Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A game of learning: rotation to the left in sitting

The easiest motion for humans is rotating around our central axis. As if you want to turn around and see someone beside or behind you. This game today clues us in to at least 4 levels of our selves that can cooperate and become easier and more clear in rotating to the left.

Please sit more or less upright at the front edge of your chair, sensing both arms and both legs and your spine and breathing, and slowly and deliciously turning your head to the right and left quite a few times, each time feeling it as if it were brand new.

(Mini-sermon: to experience and look forward to and delight in the new is to stay young and vital throughout life, especially if this involved discoveries in our bodies and in our emotional and spiritual habits, not just our intellect; to stick to, cling to, be afraid to leave the familiar is to ossify into a more and more narrow “aging,” which may be nothing more than the loss of zest of all the newness and nowness that our lives could embrace, and could be embracing our lives.)

Rest from rotating your head. Breathe and sense your spine and be aware of gravity and enjoy all three. Feel the depths and details of who you are, in the moment, in your body. Now. Feel the thrill and ease of being in the now.

Begin to turn your head to the left a number of times. Then rest. Then using your ribs with your hands on them, turn to the left a number of times with the head and the ribs as “friends.” Then rest. (At this point, and even earlier if you do this again, you might enjoy taking our any glasses you are wearing.)

Now turn to the left about half way, and stop. Keep your head and chest pointed this way, and move your eyes slowly right and left. Breathe. Be easy in this. Come back to the middle and rest.

Now, again, turn ribs and head about halfway to the left and stop. Notice at what your eyes are directed; keep your eyes in this direction and move your head, slowly, slowly, gently right and left. Feel a softening in your neck as your neck and eyes are allowed to not be in their usual coupled pattern.

Rest. Close your eyes in the rest and move them gently left and right. Feel something like a soothing in this..

Again, turn halfway left with ribs and head. Now, you’re your eyes one way and the head the opposite. Eyes to the left and head to the right. Eyes to the right and head to the left, and they match up and point the same way at this ‘halfway to the left” position. Make it small. Very slow. Very gentle. Make sure you are breathing.

Take it as a learning game. Do this many times, and then rest.

Think about your pelvis, your bottom, the base of your spine, the whole area “down there.” If it’s “large” smile. It’s just you. Think about how to rotate, in sitting your pelvis to the left.

Then try out whatever you thought. Did it work? Good.

Try this: push your right knee forward and a bit to the left and see if that help rotate your pelvis to the left. And then do this many times. Slowly. Enjoyably. Learning about your spine and pelvis. Ease. Pleasure. Even a little skill maybe.

Then rest, and feel yourself as a many leveled movement maker. You can move and rotate your pelvis, your ribs, your head, your eyes. Think about rotating them all, either at once, or in some sequence, to the left.

Be patient. Learning takes coming out of the daily rush long enough to be present to what we are learning. Enjoy even the “frustrations” in this activity, but most of all enjoy the opportunity to sense yourself, and be present and learn about how you can move and BE with more ease, pleasure and skill. (Ease, pleasure and skill are my new wish for the phrase ESP.)

Now, rotate to the left in this sequence: turn your eyes to the left and then your head and then your ribs, and then your pelvis. And come back in the same order, eyes, head, ribs, pelvis.


Then try pelvis, ribs, head, eyes and back the same.

Notice these all day, the pelvis, head, ribs and eyes. Notice turning and being you in the middle of all this.

Notice your noticing. Enjoy that.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Why Be Aware?

Why Be Aware?

This is a silly question,
except if we are running around
in one of our usual

And then, in a pause say,
or walking across a lawn,
or talking to someone
and realizing we are just pumping
up inside getting all ready
to spring our next
over used download,

or putting off someone
who might love
in the real moment

and suddenly,
we realize:
OMG (I learned that recently,
teenage talk, slang: Oh MY God,
said as one word, OHMYGOD)
I have been on autopilot
the last...ten minutes,

And then we are aware
of ourselves,
in this moment.

Something shifts.
That can be our game today:
what shifts,

Does moving slowly
in the Feldenkrais
help that
waking to now?

Try it:
connect to gravity
and from awaring of that,
moving some part of you,
gently, easily
and see what else that shifts,
and how it involves
and possibly shifts
your use of gravity.


Move another part of you,
and awaring of the first
while you move and aware
the second.


Play with combinations.

See what happens.

See how awareness
and awaring
come into your life
while you do this.


And then,
see how awaring can be the
main game of your day,


Sunday, March 14, 2010

5 lines, folding on the back, a couple of variations, a good start

Crescent Beach

We can do something in sitting and then again on our backs, and experience the way life can be amazing when we try things out in a variety of ways.

A few posts back, we went into an exploration of sensing our five lines and of folding forward from the sitting position. Today we’ll lie on the floor or a firm bed or table, and do the same sequence, again as slowly and we as much awareness, enjoyment and playful discovery as possible.

First lie down, and simply sense yourself on the floor or table. Where is touching? How big do you feel? Can you feel each leg, and each arm and your spine, the five lines of you? Can you notice your breathing?

Can you notice a difference that come to the floor and leaving gravity behind makes in your ability to release, so called “relax,” and not so called, but for real, pay attention to yourself?

Now. Lets go through the same sequence.

1) First feel down your left leg, from knee toward your foot with your right hand.
John feeling left lower leg with right hand
It is of no importance if you “get there” or not, just take it easy and feel each part of your back and ribs and pelvis that is available for you to pay attention to.

Go back and forth slowly, and without any effort to “go to the limit.” And each times you aren’t folding in, come all the way back to the table or floor and release any effort.

2) Rest. Feel yourself on the table, and what is new in your awareness.

3) Bring your right hand behind your head and your left hand behind your left knee, and bring your right elbow toward your left knee. Slowly, not trying to “get there,” any there. And coming back to complete release between each movement. And each time feeling a little more in your spine and ribs and pelvis.
hand behind head, toward knee
Keep your neck and breathing free. See how to make this pleasure, not “crunches.”

4) Rest again, fully and enjoyably. Not look to the left and put your right hand behind your left ear, and your left hand behind your left knee. Bring elbow toward knee again, each time allowing yourself to twist a little as you fold and each time coming back to the table and completely releasing any efforting.
head to left, elbow toward knee
Do this many times, with ease, slowness and curiosity. And pleasure.

5) Rest again. Last variation (though you can invent ten or twenty more, if you wish). Hold your left leg as you did in sitting, left hand at the left knee and right hand and the left ankle, and bring your leg and head toward each other.
head toward left leg
Many times, releasing, folding, releasing, learning. Enjoy.

6) Rest.

7) Go back to the original move, or exploring down your left lower leg with your right hand. Enjoy.

8) Lie back and sense the differences, in feeling/ sensation in your back, in breathing, in length of your spine, in internal ease. Enjoy.

And today, if you wish, fold and unfold in sitting and lying down, and sense your five lines all you wish.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Acture, a friendly and useful concept

Beyond and smarter/ most useful than posture: “Acture,” a word that hasn’t caught on yet

Moshe Feldenkrais was a fun and feisty genius of a guy. He had a saying about posture, that “Posture is for posts.” Which is to say, only posts in front of a building, or at the corner of a fence are “supposed” to stand up perfectly straight and unchanging.

Life isn’t shapes and poses, it is motion. So here’s the word fun and feisty Feldenkrais came up with to talk about what our bodies needed: “acture.”

Acture is the optimal shaping of ourselves so we can move easily and freely, without preliminary shifting around, to another position. Six directions. We are ready to move easily in six directions when we have fun and feisty and fine acture: up, down, right, left, front, back. Obviously we could scoot off on the diagonal either in a forward diagonal of many possibility trajectories, or a backward one.

In sitting, if we were to sit so we could hop on our bottoms a couple of inches to the right, and a couple to the left and a couple forward and a couple back, this would begin to clue us in to our sitting “acture.”

The usual slumping to the back of the seat would definitely not do, and yet what most people usually call “sitting up straight” might have us too far back in this rigid idea of “vertical” to move easily in this bottom hopping way.

What works best in coming to standing from sitting?

Life is about being present, and one of the things we do a lot and don’t notice is transition from one set place or position to another. These transitions, lying to sitting, sitting to standing, the other way around, we usually take for granted until something goes wrong.

But they are amazing.

Spend the day noticing transitions and thinking and sensing what feels like it would be good “acture” for you.

Monday, March 08, 2010

round and arch, in standing, using arms to clue in

Getting straight

Many of us, at one time or another, get the idea into our head that we want “better posture.” Often this idea was drilled into us in teenage years, with some adult saying, in usually not so pleasant a voice, “stand up straighter,” or “stop slumping.” Or some such commandment.

Whatever the baggage and past conditioning, it does feel better to stand with a fuller and longer spine. Much of yoga works toward this, and we’ll go for a sort of brain yoga as this book unfolds. I am trained in what is called the Feldenkrais Method®, named after a man, Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) who was a physicist, engineer, judo master and student of babies and human development. He wanted to heal something in him that medical surgery couldn’t repair at the time, and he did, discovering along the way a system of attentive moving that awakened awareness and propelled people into all sorts of improvements in their life.

I’m also trained in the Anat Baniel Method, developed by, not so surprisingly, Anat Baniel, a student of Moshe Feldenkrais who has spent 30 expanding and deepening his system.

Be that as it may, stand in your socks or barefoot on some comfortable floor or ground.

Feel the you of you in standing.

Now, hold your arms straight out to your sides, begin to roll your arms forward, so the thumbs orient from up, to forward to down. And as you roll your arms forward, bend your knees, and let your whole upper body round toward your pelvis, as if you were curling up in a ball. Then uncurl yourself and rotate your hand and arms backwards, so the thumbs come back to up, and rotate to point to the back. While this is happening, arch your spine and let your head look up a little and soften your belly and let your belly come forward as your lower back comes in a little.

Don’t worry if this isn’t obvious right away. Give it a try. Go slowly. See if it can make “sense” to you and deeply, pleasurably and full of pleasure, sense and learn about yourself.

Go back and forth like this. Read the directions several times, and figure it out. Go beyond reading about it. DO IT. SENSE YOURSELF IN MOTION, SENSE THE SPINE ROUNDING AND ARCHING. Breathe as you do this. Sense both arms and legs.

When you finish doing this, sense your “posture” all day.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Easy bending, a start, and 5 lines, a deep meditation, one or both levels, go for it, or not

More alive: sensing five lines

This is “hard.”

Or not. Who cares? Do we have anything better to do than wake up completely to each moment?

I don’t.

You decide for you.

And if “hard” is still okay, give this a go: sense both arms and both legs.

And then add on your spine.

Try this : five lines in sitting.

1) Sit, not at the back of the chair, feel your five lines: two arms, two legs, spine.

2) Move your pelvis back and forth a bit, and sense the shifting shape of your spine, like this: belly in, weight to back of your pelvis, head and chest a little down and forward; now rocking to the front of your pelvis, belly a little forward, back arched, head upright. Sense your 5 lines in this.

3) Take your left hand at your right thigh, and lean forward and caress your right leg, with your hand going toward the foot, and back up again. Many times. Sense your five lines and other parts while you do this.

4) Rest. And then, take the right hand behind the right knee, and left hand behind your head, and lift your right knee a little and bring your left elbow toward your right knee. Go gently, slowly, easily. Many times. Sensing your five lines.

5) Rest., Now, look to the right and put your left hand behind your head and near or over your left ear. Hold again your right knee with your right hand. Letting your head and spine turn even more to the left, and sensing your five lines as you do this, bring elbow and knee towards each other again.

6) Rest. Now pick you right leg, with your left hand holding your right ankle and right hand holding your right knee. Lift the knee and leg toward your face and let the chest and head come forward, and then back, slowly, sensing your 5 lines. A bit, shift your held leg right and left, again sensing your five lines, minimizing effort and maximizing pleasure and learning.

7) Rest. Do the original movement of left hand down the right leg and see if this is different, all the while sensing your 5 lines.

8) If you want to do the opposite side, 5 lines, all the steps go ahead.

Today’s game: five lines, and feeling how to make bending more interesting and variable for ourselves.