Monday, February 28, 2011

Over at

Which I wish I'd named 4 brain mindfulness,
the Monday post
is about:
Waking up to the sensation underneath
and going deeper than the so called
the mainstay of the Feldenkrais and Anat Baniel work:
sensing ourselves.

What is the sensation
of various good feeling
not so good feeling feelings
and how might the distinction be better
made than Positive and Negative

Check it out and see
if you wish
4 Brain Mindfulness, weekly essays on a Monday

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Feeding,, Fighting and Feldenkrais... a movement lesson to accompany

Sit comfortably in a chair, with both feet on the floor and your back away from the back of the chair.

Feel yourself more or less upright, and feel what that is like. Perhaps closing your eyes can help you get a more clear Sensing feel of yourself.

Now, slowly, begin to bring your right hand to your mouth, and then place it back down in your lap. You've done this a zillion times, so go slower than slow and see if you can notice anything new about this life necessary movement.


Now bring the back of your right hand just to the left of your mouth, and bring your hand back down, and as you repeat this movement, move toward bringing the middle of your right forearm to your mouth. After it's there, go back and forth from lap to middle of right forearm at your mouth.


Now please come to this last position of middle of your right forearm on your mouth and begin to round and arch your spine. What does that mean?

To round your spine: bring your belly in and back, rock back a bit on your pelvis, let your sternum sink and your nose lower as if you are going to look between your legs.

All the while your arm and mouth are united, and this gives your elbow a downward trajectory as you round your back.

Then when you arch your back, your elbow will lift, your eyes and nose will look up, your sternum will rise, your belly will come forward a bit and you will rock a bit forward on your pelvis.

Go slowly and with pleasure and awareness in the arching and rounding, paying attention to all your parts:
and pelvis.

Take rests if you get fatigued, or lose concentration, but do come back to this until you can feel and unity of sorts between your pelvis rocking forward and back, and your elbow raising and lowering.

Have thoughts, if you wish, about how this motion in the pelvis region could have something to do with s-e-x.


Now, play with this a bit. Put yourself in the same position of the middle of your right forearm touching your mouth as you sit forward on your chair, and arch up so your elbow is more toward the sky/ ceiling and your pelvis is rocked forward more, and from here bring your pelvis into a kind of hula hoop circle on your chair, and allow your elbow to make a corresponding circle that you discover.

Enjoy this a bit, and then reverse the circle. Go slow enough to get a nice realization of your pelvis and spine and head as a grand team.


Now for a bit of the fighting part;
Sit with your left hand on your left knee, and bring your right hand down and outside of your left knee, going down and twisting slowly and easily. Then rise up from this with an arching of your back as earlier, but this time raising your right hand forward and up and to the right, as if slapping someone with the back of your right hand, or slashing a sword up and to the right, and any other image you'd like (hitting a backhand tennis shot way to high, flinging a frisbee to the right and upward), whatever the image, feel your whole self participating in this curling down and twisting (as if to load your strike, throw, fling, slap) and then unfurling and letting your back and pelvis participate in a powerful move of your right arm and hand.


This is all one sided. Please feel free to read the instructions and then imagine this all on the left side, and then perhaps do it just once on twice to see how clear your imagining was and what you you would need to remember if you were to imagine it again.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Qigong part two, balance is not falling over, lengthening is reaching to heavens above and Earth below

Stand on the easiest foot

Bring the other foot back, and lightly use your toes to balance

Form a ball with your hands in front of your standing leg, opposite hand of standing leg on top

Reach up with top hand, down with other hand, arch your back, breathe out and lengthen

Come back to the ball near the hip of your standing leg with the other hand on top, ie same hand as standing leg

Then lengthen up and breathe out

Rest and do this to the other side

the advanced version

Stand on one foot; I'll say left to make it easier

Bring your right knee up toward your chest and your hands in a ball, about six inches apart,
right hand on top

Bend/ fold in a bit, so your stomach in back,
shoulders head and sternum down
pelvis tilted up (as in tailbone under, sex toward nose)

From this fold/ round/ crouch: breathe in
I know it's weird, but do it, breathe in,

breathe out
and lengthen,
right leg behind you and still in the air
right hand easily high above your head
arch your back
look up easily without shortening your neck toward your hand,
left hand down

Breathe in
and come into a crouch again
still on your left foot,
right knee forward again,
this time a ball with the left hand on top,

Breathe out,
lengthen left hand high, right hand down,
right leg back again,

Do this back and forth about 3 times.

Then switch to standing on your right foot
and reverse everything

this will do ya


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Feeding,, Fighting and Feldenkrais

Before I launch forward on my 4 F essay, I'd like to recommend you try and
play with
and benefit from
the little qigong exercise I presented yesterday.

This morning, in the local park where I do my morning Tai Chi,
I played around with it,
and came up with a sweet variation that takes it to a whole new

that, with pictures I hope, I'll present tomorrow.

For today, though, practice at least as much breathing out during the expansion
hand floating into the air phase of the movment.

And barefoot, barefoot, especially outside on an uneven surface: great for you and your learning, lvoing, connecting self.

Feeding,, Fighting and Feldenkrais.

Feeding, F…ing, Fighting and Feldenkrais.

Why in that order?

Because if we don’t eat, we’ll die, and so a system that is about increasing happiness and well being and vitality in life has to keep us alive, and to stay alive we need to eat. And let’s have some fun: what is the most important movement to a human being who is no longer sucking at the breast?

Answer: bringing at least one hand to our mouth.

This is a movement that has a FUNCTION.

 If you come to a practitioner for a private lesson, they are called Functional Integration lessons, and if you were to lie on your back on that pleasantly firm Feldenkrais table, and the practitioner were to begin to bring one of your hands in the direction of above your head, she or he would first bring your hand toward your mouth, and then in front of your face, and then, bit by bit, probably, toward above your head.

This function, hand to mouth is a big deal to our brains. The brain doesn’t think about muscles and bones (as far as I know), but it really loves and knows this movement apple to mouth, fork of yum food to mouth, celery stick to mouth, glass of water to our mouth. So if a practitioner were to just “make better” this movement of hand toward your mouth, in sitting, and lying on your back, and lying on your side, that “better” would spill out into all sorts of ease and clarity in movement in back, neck, ribs, shoulder, pelvis, breathing, hands, fingers, and probably even more.

The goal isn’t to get your hand to your mouth. If you couldn’t do that, you probably wouldn’t be coming in for a lesson. You’d either be dead or hospitalized. The goal is to piggy back onto the importance and deep seated nature of this function to improve all sorts of things: your use of your shoulders and neck and pelvis, just for examples.

And then there is the “bigger” picture of feeding as in where does the food come from? And can Feldenkrais help that?


Let’s say you want to raise some healthy food, save some money, get fresh air, sunshine, exercise, slow down your life a bit, reconnect with the Earth. Where am I leading us? 

 To a garden, of course, 
and all that leaning, kneeling, pulling, shoveling, swinging a pick around, up and down, all this is a great chance to limber up and keep young and flexible feeling and moving in our bodies.

To say nothing of the pure meditative value of being outdoors, assisting Life to be even more abundance, sensing our movement and our breathing and our connection to the Earth in the moment.

Yes, yes, and what of the various “aches and pains” that keep some of us from gardening?

F to the rescue. 

Group classes, private lessons, follow various blogs (click on movement lessons from labels to the right) that include lessons, make up your own, but have a garden: it’s good for you and good for the Earth.

There are other foods, the meats, cheeses, fish, seeds, fruits, and so on, which you could raise, or go out and hunt or fish or plant trees for. F would help with that.

And then that unfortunately or not disconnected feeding necessity of going to the store and paying good old fashioned money, can F help us stand on our own two feet and earn our living?


It’ a long story, but let’s just say, that part of the “side effects” of lessons seems to be a sense that we can start out on a path with an intention, and by awareness and flexibility, keep pursuing that intention much more easily and enjoyably than if we hadn’t been doing lessons.

Or so it seems to me.

Okay, feeding and F. One helps the other.

Now F…ing, which I’m tired of typing so will just use the well understood three letter calling card to modern day attention: S-E-X.

Do we need sex?

As a species, yes, though a strong case could be made for having a lot less reproduction, and for having the population headed back to something like a fourth of what it now is, and boy is that a trouble to the economies based on this endless growth idea.

And a long and amazing discussion could be had about the awareness part of Feldenkrais and the focus on the process and how that could all contribute to a world not so hell bent to consume itself into extinction, and we won’t have that discussion here.

We’ll just say this: sex seems to be good for people who can find a decent and loving partner, good for the spirits, good for old fashioned mammalian needs to be touched and to touch, good for balancing the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system, good for the breathing, the sleep, the practicing of paying attention to someone beside to usual “me, me, me.” 

And good clean exercise for the pelvis and spine, some nice opportunity to move a central part of our moving organism. That is either a sloppy sentence or a way of viewing ourselves that I think is useful, and part of Moshe Feldenkrais’ contribution to seeing the human being as a marvelous engineering project. 

What is this pelvis between two legs that walk and run and stand us and the spine that holds up head to see and hands to grab, hug, put apples in the mouth, shoot arrows at moving future meat, what is this pelvis about?

A lot.

And my F trainer once said, perhaps even on the first day of training, that “the punch line to every Feldenkrais joke is the pelvis.”

In my training since with Anat Baniel, the key to the huge shift she and her students get with special needs children is kicking in their lower backs and the power of the pelvis.

Same with results of all this work with high powered musicians or athletes: get the pelvis and lower back to hold up the head, so that shoulders and head and arms and free, and you have a happier, more easily moving person.

So sex and Feldenkrais go together like the hands on a pelvic clock. That’s sort of an inside joke, but if it doesn’t make sense, buy Moshe’s book, Awareness Through Movement

and read and do the lesson called… the pelvic clock.
Will Feldenkrais help your sex?

And now fighting, which is silly, or not to include in this list.

Let’s think historically, as in why you and I are still here. Somewhere back there we probably had ancestors that fought off the cold, or bad guys, or wild animals, or forest fires/ floods and so on.

Moshe Feldenkrais himself, learned of necessity, hand combat and judo for survival reasons in the early days of Palestine before Israel became a state.
Many a martial artist has or could improve their tai chi, karate, judo, aikido, boxing, with two hints that Moshe stressed as central to martial arts: one having the power connected to the pelvis region and that region always clear and connected to gravity, and two: having a flexible and mobile neck and eyes, so we can always look around to find the enemy.

Or friend.

Or lover.

Or food.

Any Feldenkrais lesson could and perhaps even should increase our clarity, ease and power in our pelvis, and ease and mobility in our neck and breathing.

What’s breathing got to do with it?

Well, even more important that eating, we need to breathe. And the easier our breathing is the easier our life is.

Or so it seems to me.
How about for you?

And so I could have said: Breathing, Feeding, F…ing, Fighting and Feldenkrais, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let's make up our own chi kung / qigong

In English, a q is always followed
by a u
sort of a poem,

but qigong is fancy,
no u
and still the q

and what is qigong

Well, in wiki, you can read this WIKI QIGONG

I'll just say that when I studied Tai Chi
with Ben Low
one of the foremost students of Cheng Man Cheng
(see this video
I'm you'd like to enjoy the form I learned)

Ben said that the way we did Tai Chi
putting all our weight one foot at a time
mindful all the way out to the fingertips
relaxed body
straight spine

that was qigong

I took a few classes from a friend in
and the part that impressed me most was how
much it reminded me of a book title of a book
I've never read,
something about how
Conductors live Longer

To me the conductors and the qigongers
like to wave the arms up above the head

this is rarely done
this is
"good for"
all sorts of things:

using the lower back
understanding how to push down to raise up
eyes (if you look up now and then at the hands
floating up)

So, here we go:
Try this:
stand mainly on one foot
say your left, whichever is easiest

put the other foot back
and just touch with the toes of that foot for balance

in this position,
raise from waist level your right hand forward and up
in a graceful arc
arching your back just slightly as you do this
and push your left hand down and a bit back on your left side,
breathe in or out
as you do this,
or better:
try both ways

after lengthening out like this
bring your hands together near your lower belly
and switch,
so the left hand floats up high and
your right hand floats/ pushes downward

go back and forth like this
more and more
feeling the entire length
from grounded left foot
up to the fingertips of the floated up hand
and also feeling all the way to the fingertips
of the pressing down hand

if you want to get fancy
and fold in a little rounding
your back and lowering your head
as you bring your hands together
and then arching out as you separate your arms
and float one hand up
be my quest. (guest,

got waylaid by the q syndrome,
and be my
is a nice little twist on the "habitual'
isn't it?)

do this a number of times


and then switch the
weighted foot
and do all this with your weight on the right side

something like high at your hand
and the sky

if you can get to an outdoor place
and bare foot

all the better

Friday, February 18, 2011

Further Eating Thoughts, Slow in the Making/ Tasting

One of the great strength's of the Feldenkrais Method
Anat Baniel Method
is their love of

discovery for the teacher,
discovery for the client

We, as practitioners, don't know where the lesson is going
to go,
we have an idea, and we change, explore,
discover what routes might work,
are working that day,
say something to us
and the clinet

We as clients,
know we can learn,
can discover new options is moving
and sensing and
understanding life, awareness
and well being


And we make some soup.

And we taste it.

Or a smoothie,
if you do like I do: carrots, soaked pumpkin seeds, seed potato,
and a little ginger

and then you sit down
or exercise and then sit down, as is my habit,
about 5 minutes of gentle this and that,
sit down
slow down
and taste

and it's not quite right
oh, well
taste again

what might improve the lot

a bit of salt and some red cabbage
(choices, of necessity, limited by stock on hand,
as in a lesson, where we move next limited by
what we already know, can move easily, and
so on(

add some stuff
mix or cook it up

slow down, sit down, mini meal, eyes closed
following the breathing taste

how we doing?


and what else

what does it need

some strength

a little buffalo liver
a little tumeric

try it

we can fail
failing is another name for learning

mix or cook it up

really good

and it could be better
with butter
or olive oil
both on hand

and ask the stomach,
and the time of day,
do we all of us
want it better the yum rich high
quality fat way
just now


some days that is what we can add

it's fine to stop at pretty great

so we've tasted our way
to a better and better
soup/ smoothie
and listened to ourselves

and used cooking and learning
and creating
and nourishing ourselves as all part of
a whole

see how much more interesting this is than calorie counting?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Awakened Eating, some tips from the Feldie world, common sense, Michael Pollen, and ....

Was I awake in this pic?
Maybe not, interested in the game of
"getting my picture taken."
And in my hand, not blackberries,
but seaweed right off the beach on Orcas Island.

In the link above for the Tao of Now book, you'll now get 64 segments worth of contents, and a sample of lessons 61 (Moving the Head), 62 Emotional learning: gratitude, 63 Thinking: Write a poem, maybe even two poems with two hands, 64, Soul, an amazing letter in getting free from old junk.

The amazing letter one I actually posted a few back in here, as a Valentine's/ freedom/ happiness/ love treat. But maybe you didn't find it, or try it.


And today, I feel like rambling a little about Feldenkrais and Food. The longer essay could be Feldenkrais and Food and Fighting and, but that's for a day when I feel like essentially starting a new non-fiction book, and once my Tao of Now 108 ways books is finished revision, it's time for a fiction work from me.

Be that as it may, lots of people are obsessed with eating, and there are a fair amount of Feldies who might enjoy thinking about how their eating is using, and is not using the principles of a system, one of whose descriptions is:
The Potent Self, a Study in Spontaneity and Compulsion.

And then the mind says, oh good: we'll just eat spontaneously, a little bagel here, a little candy bar there, non of this rigid stuff.

Well, here's the rigid stuff I suggest avoiding:
calorie counting
food groups
percentage of protein or grams of protein
amounts of carbohydrates

What's left then, if we are to eat more healthy.

One: cut out the addictions in American food, the so called SAD diet, Standard American Diet.
Which are:
bread and pasta breakfast cereal, any grains that aren't whole grains
dairy that's pasteurized
non-food ( it's in a box, jar or package and has a big list of ingredients,
some of which is chemicals,
some of which is almost always sugar
and something from corn fructose, which means genetically modified corn)
all soy products that aren't fermented (everything but miso, tempeh, and nato)

Oh, dear, if that sounds like "everythng"
And it's just everything that we are used to because we
are used to what we are used to
because we are used to what we are
used to

and don't you forget the millions spent
to keep us hamsters running those same wheels 
of cheese, dairy, sugar and flour products, with
soy this and that as the pretend option

but drop the habitual food stuff it inners
and what else is there to do


Two : awareness through movement.

Is eating a movement?
As in the mouth moves, the tongue moves and tastes.
And what would it be like to actually sense our tongue and teeth and mouth moving as we ate.

In a way back and quiet wonderful Gestalt book,
by Fritz Perls, of course, but also the radical educationalist and man of letters,
Paul Goodman,
called, I think Gestalt Therapy,
(yes it's Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality,
and it's now 37 dollars, wow, I had an old copy I carried around for years,
oh well)

They have an exactly experiement: chew each bite until it liquifies and then
swallow that.
Many people find this "disgusting," and isn't that weird,
it's our food, our mouth,
and we're so used to gobbling, that
we create ourselves as food shoveling in robots.

Not eaters.

Not aware and awake.

So anyway: talking uses the teeth and tongue and we usually go to sleep with
and eating uses the teeth and tongue
and we usually go to sleep with that.

And if we want to wake,
waking in our most sleeping movements
seems the most "bang for the buck."

Wake up in eat and/ or talking
and we are well along the way
(wake up in a conversation where we are both eating
and talking,

And what else in awareness as we eat:

What is the shape of our body,
or five lines,
how are we sitting,
what is holding us up in gravity,
or are we slumped back on a couch watching TV,
or snuggled up in an easy chair,
reading a book.

Seen in this way,
little meals throughout the day,
that we actually chew and taste,
of things like carrots,
or buffalo,
or spinach,
or salmon,
or garlic,
or celery,
we can taste in the moment what really tastes good
to us,
and since we aren't shoveling it in,
we can feel what's happening in our stomach and being as we eat.

And interesting prospect, this waking up to our eating.

And another Feldenkrais tip:
You know how important the time after a lesson is,
how to go slow,
not rush off to mechanical habitual stuff,
not talk a lot (not talk any is best)
take time to really settle it in.

Maybe this could be part of awakened eating,
taking some time afterward to lie down for a few minutes,
or take a walk,
a make a drawing,
or even meditate,
though most of the official meditators set up before a meal
as the time.

And we can discover on our own,
how a meditation in the Feldie way, fives lines and now
and breathing
and sensing our stomach and lungs,
how all that could be after eating.

So, that's a good start.
I will at other times say this and that about raw
and more about non-habitual eating,
but for starters,
this little essay has enough to begin a radical shift in many a life.

And will anyone try it?

Who knows.

As Moshe says: people love the idea of changing,
as long as they can stay exactly as they are. 

And here's more,
a review of Michael Pollen's Food Rules

It goes like this:

5.0 out of 5 stars You could buy a #3 at Mickey D's --- or start to save your life, January 7, 2010
By Jesse Kornbluth "Head Butler" (New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Food Rules: An Eater's Manual (Paperback)
If you got in on the ground floor, you chewed every page of The Omnivore's Dilemma, (464 pages, $8.00 at Amazon).

If you were a second responder, the first Michael Pollan book you read was In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, (256 pages, $7.50 at Amazon), which boils theory and anecdote down to a tasty, healthy feeding strategy.

If you're new to the topic or haven't paid attention --- or love Pollan's work and want to spread the gospel --- here's Food Rules: An Eater's Manual (137 pages, $11 retail, $5.50 at Amazon), a skinny paperback that says pretty much everything you'd find in his longer books.

Or you can consider Pollan's reduction of his message to seven words --- "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants" --- and read nothing more because you know how to crack that koan and adopt a way of eating that just might save your life.

Why, you may wonder, does a clearly written 256-page book need to be boiled down to 64 general principles?

Two reasons.

Those of us who read about food have, in the last few years, been swamped by the language of nutrition. Antioxidants. Polyphenols. Probiotics. Omega-3 fatty acids. But you can know all about this stuff and still not be able to answer the basic question: Yeah, but what should I eat?

Then there are those who have never heard Pollan's message. They're the folks on the coach, eating pre-packaged snack food, sucking down sodas, serving vegetables as an afterthought. In short, people who are devotees of the Western diet --- which is, says Pollan, "the one diet that reliably makes its people sick!"

Pollan wants to help both groups --- and break the cycle of self-created disease.

And the quickest way to do that is through lessons so simple even the guy chowing down a Hungry Man ("It's good to feel full") meal can understand.

"Food Rules" may be short, but it's elegantly organized. Part I addresses the question: What should I eat? (Answer: food.) Part II asks: What kind of food should I eat? (Answer: mostly plants.) And Part II considers: How should I eat? (Answer: Not too much.)

These are un-American answers. Advertising trains us to shop in the center aisles of supermarkets. We've been brainwashed to believe that fast food is food. Because we're so busy, we're encouraged not to cook for ourselves. And that way of living works for us --- right up to the moment we're overweight and diabetic.

But if we break the cycle?

"People who get off the western diet," says Pollan, "see dramatic improvements in their health."

What does Pollan tell you in these pages? Here's a sample:

--- "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."
--- "Don't eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce."
---- "Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot...There are exceptions --- honey --- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food."
--- "Always leave the table a little hungry.'"
--- "Eat meals together, at regular meal times."
--- "Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car."
--- "Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk."

Pollan would have you only eat junk food you cook yourself. He'd like you to buy your snacks at a farmer's market. He'd like you to use meat as a flavor enhancer, a condiment, an afterthought. And he'd like to see you hurt the bottom line of pre-packaged food companies by paying a little more for real food that's worth eating.

I can imagine a great many of of you nodding in agreement. And feeling superior. And still buying several copies --- to send, anonymously, to loved ones who are eating themselves to death. I can think of no better gift.

that's a grand start
isn't it now?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Not so thanksgiving, or Valentine's day, but love of life and learning, yes

This happens, doesn't it:
end of the day comes, and we just want to "flake out."

For me, it's lie on my back and read a novel.

For others TV, a DVD, a beer.

And there's always getting on the phone and jawing away.

So, what could mindfulness show us about this "tiredness" thing.

Well, for a start, we could feel and sense where specifically in our bodies
"tiredness' seems to be the strongest.

Right now for me, it's around my eyes and in the back of my neck.

And in the lungs, my lungs, having a bit of a trouble breathing.

So here we have three areas for me to move, and as I do,
let's see if we together can create an opening back to the joys
"just being alive," that is always the fruit and
the sign of being mindful.

Okay: tiredness always seems to come to the back of the neck.
And we are in the Feldy and Anat Baniel fields of learning and exploration,
which gives us the delightful option:
how to move easily and slowly and in a way that connects down deeper

How about this?
Place your right hand over your head to loosely hold your left ear,
or something close to that.
And here, begin to rock side to side, so your elbow shifts where it is pointing upward
right and left.

Feel your neck move
your back
your ribs

and do please
allow one side of your pelvis to raise up
each time you bend to the side,
the hip raising Up
toward the shoulder that is moving DOWN

Just do this say seven times
count them
and feel sense notice search
enjoy a little bit different about each one.

Take an eyes closed rest.
Feel if anything has shift.

Now put the other hand, left,
over your head to the right ear, or thereabout.

Slowly shift back and forth right and left as before,
but just a few times.

Then, when you get to the right tip (right hip up, elbow as far to the right
as you and it can easily go), stay there, and rock forward and back a bit
on the left side of your pelvis, your left sit bone.

It is as if you are coming more forward with your elbow
as your belly comes in
and you shift farther back on the left sit bone

Go slow. Go slowly.

As you do this, close your eyes, and feel your
and spine
and neck
and breathing.

Then side bend your elbow to your left
raising your left hip and
sitting on your right sit bone/ ishium.

From there fold and arch, feel your spine coming forward at the top and bottom with the elbow
forward part of this,
and feel your spine top and bottom coming toward each
other in the back
as you push out your belly and arch.

Do this with your eyes closed.


See if you can put both hands slightly over your head toward the other ear and do
something like a hoola hoop
with your pelvis,
letting the elbows makes their own form of circle.

Go slow.
Go slowly.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Extra posting, Valentine's day treat

This is the revised chapter 58 of my 108 day/ way Tao of Now,
for sale as Ebook, see link above

Think of “habitual talking.”

You have a partner, and they say a bit, and you say a bit. Usually people say no more than one or two sentences at a time, and then the next person has to chime in with their Very Important Thing to Say.

Sometimes this comes as an interruption, sometimes as just shoveling in the words at the first hint of slowing down or silence on the other person’s part.

Which means the talker has to rush ahead without any gaps, or their “air time” will be taken away. Which means: no time to pause, sense the moment, discover inside what we really want to say.

Most tragic: no time to wait for something besides our bundle of automatic speaking tapes.

Just like in movement: if we speak/ move fast, we have to do what we’ve always done. It’s the way the brain works. So, “normal conversation” almost guarantees two people’s robots spouting back and forth at each other.

Any way we cut it, we don’t have much time to say our bit, and we don’t give much time to the other. And what is said is the same old, same old, as if talking is some mental equivalent of taking a poop.

And another habitual process that contributes to the automatic/ robot nature of most talking is that when we are supposedly “listening,” we are most often formulating our next Very Important Thing to Say.

And it’s a wonder that the divorce rate isn’t any higher, because this description only hints as to how poorly we communicate when the “fur starts to fly” and our talking gets defensive/ offensive, when the couples of life go on the “warpath” / “argument trail” with the one(s) they supposedly love.

Grand if you want to be a robot. But what if you want to wake up?
Perhaps a little something different could come in handy. Like what?

Like this:

Find someone willing to spend some time talking with you in a way very different than “habitual” talking.

With this person, sit down with a kitchen timer, and set that timer to 2 or 3 minutes.

Take turns, so first one talks, the other listens, no interrupting, or face making. The talker can talk about present awareness, or likes and dislikes in their life, but not any either likes or dislikes about the one that is listening. When the timer goes off, the talker stops, and both people follow their breathing for a little while.

Then it’s the listener’s turn to talk and be heard without interruptions. Start the timer again, look into each other’s eyes, and begin, the second person now, to talk.

And how’s this for non-habitual: when we take our turn talking we don’t comment on the other person’s stuff. No advice, suggestions, one ups, theories, explanations.

Just speaking from what comes up in us when we leave the other person’s words and actions and ideas, problems and insights and successes and plans and failures alone.

No feedback, no advice, no criticism. Just staying with yourself for two or three minutes. Being listened to. Being witnessed. But not being helped, cured, fixed, one upped., questioned.

Each person gets to talk without having to live up to anything.

They just get to be. To pause. To explore within. To find out what if means to be present while talking.

This is good. This is big. This is huge, actually, and you’ll know that if you’ve tried to be awake while talking. And if you haven’t, this is your chance.


Back and forth. Maybe go for 4 minutes or 5, once you get the hang of it.

Back and forth and being present while you talk and present while you speak.

See if this is a kind of food, a kind of “intercourse” in a sweet and everyday meaning of that perhaps overloaded word.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Cheng Man Ching's short/ shot form of Tai Chi, the half roots of me Feldenkrais/ Anat Baniel heritage

Cheng Man Ching
decided that he didn't want to do the "long" form, so he invented the
short form

Through some charming mistake somewhere along the way
this is called the "shot form."

Oh, well. If we watch this for a bit
(and in this day or Internet rush, rush, do we actually
have 7:41 minutes?
But surely we can hang in there for 3:33,
so let's see what we can see....
Be back in 3:33 (notice the simple minded rhyme scheme
creeping up on us.
Good, eh?)

Well, actually, he moves a bit fast for my taste,
kind of like I do on days I want to "get the form over."

However, he wasn't rushing, more like moving
seamlessly from one pose to the next
with no
"look at me, I'm here now"

His weight shifted slowly and completely
like sand going from one foot to the other.

His hands seemed to float,
and knowing what I do of the form as taught
by his pupils, I'll guess that he had a great deal of
in his hands

and feet

and spine

and feeling of soft arms

and knowing exactly where and how
his feet where.

Have you ever noticed that tai chi is a lot like walking,
weight on one foot and then weight on the next.

Unlike walking, but like some of the work we do in the Feldy/ Anat worlds,
his arms don't have a stable pattern vis a vis his legs.
In walking left leg forward pairs up with right arm forward.

In tai chi, many of the moves are like that:
in the punch (here right handed), the right fist is forward and the left foot

in brush knee, left foot and right hand and then right foot and left hand

However, many are right right and left left

the single whip is such a move

the kicks, which come later

and fair lady shuttles, again later, has same foot and same hand forward

early in the form here, the beginning,
pat the birds tail, or whatever it's called,
way at the start, coming to the front with the left foot and the left hand,

but hey:
don't watch him, too much,
don't listen to me

experiment on various moves that you make going more
or less perpendicular to the last direction,
change the weight of your feet,
and sometimes bring forward the opposite hand
of the foot forward

and sometimes the left left kind of pairing

it's pretty sweet

one, a tennis forehand
the other, the tennis backhand


And so it goes;

you/ one/ I could do worse than imitate Cheng Man Ching
for 30 seconds at a time, seeing if we can learn/ relearn the form,
bit by bit

(when I teach the form, I'll teach both ways, so everything can be done
equally to both sides,
and you can watch this video and do a mirroring version,
without having to "think"
of which foot is doing what

and that is good, too,
great actually
watching him not in mirror,
and seeing if you can translate translate translate 
right to your right, 
which looks "different" than his.

when I learned tai chi, the teacher turned his
back to solve this problem,
but it won't work on a video,
and I like the idea of facing my students 
as we learn along)

move slowly

put attention on gravity and both arms and both legs and spine

create variation in patterns of arms and legs


It's a dance, don't you think?

And what's the other half of my roots for the Feldy/ Anat work.

Well, maybe I should have been dividing into thirds
with one third good old fashion NOW

and one third the Gurdjieff meditation of keeping attention
all day in both arms and both legs (plus light and sound)

Or maybe four:
add to Tai Chi
and Now
and Gurdjieff
a love of nature, and how natural can we get by being attentive to slow and novel and delicious movements
in the so called "body"

Waking us to Now.

Tai Chi can do that,
and it can be a "thing" we do.

So can reading.

So can writing.

It's all the dance: am I awake now,
and if so what is my experience.

Is that a good question for you?

I hope so.

Chris on Wednesday in Austin, where the cold was last week
and then it got warm and toasty this weekend
and now the cold is back.
Cold means 40s, sissy winter for most of the county,
and "too cold" for the spoiled Texans and all the immigrants.

In May I'll be back in the Northwest,
and in March visiting No. Cal.
If you are interested in connecting,
let me know.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Power Outages in Austin, rolling black outs, between them, a bit of power and the internet, la la

I've got a book for sale that rotates between improvement "games"
"waking up to Now" "meditations"
emotional learning

IT's available by contacting me,
which is silly,
but I haven't officially published it yet.

I just revised section 41, a great movement lesson. I'll paste it in a bit below.

Here's the table of contents of the first 32 sections,
which is how you start, for $12.

Tao of Now, part 1

Transforming Your Life by
Coming into the Present
Moving, Thinking, Emotional Learning, & “Soul”
Using the work of Byron Katie, Moshe Feldenkrais,
Anat Baniel, and Chris Elms
1st 32 of 108 sections

Chris Elms, M.A.
Austin, TX; Orcas Island, WA; Sonoma, CA
Copyright, 2011
Intro One: The Dance of Learning    5
Intro Two: Game Plan of the Book    7

1. Moving: Leaning and shifting in standing    10
2. Emotional Learning: Admired in another, find them in yourself    12
3. Thinking: Turning left in a chair, head, eyes, ribs: noticing differences    14
4. “Soul:” Outside and Being    17

5. Moving: Sitting: rounding forward    19
6. Emotional Learning: Liking in our life, what do we like, clue toward what we are really like    22
7. Thinking: What are other people like, what do they like?    24
8. “Soul” Liking and loving in Nature, toward
who we really are    25

9. Moving: Sitting: arching and rounding    27
10. Emotional learning: 3 “positive” and 3 “negative” of another/ ourselves    30
11. Thinking:  Habits, possible changes and options    32
12. “Soul” : Doing nothing, meditation, pause, rest, wait    34

13. Moving: Stand, arch & round, breathe two ways    35
14. Emotional learning: Happy vs. unhappy, write it down    37
15. Thinking: Reality vs. interpretation of “the frown”    39
16. “Soul:” Walking with belly eyes ears nose and toes.    41

17. Moving: Standing round, arch, twist, hands behind head    43
18. Emotional Learning: End emotional suffering, the work of Byron Katie; #1: Is it true?    44
19, Thinking: Walking with Variation    47
20. “Soul:”  Gratitude    49

21. Moving: On back, one leg standing, twist, arch, learn.    50
22. Emotional Learning: BK, Q #1: Is it true? again    52
23. Thinking: What is fact and what is opinion?    54
24. “Soul:” Taking a walk in fact    56
25. Moving: Twisting in sitting    57
26. Emotional Learning: BK: Question  #2: Absolutely know?    60
27. Thinking: Thinking about our habits.    62
28. “Soul:”  Spiritual habits    64

29. Moving: Rotation in standing    65
30. Emotional Learning: BK, Question #3: How does it feel…    67
31. Thinking: BK, Question #4: Without the thought, who are you?    68
32. “Soul:”  Taking a walk in What Is    71

Here's section 41

Side bending on our backs.
Come to a firm and useful lying surface. Raise the left foot to standing. Push through that foot, keeping the knee pointing more or less toward the ceiling/ sky, and arch your back as you rotate the left side of your pelvis to the right, keeping the right side of your pelvis on the ground/ floor.
Do this a number of times, in review, pleasure and learning.
Rest. The “usual rest” of learning and integration and deep sensing of yourself.
(Imagine a time, later today, when you’ll do the other side.)
Now interlace your fingers, and put your hands behind your head, left foot standing, do this amazing movement of pushing arching rotating engaging the foot leg hip pelvis back neck and brain. To this add, moving your elbows on the ground/ floor, and “trying out” sidebending your head and neck and ribs three times to the right and three times to the left.
“Sidebending” means that the ribs on one side “shorten,” which is to say, come closer together, and on the other side expand out, like an accordian.
You keep your nose pointed to the ceiling.
You feel your ribs and head and everything involved in this, not just your neck.
Notice you are “sidebending” as you arch your back and rotate your pelvis.
Pay close attention to which “fits” the movement, sidebending to the right or to the left.
Once you’ve figured this out, rest.
Then do the entire movement and feel it and yourself as a unified person/ body/ being/ organism, pushing your foot, rotating your pelvis, arching and twisting your back, and sidebending your back and ribs, too.
Lots of things to enjoy, learn about and pay attention to in this movement.
Do this again, a few times. So slowly. Notice with pleasure and learning your ribs, different vertebrae, hip joints, shape of your spine, breathing. Reduce efforting. Come “back to neutral” equally slowly, and full of awaring. Maybe more than a few times, just make each time a movement of awareness a “game” of “meditation” and learning.
Do this again, and at the “end point,” stop, keep belly firmly out, and let your head rotate easily right and left. Two ways: one you sort of rub the back of your head on one spot on your hands as it rotates. Two: you allow your head to roll to the right and left as you rotate. Enjoy.
Up until now your nose has been pointed to the ceiling. Now your neck and nose rotate as you back stays arched and powerful.
Then let that go and do the “sidebending” once more, noticing the difference with your nose toward the ceiling.
Do this several times a day and it will be worth the cost of the entire book as far as ease, power and clarity in your life.