Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Letter to a mother who's tired of people trying to "fix" her son

Take a baby who cannot, for some reason, roll over.

Put it on its back and offer it:
Chiropractic adjustments
Acupuncture meridian cures
Physical therapy or occupational therapy prodding where the baby is forced over and over to do what it can’t do yet

And little to no results will occur.

Put this child on her or his side, and gently lift the vertebrae, one by one, in the back, sometimes linking this movement up with the shoulders, sometimes with the pelvis, constantly giving different "information" by touching and moving difference vertebrae and different combinations of vertebra and some other place in the baby, sometimes helping the head to roll the same way as shoulders or pelvis, sometimes opposite, sometimes “teaching” the arm/ brain/ body to move backward as the spine rotates that way, and the baby will learn, of its own, how to roll over.

It may take a while, but when it happens, it will be part of a whole evolutionary stage for the child, since the learning will be all within, within the child.

Take this same lesson and give it to

A professional baseball pitcher,
Andre Agassi,
Michael Jordan
Tiger Woods
Yo Yo Ma
Seiji Ozawa
A person with a stroke, (starting always with the “first best side”)
Someone feeling in pain in back, neck, shoulders
Someone tired of feeling old
Someone wanting to improve their studying
Someone "bored" with their life
Someone depressed

For every single person this will "feel good." And every single person will stand up at the end feeling taller and more connected to some clearer "sense" of themselves. And the lesson will teach each and every person something about how wonderful shoulders (and ribs, and a pelvis and an arm) are, about being present, about pitching or hitting the golf ball or tackling the opponent with more ease and power, about dancing and thinking and breathing and making decisions easier.

For your son it might lead to better soccer, easier sleep, more feeling of confidence in walking, more pleasure in being himself, ways of experimenting that might otherwise be years down the road, if there at all, , ease in art, ........

At no time would the lesson, for anyone from baby to Tiger Woods be predicated on “fixing” anything wrong. Even the person with the stroke starts off improving the "first best" side 30-50 %, and then the other side is given the chance to learn whatever it wants to learn.

Human beings are separated from animals in their ability to learn. A dog can get up a run around and speak dog very soon and easily. A human learns to roll over, crawl, sit, walk and talk in a long period of learning. Most humans stop when they are functioning and unless in pain, don’t bother to transcend a fairly limited functionality, of which they have little or no awareness.

I have spend hundreds of hours and written at least a dozen essays on how our work is not “fixing,” is not “getting it right,” is not “treating” any “ailment.” I am in Austin and not still in Sonoma, CA, since my relationship with a wonderful, beautiful and amazing yoga teacher keep floundering on the fix it (by doing the pose right) vs. learning (by discovering ten other ways to move) models of life

That’s why I insist of calling the sesions lessons (not “treatments”) and refrain from calling it “body work.”

This is whole person work.

Any one who wants to participate more fully in the glory of being human can benefit.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Organizing Shoulders

Here's a sweet little tidbit from life on "Feldie Forum,"
a gathering of over 1000 Feldenkrais and related folk

Like this it went:

"Felicia Truillio wrote:


you there? Any tips on moves that organize shoulders? felicidades, 


Ellen Soloway's reply:

Dear Felicia,

I read your posting and immediately switched into a grumpy or cranky emotional state. I assume you are asking about references for lessons that improve the ability of the shoulders and arms so they are capable of responding to the organizational needs required for doing various tasks easily. However, I found the wording of your question extremely irritating, especially since it came from a long-term practitioner. I am completely uninterested in "moves" and, if I was, I would suggest you read a classic textbook on Kinesolgy.My interests are in lessons that raise the existing level of a person's thinking or coordination and, as a result, I do not know how to answer your question about "moves".

Respectfully submitted,

Ellen Soloway"

So, what do we have here:

We have a question about organizing the shoulder by "moves"

We have someone not liking that way of stating the question and going
into grumpiness.

Now, life is big and amazing, and watched in the moment,
we can discover that our emotional responses to things
are at least as habitual as our
movement patterns.

And the "getting grumpy" thing is often a pattern our parents
and teachers used to push us around when they didn't like the
direction we were headed,
didn't like us being out of control,
didn't like.....,
and so the grumpy cranky angry thing was the tool to "shape up"
the offending soul.

Who knows if that's what's happening here, but could be.

And now for shoulders.

Ah, shoulders are so much fun, and what "are" shoulders.

The thing at the top of our arms?

The shoulder blade, plus top of the arm?

The upper arm, shoulder blade, clavicle, and all that sweet known or not known interaction with the ribs?

Some muscles that move all that, and float around when we move the "shoulder?"

Who knows. What's the shoulder for you.

And now: some organizing ideas.

Now in Feldie Forum I've seen people go to all sorts of lengths and hijinks to get very fancy and avoid the fundamental of how our work works, which is reorganizing the brain, by making function more clear, or giving options in function, or creating awareness in function.

Is function a "move?'

Is function a "movement?"

Who cares.

You want to reach forward. Great function. Shoulders necessary.

You want to wash the hair at the back of your head. Great function. Shoulders necessary.

You want to walk the sweet arm swing walk of left hand forward as right foot swings ahead. Great function. Shoulders necessary.

So, how could we improve just these three functions: in standing? In sitting? Lying on the side? Lying on the back? Lying on the belly?

That would be kind of useful and fun, eh?

But, hey: how's this for a move to organize the shoulders: rest your hands, one on top of the other, against a wall. Rest your forehead on the top hand. Feel your shoulders and your shoulder blades. Rotate your hips right and left and feel what happens in the shoulder blades and the ribs.

What if you slowly turned your head, you know the way, slow and gentle and with awareness and learning, both in the same direction your hips were "moving" and the opposite direction.

Couldn't that be a nice way of increasing shoulder "organization."

Pop quiz. You are a human with no nursing breast.
What is the most functionally important move in your life?

La, la.

See you again next Wednesday.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

To "mess" around with awareness

Many people offer some sort of "authentic movement,"
ecstatic movement,
improvised movement,
creative movement,
and so on.

These are all grand and help us remember that we aren't meant to be
in our life,
that the bones aren't just for holding us up in chairs,
and then walking us to the car chair,
to get up and go to the office chair.

We like to move.
We golf or play tennis or make love or hike or bike.

And we writhe around in authentic movement,
and go through established poses and postures in
tai chi and yoga and chi gung
and so on.

And we can lie down or the floor,
or the grass
or a firm bed,
and systematically begin to move one leg,
or one arm,
to move our leg or arm in a way that engages our back and pelvis,
to create variations in our heads and eyes
and ribs.

We can create something like our own lessons.

And if we learn something,
even if we "can't put it in words,"
(or maybe especially if we can't put it in words),
it's a lesson.

So, give yourself some "mess around time,"
in bed in the morning before you get up,
sometime in the middle of the day
when we are so heavily programmed to be a in some frantic rush,
and at the end of the day,
when we get back into bed,
or are about to go there.

Shake off the day,
come back to being in our awareness
and awaring our two arms and two legs and spine,
and enjoy the delicious combinations you can create.

Create an inner dialogue.


Learn and be happy.


Friday, January 07, 2011

The joy of learning: it's not just about movement, it's about waking up

If life is movement, and
learning about differences
increases ease, pleasure, skill and awareness in "movement" movement,
And, hey, 
guess what,
noticing differences in the "emotional" movement 
ourselves creates the same 
increase in ease, pleasure, skill and awareness
on our lives.

This is from the exercise/ activity/ meditation/ game number 10 of the original 108 way book. 108 "ways" to be happy, to be more aware, to be almost enlightened, to be more free, to move, think, feel, connect to who you really are in new and delightful ways.

108 "Ways" of waking up to the glory of you and life and now.

I'm rewriting that book. The book rotates through
Movement awareness,
emotional learning,
thinking improvement and
soul connection.

It's superb.

I'm going to be selling the first 32 "ways" as a pdf for $12. If people complete those and write email me of their "learning," I'll sell the next 32 "ways" for $8. And if they do and finish and write me about these, I'll sell the final 42 ways for $20.

And if anyone wants to preview, I'll email a pdf of the first 8 "ways" free.

Email if you wish by clicking here

So here's the tenth, without "easy" paragraph breaks. If you want easy to read, please email for the first 8 games/ exercises/ activities/ meditations for free in pdf.

If not, this can change your life, as each of the 108 ways can:

here goes:'

Ten: Emotional Learning
Learning: differences, similarities. We aren’t alone, 2.

Think of a person for whom you have both “positive” and “negative” feelings.
Write down three traits of this person that evoke each attitude.
Look from one list to the other. “Good traits” to “bad traits” to “good traits” and so on. Notice inside yourself the “feelings” that the positive list evokes and the feelings the negative list brings up. INSIDE YOURSELF.
This is huge. They are what they are, but where you put your attention creates what goes on INSIDE of you.
Don’t TRY not to be negative. When you look at the “negative” list, feel what you feel. And as you go back and forth allow real emotion learning to take place as you notice differences, notice differences notice differences. This is learning.

Now, take all six traits and find them in yourself.
Try to do this as if you were an outside observer, some sort of anthropologist taking notes on some exotic tribe. You and the person are both from this exotic tribe. The anthropologist has no stake or judgment about any of these six traits. They are just interested, and very empathetic with both of you for being this way.
The anthologist knows humans are hugely similar.
See and feel the ways you and this person you have picked have a lot of similarity, or have "fallen" into the same habits, or have the same patterns.
Doesn’t matter how you say it, just “be with this” and realize once more, how you are not alone.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

First four games in my 108 page book, coming out in April this year

A dance of Learning:
Waking up to the Glory in us and in Life.
Are you alive? How do you know this? When you realize this miraculous “fact,” are you thrilled?
Whether or not you are thrilled, would you like to move and feel better in your body? Feel younger? Feel more flexible? Improve skills in tennis, golf, getting up from a chair, walking or running in the park?
Would you like to feel happier? Would you, could you tolerate being happy more or less all the time? Could you stand a life of loving yourself and everyone around you, no matter how “good, bad, pretty or ugly” you and they are?
Would you like to have fresher and newer thoughts? Could you, would you enjoy breaking free from various habits and doing new and unusual and non-habitual activities, and having new and unusual and non-habitual thoughts? Would you enjoy ‘thinking’ better, even to the point of having a much clearer sense of what ‘thinking’ is?
Would you like to feel more connection to your ‘real self?’ To your ‘soul?’ To your ‘higher, spiritual’ nature? Would you like the peace of mind that being free of externally and internally conditioned pictures and ideas about yourself cause? Would you like to feel the “peace that passes all understanding?” Or return to the joy in being alive that I consider everyone’s birthright?
Then, come on it to 108 Ways. This is a book of games and activities, something like meditations, to create and open you to the new and now and wonderful in yourself.
You can do one activity a day. You can do ten. You can repeat the ones you like daily or when the whim calls.
This is a feast for you. Please jump on it and thrive!!!

The Game / Activity/ Meditation Plan
We are 4 brain beings, at least. Let’s spread out the feast.
You can find many books on how to “improve” emotions, or “deepen” your spiritual practice, or “feel and move better” in your body. There are even a few books on how to think more clearly and better, though the paucity of this genre and the over-all idiocy of our level of public discourse and private conversation might say something about each other.
And that’s another topic, really, except to point out the obvious: our brains are miraculous, perhaps the most miraculous small bit of matter in the Universe, and to use them better is something we admire in Beethoven and Mozart and Shakespeare and Einstein and the Dixie Chicks.
Life is good. And thinking clearly when our conditioning wants us to accept the standard propaganda, whether political, social, or just plain old “you are not good” enough thinking, is disastrous for our world and our own happiness.
So here’s the game plan. Activity/ game/ meditation One, and five, and nine, and so on will give you a way of moving that will:
a.    bring you to the present
b.   help you move better in many aspects of your life
c.    show you how to connect to yourself in a sweeter, easier and more pleasure way
d.   more, lots more

Then, in game two, six, ten and so on, you’ll be given an emotional exercise to improve:
a.    happiness
b.   awareness
c.    love
d.   more, lots more.

Activity three, seven, eleven and so you will improve thinking such that
a.    you’ll be clearer what thinking is
b.   you’ll think about lots of things in new ways
c.    sometimes you will experience and practice ‘thinking’ without words, which is  great way to more clarity on what ‘thinking’ really is
d.   more, much more

And one the meditation/ activity/ game numbered four, eight, twelve and so on, all the way up to 108, you will have a chance to nourish your ‘soul,’ to the tune of more
a.    happiness & peace & love
b.   connection to emptiness & freedom and your “real” sellf
c.    connection to “God,” if that’s a concept / presence that works for you
d.   more, much more.
And that’s all the preface you need, let’s get playing/ learning.

One : Moving
Standing and awaring gravity and feet:
Stand comfortably, in your bare feet or just socks. Close your eyes. Feel the weight of yourself into your feet. Shift, ever so slightly, your weight from your right foot to your left, and then back again, many times.
Do ALL the games in this book, especially the movement ones at about half the usual speed you do things. Slow down, slow down.
And less effort than usual. Be without strain and efforting.
Be with all the pleasure you can find.
As you gently and pleasurable shift your weight from one foot to another notice with delight: your breathing and your skeletal support of your spine and head, and your feet at the base of this.
Get as joyous and present a FEEL (as sensation) of yourself as you can as a being in the world of gravity and awareness.
Now, move the length of yourself, only at your ankles, like a stick, forward and back, so you sway a bit, and feel the weight going to your toes and then your heels.
Small is better than big.
Slow is better than fast.
Aware is better than “just doing it.”
Pleasure is better than “trying,” “straining,” or efforting.
Now, lift up on your toes and fall easily onto your heels five or six times. Rest. Feel how you feel now. Do this again, maybe even twenty times. Or thirty. Slowly, slowly, pleasurably, pleasurably. Rest.
Take a little walk around the room or wherever you are. Feel your feet and your skeleton and your awaring in the world of up and down.

Two: Emotional Learning
We are not alone
Think of two of three things you really like and enjoy about another person. Or several other people. See them doing and being the way the are. Notice, feel, delight in them being “who they are.”
Write down several traits you like in these people you have picked.
Good, now the hard part: look inside yourself and find these same traits.
It might not be as much, but we all have traces of everything. So look and find this in yourself. If so and so is “kind,” find and acknowledge the kindness in yourself. If they are “happy and creative,” find the happy and creative you.

If you happened to pick admiring someone who can high jump eight feet or play concert violin, find the parallel in any level of ability you have; So the slightest jump or musical humming “counts” as part of your expanded picture of the wonderfulness of yourself.

That’s the game, simple and sometimes “hard:” Think of traits you like in others, and find these in yourself.
Don’t be tough on yourself. Be open and embracing. We all have it all, the good and the bad. Let’s start by looking for the common good.

Allow a sense of unity and harmony, like-ness, to come from that.
Does this help you realize that ‘we are not alone’ in this big and beautiful and sometimes messy thing called life?

Three: Thinking
Getting a more alert and active brain.
A lot of improving and making more happy our thinking will, at least at first, involve the moving our “body” in movements with a great deal attention and out of habitual patterning.
These practices come from my training as both a Feldenkrais Method™ and an Anat Baniel Method practitioner. These systems use brain plasticity (= learning) to help people feel younger and more clear in movements that were before painful or limited. They help professional athletes and musicians come to even more skill and ease in their work. They also help writers with writers block, lovers with heart block, old timers with “newness” block, bored people with “stuckness” block, and anyone with “I didn’t know there was so much more to life” block.

And here’s the “thinking” game that appears to be a “movement” game:
Please start like this: sit comfortably and more or less upright (i.e. don’t lean back in the chair, if you can do this). Turn your head easily right and left.
Notice the difference in feel, range, and quality of turning left and turning right.
Rest a bit.
Now just turn to the left and back to the middle. Do this many times and see if you can notice something “new” each time. See how that feels.
Again sitting “up” at the front edge of your chair, put your hands on top of the opposite shoulder, and turn to the left in this sequence: first your eyes go to the left, then your nose, then your shoulders. Then come back slowly in the same order, noticing each part of you. Go slowly, and notice each part moving, and notice how your range and ease increases.
Many times, with ease, pleasure and learning. Then rest.
Now, hands again on opposite shoulder with the other way around of which arm is over the other, turn to the left in this sequence: ribs first, then nose, then eyes. Then come back to the middle and do this many times. Notice ease, learning and improvement.
Then rest and feel yourself alive in the present moment.
Now try something that requires even more “thinking without words” and attention.
Sit upright, and turn your eyes to the left and back to the middle a number of times. Feel how easy you can be in the rest of yourself.
Now, keeping your eyes forward, looking at something fixed 9and they can be closed, your eyes, and imagining looking at something straight ahead), move your nose and head a number of times to the left and back to the middle.
Go slowly.
Go gently.
Find the pleasure, follow your breathing, get “into” the discovery. Enjoy this.
For finishing: just turn your head right and left and notice two differences:
1.            Is there a difference in your whole self feeling of ease and clarity?
2.            Do you notice a difference in ease and clarity of turning left and turning right

Get up easily and walk around, letting your walking be a finally rest and chance to enjoy any “newness” and any “now-ness” in yourself.

Four: Soul
The world of sky and “Outside” the walls.
Wherever you live, there is a door somewhere that leads “Outside.” Get whatever clothes you need for this, give yourself fifteen or twenty minutes of no cell phone, no chores, no hurry, no worry.
Walk out this door to the “Outside” and take a walk that lasts at least twenty minutes.
If this walk can take you to a nature area or park, so much the better. No matter what, the walk is just a walk from your door out into the world ( If at all possible resist the habit of driving to a “nicer” area and then walking).

Just walk. Go out the door, see the sky, feel the ground under your feet, breathe “easily,” and walk “easily.” Feel sky above, Earth below, the smallness of a human form.

On this walk, with as few “words in your head” as possible, keep your attention on the present moment. One present moment after another. Experience your experiencing of the present. Feel, smell, hear, look, sense: what are you experiencing now, as experience.
Please avoid and abandon as much as you can using any words to describe the experience.
Stay in the good old huge immense and amazing now: what is the experience of you being you, as you walk “Outside?”