Thursday, August 26, 2010

12 Principles of Permaculture: Creating the New in a Way that Lasts

How do these work for us in the Feldenkrais Work?

Quite well, I think:

Twelve Principle of Permaculture:

1)     OBSERVE AND INTERACT :  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
2)     CATCH & STORE ENERGY: Make hay while the sun shines
3)      OBTAIN A YIELD: You can’t work on an empty stomach
4)     APPLY SELF-REGULATION & ACCEPT FEEDBACK: The sins of the fathers are visited unto the seventh generation
5)     USE & VALUE RENEWABLE RESOURCES & SERVICES: Let nature take its course
6)     PRODUCE NO WASTE: A stitch in time saves nine. Waste not, want not.
7)     DESIGN FROM PATTERN TO DETAIL: Can’t see the wood for the trees.
8)     INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATE: Many hands make light work.
9)     USE SMALL & SLOW SOLUTIONS: The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Slow and steady wins the race.
10)  USE & VALUE DIVERSITY: Don’t put all your eggs into one basket.
11)  USE EDGES & VALUE THE MARGINAL:  Don’t think you are on the right path just because it is a well-beaten path.
12)  CREATIVELY USE & RESPOND TO CHANGE:  Vision is not seeing things as they are, but as they will be.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How to be Happy, part twenty two

(Two men, John and Chris, on the Earth, above Sonoma Calif, playing with rocks even though they aren't kids anymore, or maybe they are, in part of their hearts/ souls/ bodies)

Once upon a time I read a book
just because the title was so obnoxious
I had to prove to my smart ass self
how ridiculous and assholish the author had
to be.

Not, for the first time in my life,
I was wrong, way wrong.

The book, and title were:
How to Argue & Win Every Time: At Home, At Work, In Court, Everywhere, Everyday

Looks like this:

Buy it if you want:

Here's what I remember:

The guys was cool, won a zillion good guy cases
for the environment,
or even taking on "unpopular" causes like Imelia Marcos.

And his methods were two that stood out:

One: when he wanted to center and clear his mind
and discover what he really needed to know
he'd go out in
take off his shoes, circle around
on the Earth
and let the truth
or insight come to him.

Two: when talking to the jury,
he used honesty,
as in:
"I'm really nervous, because I really want to win
this case for my client,
and I think this is really important,
and I'm afraid I won't give a good enough argument."

Or something like that.

And then,
he had a bit of sweet wisdom toward the end:

in an argument with someone you love:
Lose the Darned Argument.

Let her/ him be right.

Hey: wise up folks, remember the beaten down look on
your so-called "loved one's" face when you won
an argument.

Is that love: getting them that horrible look
and feeling?


So, hey:

dance in nature

speak truth

look at your loved one when arguing and think, feel and know:
what do I / we really want.

Good luck
Good love
Good Earth


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rolling to sit, some "advanced" practicing, for practioners who practice and learners who learn

Rolling to Sit: A graduate course

You can lie on your back and feel what this is all about: two shoulder blades on the floor, the back of your pelvis on the floor, the backs of your legs on the floor, some part of your arms resting down, down, gravity holding your self secure and calm.

How does your breathing go here?

What do you see in front of you?

What is the direction that seems “forward” to your pelvis and torso?

Ah, good.

Now, imagine this: you are sitting. You have somehow come to sitting from this lying on your back position. What direction does your head face now and at what are you looking? How is your torso facing and what is the position of your pelvis? Imagine this pelvis connection to the floor a bit more thoroughly: what parts press down, what parts are up from the floor, where does “forward” seem to be for the pelvis?

How is the spine connecting your head and pelvis in this imaginary sitting position?


There are a number of ways to get from on your back to your sitting position and this essay won’t go into them, but will suggest that a thorough and slow and almost endlessly delightful study in transitional possibilities from the lying down pelvis and head to the sitting pelvis and head is rich, rich, rich with learning delights.

And hey, another thought experiment: lie on your belly, and feel what is forward now, where are your eyes and nose pointed, what are your legs up and down to, where is your spine, how about your arms?

In this lying down position, it’s possible to come to sitting without using the arms, but why not be fully human and let the game be played as we would as a baby? So your arms are in what’s called “push up” position, and your head can come up and look at the world from any almost vertical axis and now the game: how to get to sitting from here?

Three games really: how to get to sitting look the same way with your head?

How to get to sitting looking to one side or the other?

How to get to sitting looking the way of “down,” the way your feet are presently pointed.

This can take a lot of slow thinking and experimenting and discovering.

All efforts with awareness in any of life are rewarded, and efforts such as this to discover transitional and functional movements like these can be highly rewarding.
Try ‘em and find out.

Now, for some rolling to sit that is a little like what can be found in the Alexander Yanai series, and a lot like what anyone who pays attention can discover who is willing to feel how gravity and their four limbs and the spine pelvis head thing cooperate.

We’ll start like this:

Rest propped up on your back, with your legs wide and easy, and your elbows holding up the top half of your torso and head in a vertical position. This is to say, you are half upright in head and chest, and the lower half of your back is on the floor.
Feel how the elbows holding you this way has all sorts of possibilities for a person/ child discovering all sorts of things about crawling, but for now, just shift a bit side to side and feel how one elbow and then the other supports most of the top half of you, including your head.

Have a little fun with this, and drop your torso a bit as you come through the middle, and come back up more as you shift your weight from one elbow to the other, always keeping your head vertical.

Then rest.

Come back to this propped position, and come with your weight more fully to your right elbow (we’ll cater to the world of right handers/ left footers for starts), coming enough to the right so that you can feel weight shift to the right side of your pelvis. And then come back.

Now do a kind of fun thing, where you shift your weight in a bit of an arc to the right and forward, so the head goes in an arc, and the weight on the pelvis shifts as if on a clock from 12 to 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 to 6 o’clock.

At six o’clock your weight could be forward enough so that you were sitting. (the right hand coming in handy somewhere along the way).

Play around with this. (Technical term: “fart around” with this.). Let the head arc to the right and then forward, and the pelvis rotate the same way and feel the legs provide the ballast as it were for this shift forward and up of the head and spine.

Notice the weight when your are sitting, and then coming back to the reclining position, notice the reverse shift in your pelvis and head.


Now, maybe you recall an Alexander Yanai, when, on your back you scissors your legs one way to come more on your belly and the other way to coming to sitting over your elbow. Maybe you don’t. Either way is fine.

But, again, playing right elbowed/ left legged, from the reclining position, raise your left leg and bring it to the right over your right leg, and in this scissored position, roll the head and pelvis as before as you take the left leg back to the left, and see how sweetly and easily this goes.
Play/ “fart around” with this. Imagine, if you are a practitioner, guiding this movement either from behind the neck, or with the “free” arm, or with the “free” arm and the swinging leg. Realize how going slowly enough could teach a lot to ribs and sternum and head and chest and pelvis and weight shifting and gravity connecting and all that good stuff.

And rest.

Now, you are on your back, a baby, and you lift your left leg and fling it to the right. You roll mainly to your right side, but since you aren’t in a Feldenkrais lesson with your arms starting above your head, you trap your lower right arm under you.

Darn. This is annoying.
But, you feel a toy over there on the right side where your left foot is, and your head wants to come to it, and you swing your head that way, and your left leg swings back over to the left to counter-balance and get out of the way, and your left hand reaches down there for the toy and you have rolled up to sit through your elbow on the right side.
Yes, yes, the bending of the knees ways are “easier” in the world of rolling up to sit, and keeping the head even lower to the floor has a lot of amazing learning. Still, though, in the above you can sort of roll your head along the floor toward the toe near where the left foot landed over on the right there.

Isn’t this fun?

I hope so.

The Elusive Obvious: We can transform, or What is the Feldenkrais Method® all about?

Moshe Feldenkrais lived from 1904 to 1984. He was born into a Hasidic Jewish family in what is now Poland and died in Israel. When he was fourteen, in 1924, he walked, on his own, from his hometown in Poland to Palestine and began his life as a laborer. By the time he died he had achieved a doctor of science in physics from the Sorbonne, had worked as both an engineer and a physicist in France and Israel, had become fluent in four or five languages, had been trained as the Western person to first bring judo from Japan to Europe by the top Japanese judo master, and had invented a system of mental/physical improvement that has helped thousands around the world.

This system, the Feldenkrais Method®, has been useful in enabling children with cerebral palsy to walk for the first time without crutches, for enabling people who have had a stroke to regain use of both sides, for radically increasing the rate of improvement of people recovering from accidents. It also has helped highly skilled musicians like Yo Yo Ma and Yehudi Menuhin, and star athletes like Dr. J, formerly of the Philadelphia 76ers. In between it has been of great use to those feeling the various aches and pains of growing older, or those with sore backs, shoulders, hips and knees, and then also people wishing to add more ease to walking, skiing, dancing, golfing and so on.

So what is the core of this system that can be useful to people at so many levels of physical ability? The core is our innate human ability to learn, and the vast reservoir of forgotten and untapped connections in our brain that have to do with efficient and clear movement in our whole organism. This method is about re-learning and deepening our learning of such relationships as right hip to left shoulder, relationship of toes to spine, relationship of breathing to bending forward and arching back, and the hundreds of other relationships that go into walking or skiing and pushing a wheelbarrow.

One way to understand this is to examine the stimulus for Dr. Feldenkrais’ invention of this system. Knees. It was his knees, deep in trouble for repeated soccer injuries. For all his intellectual skills, he couldn’t stay away from judo, soccer and other activities. He once said that exercise was for lazy people, because if you lived a full and vital life, your zest for living would take you dancing or gardening or all the many fun things we can do, and that would keep you as in shape.

Anyway, his knees were a wreck and this was back before fancy surgery, at the end of the forties, I think, and the doctors told him an operation would yield a 50/50 chance of improving or crippling him. He thought this was the same as flipping a coin and opted to figure it out himself. Immersed in anatomy, physiology, movement systems existing, learning theory of the time, he put full attention of his own knees and what small movements there could reveal. What he discovered not only cured himself, but began to be useful to his acquaintances, and then, as it developed, to wider and wider groups of people.

What did he discover? The title of one of his few books is The Elusive Obvious. All his discoveries where of this nature. Movement in the knee must involve the ankle and the hip. Movement in the ankle must involve the foot and the toes. Movement in the hip must involve the pelvis, and that the spine and that the ribs and that the neck and that the eyes. And all of it, the brain, with its patterns and habits of neck and ribs and spine and pelvis, all having limiting effects on the knees moving in a free and natural way.

Also elusively obvious: as creatures out of the womb, our connection to gravity and to breathing shapes everything we do. Also elusively obvious, especially to anyone who has studied marital arts, the pelvis as near the center of our movement, and central to our balance, and the eyes as the key to our orientation as we go about moving. From his pediatrician wife, he may have tuned in on the amazing journey an infant takes from being able to suck and turn the head, to being able to walk as a toddler. Each of those stages was full of movement that had to be efficient because the baby didn’t have a lot of extra muscle to fling around the body in off kilter ways.

Core elusively obvious: LIFE IS MOVEMENT. THE BRAIN ORGANIZES MOVEMENT. OUR BRAIN THINKS / LEARNS ORGANIZES IN FUNCTION. Bringing food to our mouth, the function of hand to mouth is deep, deep, and can be used and understood, and retrained (say after a stroke, or in retraining a wrecked/ injured/ surgically repaired shoulder) without any regard to muscles, range of motion, relaxing or not relaxing. Functional movement is how we walk, talk, eat, make love, chop wood, play golf, dance. Functional movement is where the most bang per buck can be gotten in relearning how to move with more Ease, Skill and

Basically, this is the Feldenkrais method, the use of our attention to discover more of ourselves, how we relate from one part of our marvelous organism to another, what are our habits and what can be possible if we begin to break free of those habits. Learning who we are, and more important, how we are, and how we could be if we had more options in our movement repertoire.

Enough theory. Feldenkrais work is nothing if not concrete. Let’s start with our left leg, from toes and foot to knee to pelvis to back to neck and shoulder.

Wait. That sounds like a lot more than the left leg doesn’t it?

Oh, well: good old elusively obvious again: the leg is part of us, and we are a whole. The is the major difference between the Feldenkrais Method and various treat a troubled body as if it were a broken car systems, i.e. Western medicine, chiropractic, deep tissue massage and whatnot.

Okay, blah, blah on the theory, to hell with the theory: lie on your back on the ground or the grass and notice this: how does this change and calm your nervous system right off the bat.

Learning is what?

Another elusive obvious: millions of teachers out there that thinking that teaching is telling someone something or demonstrating something.

Not really: teaching is creating conditions so that THE LEARNER LEARNS.

And what is learning?

Ah, all those millions of teachers who think learning is when the student “gets it,” which means: can copy them.


Learning is when the student notices, wakes up to, is changed by noticing a difference INSIDE THEM, IN THE PRESENT, that makes a difference.

And when this difference is noticed: LEARNING IS INSTANTANEOUS.


Okay, learning is happening.

Now please bring your right foot toward your read end, and a little to the outside and stand it up so the sole of your right foot is on the ground, as if you were walking. This is called, even in lying down, “standing the foot.”

Great, stand the left foot and notice what changes in you. If you don’t notice anything, great, slowly, slowly, put the left leg long and bring the foot slowly to stand and see if you can stand to understand and feel and sense any difference.

This is fun.

Don’t worry about “doing it right.” Just pay attention to your experience.

And what is the best advice to any meditator? Pay attention to your experience in the present.

And the best advice to an athlete or a musician wishing to improve? Well, it’s more: create some intelligent variation and pay attention to your experience.

So let’s do that. We are all athletes and musicians, at least the kid in us was (or wanted to be), and we are returning to what kids do best: learn (by playing around).

Okay, left foot standing, and push, easily, slowly, gently the foot into the ground, and feel the transfer of force through your ankle, and your knee and your hip joint (where is the hip joint, anyway), on up to your back and spine and vertebrae and ribs and shoulders. Which shoulder feels this the most? Which way does the spine rotate?

Then “undo” this movement, bring the raised side of your pelvis down, letting go of pushing in the left foot, and become calm and empty with your left foot standing before you slowly and with curiosity do this again. And again. And again.

Each time: make it different than the last time.

Each time: look for more pleasure, for less effort, for letting go of strain, for discovering parts of you and connections you never realized before.

Each time, treat the “undoing” as a real and worthy movement, well worth being awake and attentive and joyful in of itself. Make sure to come to complete ease before each repetition. And stop after six or eight or ten and rest for awhile before doing the whole thing again.

Keep one side of your pelvis on the ground, and let the other lift and rotate.

Try these two out to discover maximum ease and pleasure: tighten your belly, clench your jay and stiffen your chest as you lift and rotate whatever side of the pelvis is lifting and rotating.

Now, soften your stomach and letting it come out a bit, and feel your back muscles working and allow your chest and jaw to be soft as you do this movement. Which allows more ease and pleasure of movement?

So: do this a bunch, take rests, do it some more and then slide your left leg down and rest fully. Rest to let your nervous system relax.

Rest to let the experience reform in your mind.

Rest to notice the difference in how your left and right sides feel, and what that might mean about learning taking place.

Now,. Bring your left foot to standing again, and play around with slowly doing this movement, with the left foot in slightly different spots. See if you can find what feels “best” for you right now, as far as being able to push down straight into the floor, as if you were walking or something like that.

Once you’ve found where you like you left foot, begin to play this game: for three times as you do this movement, let your head slowly turn to the right as the same rate your pelvis is rotating, and come back to the middle as your pelvis comes back.

And then for three times, let your head turn to the left and back as your pelvis rotates and your back arches and you come back to starting.

Back and forth, three times of each for awhile and then another rest.

And now: one last thing, for the starters: Do all the above, and notice the ribs, and play with your eyes.

Eyes and ribs.

And foot and hip and back and pelvis and neck.

It’s a lot. ( A real human being is a lot; that’s why we like children so much: they haven’t been squeezed down to be so much less than what they really are like most adults.)

Notice your ribs and as your head is turning to the right, slowly, slowly turn your eyes to the left. Just a little. Go slow. If you “can’t” do this, make everything smaller and slower and keep playing.

Playing around. It’s not important to get it. It’s fun to experiment, to play around, to try new stuff.

Eyes to the left as your head goes to the right, eyes to the right as your head goes to the left, the pelvis is rotating, the foot is pushing, the ribs are doing some stuff, you are breathing and noticing a lot and having fun, I hope.

If not, rest.

Go slower.

Make less effort.

Notice your experience.


Play with this. See what you get.


That’s learning. If you got in over your head, that’s real learning: if you only do what we can already do, how can we change. If we try too hard, we just learn to try too hard.

But farting around, playing, exploring, somehow this, in the world of the elusive obvious, is the fastest way to real change.


Find out for yourself. If it comes from inside you, then it’s real learning. As if it’s the best and most real food.


Monday, August 16, 2010

head and pelvis, without a real lesson, except the wake up lesson

the head is heavy
life is long
the pelvis is big
life is juicy

what more is there
but first:
sense the stick
the rod
the magic wand
the wee wee wonka
betrix and between

how long
which way
how could it be longer

let is sway
let it play
have a waking up


Thursday, August 12, 2010

head down to rise up from the floor... really? who knows: try it and find out

 (This picture is something that would be good to eat. It may or may not-- probably not, knowing me-- have anything to do with the below, but pics of doing the thing would take all the fun out, wouldn't they?)

What if we had this puzzle:
how to most easily get up from the floor?

Okay, we like puzzles:
here we go
(After all Moshe our man said that the overcoming of difficulties is one of the great pleasure in life)
(( In The Potent Self a potent dense book well worth a bunch of reads or jump in and read a bit here a bit there reads))

Let's say the lesson could evolve like this:
stand and look down at the floor
what about hands on it, too

okay, that's not so bad

now play a little the usual ways, one hand up, one foot
now play advanced: lift one hand (which did ya pick), and then what foot matches
ah, that's kinda fun

now pick the nicest hand foot pair and think about, plan, imagine the butt down on the floor
figure a way or two
do 'em, breathe down there
see how far you have come

and wouldn't it be fun to try again?
so we need to get up to standing to go down again
might as well reverse whatever we did

somehow in the reversing and spiralling,
if that's what we like
a hanging head and a lifty butt might
be interesting
yeah, that's the ticket, the good old head butt, head pelvis combo
how do they twirl,
counterbalance each other and so on

hey, this could lead to something like sitting
cross legged and noticing which leg is in front
and put the opposite hand back
and then...
more discovering, it would seem
in the spiralling  head down butt up

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not knowing what we are doing next

In this moment
we can experience exactly this:
what we are experiencing right now

it sounds so silly
think of all the misery we get into wanting
to be better happier richer sexier more loved
instead of getting
at least getting reality
from what is going on right now

what's that got to do with Feldenkrais?

hey: it's the one system, well there are probably many more,
but it is one system
where we put out attention on sensing ourselves
and another right now
and from there find small
and real pathways to slightly improving
what was thought to be stuck

slightly improving
is as big as the sun compared
to bad and heading toward worse

so huge
so small

kind of like
the small and huge
little jump
into the


Monday, August 09, 2010

The Elusive Obvious

In his grand and glorious
The Elusive Obvious
our man Moshe
is prattling on about babies,
and he finds
saying something he has said
over and over and over

and he is disgusted to catch
himself repeating one of
his favs
like a robot

" Every time I hear myself say
something by habit as the previous phrase.
I catch myself thinking like a machine,'
albeit maybe a clever one." p. 81

and i can write this
like a robot

how to
be in the world of
and be


and worth a try
without out it
life is
fill in the blank
with some of your old phrases
or let's empty our minds
and see
if anything new

without the awakeness