in order to hit that pothole.
They often don’t even know that the pothole is there. In fact, more from the way that they see
things, it’s almost something they have to do. They don’t really know ahead of time that they are
going to hit the pothole again, they just know it sort of makes sense to do it the way they do,
and then bang, somehow I end up with this symptom again. How did I get that symptom?
Maybe again a little bit of an example here would help, but I’ll just say one general thing. In
a way, this work is not so much about getting people unstuck. In a sense, with the Alexander Technique
and what I was describing before, I could get people unstuck, but then somehow they got stuck again.
And it dawned on me that what we need is not so much a way for people to get unstuck, but a way
for them to find out why they are getting stuck in the first place.
That will do it.
Because, of course, there are many, many different methods on offer today that can get people unstuck,
but unless somebody really knows why they are getting into it each time, they just end up getting
back there again and needing to get unstuck again.
David, this is Rebecca Frost. Hello…
I’ve had a little bit of experience with this work and I think what might be helpful in terms of
context in my experience is to hear a little bit more, as you say an example is useful, and for
you to describe for our listeners the methods involved in this work..
So if you could get very concrete in terms of elucidating how this work looks and
sounds, for example, tangibly. And how that might contrast with traditional approaches that you’ve
mentioned, like the Alexander Technique. I know for myself, coming to this work having been trained
as a dancer and a body-worker and now working as a movement educator and artist and therapist,
the shift of focus that you just mentioned in terms of the distinction between getting unstuck
and learning what it is we’re doing that keeps us getting stuck is such a key distinction.
So if you could, both in terms of tangible description and example, give us a little
more information about that. I think that would be helpful.
OK. Well, maybe the best way to do that is by an example because by the very nature of that shift
there isn’t really a repertoire of tools or mechanisms to get somebody unstuck in this work. It’s
more about finding out why they are stuck. That’s where the answer is.
People come into the work bringing any issue that they feels is problematic for
them. Some problem that they run into in their lives and have not been able to solve. This can
be any problem whatsoever, whether it is a physical problem — pain, strain or tension — or something
more emotional, or even phobia kinds of things like fear of heights or fear of flying, as well
as relationship problems. It doesn’t really matter what the issue is.
In this process what we are doing is helping them not so much to solve the problem
but to learn how they could go about solving the problem. It just so happens that in the
workshops we will use the problem in front of us as the medium, as the example, so that they can
be learning how to use their own intelligence, their own perception and their own awareness of
their experiences to explore and navigate and uncover just what is going on that causing this problem.
And, of course, often we do solve the problem in the process, but they will have learned something
more important that they can take out and apply to any other problems they have.
Hmm. You know, when I was listening to Rebecca’s question and I was observing your answer, the
thing that came to my mind is that, first, what amazed me is that it never occur to me to ask myself
the question why I am stuck!
And the second part is that when I think about the challenges, the presenting problems
that I have today they seem to relate to the presenting problems that I had yesterday which always
seem to somehow go back to when we were children and the foolishness that adults gave us and how
we end up trying to recover from those things.
It sounded that your process was completely intellectual instead of emotional…
Can you speak to any of this that I just said?
Yes, that’s something a few people have said before. I think because the LearningMethods process
is largely done though talking. But they are mistaking what we are doing.
In order to understand the problem and solve it we need to get at everything in
their lives that may be part of the problem — the situations and events, their emotional responses
and reactions, their fears and all the feelings, thoughts and ideas and actions they have taken.
They have that information, I don’t. And words are simply the most direct and best way to get at
This isn’t intellectual instead of emotional. Though it is certainly helping
people to learn to use their intelligence so they can correlate their emotional and physical feelings
with the way that they see things — the way that they understand their concepts or their constructs.
The work is there to help somebody understand how their problem works. So that they can connect
that when they get into those situation which they see from their usual point of view, those are
the reactions they have and those are the emotions they experience and that is what their habitual
ideas tell them it makes sense for them to do and this is what the outcome is — the symptoms and
I start every workshop with a little introduction that gets right to the core of
the work. Maybe if I can say this now it might help your listeners understand.
In a sense, the LearningMethods work is about learning to solve our own problems.
To do that successfully we would need to have certain properties in our human nature. What are
these necessary properties and we all have them? So there’s a question and the work is based on
that question — in fact, it is a somewhat multipart question.
The first part is, do we, as human beings, have innate in us or built into us the
sensitivity or the ability to perceive through our own channels the information we would need in
order to know what’s happening? By channels I mean our own experience, our own senses, feelings,
emotions, whatever it is that you can perceive or be aware of on your own without going to an ‘expert’
or using a machine. So, number one, do we have the channels of information we would need to work
out what’s going on?
The second part is do we then have what I like to call the intelligence, that is,
the ability to understand that information, to make sense out of it, to appreciate the significance
or the meaning of the information for ourselves? Do we have the ability to understand what’s going
on with the problem so we can go, "Oh I see what’s happening. Now I see why I am caught in that
problem, because every time this happens, I do this or I see it this way…"
And we not only need to understand why we have the problem, we can we also understand
what the solution might be?
And in addition, since we as construct-creating creatures are always coming up
with some sort of understandings, do we also have the ability to detect when our current understandings
are faulty or misconceived or when we may be fooling ourselves?
The third and final part of the question is do we then have the ability to take
those new understandings and actually put them into practice in our lives by making different choices
or taking different pathways such that we no longer have the problems and our lives work better?
Thus, the LearningMethods work is a way to answer those questions. To help people
see what information they do have in their own lives, in their own experiences, from their own
emotions and responses. To see clearly the ways that they have already understood those experiences
and whether there are any misconceptions or misperceptions in these understandings and then how
they can come to a better or more accurate understanding. And then to help them see exactly what
it means to take that new understanding and really make a change on very deep level and be able
to live that change in practice in daily life.
You know I would like to come in here. This is Elizabeth Garren. Hello everybody.
Rebecca was asking for something really concrete and I think after what you have
said, David, maybe I can fill in a little bit with my experience.
I have been to three LearningMethods workshops in Canada now. That’s about 15 days
of actually doing this work altogether and the main thing that I have noticed about how I tried
to solve a certain problem before I did LearningMethods was that I was always asking the question
why. Why do I have this problem? What’s in my history? How did I grow up? All of that…
But LearningMethods and the workshops that I took were always focusing on the specific
moment in your current reality that the symptom arises and the problem comes up. And the question
then is, what is actually and precisely going on with this problem? Not so much why is this happening.
That insight might come in the process, But what is actually happening now?
To tell you the truth, I had never been asked the kind of questions that would
lead to such a precise, specific sequence of what was actually going on for me. Not having somebody
tell me what should be going on or what was this wonderful new possibility that I could be experiencing,
but actually saying here I am with this real-life problem.
I don’t want to go too much into my personal stuff, but it was a problem of losing
my voice. That was one of the symptoms. Also getting very nervous, incapacitated almost, in front
of a group. So that’s the problem that I worked with in LearningMethods and the first thing I noticed
is that I was being asked to describe my problem and the very words that I was using led to the
next question to find out exactly what was going on and we quite quickly found precisely that.
So in the LearningMethods workshops when you come up with problems, see if you
can find something specific. Not "all the times I lost my voice" or "all the times in general in
my life I am always doing this, I am so bad"… But pick one specific time that you can go back to.
Or it might even happen right there in the workshop that the symptoms come up,
which is even better because then you have your experience right there to be gleaned and looked
at. So go back to one specific time so that you are getting out of generalities like, "this always
happens and I’m sure it is because of this…, or it is probably because of that…". And instead just
get right out on the table what actually happens. For instance, "I thought about having to talk
in front of somebody and immediately I got this terrible feeling in my stomach and I wanted to
run away." OK? So picking a specific time to work from.
Also, you know when you have a problem and you look back on it and describe what
happened, it is often more from the eyes you have looking back, the hindsight with all of your
assessments and your judgments about what happened. But this work is really saying, can you take
yourself back to that moment as you actually were then? And recall how you are when you are going
to be in front of that group and you are very, very nervous and you are afraid you’re going to
lose your voice and say what was happening for you - at that moment.
Sometimes you don’t recall exactly, in which case the next opportunity to learn
all the details will be the next time the problem happens. But it is amazing what comes out when
we can look closely at what actually happens.
Taking off of what you have said and I am really learning this method as we are talking about it…
So with the example that you gave, Elizabeth, when I find myself in situation like that I do what
I call ‘going brain-dead’, I mean, or maybe a language that somebody else might understand as "going
into a fog". I’m gone. I’m someplace else and so asking me to find out where I was will be hard
because I am just gone. I probably leave my body. I am not even present with that because I don’t
want to deal to whatever that particular fear is.
How do you get to that first moment? Although, I guess I am presuming that coming
to that first time is where the "Aha" experience comes so that I can make that shift and do something
And if you just tuned in we are talking about LearningMethods with David Gorman
and learning how to be different.
David, do you want to take that?
Yes. That’s a very good one. Especially with that issue about fear because at a certain point when
the fear comes in or any big reaction comes in, to speak more generally, it is often overwhelming
enough that there isn’t really anything anybody can do at those moments if it has gone that far.
This is particularly true, of course, with fear and phobias where the panic is so great that it
is simply not possible to do anything.
But usually with problems like that when we are working with it in the workshop
it is not actually happening at that moment, and so we are able to take a specific time like Elizabeth
said and look closely at it, almost second by second if necessary to find exactly what happened.
Take, for instance, a stage-fright problem when somebody suddenly gets nervous
just before the concert. But if you look really closely, they didn’t just suddenly get nervous.
They will find, for instance, that just at the moment they have gone into a particular way of thinking
or imagining that is almost so habitual and familiar that they don’t really even register that
these thoughts happened.
For instance they might suddenly think, "Oh, there are two critics in the audience
tonight! I didn’t know that! Oh my god, now my performance better be really good or else…". And,
of course, at the very moment that they begin to think those thoughts, in comes the fear and the
nervousness. Depending on how they react to the fear and what they do next, it can quickly become
overwhelming enough that they will end up having a hard time coping.
It is important that they take in that they have been reacting because they have
a belief system that their nervousness is caused by the critics in the audience and how those critics
are going to judge them — probably badly. But when we are able to take the time and look closely,
we’ll uncover that it was actually their own thinking of the bad reviews that is causing their
fear. The moment I start to think about bad things happening in the concert or what the critics
are going to think, I am reacting to my own thoughts — my own imagining, in fact.
That puts a entirely different light on it when someone can see the situation more
accurately and see that at the moment of going into those habitual thoughts they are stirring up
their own emotional system and their own reactions. This gives them the clues to see clearly that
if they let that reaction get going, then of course they will be overwhelmed and go brain-dead.
Then they will be stuck and simply not be able to take any other steps except hopefully to have
some way of decreasing the symptoms because they do have to perform so they will be looking for
some sort of ‘unsticking’ technique.
So what you are talking about is when people do the things that we are talking about it is pretty
automatic. We don’t go though a thinking process and then end up at that place of being in the
fog or being terrified by a group or whatever. For most of us, we experience it as a pretty automatic
thing. And so if I understanding correctly, what you do in a workshop is break down that automatic
process so that it is like a step-by-step thing so that we see actually what we are doing in our
minds and how we are tripping ourselves up.
Yes, exactly. To keep on with that example for a moment… You are right, normally it is very fast
and seems quite automatic and so people don’t really connect that they are imagining. They think
that it is really about the critics sitting out there.
So the first thing you would be learning is that you misconceived what was causing
the nervousness. That it isn’t the audience or critics; it is your own thinking and projection
of bad things that might happen. This makes a huge difference when you realize that it is no longer
something outside you that’s causing the problem — it is your own thinking and imagining.
That’s one thing. So first of all that literally you are coming to a more accurate
way of seeing what’s happening. Then the second part is really back to your earlier question about
making a shift and therefore being able to do something different.
Once you can see this clearly — that the problem is actually your own kind of thinking,
and also see clearly exactly how it happens — then you have a chance to catch it as it first begins
so you have a chance to take a different path. However, to catch it early enough before the reaction
is overwhelming you need something to alert you enough so that you wake up right at that moment.
So we need to work a little bit on identifying the earliest experiences that happen so that you
can use them as a wake-up call that will let you know that you’re starting to think that way and
beginning to stir up your own reaction system.
Once you can wake up early enough and catch the kind of thinking going on that
normally would lead to feeling nervous, you will have a choice in what you think and not get automatically
caught off into a trail of thoughts that stirs up your reactions and has you reacting to your reactions.
You can then choose to come back to the actual moment so that you can see things clearly as they
are instead if being in a fog of reaction.
By going step-by-step and understanding all the details, it is actually surprisingly
easy to get out of those problems and solve them so that you don’t have them anymore.
David, this is Rebecca and I am wondering if we might approach the same point from just a little
bit of a different angle without going into a full-blown session on air? I wonder if I just give
an example. Let’s say I was in a workshop right now and I said to you as the facilitator or teacher,
"Well I don’t know, I just go into a fog. I got into a fog, that’s all I know about it". What might
you say or ask to help us beyond that moment?
Well, I guess here is where what Elizabeth said about needing to have a specific situation would
be helpful. So we would first of all find out whether you have one specific time when this happened
that we can focus on, preferably either a relatively recent time or one where you have as many
details about it as possible.
Then we would need to look closely at what was it that happened just before the
fog. What was the situation? What was going on? Did something happen, some situation, some thoughts,
and then you go into a fog? So we would be getting at the entire context.
That would be the first thing. These kinds of reactions don’t just happen as in, "There I was walking
down the street and suddenly I was in a fog". Something always happens that the ‘fog’ is the resulting
response to. And we can find it usually quite quickly by being systematic.
But you know, it seems to me that in that process, David, before I got to the fog, that there is,
for me anyway, before I am getting ready to leave I will go into a fear state. So I am wondering,
as I was listening to everything that you were saying and I was trying to find out what’s going
on with me in terms of my thoughts processes, I was saying to myself, well I can feel the fear
coming up my legs or something. So will I have a conversation with my legs in terms of the fear
that’s going into my muscles? And where is the conversation at? Am I staying in my head with that?
How do I have this discussion with myself so that I can get to that moment and realize that I can
in fact do it differently and that I am creating this myself? Which seems that there are a lot
of things going on at the same time.
Yes, of course, there is a lot going on. But it is usually not hard to sort out if we could get
specific and see in the actual situation you are talking about whether, in fact, you are doing
this fear to yourself or whether you find it happening to you as a response or reaction to a situation
you find yourself in. There are many different situations that become problematic for people so
one of the first questions, when you say the fear is coming up, is to find out "fear of what"?
Is it just an experience that you are having which you label fear, or is there any situation or
thoughts occurring where you are going, "Oh that, oh my god!"? So is there an actual content of
Well, we can say that it was fear of being on the radio for example. And that I have to be perfect
while I’m here… and…
…If I just stop you right there at this moment we can do the process. Notice with one or two questions
we already have the actual context — "fear of being on the radio" — and a construct or an idea that
you appear to have that "I have to be perfect". When you look at that idea — I have to be perfect — the
next question is, "Well, are you perfect?"
Because if you can actually say, "Well, you know, actually I am perfect!", then why were you afraid
But, of course, that’s not what somebody says, because another part of them knows that they are
not perfect in the way they are conceiving ‘perfect’.
In fact, here we have one of the tools that Rebecca and Elizabeth will recognize — what
I have come to call "red flag words". If we can hear these words, they can run up a little red
flag for us to alert us to something we have just said. In this case it is, "I have to be perfect".
The red flag words in this case are "have to be".
If we are alerted and we look closely we find there is an idea that something "has
to be" like this. But when we look closer, notice that it isn’t like this — I am not perfect. So
there is an idea about being perfect that’s at odds with the actual reality. I am not perfect,
but I have to be perfect. And so think of the situation that a person is in who is carrying
around that kind of idea "I have to be perfect" in an actual reality where they are not perfect
according to that idea. If you were carrying around that kind of idea "I have to be perfect" when
you know that there is a pretty good chance that you won’t be, what kind of emotional reaction
might you be experiencing?
David, this is Barbara and co-host of this program with Kinshasha. I have a question, and that
is does your method allow people who are not consciously aware of the fact that the issue of perfection
is the barrier? That’s that is what is prompting the fear? They don’t even know that they are in
fear. They are people that are completely disconnected with themselves because they are out in
that fog and moving and experiencing and as a result many times they have psychological issues
or physical issues, you know like my back hurts. Why does my back hurts this time of the month?
Does your system allow the person to have the types of tools that would then give them access to
a method of processing after they leave the workshop? Regardless of what those issues are?
It is a good question, because as I said before, the work is not about solving that particular
issue and it is one of the reasons why I mostly do this work in a workshop format with a group.
So that it’s not just privately with one person’s issue because the point of it is that by exploring
the particular issues that the various members of the group have, people see over a number of days
just what the tools are that we are using. Over that 4 or 5 days, the patterns become clearer in
such a way that they can take that clarity out and really begin to recognize those kind of red
flag words, those kind of ideas, those kinds of reactions in their daily life.
Because of course, it is one thing to have the ideas and the understanding all
there in the workshop situation. It is another thing to actually catch them when they happen in
the moment and be able to meet that moment with some sort of recognition and some sort of different
So, to go back to the other side of your question. Yes, it doesn’t really matter whether someone
already has an awareness or not of the kind of ideas like feeling they should be perfect, because
it will tend to get uncovered pretty quickly in the work. In fact, it is my experience more often
than not that within the first 10 or 15 minutes of questioning up will come all those underlying
beliefs just in the way it did there with Kinshasha.
But it doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t because as Elizabeth said earlier, we
are just kind of exploring to see what is really is going on. If it isn’t obvious in the first
moment of working, the other side of the work is to teach people the tools of exploring so that
they can meet those moments when the problem does happen again and begin to find out what is going
on if they don’t know already.
So, in other words, just to use the example that Kinshasa brought up, if she wasn’t
aware or if we weren’t to find those kind of idea at this moment it doesn’t really matter because
if she is never afraid again, well, there is no problem. And if it does happen again, well, there’s
the moment to wake up and go, "Ah, here it is now. What really is happening? What were my thoughts?
"What did happen?". And then the information we want is almost always there.
I should say that what you gave me in your answer that people leave with tools. That’s what I was
looking for. So people leave the workshop with tools that will assist in their daily life as they
just live and come in contact with issues and problems whether it is in a conscious level or subconscious
Yes, on a conscious level, because you certainly can’t really have a problem that’s subconscious,
I do if my back hurts and I’m not sure why it’s hurting…
You may not know the reasons why your back is hurting — yet. But the problem is showing up as your
back hurting and that’s definitely conscious. But that’s not the problem, that’s just the symptom
of a problem. If we can use those symptoms as wake-up calls to wake us up and go, "Ah, something’s
happening here, but I don’t know what it is. How am I going to find out?"
As opposed to something’s happening in my back. How am I going to get rid of "the
back problem"? Then somebody, of course, will be only looking for a tool to get rid of the symptom,
but they really don’t know why it is happening. What it is a symptom of.
This is Rebecca. Just to piggy-back on what Barbara was saying.
A couple of things. One thing in my experience of this work that is key, from my
point of view, and what makes it exciting to me — and I always look for things to have the potential
of being a revolutionary vehicle so I pay attention at that level — is the transparency that is involved
in the deep transmitting of the LearningMethods work.
So for example, you do leave with a set of tools. It is not like a traditional
clinical psychotherapeutic model in which you are investing for a long time in a process of one-on-one.
A heavy investment that has to happen with a certain person with certain transference with certain
anonymity. It happens in a group setting and the way that I have experienced David’s transmitting
the work is that he was constantly letting us know through words, though body language, through
telegraphing his thoughts verbally what it was and how we might then use these same methods in
our life at large. And then how I might go about telling other people about them so they don’t
even have to be in the room.
Yes, so there’s an empowering component. And the other thing that I just wanted to say briefly
is, I don’t know if it is fair to call it an assumption, David, but how I think of what I understand
about some of the assumptions of the design of humans that might feed this work is that a symptom,
for example my back hurts, is in fact viewed in this context as something in a way to celebrate.
It is viewed as our system is working because it is letting us know. It’s something to pay attention
to. And that shift, that framing, is helpful to me as I go about thinking in terms of "problem
This is Elizabeth. And I agree, Rebecca, that for me was the most revolutionary aspect, using your
word, of this work — that I completely shifted from what do I do about my symptom to "my god, this
is a message!" And I get to have the fun — after you have done some of these workshops, it is fun,
I can’t wait to have a problem now — of doing the sleuthing work that comes from your very own words.
You can write it down if you are alone. You sit down and write and describe your
problem and there will be something there if you have got some of these tools at your beck and
call that you can begin to unravel and begin to see what’s actually going on with the problem and
what are some other choices you might have, not only in how you frame the problem or understand
it, and if you can be clear about that the next time it comes up it is amazing how it just busts
it wide open!
I am just wondering if you could use this work in something like I continue to attract to myself
relationships that don’t work and could I use this LearningMethods for something like that?
Yes. Oh, definitely! Again we have those words that Elizabeth just used — "how we frame" things — and
this is so important. There is a way someone has framed things — "I attract to myself" — as if I am
doing something to attract it. But in effect when you find out more clearly what somebody is doing
you find, for instance, they are somehow getting involved with others presumably because they are
attracted to them in certain ways and then get into relations that don’t work for them.
We would need to sit down and really look closely at what is it that you get attracted
to? What is it that somehow draws you into a relationship? When does the "not-working" thing happen?
Is it only afterwards? Are there any signs of that before that you are not looking at because you
are looking at something else, for instance, the attractive bits? And all that sort of thing.
So in that process I would look at from the beginning when I am telling myself about the experience
that I am having?
Well, in a sense we would be looking at what really is happening? How does someone get into relationships
that then don’t work for them? How exactly does this happen?
I think in one way underlying the tools in the LearningMethods work is that when
we can learn how to look clearly at what happens in our lives, we can really start to see why the
problems happened. But in order to do that we do really need to look closely at what really is
happening here. How do I get into such relationships? And that’s a question, of course, I can’t
answer because they are not my relationships and the only person who has that information is the
person who actually gets into the relationship.
What really does draw somebody in and why don’t they notice the problems until
afterwards? This is not a rhetorical question, by the way. We really need to find why they don’t.
In fact, one of the things that intrigued me the most when I began to explore things this way was
that I had always had the background of being the expert; being the one that had the answers that
people came to me for. They would say, "Use your method to fix me up". And I began to realize that
I was going though a very fundamental shift where I really didn’t have any of the answers for people.
I can’t know what they are going through. They are the only ones who know that. And I can’t know
what’s best for them. They are the only ones who will be able to determine that.
The one thing that I did have though was a way to help them find the answers in
their own experience because they have all the information. They just usually don’t know how to
look for that information and they don’t know how to explore, often simply because they are just
looking for a way to get rid of the problem.
Mmm… We’re talking about LearningMethods with David Gorman. It’s starting to make sense. It’s taking
me a while to understand this process but it seems, certainly as a radio host, I am fascinated
at your questions and your listening and obviously the listening and the questions seems to be
the foundation of this work.
Yes, yes, very much so. Really what anybody who is coming to the work is learning is how to perceive
and listen to their own experience so that they are not just having their experiences but missing
the meaning of them, they are actually understanding the significance of their experiences.
It is really from that direct seeing it in action I think that makes sense to people,
but could I just mention something for your listeners? If someone is intrigued and wants to find
out just a little bit more, there are quite a number of articles up on the learningmethods.com
web site and anybody can go there and read them and that will give you an idea of some of the process.
Elizabeth, Rebecca and others there in Minneapolis are helping organize things
for me to move there and begin a training course to train them as teachers, as well as to give
public workshops. Any of your listeners could contact Elizabeth for more details.
Yes, this is Elizabeth. If anybody wanted to call locally to find out about the fall 2004 workshops
or about teacher training call 612-375-9142 and we will be glad to talk with you over the phone.
But also David has a wonderful web site — the best web site I ever have visited,
actually — with a lot of information and also the details as they come up about when workshops are
happening, not only in Minneapolis but in other places around the world. So that would be another
place to check, learningmethods.com, for information.
Did I understand David has a book? What’s the title of his book?
David is well-known for books from long ago, "The Body Moveable". You may want to answer
Yes, there are several books. There is my big, fat anatomy and function book, "The Body Moveable",
600 pages with tons of illustrations about how we are built and how we move.
There is also a book of articles and essays, "Looking at Ourselves", mostly
from my Alexander Technique teaching days, that shows my thinking and early evolution of this present
work. There is a lot of material in there about the physical and functional model of our elastically-sprung
Then there are also all the newer articles about the LearningMethods work that
I and other teachers have written and that are all published on the web site.
The details of availability and so on for all these books are on the web site.
Now, I'm currently working on another one that’s putting together the overview
about the LearningMethods work. But, interestingly, I have actually found that I can’t write about
it in the abstract. I think as anybody who reads any of those articles which are mostly narratives
of pieces of work, you will appreciate how the methods and principles of the work emerge from an
actual person’s real, concrete, real issues.
Yes, as we come in for a landing with these last several minutes here, I wonder if Elizabeth would
like to say those phone numbers again and I will also float this question. Anything you would like
to say David… I know you have been teaching this work around the world and that’s intriguing to
me because I know you have been in a lot of different settings and I wonder if there might be anything
you would like to say about observations about how this work is the same or different in different
cultural settings, but first Elizabeth maybe you want to say that phone number again.
Yeah, I’ll give the number again. Locally you can call me, Elizabeth Garren at area code 612-375-9142.
Thank you. Back to you, David?
Right, globally… No, it really did surprise me when I began teaching in many different cultures
and many different languages that not only were people everywhere running into most of the same
issues but a small handful of central issues kept coming up over and over again. Issues about fitting
into work, about stress and strain and trying too much, about relationship, and one’s own sense
of oneself in relation to other people, and all those kind of things seem to be pretty much the
same in every culture. I’m not sure if it says as much about us as humans as it does about the
spread of a global culture, but there it is.
I think it might be interesting for a listeners to hear a few of the places that you have taught.
Well, I am pretty much teaching regularly in most of these places. I go to Sweden — Stockholm, Malmö
and Göteborg at least 4 or 5 time a year. Also to London and here in France we hold many workshops
in Provence in the south were I live and up in Paris. Also Switzerland and Austria less regularly.
I come over several times a year to teach in Canada - Toronto and Edmonton among other places.
So the work is expanding and growing not only as people want to have workshops
in their area but also in the number of people now training to be LearningMethods teachers which,
of course, will help more so that the more teachers there are I don’t have to keep rushing around
the world as much.
David approximately how many participants attend your sessions?
David: I keep it quite strictly limited to no more than 8 people because we really
need to spend the time to get into depth and I want to make sure that everybody who comes can bring
up one or more issues and explore it though as far as we can go in that period of time. It is very
important to keep the numbers so that everybody is participating at a deep level with the time
available for their learning.
It takes quite a bit of time to explore systematically though these things and then do a follow-up
a day or two later when people have had realizations and insights and results from their explorations
and so on.
We don’t have much time left, right? This is Elizabeth and I have a quote that I would like to
read. I gleaned this from a tape from one of the last workshops I attended in Toronto and I am
just going to read this because I think it gives again the kernel of the process of the work.
This is something that David said in the context of somebody being amazed of how
rigorously the information, rigorously, in order to get this really crucial and wonderful information
about a problem.
"What we often find in front of us are sloppy, vague and unsystematic ways of
using our thinking and our awareness, driving us into reaction and problems. A great part of what
we are doing in this work is to get very clear and precise and systematic about how we can use
our own perceptions and our own intelligence to understand the significance of all our daily experiences.
When we can do that, over and over we see that what we need to change is ALL THERE in front of
Gee, I couldn’t have said that better myself!
When I hear that you know what it makes me realize that we have to be conscious. We have to stop
being lazy as it relates to what we are doing and the way that we are doing our lives and instead
of allowing life to just happen to us somehow be real deliberate about our lives, real conscious
Yes, when we really explore into this, we have this incredible heritage of sensitivity and intelligence
and we really have not had a way to learn how to use it. When you can learn how to use it on your
daily lived experience with all those people around you it enables us to just completely change
our lives and get rid of these problems that we have been laboring under for years.
I just want to thank you so much. As I told you, you had a whole hour to talk about this work and
you have done such an excellent job. I am so looking forward to meeting you in the next couple
of weeks. It is awesome and it fits everything that makes sense to me at this point in time. I
would also presume that what you’re probably noticing is that more and more people are attracted
to this work and more and more people, for a lack of different language right now, want to wake
up and want to come out of the fog.
Yes, yes. And they want to find their own way of doing it, not just by someone else’s system is
the thing that I like so much about it.
To learn to navigate their own lives, shall we say.
That’s the key.
Well, I want to thank you, David, for this conversation and maybe you might want to give the number
one more time so that people will be able to reach you, Elizabeth.
OK, 612-375-9142, that’s Elizabeth. or check the web site: www.learningmethods.com.
Thank you David for your time and explaining this work to us, I appreciated it so much.
Well, thank you, Kinshasa and Barbara. We could go on for another hour or two if we had the time,
but I’ve enjoyed myself too.
Thank you now. Bye.
And I want our listeners to know that you were listening to Health Notes from the
Heart of a Natural Woman and it is 11: 01. You are listening to Fresh Air Radio, KFAI, 90.3 FM
in Minneapolis and 106.7 FM in Saint Paul. We’re your community radio station. Stay tuned because
conversation with Elle MacPherson is next…
There is a small biography of personal details about
the author below.
About the Author
David Gorman has been studying human
structure and function since 1970. He is the author of an illustrated 600-page
text on our human musculoskeletal system, called
The Body Moveable (now in
its 6th edition and in colour), and numerous articles and essays, including
the book, Looking at Ourselves (2nd
edition in colour).
David has been working with performers (singers,
musicians, actors, dancers and circus artists) for over forty years. He is a
trainer of teachers of LearningMethods and of the
Alexander Technique and has taught all
over the world in universities, conservatories, performance companies, and orchestras;
for doctors in hospitals and rehabilitation clinics; and in training courses
for Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, physiotherapy, osteopathy, massage & yoga.
Over the years, his changing understanding about the
root causes of people's problems led him to gradually extend his Alexander Technique
teaching into the development of a new work, LearningMethods (and an
offshoot, Anatomy of Wholeness about our marvelous human design), which
is being integrated into the curricula of performance schools in Europe, Canada
and the United States by a growing number of LearningMethods
Teachers and Apprentice-teachers.
For the last 6 years, David has been running online
post-graduate groups for Alexander Technique teachers and groups for those who
want to learn to use LearningMethods in their own lives and work, as well as
a group for those who want to go on to train as LearningMethods teachers.
Telephone: +1 416-519-5470
78 Tilden Crescent, Etobicoke, Ontario M9P 1V7 Canada (map)