Sunday, December 31, 2006


December 2006

59. Dec. 30: Life is Good. Now is Grand. We are...

58. Dec. 28: Posture and Acture. (Say What?)

57. Dec. 24: Christ-mas, Now Mass

56. Dec. 21: Nature's Flexibility and the Joys of Variation

55. Dec. 21 Sostice, Rain, December, Love...Ah

54. Dec. 18: Yoga as if We Had a Brain, Lesson 2, More Fun Forward Fold.

53. Dec. 15: The Delight of Life

52. Dec. 12: Yoga as if We Had A Brain, Lesson 1, Forward Fold

51. Dec. 9: Moving and Learning, the Miracle Continues

50. Dec. 8: When You Can't Do Any Old Lesson in Life, Options Useful and Less So

49. Dec. 6: Math as a Chance to Use our Brain in a New Way, the way it likes to work

48. Dec. 1: Feet, 2

Novemeber 2006

47. Nov. 22: Feet

46. Nov. 20: Feldie Fun, #5 Eyes and Tongue

45. Nov. 18: Raw Foods and Waking up

44. Nov. 16: Is it Right Yet?

43. Nov.13: Back and Shoulder and Neck Pain

42. Nov. 4: Undo Deficits, Enhance Excellence, Wake Up to the Present

October 2006
41. Oct. 31. Feldenkrais and Breathing and Grape Arbors

40.Oct. 30: Opening Two Habits: Side of Bed, Reading a Novel

39. Oct 25: Tai Chi And Feldenkrais:Two Goods make a Better.

38. Oct 24: Healing by Learning

37. Oct 22: Habits, Compulsions, Addictions

36. Oct 20: Oh shit, I'm alive

35. Oct 18. Feldenkrais and the Big Self in us All

34. Oct 17. Special Needs Children and the Joys of Transformation

33. Oct 14: Slave or Free??

32. Oct 12: Marlie, Yoga Teacher, Wonderful Person and so on

31. Oct 11: Awareness and Saving our Souls and the Earth (Is that all?)

30. Oct 9: Awareness and Unawareness

29. Oct 6: Awareness 3; Thich Nhat Hahn Meditation

28. Oct 5: The Morning Gurdjieff Meditation, Awareness, 2

27. Oct 4: Awareness, Part 1 (and Gurdjieff's "fantastic" idea)

26. Oct 3: The Big Picture, Pain and Beyond

25. Oct. 2: What is the Feldenkrais Method?

September 2006
24. Sept 30: Who's In Charge Here, (20 breaths: can we be aware that long?)

23. Sept 29: Byron Katie, WakeUp Feldenkrais and Happiness.

22. Sept 28: What is WakeUp Feldenkrais?

21. Sept 26: Presence is the End, Presence is the Means

20. Sept 21: Happiness, Slow and Fast

19. Sept 20: Slow Down, Lie Down and Learn

18. Sept 18: Feldenkrais and Happiness

17. Sept 16: Sitting to Standing, Again

16. Sept 14: Sitting to Standing and the Obvious, the Elusive

15. Sept 14: Feldie #3, a hard lesson, sort of

14. Sept 12: Waking Up

13. Sept 11: WakeUp Feldie Thts on 9-11

12. Sept 9: Let's Talk about Babies

11. Sept 8: Feldie Fun #2

10. Sept. 7: Change's Weird Requirement: We Have to Change (OhmyGod)

9. Sept 6: Awareness, Feldenkrais® and WakeUp Feldenkrais

8.5. Oldie but Goodie: Movement, Children, Living a Full Life.

8. Sept 4: Options and Habits

7.5. Another Oldie: Between the Ears, is where the "Problem" is.

7. Sept 1: Little Miss Sunshine and How We Learn from Crisis (sometimes)

August 2006
6. Aug 31: An Amazing Experiment: Happy Face, Happy Thoughts

5. Aug 30: Feldenkrais to Enhance and Deepen Yoga and Pilates

4. Aug. 29: Feldie Fun #1

3. Aug 29: Who was Moshe Feldenkrais?

2. Aug 28: Feldenkrais and Learning

1. Aug 27: The Joy of Feldenkrais

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Life is Good

fun tree bark
Life is good.

In the present.

And if that's so,
we might ask:
How can we be more present?

Ah? To wake up to our being asleep,
that's the first step.

And then:
not to fall into beating
ourselves up
with the "Oh, damn. I feel asleep again."

And then:
to really
the sensations
of being right now.

There is a lot
in the now
and it's fine
and great
to be in a mode
of pleasure
and joy
and gratitude
when we come here.


(Note. The essays are rotating through the three blogs, more or less one per day.
So you might want to check:

Tai Chi Yoga Health Weight Loss Joy
Life on Earth ::: Slow Sonoma
for the last two essays.)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Posture and Acture

Up to the tree
Northern California sort of has seasons.

Posture and what? Well, good old Moshe Feldenkrais didn’t think posture was all that it was cracked up to be. He thought that what mattered was function, and the best state to be in was one in which you could easily act in all six directions: right, left, back, forward, up and down. That would be good acture, being in that state.

Stand at a military salute kind of posture leaves you severely limited for anything but falling backwards.

So, how would you stand to move easily and quickly in all directions?

Well, it wouldn’t be the slumpy over stuff that caused all our mothers to nag us to “stand up straight.” So the moms were kind of right. Stand up straighter anyway, but not stiff, not tight, not tense.


That’s what Moshe used to say. Or, if you want to be a movie star and stand in front of a crowd looking regal, have a regal posture. Posture is for posts and for impressing people.

And acture is a word that never really took off, but still: let’s keep the idea. Sitting now, how can we be in a position to move in all directions easily? If we were to stand and just think about moving six directions, what would that do to our organization?

Almost any Feldenkrais lesson, either of the group Awareness Through Movement type, or the one to one Functional Integration type, is great for “posture,” in that you stand taller and lighter after the lesson, and the lessons can be about just about anything, and are almost never about “standing up tall.” Most are in the lying or sitting position and still, after they are over we stand taller.

Why is that?

Because we are wired up in our brain with more of us connected to more of us, and when we use our legs and our pelvis and our feet and our spine and our ribs and our eyes we are going to, without “trying,” end up coming to a useful and more graceful standing pose than we usually do. Awareness is the key, and not awareness of “how to stand,” but this sweet awareness of how amazing it is to be in a human body and how great it feels to be pushing down into the ground and feeling that force transmitted through our skeleton, holding us up, almost as if weightless.

We can feel like that?


Come get a lesson, or put on one you’ve got at home on a CD, or purchase some lessons, or just spend some time getting the various parts of you happier and more connected with the other parts, preferably in an on the ground, variation and experimentation and discovery way.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Now Mass

The Christmas come along, the mass dedicated to Christ. A good old guy, or a magical man, or a god, or a God. Take your pick, or ignore the guy and go for the season, a season of expectation almost beyond reason, and that's been said, the shopping, the planning, the eating, the finagling of schedules.

One (A) comes once a year, and then fades, and what of this moment.

The other (B) is all those little sweeties, those moments, those now, now, nows
keep coming and coming.

Which are the substance of our life? (A or B?)

Which is the Time of Year to make up for all the times we weren't present with the present of our presence for another person? (A or B?)

Rhetorical questions, obvious answers in the brain, the mind, and then there is this now and this now and this now. Does the heart remember how precious this being alive thing is?

We experience it, and we are awake.

We don't experience it, and we are asleep.

The ongoing celebration of now mass.

One possibility.

The ongoing sleep of missing the moment. Another possibility, and this:
A stark thief of our very lives.

Scary, or funny, or infuriating, or ridiculous and then again: we are always free to wake back up into this moment.

And this one.

And this.

(Note. The essays are rotating through the three blogs, more or less one per day.
So you might want to check:

Tai Chi Yoga Health Weight Loss Joy
Life on Earth ::: Slow Sonoma
for the last two essays.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Nature's Flexibility --Sweet

tiger mom

Here's a tiger/ lion mother, who was depressed. Her babies had died. Someone thought
she needed to mother, so they dressed up pigs
and let the two try a variation
on the usual reality.

The variation worked.

and our brain is very flexible.
And amazing.

Look on:
tiger mom

So without the 'story' of who she is supposed to take care of

(maybe have some refresher fun via
the Byron Katie work

the mother just did
what nature wants us to do:
took care
of those who need care.

Be it a flower, a garden, a town, a child
a piglet
it's the doing and living
and loving that
seems to count.

tiger mom

So far, so fun. Let's see what the last picture is:

tiger mom


Good year, good cheer, this is what we are like,
a sunny day behind the clouds,
a joyous generous being
behind the fear and clutching,
a natural and real human
behind the nonsense and conditioning.

Life is good. We are good.


Later note:
this story
apparently is fictional
oh well
stories are true
even if they aren't "true."
These come from a kind of special
where pigs nurse tigers
and tigers nurse pigs
and the zoo
is just a little sleazy,
myth busters, alas

And then again,
in a Thailand paper, here's
the cheery side to the "real"
(again: taking pause to realize
how much of any story
is in our mind
and our reaction to the story:
see again
our friend and way out, Byron Katie

Here's the weird and wild "true" non-sleazy bit. Though there is a sleazy side.

Although the Sriracha Tiger Zoo is off the beaten track, it is nonetheless quite a famous zoo, with one of the world’s most successful breeding programs for tigers. But breeding tigers is not its only agenda. Entertaining and fascinating shows are what really bring in the crowds of visitors to this unique zoo.

Visitors recently witnessed some bizarre feeding habits of the zoo’s most famous inhabitants. A two-year-old female pig named Benjamaj is a blended pedigree of parents, Land-Less and Las-White, that were imported from Norway. Benjamaj is a kind and maternal porky. She has taken 4 baby tigers under her care and along with 3 tiny piglets is nursing the tigers as though she were their mum. She loves those cats and they love her back.

In the wild, pigs would ordinarily be easy prey for tigers. But the Sriracha Tiger Zoo has a reputation for accomplishing the impossible, and creating successful relationships with animals of different species is right up their alley.

Oh, well:
let's think of
the story
as variations
and flexibility
of how
we think about reality
and it will work
that way,
at least

( Note: I'm back on a one a day essay/ thought/ contemplation/ posting per day,
am rotating them through,
then wakeup-feldenkrais,
then taichiyoghealthweightloss,
if that interests you.)

Solstice, Rain, December, Love.... Ah

There we go, that's a nice list to think about and weave around, isn't it?

Words, they can keep us so captive and miserable, and then, if we use them as pointers, and not the thing at which we are pointing, they can be sweet and pleasant reminders.

The glory, well one of the glories, of the Feldenkrais Way is that it brings us deeper into ourselves, into a level of sensing and immediate awareness of our embodied self. Funny, having a body, but it's the main game going on, and walking out to the kitchen, or up into the hills, or picking up a ball and throwing it around with our kids are all still of the essence of what a life is all about.

And so; solstice: the Earth moves, rotates around itself each day, and rotates around the sun each year. Here we go, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, having rotated around to the shortest day of the year. Shortest day, longest night, the ebb and flow. What if the night were like soil, and cultivating the glories of the night were like a plant sending down roots? And if day were like the sunlight, and cultivating the glories of the day paralleled the plants love of and growth to the sunlight?

In the night we see less well and hear better. It's the time for cuddling around a fire, or a warm naked friend, or a good book, or bowl of soup (even raw soup can be very tasty and warm enough to make it just a delight). Time for music, to sing, to play, to listen, to hum to ourselves by the fire, or gazing up into the bright cold winter's night. Time to go to bed early, or meditate, or go to be early and cuddle with our naked friend, and even more, maybe, and then wake up before it's time to get up and stay warm and peaceful, meditating in our warm winter's bed.

Do less in the winter, spend more time cultivating the slow and the peaceful. Save up for summer the running around, the perky, the blasting off into the light.

And then there are the celebratory folk, lights on the tree, ho, ho, ho, lots of presents and visiting and feasting. And some folks, bless them, really like this, and if they can do it without losing themselves to automatic behavior, what an accomplishment.

And it's raining today. The wetness, in this climate, a Mediterranean climate, which means two main segments of the year; wet in the late fall, the winter and the early spring, and dry the rest of the time.

Now is the time of wet.

Now is the time of rain.

The front of the body and the back, the top and the bottom, the left side and the right. There are all these useful ways of temporarily dividing up our internal sensory attention. This is good.

The rain is good. It is wet and I'll get out my umbrella and take a walk in it, just to make sure that my 'be comfortable' conditioning doesn't have too strong and grip on me.

December is now. December 21 is today. The end of the year. The year has rolled through. The Earth has survived. Those of us reading this have survived.

What have we loved this year? Who have we loved? What little steps have we taken in the continuing transformation of ourselves toward our dreams and image of a sweet and complete life? What moments of pleasure and satisfaction and usefulness have we given ourselves? What have we learned? What are we enjoying learning?

Are we learning more about love?

Are we loving what we are learning?

Are we loving the people around us?

Are we loving ourselves?

Ah, the possibilities, the options; this is life isn't it? This is life.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yoga as if we had a Brain, Lesson 2

More forward fold.


Because it's fun.

1) Bend forward and see how it goes. This is for starting first off in the morning, not a continuation of the other lesson, but a variation, another way of going about it. Anyway, lean forward and see where it is easy and where it is creaky.

2) Stand and push your feet easily into the earth, and breathe easily into the air and look easily into the distance. Feel the joy of being alive. Notice the creaky and easy areas in this position.

3) Play with your feet. Rotate forward and back on your feet and side to side on your feet until it is easy. Then make circles, one way and then the other until it is easy.

4) Interlace your fingers and put them behind your head. Lean forward and again notice the easy and the creaky areas. See if you can rotate in those creaky areas. For example, if your neck seems the creakiest area, rotate around your neck. If it's somewhere in the mid-back, see if you can rotate there. Same with lower back, though just do little movement there.

5) Stand. Let down your arms beside you. Sense your feet and your spine and add a smile. Breathe and enjoy breathing.

6) Put your arms straight out to the sides from your shoulders at shoulder height. As if you are flying. Start with your arms open and palms up toward the sky. In this position, start to fold forward as a slump, so your head and pelvis both come toward each other. In this slump / fold, let your arms rotate around the shoulder, so that the palms rotate from toward the sky, to forward, to down, and perhaps even toward behind you and even back up again. Then uncurl, unslump and go to the opposite, an arching where the butt is lifted toward your stomach comes forward and our back arches and your head arches back a bit and your arms rotate around your shoulders so the hands point forward, then up, and then back. Have some fun with this.

7) Stand. Rest. Breathe. Smile. Enjoy. Wait. Watch. Then do the slump and arch thing, but move your arms in the opposite rotation. This is too hard to describe on paper, no not really too hard, it just takes too long. You figure it out, it's the opposite of what easy seems. Do it this opposite way awhile and then go back to the easy way. Smile and breathe while you do this.

8) Come up. Stand. Visualize folding simply forward, hands down toward the ground. Then do this. And then come up and little and let your butt / pelvis do a little tucking and arching, without anything else, or without much else being involved. Have fun. Butt tuck, butt up into the air. Then fold forward, push your feet into the ground and your butt up into the air. If you have any creaky areas still, do little rotations in them and soften and release to the extend that is delightful and easy. Don't strain. Don't pain. Let the brain heart and joy bring the gain.

9) Stand and smile and breathe and delight in yourself. Yes.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Delight of Life

This is what it is, right? We are alive, it's a miracle, so yippee, let's delight in this life while the gift is ours. Of course, if we see others being kept from delight in life, say because of racial prejudice or economic injustice, we can do what we can do. Sometimes finding something effective can be crazy making, but that's a long story, and I'm trying to keep these short.

So: we are in delight, or we aren't.

We are present or we aren't.

It's possible to be happy and stone total unaware, but it can only last as long as everything is going our way.

So now we can wind our way back to waking up and Feldenkrais, because unlike many other healing systems (though not all, see an earlier essay on Body Electronics and Little Miss Sunshine), we aren't after "balancing" people. We are after helping people achieve radically better balance, the kind of balance that would make one a superb judo player, but we are not about balancing them.

We are about unstabilizing a stuck way of being and from that unstability, which we could call the New, or the Not Knowing state, people can learn to be and connect and sense themselves and be aware of themselves and have an expanded and clearer "self image."

They can begin to move and breathe and sense and think in more clear and efficient ways.

And delightful ways.

Think of the images of delight: a child laughing, young people dancing, puppies playing in the mud, kittens with each other, a butterfly lifting off, children jumping and skipping and twirling, and people hugging and spinning and skiing and swimming and skateboarding and surfing and running with ease. The world is full of delight and delight is often full of movement and to enhance movement and self knowledge and self love, this is a wonderful life, this wake up Feldenkrais life.

I hope you can increase your life and joy and delight with these ideas, or coming on around and getting some lessons. Don't be shy, don't be afraid, the changes will unbalance you yes, but it's just what the child delight seeker in you wants, to knock the old cobwebs out so you can start to be even more wonderful than you already are.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Yoga as if we had a Brain, Lesson 1

Again a yoga class and again the joy of moving , and of being in a room with others paying attention to themselves, and of having various shapes and configurations to enter and leave. A chance to move and be present and pay attention.

Again a yoga class and the dreariness of the This is The Way style of teaching. If you can do the pose, fine, then do it and enjoy, or do it and show off, or both. If you can't, it's sort of tough luck, except you are given, again, and again, the rules of whatever the system: 'more weight into this leg', 'inner rotate this part', 'roll back that', 'let X go forward/back.' And so on.

Never learning, never an appeal to the brain and to exploration. Never the phrase: try it this way and try it that and see if you notice the difference. Never the idea: notice where in you is stopping this movement and instead of "stretching" or trying to surmount that limiting point (by all the Rules of "this back" and "that rotated" and whatnot), notice how you could stop this movement even more voluntarily.

Never this option: instead of pushing more or harder or further, how about a change of direction and emphasis?

Anyway. As the book progresses, I'll be slipping in some yoga for those who are willing to slow down and connect with the real core to movement: the brain.

Here's the first one:


1) Lean with your hands toward the floor and see what that is like. Avoid pushing, straining, and "trying." Notice where this is easy and pleasant for you and notice where this seems stopped or unpleasant or both. Notice how you are breathing. Notice any inner war-statements, the "I can't do this," or "I'm too…," and so on. Notice what it's like to notice instead of "trying."

2) Stand tall, or tallish and notice your feet on the ground, notice how high your eyes are in the sky, notice your breathing.

3) Come up on to your toes and become even taller and flop down on your heels. Do this a number of times with ease, pleasure and experimentation, noticing your breathing and your spine and your pleasure.

4) Stand tall, close your eyes, sense your entire self and rest.

5) Open your eyes and lean forward, but make sure it is no more than 80% of what you are capable of doing. In this position, shift weight from the front of your feet to the back and back to front enough times to enjoy it. Then shift weight from left foot to your right foot, again, enough times to enjoy it and maybe learn a little. Learn what? It doesn't need to be in words, it's better not in words, just a feeling/ sensation of learning "something."

6) Come back to upright. Rest again, eyes closed and sensing.

7) Lean forward, as usual 80%, and bend and straighten just your right knee. See what that does in your pelvis. See what that does in your foot. See if you can feel a push from the floor to your pelvis as you do this. Rest (you chose how). The repeat with the other knee and leg and foot.

Notice how your spine and ribs rotate as you bend and straighten your knees. Notice how your breath co-ordinates with this, or does not. Notice how you could make it easier and more delightful.

8) Come to stand and rest and sense and see in your feel as if learning is going on.

9) Lean forward easily and now bend and straighten both knees at the same time, noticing breathing and pushing into the ground and movement in your pelvis and pleasure and connection in your spine and brain.

10) Rest. And then lean down just enough so that you can rest your hands on your knees. Breath easily. Now breathe so you fill your belly as you breathe in and pull in your belly as you breathe out. Now as you breathe in and push out your belly, arch your back inward and bring your head back and your butt higher in the air. And when you breathe out, fold so that your back is arched up like a cat and your head is looking at your sex and your sex is folding up toward your head. Go back and forth, arched and folded, noticing your spine and your pelvis and the whole shape of you and your weight on your feet.

11) Stand and rest.

12) Now fold forward at the waist and stick your butt up and let your arms hang down easily and try a different trajectory. Instead of all this up and down stuff, allow your spine to twist, as you are folded forward like this, to the right and to the left. Have some fun, seeing how this makes the world look.

13) Stand and rest.

14) Now, simply fold forward and see how this is different than in the beginning of the lesson. Enjoy your life and your spine and your learning and your awareness.

15) Yes.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Moving and Learning, the Miracle Continues

When we are very young the world is simple and wonderful. The miracle continues. (Yesterday's essay, "You are Alive, the Miracle of it All," at Life on Earth/Slow Sonoma started this series). We eat, nursing if we are lucky. We sleep. We are held and cooed over. We wiggle around and discover who and what we are.

At first we have no direction, really, to our movements. They are less even than exploratory, they are more like thrashing around. But this thrashing around is our life, and we have a brain that is noticing and learning from this thrashing and we begin to pick up patterns that seem to get the same results.

A certain movement will bring this hand thing to our mouth. We like our mouth, this is where pleasure centers in our young world, and this hand thing, which seems a pretty interesting and wiggly part as well, can touch and make friends with our mouth. This is nice. This is interesting. Who really knows what it is to a baby, except it seems from the outside to be compelling enough to try again and again.

Sucking on the hand, wiggling the fingers, this is the stuff of young scientists, young geniuses, the explorer is set in motion.

We are learning. This is what human life is. Eating, sleeping, eliminating, being held and hugged and coed over, moving around and learning and exploring. Life is near and close and entirely sensual. No concepts, no words, just learning, and, if things are going right, wanting food and getting food when we want it, wanting release and sleep and getting it when we want it.


Think of falling in love as a brief chance to return to this close and sensual cooing and touching and exploring and eating and sleeping a lot place. The stories aren't yet up and between us, the words are in our way, this other person is brand new and the glories of the flesh are once again ours for the feasting.

Anyway, back to babies, and being a young genius.

Life is good and it's new and we have a lot more, we discover, than hands and mouths. This back can curl up forward, can arch us back. This combines pleasantly and usefully with things we can do with our arms and legs. Suddenly, by accident the first one or two times, we have reached and arched in a combination that sends us rolling onto our stomachs.

The world is radically expanded in possibilities. We can bring our head upright. We can look in all sorts of directions. We can flap our arms and legs around in pleasantly coordinated fashion.

We are on the way. Reaching is clearer. Seeing what we want is clearer. There is a lot out there we want to touch, or bring to our mouths, or simply (simply!) explore. Scooting or crawling is discovered. The miracle continues. We are alive and learning by moving. Yes!

(Continues, in a fashion, at Food is Good on the Taichiyog... channel.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

When You Can't Do the Lesson: A study in options

In Feldenkrais and WakeUp Feld and the Anat Baniel Method and in good old curious healthy wonderful life,
we give ourselves the chance to look at things in lots of ways.

Sometimes lessons go awry and we "can't" do them. Or do WE (not the lessons) go awry? Or is there any awry going anywhere?

Awry is such a fun word I think I'll write it again: awry, alas, awry.


On an online forum for Feldy junkies, someone was disconsolate for awhile in not being able to "do"
an Awareness Through Movement Lesson, disgustingly abbreviated as ATM.

When bored in a yoga class, I began to have fun with the real and fanciful answers. Enjoy

WHEN YOU CAN'T DO THE LESSON ( A STUDY IN OPTIONS) (any lesson, not just Feldenkrais)
Extreme responses:
• Kill the teacher
• Scream
• Cry
• Rush out of room (options: pouting, screaming, crying)
• Kill yourself

Extreme plus imagination:
• Visualize killing the teacher
• Visualize killing Moshe
• Visualize: screaming, crying etc

Normal ( sad but true)
• Look at the clock a lot
• Feel bad without words in head
• Feel bad with words in head

Options for words in head when feeling bad:
• I'm no good
• I'm bad
• I suck
• This sucks
• Life sucks
• The teaching of this lesson sucks
• This lesson sucks
• I'm too …..dumb, old, wrecked, damaged, tired, sleep deprived, distracted, fragile, f…..d up, confused, stressed, individualistic……

Should variations:
• I should have started this when I was younger
• I should have practiced my…..
• I should have stuck with….
• I should have learned how to do this by now
• I should be more…..(flexible, healthy, young, ….)

Shouldn't variations:
• I shouldn't have come
• I shouldn't be so…..
• This lesson shouldn't be so….
• This room, my body, life ….. shouldn't be so……

Perhaps useful options:
• Watch all the above going on.
• Be curious as to where the lesson can't be done.
• Be curious as to what it would be like to visualize the lesson
• Be curious as to where the mental pain is when visualizing,
• Be curious as to words in head during visualizing
• Be curious what would happen if didn't do anything, not even visualize
• Follow breathing and do nothing
• Watch the others and do nothing
• Check out the body shapes of the opposite sex and do ?????
• Take a nap

More options:
• Think about what you will eat when lesson is over.
• Think about what you will tell other people about your troubles in this lesson.
• Think about writing a list like this. ( I started in a yoga class that was boring me out of my skull.)
• Think about what you will say to teacher.
• Think about what you will write in blog, on internet and so on….

What a rich world, eh?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Math isn't "hard." It's a chance to learn how to think.

One nice thing about the Feldenkrais way, is that it's a way. A way of looking at and thinking about "problems," which is another way of saying, "things we don't know how to do yet."

(As an aside: the state of "Not Knowing," is the state of being Here and Now, since in the Now, each moment is clear and here and complete and the next moment we don't know because we aren't getting ahead of ourselves.)

Okay, fine, now what about math?

Last summer I was staying with my sister, who tutors grade school kids in schoolwork "problems," and her husband, Jack, who tutors high school kids in math.

I was back East with them in New Jersey, since I was taking the Anat Baniel Mastery Training for working with Special Needs Children. (See, for your own delight: Anat on Children). And in Anat's training, this idea of "problems" as opportunities for variation, and discovering the essential, and finding new possibilities in function and success, was very much a part of our work.

So my brother-in-law came up with a client who was having all sorts of "problems" with the idea of percentages. My training with Anat inspired this approach: let's get off of the Right Answer thing and start to think about the meaning of what we are doing.

So, instead of being committed to 30% of 80 being 24, I was suggesting to Jack that he get across the idea that a percentage is a part of the whole, or is a relationship to one hundred, and so go about it like this: is 30% of 80 going to be more or less than 80?

And then, getting advanced, is 120% of 80 going to be more or less than 80?

Once the student understood this, the problems where just working out the details.

Same with smaller kids and addition, subtraction and so on.
Is 3+8 going to be bigger or smaller than 3? Bigger or smaller than 8?

Is 12-7 going to be bigger or smaller than 12?

Is 55 times 3 going to be bigger smaller than 3?

Is 3 times 55 going to be bigger or smaller than 55?

..... The game of showing that they are the same, (3 times 5) being the same amount as (5 times 3) calls for a bunch of marbles or oranges, I imagine......)

And to finish things off, is 44 divided by 4 going to be bigger or smaller than 44? Is it going to be around 40? Around 30? Around 20? Around 10?

This idea of approximating things, and getting a rough answer I think calls on deeper and more visceral parts of our mind. I've heard that aborigines, while they aren't that fond of knowing that there are 238 birds flying by, can look at a flock of birds and have a pretty clear idea that it's somewhere in the 220 to 250 range.

And, for our own use as grown ups?

Try this with your check book: just round everything to the nearest ten dollars. Spend 212.35 and subtract 210. If you spend 17.22, subtract 20. If you put in 336, add 340. It all works out pretty close and makes it easy to keep up with it all.

And the underlying concept: freeing the kids and our own minds from this slavery to the Right Answer and going for a deeper and clearer understanding of what these various functions (adding, doing a percentage, dividing, and so on) are all about.

Interestingly enough, Moshe Feldenkrais got his huge results by looking at human beings as totalities and working on improving functions like walking, or coming up to sit from lying, or rolling over, or bending sideways.

Improving them where? In the brain and total understanding / organization of the whole person.

Fancy that.

And fun, too.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Feet, 2

There is a certain set of movements in Tai Chi where you keep one leg fixed, and rotate the other leg inward, so the toes point inward and even a little bit back.

Hands on Elbows

( An Awareness Through Movement® lesson. Photo by Rosalie O'Conner.
How are they using their feet? What is the connection through the whole self?

Try this if you like. It will be easier for most right handed people, to keep the left leg fixed, to transfer the weight to your left foot and then rotate your right foot and leg inward.

You can try this two ways, one rotating around the heel, and then rotating around your toes. Actually, let's go for three options: you can have the left foot hovering above the ground and rotate your toes and heel at the same time.

Then, in the tai chi progression, you shift your weight to this vastly pigeon toed foot. And then you spin the original fixed leg way around, but that's too complicated to explain on paper/ screen.

For fun, and to keep the wonderful practice of creating variety and experimentation and delight for ourselves, try the whole process with outward rotation.

Shift your weight to your left foot and rotate your right foot to the outside, once on the heel, once on the toes, and once rotating around the middle of the foot.

If you haven't done one of these Feldie mini lessons, remember to take lots of rests for your brain to integrate learnings and to set yourself free from the do, do, do way of living. Time to integrate and to sense oneself and to be present.

Remember to go slowly and to notice as much of where else this movement is taking place ( Spine? Pelvis? Ribs? Neck? Head? Eyes? And what exactly is the hip joint feeling like and doing?). Let this be a whole self experiment, a meditation on moving, which is to say, a meditation on one of the cores of being alive.

And since awareness is another core, this simple footsie in, footsie out, can be a meditation on how you are and how you move and how you are put together and what the possibilities are and what it's like to be present and what it's like to move and what it's like to be aware and what it's like to be you.


And now, for fun, try a rotation that goes from pointing inward to pointing outward. Notice where in you might be tensing, if you can keep your breathing steady and in awareness, if your jaw and neck are easy and free, if your eyes are enjoying what they are seeing while you are sensing and noticing inside.

This is good for the mind and soul, to be aware, to be slowly learning about ourselves as we stay in contact with our breathing and the world around us.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006


We have two feet, most of us, and these feet are small. Really, you can have size fourteen feet and compared to the rest of you, your feet are small.

Have you ever tried to make a sculpture of a human body standing? It is more or less impossible to get the thing to stand unless you have the feet stuck to a large base, or have the sculpture either leaning against something or holding a staff.

Which is to say: standing on two feet with as high a center of gravity as we have is almost a miracle.

And what's the benefit of this miracle? We are mobile. We can move quickly in many directions. We have made an evolutionary trade off: mobility we get, stability we sacrifice.


And here we sit, as our desks or our computers all day, or for big chunks of time. Our feet out of sight and out of mind. Mind-less of our feet touching the earth below us. Mind-less of all those wonderful toes. Mind-less of how long and amazing we are.

How much of us is in our legs? How much of our length? How much of our body mass? Can you sense both legs now and get a sense of how long they are and how much of you is in there. This is a big part of us, and seems worth being mind-full of, don't you agree?

Even at the computer, we can be mind-full all the way down to our toes. Nose with the air coming in and out. Belly coming forward slightly and back slightly as we breathe in and out. Toes down there touching the floor. Sit bones on the chair. Spine holding our head up, holding our eyes up to look in the computer, and to look out a window and to look around the room: where could we walk? How would we walk if we were to get up and take a walk outside, where we could look into the sky miles away and off into the horizon.

Feet on the ground, spine holding up head, breath coming in and out, eyes looking out into the sky and the horizon. This could be a wonderful meditation, couldn't it, taking a walk in the outdoors.

Ten fingers, ten toes, belly, eyes, ears and nose.
Ten fingers, ten toes, belly, eyes, ears and nose.
Ten fingers, ten toes, belly, eyes, ears and nose.

A little chant for our walk, or for right now, what our right Now is.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Feldie Fun,#5 Eyes and Tongue

These are important to life on earth and to mammal life and to human life. We have a tongue that tastes like the other animals and licks the wounds sometimes and plays in kissing ( do other animals do that?) and we talk.

The human tongue talks.

This has an up side: we can communicate, we can say hello, we can write poems, we can explain our trip to Mexico, we can share our feelings and our dreams and our vision of a healed planet or a just world.

It also has a downside: we forget the dog as a shaggy smelly moving and loving and wiggling organism and boil it all down to "dog." We have someone frown at us and instead of someone frowning at us, we have a big story on how they don't like us, and how we should be treated better, and how this/life isn't fair and on and on, the words making us more and more miserable.

No, not the words; our believing in the words.

We have eyes and stand upright, when we aren't latched into a computer or a car seat, and we can see farther with these upright eyes and huge parts of our brain are connected to vision.

Good for the eyes.

Good for the tongue.

And now: let's play a game. A head and eye and tongue game.
The game will go like this. Roll your head gently to the right. And back to the center. And back to the right. And so on. Easy, with awareness and enjoyment. For example: what would it be like to follow your breathing and sense how you were sitting or standing while you did this? Can that awareness make this moving of yourself more pleasant?

Fine. And rest.

Now roll your head gently to the right and back to the center and let your eyes move to the left. This is either easy or difficult or something in between. Go so slowly that you can feel an almost pleasant, if not pleasant, difference between the nose going one way and the eyes going the other. Feel this personally: your nose moving one way and your eyes moving the other.





Now roll your eyes to the right and your tongue to the left, and back and forth, with your tongue going right as your eyes go left, and back and forth and back and forth, again, so slowly that you can't help but enjoy this a little or a lot. And rest.

And do this some more, tongue one way, eyes the other and at the same time roll your head from facing ahead to facing toward the right and back to the center.

Which is to say, as your head goes front and to the right and to the front, have a little windshield wiper thing going with the eyes one way and the tongue, your eyes and your tongue, wagging away merrily in opposite directions. Have your eyes and tongue wagging back and forth more quickly than your head is turning right and back to the center, and this can be a very slow "more quickly."

Is there a way to enjoy this?

I imagine so. I feel so, sense so when I do it. Give it a go. See what happens and what you learn.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Raw Foods and Waking Up and Feldenkrais

There are lots of reasons to eat raw foods:

  • They taste good.

  • They give your body a wonderful feeling.

  • They help you eliminate sickness and colds.

  • They help you transcend all sorts of "diseases."

  • They are fun.

  • They are fast. No faster food than apple from tree to mouth.

  • They are fresh. No fresher food than tomato from vine to mouth.

  • They are amazing.

  • They are fun.

And what might be a Feldenkrais reason?
Well, to my mind, a core idea in Feldenkrais, especially WakeUp Feldenkrais, is that we are in habits in our life, some of which are so deep and unknown to us that the Gurdjieff understanding that we are going through our lives in a state of "sleep" is not too strong a way to put it.

And one of the greatest sleeps going on is around the mouth.



We put food in, we shovel it in. We taste maybe the first bite of each forkful. We think, talk, read, worry, hurry, stress while we are eating.
We eat what we are used to eating, what everyone else eats, what we were trained like baby seals to eat, when we were babies.

So, Feldenkrais and WakeUp Feldenkrais could say this, or does, via my versions: Stop eating cooked food for a couple of weeks.

Examine your habit.

See what happens.

That's all: do it for the love of learning and change and discovery.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Is It Right Yet?

All our lives we are told, "No. That's the wrong way. Do it this way. Do it the right way."

Well, fine, if the "right way" really is the best? But what if it's just the parent or teacher or big brother or smartass friend's habitual idea of the way they like to go about things. Or, what if it's just the way their teacher or parent or blah, blah has taught them or forced it down their throat.

Add to this the greatest human weakness: our fear of disapproval and almost desperation for approval. To get this, we'll do it some imposed "right way," even if it wouldn't feel "right" if we were to sense ourselves and really pay attention to what is "right" for us.

And along comes the Feldenkrais work. Try it this way. Try it that. No, really. Slow down and sense and notice and feel deeply the difference. Try it at least three ways. Make it better. Make it worse. Make if different and even if you can't tell if it's better or worse, just enjoy knowing options, and learning about possibilities.

And along comes WakeUp Feldenkrais. What is the difference when we are aware and when we aren't aware. Being aware can be one more "right" thing to do. To hell with that. Just notice: what's the difference?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Back and Shoulder and Neck Pain, Or Elsewhere


Pain is a pain.
Pain is a signal, we aren't functioning the way we are meant to function.

the story is the same:
the brain and the body have forgotten
how to work in an easy and elegant manner,
the manner in which we evolved
as human beings,
and have lost.
We have been educated and conditioned away
from our natural ease and elegance and grace
by our sedentary and stressful and
un-nature oriented lives.

For an immediate
experience of shifting out of
the pain
via learning and repatterning of your brain
and your body use,
try a free lesson at
(don't be scared,
it's a very messy site:
Desk Trainer

Pain is an opportunity:
to learn,
to improve,
to come to a level of moving and functioning and being
that is better than any
since we were youngsters and rolling and jumping and skipping around all the time.

The human wish, is to
"get rid"
of the pain as fast as possible.
This makes "sense,"
and in the Feldenkrais Method,
we have almost miraculous results.

But we are after something bigger,
something more profound:
an understanding of how we
can move and feel and think
and act creatively
in better
and easier
and fresher ways.

As Moshe said, this about,
"Making the impossible possible,
the possible easy
and the easy elegant."

See if you wish, an essay on a three day, three session Miracle lesson, in working with the shoulders as an examination and illumination of this. Healing by Learning.

And for a much longer examination of this, you could enjoy Anat Baniel on Pain, which has links to videos and research and related articles.

I offer group lessons called
either Awareness Through Movement® lessons,
or Transformational Movement Lesson.
I also teach a style of yoga mingled with tai chi
nature and a
lot of exploration, called,
DNA yoga.

See the schedule at Fall Schedule

and See on Awareness Thru Movement

Whether DNA Yoga
or Movement Lessons,
benefits and healings to back, breath,
mind and spirit
are huge.

I offer individual lessons,
called Functional Integration.

This is not massage. Not physical therapy. Not chiropractic oriented.
Not body work.
This isn't about "fixing."

This is brain food, and body learning, and heart food, and soul food.
This is about transformation

This not only feels great,
maybe better than you could imagine,
but provides opportunities for your mind/ brain/ body system (i.e. you) to learn new
sweeter ways of functioning.

These new ways not only
begin to undo and transform stress
and our old habits of tensing and contracting and limiting ourselves,
you begin to function in better ways
in other areas of your mind/ body
and your life.

This work is transformational,
and almost miraculous.
You deserve this, I believe.

My training consists of the "normal" 160 days
to become a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner
an additional 165 days of training
including 78 with Anat Baniel
years of training in Gestalt, meditation,
nature centered healing, hypnosis, and more.

Lessons cost $60-$150 per lesson
you pick the amount

for staggering changes
start off with three times one
and then three times the next week

Lessons last thirty minutes.

If prices are out of your range,
let's talk:
we can do shorter lessons,
20 minutes ,
for less,
and you can still get huge benefits.

If you combine 20 lessons
with 20 minutes of HomePlay ( not HomeWork)
a day,
You can expect to Move
and Feel

You can keep learning up to almost as many lessons as you are
years old,
depending how far you want to come on the path of
poor to fair,
fair to good,
good to great,
great to greater.

In large and small
of your
Whole Life.

Give yourself the gift of improvement,
from fair to good
good to great.

Call for an appointment 707-996-1437

Or Email me

Thanks, and I hope this is a beginning of a wonderful transformation in your life.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Undo Deficits, Enhance Excellence, Wake Up to the Present

This is my idea of WakeUp Feldenkrais.

Because Feldenkrais work is modeled on how we, as genius babies, learned from blobs to crawling and walking and talking, it is the premier approach for people who want to come to a higher state of organization and use of themselves. This could be the undoing of deficits. Deficits could be in childhood, as with cerebral palsy, autism, or various learning difficulties. Dyslexia and the normal reaction to the confinement and rigidity of even a ‘good’ school system create possibilities for waking up to options to learn and grow.

Deficits could be in adulthood, strokes, pains in the back or neck, shoulder, hands, stuff that happens from accidents, recovery from surgeries. These are troubled times, with one good aspect: people decide it’s finally okay to do something besides what they’ve always done.

In desperation they return to one of the most wonderful aspects of human life: learning.

But this work is not just bringing back of deficits. We want people to recover from a stroke or an accident or a sore shoulder or back and keep learning and end up functioning better than they have since they were a child.
This is learning, not fixing.

So, another use I’m interested in is the enhancing of excellence,helping people who are already good at teaching, or some sport like golf or skiing, or are excellent at an instrument or singing or acting, helping them, by getting them to tap into learning and learning about learning in new ways, to become even better at what they are already good at.

And finally: my work, the work of WakeUp Feldenkrais, is about Waking Up into the moment.

This is where we learn, this is where we are happy, this is where we love, this is where we love life.

A good place.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Feldenkrais and Breathing and Grape Arbors and Life

One of the great gifts of life is breath.

Or is it, one of the great gifts of breath is life.

Or, is life breath.

Or, is breath life?

You know, you can get into long and pseudo interesting discussions about, “What is life?” But not here. Not today.

Grape arbor in the Garden Park. Photo: Richard Dale.

Look at this nice photograph. This is the grape arbor I designed a number of years ago, when the garden was just a bunch of dirt and most visitors spent all their time under some nice oak trees in the back of the garden (it’s five acres of land, and the gardened part is – now-- about three acres.) They liked it back there because there was no work. I put in a path, a main path, a central axis and brought the picnic tables from the oaks to the center of the garden. The path was a hit. The path could be better, so I stuck in some grape cuttings along the edge and wondered if they’d grow.

They did.

Then, Richard Dale, director of the Sonoma Ecology Center, whose photographs you see a lot in these blogs, came out and helped me construct an arbor for the grapes with bent rebar. Then the grapes grew up and covered them and now we have a very magical pathway into the garden.

What does that have to do with breathing? One thing needs another. Breathing in needs breathing out. We need oxygen, plants need our outbreath. The plants need the soil, the soil, needs the plants. The grapes grow, breathing in and breathing out. We tend them, breathing in and breathing out.

All this is movement.

The Feldenkrais Method takes this wonderful idea: to move it to be alive, and to improve movement is the improve life.

And an even more wonderful idea: let’s improve this movement and this life, not by Doing it (whatever movement we are doing) the Right Way, but by exploring and learning, by discovering for ourselves, what is a better way, what are possibilities, what are options.

Nature is the model in having many pathways to get to the same aim, whether it is many species to achieve flying or eating up dead stuff, or many ways a grape vine can grow to survive and then thrive.

There are many ways we can grow and then thrive.

One of them is by being aware of what we are doing while we are doing it. Even as I type these words, I can be aware of my fingers moving and the sounds of the keys clicking. Click. Click. Click. Dogs are barking outside, my spine is holding up my head.

I’m breathing in and breathing out.

The grapes are done for the season, it’s Halloween today, the end of October. The day of the dead comes soon. The vines will die back, as if an outbreath in a season’s breath cycle. You breathe in and out, I breathe in and out.

And everyone who has notices the glory of life for thousands of years has noticed the breath and the moment and the seasons. Many have taken the juice of the grape, fermented it, and become even more enthusiastic about life.

So be it.

To breathe and move and be aware is a little slower than wine, but it will get you there, get you high.

And is getting high a big purpose in life?

Not necessarily, but it’s nice, especially if we can get there on our own, if we can release our own “feel good” chemicals inside.

And what’s one of the best ways of doing that? To be kind to others is one. The be at one with nature is another. To learn is a third. This is the goal and the heart of the Feldenkrais Method, taking small (or sometimes large) movements and learning from them about how we are hooked together as human beings, about who we are as breathers and movers in the world, and most especially, who we are as learners in the world. Learning how to improve by being thrilled and fascinating with the process and not worrying about improving.

Breathing in, breathing out and underneath it all: the Earth. Gravity. Holding us down, keep us connected to the Mother, letting us know who we are, creatures in gravity and in air . Light, too, the sun has its own message. Gravity below, light above, food for the grapes and the plants and the people of this planet, and in between, air giving us one thing and the plants another and we are feeding each other, the plants and the people, through our breathing, and other ways.

And sometimes we forget.

And sometimes we remember.

Life on Earth. Ah, good.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Opening Two Habits: Side of the Bed, Reading a Novel

Here’s a couple of habits I’ve had an interesting time opening up to new possibilities.

First: which side of the bed I sleep on. For a long time, I’ve known of a predilection for a certain side of the bed when I sleep with a partner. Several times I’ve had the idea of becoming less fixed and efforts to open the habit haven’t taken. In the last six or eight months, though, I build a bed with a nice firm plywood base and cotton futon mattress and tucked it into a small EAST FACING BEDROOM.

The bed is right next to a window. And it’s cold next to this window, since we sleep with it wide open. So it’s the least favorite side of the bed on all but very warm nights. (Sonoma has heavenly night weather. Even when 100 degrees in the day, in gets down to the low fifties at night).

So, Marlie and I now go every other night on the opposite side of the bed and the part of me that only thought I could hug from a certain side, or be ‘comfortable’ on a certain side, has been proven wrong.

A second habit, opened up, comes care of Milton Erickson. He was talking to his students about paying attention to the sort of outcomes you might want and kind of working back from that. He suggested reading a novel from back to front, not page by page, but last chapter first and then second to last chapter and so on.

I haven’t done this with many novels, but it’s pretty interesting. With one, Brother’s Karamazov, it turned a psychological tour de force into a thriller as well, since people reading front to back know who the killer is long before someone reading back to front.

And why the caps on EAST FACING BEDROOM? This is one of a couple of hundred univeral patterns used by human beings going about making really nice shelters and villages and living places for themselves in A PATTERN LANGUAGE, by Christopher Alexander. It, along with PERMACULTURE, A DESIGNER’S MANUAL, by Bill Mollison, is one of those books you can see the whole world through, and transform that world via whole system thinking. Not unlike the Feldenkrais Method, except we don’t have anything written anywhere near approaching these books.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tai Chi and Feldenkrais, Two Goods make a Better


Tai Chi is Good for you

How come?

  • Because you move slow.

  • And you pay attention.

  • And you are standing up and moving from foot to foot.

  • Moving foot to foot is a good movement, e.g. walking.

  • You are having to concentrate on arms and legs at the same time.

  • You are potentially aware of breathing at the same time.

  • Breathing, sensing, moving and attention: all at the same time.

  • You are connecting to Earth and gravity and intention and moving.

  • You are moving slow.

  • You are, if you are in the grove, enjoying yourself.

  • This is good, to move slow and to enjoy yourself.

  • This can be a fine meditation, a way to take our attention off the usual.

  • This can be a fine meditation, coming back to the present.

  • This can be good for our health because we get things moving.

  • This can be great for our health because we calm and happify our being.

  • And so on.

Feldenkrais could assist this process

In traditional Tai Chi, there is always the "right" way to be in each posture, and that's fine, except that in Feldenkrais we learn about learning. And we learn by making comparisons. And so, instead of just putting one foot here and the other back so many inches and to the side so many inches, we could experiment with how it actually "feels," in the good old here and now sensation, to put our two feet in all sorts of different lengths and widths apart.

In traditional Tai Chi, there is always a "right" way to place your hands and arms in each posture. Instead of just cramming ourselves into the "right" way, we can experiment, a little higher, a little lower, to the left, to the right, what about the elbows this way and that, what about the wrists.

In traditional Tai Chi, a good teacher will spend some serious time alerting the student to the transitions between the postures. With Feldenkrais, this awareness could be amplified, by taking these transitions and even within them creating variation and distinctions and possibilities.

In other words, all the wonderful things about Tai Chi could be made more wonderful with the addition of Feldenkrais. What if the weight, supposed to be 70% front foot and 30% back foot in some poses, was 80/20 or 50/50 or 90/10 ? What if the weight was on the inside of the foot, the outside, the heel, the toes? What about on the toes of one foot and the heel of the other?

And are we following our breathing now, even as we read about this?

Tai Chi, in going slow, already opens us to the possibilities of connecting with ourselves in a deep and profound and healing way. To add the variations and playful learning aspects of the Feldenkrais Work to this, is to simple give our minds and our bodies and our mind/bodies, to say nothing of our spirits, one more chance to expand and exult in this adventure, this adventure of being alive.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tues. Oct 24: Healing by Learning

What's your definition of healing? To get better? To get rid of the pain, or the sickness? To get back on track toward wholeness? To increase well-being?

It's an interesting thing to think about, especially when we've got something bothering us, and , being normal human beings, we just want the bother to go away.

Here is one of the wonders of the Feldenkrais Method®. That we don't go after "fixing" and we get better results than anyone who goes after fixing.

How can that be?

A friend who came to me to "fix" his shoulder, asked this. He was amazed at the results, how in three days his S (more on that later) and his life were amazingly improved. He couldn't unerstand how could we get such fine results, when we didn't seem to be trying to get results.

We seemed to be working with his brain and his spine and his ribs and his neck and his pelvis and his fingers and his elbows, and every once in awhile, we'd move this "stuff" up at the left side edge of his torso. This "stuff" was what I called all the ribs and shoulder blade and left upper arm and left collar bone, to keep away from the S word, since he "knew" his Shoulder was a huge mess. Moving the S was impossible, but he discovered this "stuff" could be moved quite easily, especially if he initiated the moving from his back and his sternum.

Hmm. We did a little of this and a little of that and the S would get more and more free and not only did we refrain from mentioning its name, we refrained from any movement that was what he traditionally thought of as moving of the S, though he got a nice laugh when I pointed out that there really is no such thing as the "shoulder."

Anyway: we were after improving the whole self, and the understanding of all sorts of moving and almost as a byproduct of that, his S got more and more dramatically "better."

And he asked why. And what came to mind was: think about a relationship that's in trouble. And you decide to fix it by telling each of the warring couple to say, "Please," when they wanted something. Surely that would help, but there's a lot going on in a relationship.

And there's a lot going on in a human mind/body, and to improve any aspect is to improve the whole.

And to improve the whole is to improve any aspect.

Which is to say, the S not only doesn't exist that way the thumb does, but is itself a functional conglomerate. Therefore, to heal the S means to heal all sorts of areas in the body and the mind. (And even to "heal" the thumb in the Feldenkrais way, would be to connect this "part" of ourselves back to as much of us as possible, from toes to nose to brain to breath to ribs. Herein lies the "solution" to all the "carpal tunnel" stuff.)

So, this is it: REAL HEALING IS ABOUT LEARNING, not about adjusting back to some previously unsatisfying and ignored status quo. This man had forgotten how to use his ribs and his neck and his pelvis and his spine and his eyes and his awareness in ways that could make his left S experience a pleasant and efficient one. We set out to learn how to use himself in new and interesting and easy and delightful and useful ways. The more we discovered, the more options he had, and his possibilities for change and improvement increased almost exponentially each new possibility we added.

So in three days, he was "fixed" as much as a friend of his had been fixed with three months of physical therapy.

And with this difference: he is on the way to having two S's that function better than they ever have in his life since he was a young and frisky lad. The other sort of "fix," the get 'em back to normal fix, and he'd have a left S that could function at a sort of get by mediocre level that was what he had in his "good" right S.

So by slowing down and taking lots of apparent detours, we get faster "fixing," because we aren't fixing, we are learning, learning to function and learning to learn.

Cool, eh?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sun. Oct 22: Habits, Compulsions, Addictions

What a cheery topic, eh? And actually people like to dwell on that. I’m stuck. I can’t get out of this hole. Can’t stop doing this or that. It’s a whole industry.

And hidden under that somewhere is a deeper set of addictions that don’t have to be looked at while we are busy thinking that sugar or overeating or television watching or drugs or work or alcohol is our addiction.

Oh, well.

People are great and people are fools, and me, too, you, too, what can we do?

The effort to be present brings up almost everything, sooner or later, so that’s one thing we can do. And then, sometimes we just get out of our routine enough to realize that we live in some cultural addictions that we might never ever have thought about.

Like squares and right angles. What a world we live in dominated by that.

Or, worrying whether people approve of us or not. This, according to Gurdjieff, is the number one slavery of humanity, or at least according to one man's (John Bennett’s) version of Gurdjieff.

What other people think about us?Do we fit in/ What if they disapproved of us for being imperfect, which they must right, since we disapprove of ourselves for being imperfect and where did we learn that? From Mom and Pa, who learned it from their Ma and Pa and so on.

But is it true? Is perfection what we want out of life?

Is the approval of others?

What does this have to do with the Feldenkrais Method?

Lots, I think.

The whole Method, to my mind, is about turning our habits inside out and discovering who we might be and who we might become if we began to learn and discover new ways of moving and thinking and learning. Pain, unfortunately, rather than the wish to transform, is the initiator to most people’s excitement with this work, but then again, that’s humanity in a rut.

And the rut-ness of the rut, is not knowing we are in it. Alas!

We don’t know we’re in a rut until divorce or sickness or someone’s death, or a near death, or losing our job, or physical breakdown shocks us into realizing that things aren’t so great as we thought they were.

It’s possible to come to this work as an exciting path of exploration and usefulness to others and ourselves.

And what does that have to do with addiction?

Well. In the Feldie Forum, this Yahoo group thing for Feldenkrais Practitioners and students in training programs, I raised this issue of Habit, Compulsion, Addiction, partly because someone was coming to town with a book about the drug and alcohol trap (Broken, the book, William Cope Moyers the author). And partly because I’m really interested in my own inner freedom and in the Gurdjieff notion of the imprisonment of humanity in something like an ongoing “sleep.”

Hence the title WakeUp Feldenkrais. This is not a clarion call for dead Moshe to wake, but for me and you and anyone to use the Feldenkrais Method to wake up to our lives in the present.

So habit, compulsion, addiction, define them however you want, are all ways of staying the same. Sometimes that’s good. Nice to know how to stand and tie our shoe. Sometimes it awful. To always think yuk when so and so’s name comes up, or the always tighten our jaw when we are wanting to lift something with our legs, or to always rush when we are given a chance to learn something new or to always stop breathing when someone says something that we haven’t thought of before.

So where is this ramble going today?

A little here and little there, a little everywhere. I’m just about done for today. I could get into food and cooked foods as an addiction, but that’s a big one, and all I’ll say for now is: eat only uncooked foods for two weeks, use lots of soaked seeds and nuts and avocados to get your fat and protein, lots of greens, too, have fun, eat all you want, and see what happens when you step outside of the cooked food thing. The social pressures. The inner compulsions. The straight ahead unconscious habits. The addiction to that rush that the cooked food gives, a certain blandness and heaviness after the initial buzz of food without enzymes that has to be disguised with lots of salt and seasoning.

But step outside that habit, social requirement, whatever you want to call it, try something quite interesting, at the least, for two weeks, and then see what kind of choice you have in a decision like that.

Oh, well. This is too scary.

Let’s talk about something safe.

Sugar. Well, not too safe for some. But still.... sugar

Is nonsense. Eat an apple or a peach or a banana instead.

Ice cream is just what all deserts want to be : fat and sweet. Make the raw version: an apple and some walnuts, raisins and almonds, some sunflower seeds and banana and strawberries in a blender, a date with some tahini on it. This list could be huge. What the body wants for health and what the mind wants for habit can be different, but all the suggested combos, plus zillions more taste GREAT, so that's a help, eh?

This is an addiction that’s not that hard to beat, to the vast benefit of your health.

And what’s that got to do with Feldenkrais? Well, this is a WakeUp Feldenkrais site, so anything that gets us free of any rut is fair play.

And Feldenkrais itself?

If you don’t know what you are doing, you don’t know what you are doing.If you've never gone a day or two without talking, you don't know your habit, addiction, compulsion. For example.

If you have no alternatives, you don’t know what you are doing, no matter how many other people are doing the same thing. Indeed, maybe most likely we are to be blind if almost “everybody is doing it.”

Ciao for now.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Fri. Oct 20: Oh, Shit: I'm Alive

Back in the old days, good old days, bad old days, days of my life, I lived in Berkeley and fine and amazing city it ‘twas, in and of itself. And I was in a group then, a group of recovering overly “good” meditators who had been rescued by a couple of bad boy Gurdjieff teachers. One, David, had been the teacher of the other, Henry, and that’s a long story, especially when they got into a little guru war, but that isn’t my story here today.

That’s a long story, and this is short.

It’s about some ideas I got from David along the way, who had his flaws and had his charms, and definitely had his insights.

He would talk of the decisive clarity that came into his life when, as a young man, he spent a number of years working in a Jewish old folks home. Not only was it amazing to him, being Jewish, to see how much of his character had come from this culture, but even more amazing was to watch person after person coming to the end of their lives.

And one by one, maybe in the last day, or last couple of breaths, or last week, or last month, they would wake up to their situation and realize: OH, SHIT. I’M ALIVE.”

And from that second until their last breath their life would be supercharged with a gratefulness for living and a lust for living that totally transformed their existence.

David, of course, wondered: what if people realized this now, instead of waiting until the end.

A good question indeed, don’t you think?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wed. Oct 18: Feldenkrais and the Big Self inside us all

We come into this world as miraculous beings. We are a genius, really. We can take a self that can hardly move and end up crawling and rolling over and walking and talking and running around and getting into mischief within a couple of years.

We are also socialized beings: when learning to talk, especially, we learn the “right” way to talk, as well as our “native” tongue. We learn to squelch certain phrases and our curiosity. We learn not to speak the truth.

And in our bodies. We learn bad habits by imitating restricted people around us. We learn bad habits by tensing and contracting in stressful situations. We learn bad habits after accidents when we don’t really have the support to heal in a natural way according to our own schedule and are forced into some model of “doing it right,” that limits us from everything else for the rest of our life.

And in our being. We are taught that we “shouldn’t” imagine that we could do such and such. We are taught that this is beyond us, and that that is impossible and that “our kind of people” don’t do this, and that such and such is a “nasty” movement, and that such and such thinking is “ridiculous.”

So, slowly and strangely, we are taught to limit ourselves. Parents, unknowingly, to top all the above off, usually don’t want to be surpassed by their children, so that even happiness can seem an affront and can be conditioned out of a bright and beautiful child.

Then, to top all this off: we go to school, and are taught to sit still, and to keep our eyes focused on The Teacher. We are more or less taught to restrict our breathing, restrict our motion, to restrict our curiosity, to restrict our communication, to restrict our urges, to restrict our individuality, to restrict our creativity. If you happen to think this doesn’t happen in the Waldorf system, go spend an hour in even the best class and you will see huge amounts of anti-wiggling, everyone pay attention to this and this moment going on.

Anyway; we are taught to be small.

And Feldenkrais has said that central to his work is getting us back to the Big Self we would have and could have been had not all these lids and clamps been shut down on and in us.

I was telling the short version of this to a friend last night at the farmer’s market, and she responded, I guess is you get that energy going from all those blocks, that would happen.

I didn’t really feel like taking the time to expand on how much this system goes beyond “energy” and “blockages,” and besides, a good start is a good start.

So, now. On paper, let’s expand that.

We are miracles of learning and a huge amount of that miracle has been shanghaied into learning how to restrict and diminish ourselves. One way out of this might be to do kind of The Artists Way thing, taking inventory of all the ways we were taught to stifle ourselves and whatnot.

Another is, as my friend suggested, just to start to move and from having been so stuck for so long, this will remind us that we are living beings. Thus the famous scene in all the Nerd Breaks Out movies, when the bookworm starts to dance or run or have wild sex or surf, or something showing life and vitality.

And then, the Feldenkrais way is somewhat sly and amazing, because it is about unlocking our ability to learn again. To learn, not in the dreary: do it this way kind of copying learning, that will teach us a new skill such as archery or golf or yoga ( and that learning a new skill does huge things for the person, let there be no doubt about that), but the learning that we did when we were a little genius.

This sort of learning is about trying this, trying that, going down dead ends, trial and error, exploring and enjoying. Like a musician trying this tune out and then this and then that, and ending up either Mozart and a Concerto with variations or John Coltrane and his variations. It is the leaving behind of the known, the exploring the unknown, the security to not be “right,” the joy of finding out all sorts of possibilities. This is what a good Feldenkrais lesson is about.

This is the Feldenkrais path to the Big Self, to open up the box on Learning itself, Learning and Awareness as core to life, and from that, everything and anything is possible. Almost. We still can’t fly, but we could learn to walk on a tight rope, if we went in enough steps and took it as the joy of learning and not the I have to do it now to show off to myself or others that I’m okay way.

Learning and Awareness mean a good life, a rich life and an expanding life. Like the child we were whose horizons were continually expanding, we are once again riding the life force of our Big Self.

(Whatever that means. But it hints at something grand, doesn’t it?)

One of my past essays of the Feldie Method spoke to this somewhat tangentially: Intro 3, a New Way of Thinking.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Special Needs Children, and Learning "Challenges"


Sometimes children need help in their learning.

They may have been born with a neurological issue, such as cerebral palsy or a stroke, or brachial plexus. There can be complications in utero or at birth. All sorts of traumas can occur.

For these neurological issues, as well as children with "ordinary" learning challenges (as in reading and math and social adjustment and co-ordination) the Feldenkrais Method, especially the method as refined in the Anat Baniel Method for Children,
(see Overview, Anat Baniel Method for Children)
is the supreme way on this Earth of helping these children.

This is because in these methods, we recreate the natural pathways of learning
and wake up the brain to its possibilities of change and
learning and improvement in a way that no amount of physical therapy or surgery ever can do.

Think of a child learning to crawl.
She or he sees no one crawling,
gets no crawling lessons,
isn't pressured to learn,
doesn't even think about learning to crawl.
He or she just moves this way and that
and learns hundreds of ways to understand
and move
and sense
and coordinate themselves.
And then one day,
wanting to get across the room
or yard
they just pull together the twenty things
they need
and crawl.

This is organic learning.

This is why this method is so amazingly effective.

For a summary
and continued explanation
see Amazing One on One Lessons

You might be excited to
View videos of Anat's work with three children. This shows work over a period of time and you can see with your eyes the marvelous/miraculous changes the children undergo.
Try this:
  • Grace, Isabel and Carter Transform and Heal.

  • This work, for a child with learning difficulties,
    is the fresh drink they have been desperate for all their lives.
    They are not pushed, or prodded, or force to "do it right."
    They are not "fixed," or moved in ungentle ways.

    They are given small pieces of real and immediately felt learning
    (inner and organic "learning,"
    not the imposed kind that gives "learning" a bad sound to many children, and adults)
    and they begin to renew and change almost before our eyes.

    Saturday, October 14, 2006

    Sat, Oct 14: Slave or Free, Breathing, Feldenkrais and the Impossible

    This is hard. To simple follow my breathing for twenty breaths. To do this when I’m grinding my morning juice (wheat grass and apples, a gobs of fallen apples from all the trees I’ve planted years ago in the Garden Park). To do this when I’m awake in bed in the morning and not quite ready to get up.

    To do this and type words into a computer, that is beyond me just now.

    Merely, to follow my breathing as I type these words, that’s big one, that creates a huge shift. But to get up from the computer, walk to the front door and back and count and follow my breathing, let’s see if I can do that.

    Yes. I can. Five breaths.

    Walking is one of the best activities for following and counting the breathing, my breathing, my life, this is my life, am I worth paying awareness to, am I worth that price?

    Or am I going to remain shackled and enslaved by the “normal” life of words and worries and preoccupations?

    Free or slave.

    That’s all that’s at stake.

    Hmm. One, two, three.

    Let’s see if I can count up to three breaths while writing away just now on this computer here. Even that is “hard,” and “hard,” is part of what the Feldenkrais work is all about: making the impossible, possible.

    And what’s the first step in that?

    Break things down.

    Get interested in the process, not the accomplishment.

    Slow down. I have to type a lot slower to count my breathes while typing. And even then it is “hard.”

    But when I reign my attention back to breath and count and these words all at one, the project is “hard:” in that very exciting way of how we are when we are on the cusp of learning something we have never been able to do before.

    The impossible.

    This is impossible, counting my breathing and typing at the same time.
    Is that true?


    One. I start a sentence and it moves along. I breathe out and then, two, I breathe in. Three, surely that’s cheating to type out the numbers as I go.

    One. The “cheating” is what , two, we learn when we get smart to the, three, Feldenkrais Method. One. To do things, two, in the non habitual way, three, so often seems like cheating.

    One, no wonder we never change. Two. We have a whole logic set up. Three: do it the way it’s always, one, been done, two, or that’s cheating. Three.

    This is fun for me.

    Hard. But a little less than impossible.

    God only knows, three, how it is for you.

    Now I just type when I get to three, three. And again, what do “you” the reader, real or imaginary, three, think about that?

    And that too, is at the core of much if not all of , three, our slavery: is the outside approval coming my way.

    Lost my count.

    Being smart, three, what a lure. To say the smart thing and get lost in the lure of : someone somewhere will approve.

    And then, after trying to count the breathing, to simple follow the breath and type is a cinch.

    Another Feldenkrais “trick,” to learn something, do this: make it more difficult, do it in a way that is clearly less functional, and then come back to the “natural” way, which will all of a sudden, feel really natural.

    One, two three. What a good world.


    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    Marlie Wesner, the Wonderful, the Yoga teacher, the person

    Marlie Wesner loves yoga and it comes through, in her teaching and in her practice.

    Marlie has been studying yoga since 1981. Her initial training took place in the first thirteen years of her practice within the Siddha yoga ashrams. There she spent 13 summers studying yoga and yoga philosophy with Carlos Pomeda, Douglas Brooks, Sally Kempton and eventually met John Friend the founder of Anusara Yoga in 1989 and has been studying with him ever since. She has also trained with Sarah Powers and Maritza.

    John Friend’s emphasis on the heart in yoga shines through in Marlie’s teaching. Moving with Grace is what her classes are about, a combination of heart, mind and body. She brings a love of the philosophy to the mind, a love of life to the heart, and a love of moving and achieving joy in the body through the asanas.

    She has a strong dedication to awareness in yoga and the use of Anusara universal principles of alignment as a safe way to learn and expand our abilities

    As a Feldenkrais advocate as well, she is interested in movement as a way to understand our body/mind unity, and has a strong dedication to awareness in yoga as a safe way to learn and expand our abilities.

    Marlie is as well a master gardener and experienced herbalist and appreciates body use in the real world, not just in the studio. People of all sizes and shapes are welcome in her classes, which are of many levels, from level 1 to level 4.

    She has two daughters, ages 22 and 25, and raised them without television and deeply in connection with nature. She loves to eat naturally, to be outside, to garden, to knit, to read, and to chant and be in love with life. Sometimes she even loves the big dufus she lives with, of name Chris Elms.

    She teaches Sunday mornings at 9:45, and Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:30 AM, as well as, for the time being, Monday evenings at 5:30 PM. All these classes are at the Yoga Community, in Sonoma, California.

    All her classes start and end with beautiful chanting, a treat to all with ears and a tribute to her love and thankfulness to life and yoga.