About Ralph Strauch
I practice the Feldenkrais Method in Pacific Palisades, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, and I write and teach about the importance of self-awareness in being fully human. Some of my teaching and writing can be found elsewhere in this website.
I was trained in the Feldenkrais Method by Moshe Feldenkrais, the originator of the Method, and have been in practice since 1983. My academic training was as a theoretical mathematician specializing in probability theory, with a Ph.D. in Statistics from the University of California at Berkeley. Before going into the Feldenkrais work, I was a senior mathematician at the Rand Corporation, where my research focused on defense policy, public policy analysis and decisionmaking, and military command and control. I've been exploring the bodymind relationship since the late 1960s, through T'ai Chi and other martial arts, meditation, the Feldenkrais Method, and other tools I developed myself.
I have written two books, THE REALITY ILLUSION: How you make the world you experience, and LOW-STRESS COMPUTING: Using awareness to avoid RSI. I have also written a number of articles relating to the role of awareness in being human. I am currently working on another book on COMPOSING EXPERIENCE, which will update the ideas I first explored in THE REALITY ILLUSION in light of my own growth and development since I wrote it.
That's the basics, so you can return to the Table of Contents if you've read enough, or read on to find out how I made the transition from mathematician to movement teacher
Some people are surprised to find a former mathematician teaching the Feldenkrais Method, and see the two vocations as very different. In some ways they are, but in other ways my Feldenkrais work is a natural extension of my career as a mathematician.
My mathematical training focused on decisionmaking with incomplete information in the face of uncertainty. It gave me a conceptual framework for way of thinking about these issues that carries over into my current vocation.
My research at Rand involved studying how government organizations structure their perceptions of the world and use those perceptions to make decisions and to act. That theme eventually became my major research interest. Some of the ideas about perception that later played a central role in THE REALITY ILLUSION first germinated as ideas about systems analysis and other aspects of bureaucratic decisionmaking.
In the late 1960s I became interested in the martial arts, initially as a way of keeping in shape and developing some self-defense skills. I moved from karate into judo and jujitsu, and eventually into T'ai Chi and Aikido. These "internal" arts ultimately depend more on awareness and on the control of perception than they do on strength/speed/skill in the conventional sense. They led me further -- into Taoist philosophy, meditation, the writings of Carlos Castaneda, and a fascination with the body/mind relationship. I developed a very personal form of martial arts practice, focusing on the understanding of physical interaction and conflict at very basic levels.
Eventually, I came to see that the core questions underlying my personal quest were the same questions I was asking in my work at Rand, simply applied to a different domain.
- How do we construct our perception of the world, and then function within the context of that construction?
- What are the ways we distort our perceptions and how do they interfere with achieving what we want?
- How can we achieve a better understanding of the underlying reality within which we function?
At Rand I explored these questions in the context of the perceptions and actions of bureaucratic organizations. My personal explorations concerned the same questions as they applied to my own life.
In 1976 I left Rand, and with my wife and kids, spent a year living in a motor home. We wandered around the western U.S. and Canada, living in National Park and Forest Service campgrounds. I thought a lot about these core questions, and wrote the first draft of THE REALITY ILLUSION. After a year we returned to Los Angeles and I supported myself with consulting work on command and control and other defense issues, for Rand and for other clients as well.
In 1980 Moshe Feldenkrais gave a workshop in Los Angeles. I had heard of him and his work sounded interesting, so I went to the workshop to see what he was about. He offered a set of tools to explore my core questions that was as good as any I'd found, and far better than most. He was starting a professional training several months later. He was in his late 70s, so this training would probably be his last. I signed up for the training with no intention of becoming a Feldenkrais Teacher; at the time I didn't even know what one was. I simply wanted to pick his brains and learn what he knew, to apply it in my own life.
The recession in the early 1980s dried up my defense consulting practice, so I had to decide whether I still enjoyed that work enough to invest the time and effort to keep it going. I didn't, and the Feldenkrais work seemed like a more natural and rewarding way to go. I've been doing it since.