Monday, February 26, 2007

Learning to Turn, Learning to Learn

1) Sit toward the front of your chair. Both feet on the ground. Breathe and notice how it is to be in your chair and in your body and in your mind. Look around yourself to the left and to the right, as if to see something back there on both sides. See how this feels and how this goes.

2) Come to the center and rest.

3) Put your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right shoulder. Now turn to the left in two ways: one as if all these ribs didn't matter and turning was just about the head, and after doing that for awhile, turn as if your chest and ribs could help with the turning. Do three times of each way, back and forth, letting the differences be interesting to you.

4) Come to the center, lower your arms, and rest. See how you feel now in your self.

5) Put your hands as in three, though starting with the left hand first. Turn about halfway to the left, and look at whatever is in front of you. Let's call this: The View. Now, gently, slowly, easily and with awareness and curiosity, move your head right and left, while keeping your eyes fixed on The View. So, head moves, eyes stay focused on The View.

6) Come back to the center, arms down, rest.

7) Switch arms, come half way, and now, keeping your head pointed toward The View, let your eyes go left and right to both sides of this.

8) Come to the center and rest.

9) Switch arms again, don't worry if you can't keep this straight, and again go half way. This time, slowly, slowly, slowly, move your head to the left as your arms and chest go to the right (just do a little, this is for the brain, not for showing off to some Inner Critic), and then move your head to the right as your arms and chest go to the left. Do this a number of times.

10) Come to the center and rest. Turn around to look behind yourself to the left and see if a difference is showing up from the beginning.

11) Put your right hand on your right thigh, and your left hand at your left hip. Turn to the left, and as you turn, let your right leg come forward, and your left hip come back, so you are involving your pelvis in turning to the left. Do this slowly and with awareness and pleasure.

12) Come to the rest and rest. Visualize turning to the left with the involvement of your pelvis and without the involvement. See what difference it makes in imagination.

13) Put your hands again as in 11, and turn to the left. Now experiment with two ways of involving your pelvis. In one way, you tense and pull in and tighten your stomach, and in the other you push out and relax your stomach as you arch your back a little while you turn. Do each enough to find the pleasant and easy way to do this.

14) Rest and see how you feel. Visualize your eyes going left and right. Visualize your head and chest going to the left. Visualize your pelvis and back participating.

15) Now, simply turn to look around yourself, both to the left and to the right. Notice how you feel and what you seem to be learning.

16) Come to stand. Walk around and see if you feel different inside of yourself.

This is a more detailed, and slightly different lesson than the first one in The Desk Trainer Free Intro Lesson

Watch the Baby Show us How Amazing We All Are

U-tube, Helen Elizabeth video of Baby

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Moving our pelvis, waking our Life

Elvis moved his pelvis and started a revolution: Ohmygod, white people can move that thing, too.

This is good news: we all have a center and if we are going to be "centered" we are going to connect with that center of ourselves a few inches below the navel.

We have legs.

We have a spine.

Between legs and spine comes the PELVIS.

This makes for many possibilities, in living and moving.


And right, now, this now, now, we can do this:

Notice how we are sitting on our pelvis.

Notice how our spine comes up from our pelvis.

Notice how our legs come out from the "hip" area of the pelvis.

And we can begin to move, learn, improve, delight, unstress:

1) Pushing our belly out a little and rocking a little forward on our pelvis. What does that encourage us to do in our spine and ribs?

2) Bringing our belly and navel back and rocking toward the back edge of our pelvis. What does that encourage us to do in our spine and ribs?

3) And, for the delight and learning of it, many times, slowly, eyes closed, paying attention, rocking back on our pelvis and letting our spines follow into a new shape, and then rocking forward on our pelvis and letting our spines form the opposite shape.

4) Back and forth. And, hey, since this is about learning try these two: One: when the belly goes out breathe in. Two: when the belly goes out breathe out. At first do a bunch of times belly out breathe in and a bunch of times belly out breathe out.

5) Then get fancy and alternate: belly out breathe out, and then belly out breathe in. All the while feeling the shifting in your pelvis and your spine and your ribs and your head and even your feet. Notice the little changes.

This is life, this is learning, this is relaxing, this is undoing stress, this is coming to the present.

This is connecting your self to yourself in sweeter ways.

This is good.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Thinking and Non-Thinking and amazing Video to watch


On a recent posting at a forum for Feldenkrais practitioners, someone presented a link to a rather amazing U tube video. At first you don't know what the hell is happening: this person is kind of buzzing around and doing "weird" things, touching this, waving her hands through water, flapping of hands, touching things with her face, tasting things, smelling, rocking back and forth, scrapping this and that, creating sounds and rhythms and patterns.

Kind of like the things those of us who used to get stoned found infinitely amusing. To watch water whirling in a sink, or a leaf blowing in the wind, a cloud floating by, a traffic light change, to make a little sound of this rubbing against that, and of course: music in bright and full brilliance.

Okay, the world of immediate experience.

Cool, and sweet, the world behind and before "thoughts," if thoughts are defined as "thinking," which is a tenuous proposition, to say the least.

Then the person, silentmiaow, has a narration of typed and spoken (maybe a machine is doing the "talking") words that explain that she (I think she's a she) has her own way of thinking and in her world, letting herself interact fully with the world physically in an immediate and non-socialized way is a kind of thinking.

And she's quite pissed at being categorized as a non-person because she won't get with talking language. She thinks people should learn her language and much as she should learn theirs.

That makes sense to me.

The language of being a baby, or being stoned, or being "autistic," or being "in a trance," or being "primitive," or being a "mystic," is a quiet language, a here and now language deeper than and free of words, a far more powerful language than the yapping kind. Ask anyone who's had good sex, and a nice dance or ski run.

This is one of the wonders of a good Feldenkrais lesson: people come back to their senses, they follow real movement and real sensation in the real moment.

However when silentmiaow calls her activities "thinking," I'm not so sure. Exploration, yes. Satisfying interaction with reality, yet. But "thinking," maybe not.

And, and, and this is important: what most people call "thinking," is not thinking either. Words are not thoughts. They are symbols that can hold and point to thoughts and usually don't.

Observe most cell-phone or regular phone conversations, or party conversations, or, if we are honest: most conversations: blowing of chatter from one void to the other. Gurdjieff compares talking to the shit of the top brain, where breathing out is poop for the middle level and the real poop is the exhaling of the body level.

Or, if we observe our mental chatter in meditation, or while driving a car (if we don’t' drown it out with the radio and music) or even taking a walk in nature: blah, blah, blah. And no real thinking going on.

One of the reasons I left, many years ago, the therapist crowd in Berkeley to join the building crowd and then the landscaping crowd, is that if you build a deck, you can see you've done something, same with a garden. So much of "therapy" back then, before Jay Haley came along, and then Byron Katie, was just getting words to pretend that they were understanding, and they weren't.

Of course, in a good Feldenkrais lesson, you under stand how to stand better at the end, and the understanding is not verbal and the lesson may well have had nothing to do with standing, and yet something in you has "learned" something.

Does thinking have to do with learning?

Is thinking for helping facilitate learning?

Is learning the result of good thinking?

Is thinking promoted by having something to learn?

For example: you want to stop eating ice cream, but you crave it. Could thinking be something like noticing that ice cream is fat plus sweet and what healthy ways could you make that for yourself.

Eggadds, is "resistance" coming up at the thought of doing something other than a habit we say we want to stop?

Ah, so thinking and learning may well have something to do with going out of old territory, getting out of the ruts, leaving the compulsive patterns behind.

This is a good start for today. Too many words and we'll think we have the answer, when the question seems sweet to me: what is really thinking?

Oh, and back to silentmiaow: to me a life in an apartment and with no connection to nature, doesn't seem worth living, whether as a "talking" person who yammers on the phone and watches TV all day, or an "autistic" person, who waves ribbons around all day.

What I want to know is:

How could this life be bigger and more full?

That seems an important question to me, once she gets over the furor at non-thinking people passing themselves off as thinking people, and wasting their time judging her. She wastes her time judging them. And around the game goes.

Time for The Work, anyone?

Ciao for now:


Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Enemy Game

The Enemy Game, a Sad Illusion:

On the radio just now a fellow is talking of how pleased he is that the Dixie Chicks won a batch of Grammies, and he's going on a bit about how reviled and outcast they were for speaking up against the war.

The same old story: me Good, enemy Bad. Kill enemy, of outcast enemy, or don't speak to enemy, or boycott Enemy's records.

And then yesterday I was reading in the New Yorker about a TV show which I don't watch for two reasons: one, I don't watch any television; and two, I wouldn't really go for a show that shows that increase people's tendencies to hate and think that life will be okay if we just kill enough "bad guys." This is an ancient and sad story, this idea that for good to succeed, lots of energy has to be spent focusing on, hating and killing the so-called "evil." (And yes, every once in a while Hitler comes along and has to be stopped.)

On this TV show, called 24, Kiefer Sutherland plays an anti-terrorist agent who gets to win the hour each and every week, by torturing in some cruel and illegal way the Bad Guy.

And some people love this.

Oh, well.

That's their minds. It's too bad they have a vote, but hatred sells, having an enemy to focus on always has been the way to avoid going inside and seeing what we can delight in and improve in ourselves.
Which brings us to good old Wakeup Feldenkrais.

Things come up. Habits get more and more out of touch with how we could move if we were to move in healthy and easy and efficient ways. And because of these out of tune habits, we get back aches, or carpal tunnel, or neck pain, or get persuaded to have knee or hip operations. And then we can have the enemy to defeat: the pain in the back, or neck or wrists, or hip or knee, or we can have an opportunity to discover what learning is like.

So that's the old way: back pain = enemy, and how can I destroy the enemy.

The the new way? The Wakeup Feldenkrais Way?

To see the back pain as a signal that we have gotten into habits of moving and holding ourselves that are causing a pain in our back. To see this as a great chance to relearn how to use the core muscles inside our brain,
to relearn,
to understand,
to discover,
how a back is not a "back," but 24 separate vertebrae,
and if these vertebrae
and the pelvis
and the ribs
and the eyes and feet and hips
all start to function harmoniously
the way we did when we were a kid

not only will the "enemy" of back ache go away,
but we will rise to levels of grace and movement joy
such as we haven't had since we were young,
or may never have had.

So we are "fixing a back",
we are learnign again how delightful is a life
where learning is at the center.

We get not only improvement in the area of complaint, but we start to get the idea that life is a grand experiment, and that if we explore and learn enough, there is almost no limit to what we can improve and create.

So. If you haven't tried desk trainer yet. you might want to: Give it a go, in their free trial lesson. There in five to eight minutes you can begin to rewire your own brain and experience for yourself the power of learning via movement plus awareness plus going slow in new and interesting ways.

And as you and I go about out days, let's see if we can wake up to the present, and explore different and interesting ways of going about our moving and thinking and feeling.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Improvement for the Joy of It

Improvement can be fun. Improvement can be torture. A lot depends on what we are up to, what our motivation is.

Are we disliking who we are and wanting to improve to dispel our self dislike? This seems like a cruel sort of internalization of a parent who is always telling a child they are not good enough, and to "try harder." Alas, in this situation, the harder the child tries, the more the parent, consciously or unconsciously knowing they have a sucker on their hands, raises the stakes and demands more efforts, always lifting the hurdle to approval just out of the child's hands.

This, as an aside, what was happened to me when I got to Caltech, which with MIT, is the premier science and brain college in the country. After busting myself to get perfect grades, that true to the above scenario, were never quite good enough for my parents, I arrived at Caltech only to realize that the ante had been upped hugely. It was a school full of people who'd busted tail to be tops in their high schools, all now busting tail to top each other.

No thanks, I said after a couple of years and went to an easier school.

Back to improvement: there is another kinds besides the striving to be better because we or the internal parent or the real parent or all three don't think we are good enough.

This is improvement because it's fun to learn, fun to learn a handstand or a headstand, or to skip again, or a new language, or a little bit or a lot of playing some instrument, or how to move ourselves more gracefully, or think through problems that baffled us before. It's fun to have new skills and new abilities and new challenges, that we want to rise to for the pure joy of figuring it out and mastering it ourselves.

This is the sort of person I'm looking for as clients. Those who not only want to transform their hurting shoulder or back or neck, but can get excited about improving their whole state of being and moving and relating to themselves and the world.

Those interested in transformation for the joy of being more in touch with and skilled at living and moving and thinking and feeling in life. This is the people I welcome and wish for in my work.

Monday, February 12, 2007

To be small, or to expand

To be free is an interesting matter.

Lots of people have their ideas of what you should do and how you should do it. To ignore all of them, might mean a traffic accident or two. But to spend a life placating and bowing and scrapping so that others and their obsessions with order and control and their inner pictures of the disaster lurking around the corner if things are done a new way: ugh.

We can't live that way.

At least I can't.


In the Feldie world, you can find people, even I, sometimes slipping into "doing things the right way," and basically we simply get ourselves out of that trap and move back into the world of discovery.

This is a fine trick, a fun puzzle: how to allow people to understand and use this work, this Feldenkrais "Way" not just to "fix" a sore back or shoulder, but to begin to repattern and reorganize themselves to move more effectively as a body and a body/ brain and as a being in a complicated and sometimes constricting world that seems set up to keep people small and less than they could be.

This work could be about waking up to the vastness of our potential.

I invite you to join in the work in that way.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Life and Love

Well, folks, this is one of those late night blogs, where the words either come easily, or not, and we'll discover as we go along how that's going to go.

When you love someone, the nice thing is this: it's about them, and if you really love them, it's really about them and so you are free.

Let's switch the pronouns: when we love we are free. Because why? Because we don't have to be concerned about how we are doing, or are we good enough, or what the other thinks about us: we just think about how great the other is and how much we want them to be happy.

That's love. It's not about us, it's about them.

And in Feldenkrais, if we do the lesson "right," it's about the other person, not about how smart we are, or how connected to them or ourselves we are (though that will certainly help), but about how much they are learning.

A lesson means: the client learns.

And what does the client learn: to move more easily, to connect to themselves in a more full and sweeter way, to be happier and more at ease in their own body. They could learn to like and appreciate the wonder of themselves. They could learn that they have dreams that they've put on the shelf that all of a sudden seem worth dusting off and pursuing. They might learn that it's okay to change, okay to try less hard, okay to pay more attention, that it's wonderful to be present, that it's sweet to pay attention to themselves.

Which is to say: they can be learning to love themselves from brain cells to tippy toes, from in breath to out sigh, from hard bones to invisible awareness. Self love. Self awareness.

It's all about their learning.

It's all about their happiness.

Sounds like love to me.

(That was easy. Hmmm.)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Byron Katie and the Feldenkrais Way

In the Work of Byron Katie, which we'll call BK work for now, you take your habit of suffering and apply the mind to undo the suffering that the mind is creating for itself.

In the Work of Wake Up Feldenkrais and the Feldenkrais Method we take our habits of constricting and disabling our abilities to move with ease and grace and we find options, that allow the brain to come to easier and more pleasant and efficient (which means less effort) ways of moving.

In the Gurdjieff work, Gurdjieff says the function of the intellectual center is to compare.

For anyone who's had rough times in life and looked at themselves a bit, it has become obvious that the comparing game is at the root of much if not all suffering: wanting to have as much money or sex appeal or youth or fame as so and so, wanting someone to not treat us this way but some other way, demanding that reality not be this but that.

In Feldenkrais, we use this ability of the mind to compare and click that in to learn: how does the right side compare to the left? How does it feel and work when we turn our head to the left and shoulder to the left, vs. how it feels and works when we turn our head to the left and our shoulders to the right. We compare our sensation and image of ourselves throughout a lesson. Each time we notice differences, we have given our brains and our Selves food to learn new and easier and more pleasant ways of being and moving and breathing and learning.

And the Katie work, as I've laid out many a time:

Judge your neighbor.
Write it down.
Ask four questions.
Turn it around.

So already, we are taking our suffering and doing something with it. We are judging and not hiding from our judging. We are writing down and slowing the mind to the actual accusatory words. We are asking four questions. We are turning it around.

And the four questions?
1) Is this thought true?

2) Can I absolutely know that this thought is true?

3) How do I react when I believe this thought is true? Or, how do I react when I attach to believing this thought is true?

4) Who would I be without attaching to believing this thought is true? .

Notice, that like Feldenkrais there is no: This is the Right Way vs. this is the Wrong way. It's comparing and discovering that set us free.

In the BK work, first two questions get us to compare our thought as if we considered it set in stone reality and if we realize it might or might not be true, i.e. that it is a belief arising in our mind, not in reality. If we believe gravity will pull a rock toward earth, we are in pretty safe grounds. But if we believe our spouse should be more friendly to us, this is a construct from our own (very human) mind, wanting a more pleasant world.

So the first two questions begin to undermine the Righteous certainty that is always part of our suffering. Is it true? Can I absolutely know it's true? These allow us to separate the thought out from the world, separate the world as we want it to be, from the world as it is.

And the third question, this is our brain on the belief. (Recall the TV commercial, years ago when I watched TV: this is your brain on drugs, this is your brain off drugs. Similarly, question three and four are: this is your brain /mind/self on the belief. This is your brain off.). We write a list of all the consequences of believing say, that so and so should like us more. Say: we feel sad and angry and hurt and weak and like attacking them, or ignoring them, or gossiping about them. This is how we are when we attach to the thought.

And then question four: who would we be without the thought? Again, no rule to give up the thought, just to try it out, what are we like without the belief, the attachment to the thought?

Thus our mind can compare and without forcing and effort, just like in a Feldenkrais lesson, the system naturally picks the more easy and less stressful pathway.

And to give ourselves a full upside down option, we do the turn around. Girlfriend should listen to me more, turns around to , I should listen to girlfriend more. Husband should be more considerate of me, turns around to I should be more considerate of husband.

What can we learn from that?

And how many Feldie lessons blossom when we do a movement in a way totally contradictory to the "natural" way? Moving head to the right and eyes to the left, we give the brain a chance to discover something, to rewire, to learn, and suddenly: our neck is softer and easier. We didn't "try" to soften our neck.

So, we don't "try" to be nicer to others in the BK work, but we begin to get way free when we realize: Hey, I'm thinking so and so should lay off the criticism and I'm criticizing them right and left, what's wrong with this picture.

So freedom by taking habits and running them through variations and options and new ways of feeling and seeing and understanding the world. What nice paths these two offer us.

And this,
always this:
in both these systems,
there is no outside teacher.
The ultimate authority is the learning
and realization that comes from within.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Porpoise of Life 2


We learn by slowing down, and slow Sonoma dot com is about the huge advantage of that, but then we like to zip along on our bikes, our trash the tennis ball around, or roar down a ski slope, or laugh our heads off at a silly movie, or run across a field for the pure joy of running.

Life is to be lived.

Which means: getting outside.

Which means: going full speed ahead sometimes for the thrill of it.

Which means: playing and not being initimidated by authority or what other people think,
or any ideas of what we think is right or wrong or a "mistake."

Which means: having fun, being silly.

So, while going slow is an absolute necessity to the learning that takes place in the Feldie work,
we need to let 'er rip every once in a while, to gain the Feldenkrais idea
of living a full, rich and wonderful life.

So let's go at it like this:

Feldenkrais is fantastic for taking neck and back pain and showing someone how to become a person who doesn't live that way anymore.

And at an even better level, the work is for those who want to take a realization that they can transform from pain to no pain and go for a life where they can transform humdrum into excitement, unhappiness into happiness, a mediocre life into a fantastic one.

This is the porpoise of life: to live life, with fullness and richness and zest and joy and vitality.

This is what WakeUp Feldenkrais is about. And this is what you'll get if you come to work with me.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A Big Dream: Land, Love, Earth and People Healng

During my Feldenkrais training I kept coming across statements from Moshe Feldenkrais to the effect that this work was the work of liberation, that it was about the fulfillment of our "vowed and unavowed dreams." For a long time I thought that was too farfetched.

And then, all of a sudden, halfway through my training I find myself running for City Council. An unavowed dream: to make a difference in the public world, a dream I'd been nibbling away at with rather intelligent letters to the editor, and my work of reclaiming dull and messy land and turning it into the Sonoma Garden Park.

But here were all these people running for City Council and no one was talking about ecology the way I wanted to hear it talked about, as something you lived daily, not just paid lip service to as you drove a mile to go to meetings about the War for Oil. And I thought that people had to start thinking about being more present and into the life of Simplicity and Now if they were going to talk about Quality of Life (which everyone running for office in super quaint Sonoma talks about).

So I ran, on a Slow Sonoma platform: slow down our car speed, our building new homes speed, our rushing around in our lives speed.

I didn't win.

I got a lot of ideas out.

Along the way, a vowed dream of mine has become to get better and better at doing the Feldenkrais work with myself and with other people. For this I've begun to take advantage of the knowledge of Anat Baniel, who some in the Feldenkrais world like and some don't.

People have their opinions. I can see why people might have problems with Anat, but her teaching is glorious, so I've decided to redo a complete training with her, and her training is 90 days in ten 9 day (two weekends and the week in between) segments.

In the first segment several vowed dreams are coming true: to do something wonderful again with my son, who is now 30. I suggested that the transformative aspects of how Anat goes about her work might be useful for the stuckness he's having in his acting career, and he and I have always liked doing physical things together: tai chi camp, and one summer he worked for me in my landscaping business.

Anyway, he's in the training and it's great to be with him.

Another vowed dream is to improve in this work, and that's coming true, too.

An unavowed dream, one I didn't know I had, was to be in a large group of people I really liked, and to have a bunch of those people be good food eating nature lovers like me and a bunch of those people to be men (since most yoga, Feldenkrais and gardening things are almost all women). Anyway, the group is large and varied and very wonderful to be in.

And now: the big dream.

To create a Transformation and Healing (Healing Earth and Healing People) Place on a large piece of land, to create a place where the three passions I mention in my profile come together.

1 )My passion for nature and growing my own organic food and helping the earth with permaculture and a lifestyle as free from the car as possible.
2) And my passion for the Byron Katie work and other pathways that allow people to be happy and present and communicate in ways to have not only happiness for themselves, but happiness in relationship.
3) And my passion for this Feldenkrais Way work, this work of liberation and transformation by getting back into the joy and delight of learning and moving and thinking and feeling better and better.

So: big piece of land.

Housing for staff and guests of totally green sort.

Growing our own food and meat.

People who come can commit to silence at times and to being present. They can work in the garden, or not.

People can come to be quiet and connect with land and nature and themselves, or can participate in yoga (of a brain / heart / body sort I wish to invent) and Feldenkrais and the Anat Baniel Method. And in Permaculture trainings. And in Byron Katie and relationship healing and enhancement training.

So good food, good land use, good learning, ecology, classes outside and in nature, people living the life of now, nature and love.

A big dream.

I don't know how it will happen.

Your reading about it and maybe responding might be part of that.

Now, nature (of brain / body selves and the big nature) and love. Love of self and others and nature and learning.

A place maybe where autistic children can have a school of transformation and learning. Maybe we can pay for the low income kids with grants and with fees from wealthy individuals who want to golf or ski or relate to their spouses or nature better. Who want to thrive inwardly as well as outwardly.

A place where parents of special needs children can learn the Awareness Through Movement / Transformational Learning Lessons. I place where people can retire and not be off in some idiotic home. A place where we can make a difference by living the difference.

And a place where a big group of people, those living there and running the center and doing the gardening and changing the sheets (people can change their own, actually) and doing the work, can live together as community, relating to nature and now and love in ways that will surely sometimes need improvement and just as surely will sometimes by glorious.

Friends of the Earth and Friends of Each Other and Friends of Ourselves.