Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sat, Sept 30: Who's in Charge Here?


Try this, if you would like:

Sit somewhere comfortably, or even lie on a bed or the floor or the sweet mother Earth. Open or close your eyes and follow your breathing, counting each breath, a full breath in and out as one.

Count your breaths up to twenty and then start again.

Sounds really simple, eh?

Hmm. It’s not so simple. Then to add on: being aware of the sensation of breathing as we breathe the twenty times and to be sensing and aware of our five lines (two arms, two legs, one spine/ pelvis/ head line) as we breathe, these is quite spectacularly hard.

At least it is for me.

And when I don’t’ succeed? Who’s in charge? The thought machine. My habits. It’s fun to watch, and even the thoughts that say: you blew it. More habits.

Some call this “ego,” but I find the whole Self vs. Ego nonsense one more good vs. bad, struggle, war baloney. Ego doesn’t exist, it’s just a concept.

We are either home to our attention or not.

Now, for those who know Feldenkrais, or perhaps would like to experience why this work is so amazing as an awareness builder: sit or lie once ( if lying, lie on your side). Now, move one shoulder backward as you move the same side hip back, alternating with your shoulder forward and your hip back twenty times, breathing with each time and paying attention to breath sensation and five line sensation.

Is this not a lot easier?

Hmm. What can we learn from this?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday, Sept 29: Byron Katie, WakeUp Feldenkrais and Happiness


Is it okay to be happy?


Now that we’ve got that out of the way, what’s stopping us?

Well, habits mainly, habits of thinking certain ways, habits of reacting certain ways to the world when it does its inevitable thing of not being Just So to our tip top specifications, habits of being grumpy assholes.

Can I say that?


So, along comes Feldenkrais and says: discover the habit and create some variation and slow down and add a little awareness to the recipe and move a little here and a little there and don’t “try” so hard and add a lot of awareness to the works, and viola!, you have learning and possibilities.

And the possibilities are this: we can change. This is no small thing: we can be free of the old habits.

So let’s say we have unhappiness habits. A gal named Byron Katie, or Katie for to call her by name, had a wrecked life because she was beating her self up emotionally. Pow, pow, pow. Take that. You know how it is on bad days. Well, she had some bad years and then she woke up.

Is it okay to wake up?


She work up and realized her misery was not, as she’d thought, her husband’s failure to pick up his socks. Her misery was her internal commitment to believing that her husband should pick up his socks. Without these words, without this story, without this belief, she was just a woman looking at some socks on the floor. She realized that bending over and picking them up was a lot easier than suffering another ten years.

And she came up with a system of getting out of the suffering that our thinking take us to.

It goes like this:

Judge Your Neighbor.
Write it Down.
Ask 4 questions.
Turn it around.

Hmm. That seems a little too easy, and damned if it doesn’t “work,” in the way therapy might work after a number of years, or that a Buddhist practice might work. Anyway: the results are there. You do these things and you don’t have to suffer.

Why judge? Because that’s our habit. As in Feldenkrais: we experience the What Is of our habit as a good first awareness place, a reference for future improvement, a realization that we are in a habit that we might well not have known about.

Why write it down? To slow down the thinking. If we are all worked up about our mate’s behavior and we just go over and over it in our heads, then we just waste the day obsessing and suffering. Write it down, and we can slow down and see the story we are committed to, for example: so and so shouldn’t have said blah, blah to me.

Why ask four questions> To get to the possibilities for undoing and change. The questions are:

    1) Is it true?
    2) Can I absolutely know it’s true?
    3) How to I react (feel inside, act in the world, treat others) when I attach to believing that this thought is true?
    4) How or who or what would I be if I did not attach to believing that this thought was true?

Hmm. So that’s it? Well, and then the turn around, which is to take the belief and see if we might like to swallow our own medicine. So and so should be nice to me, turns around to I should be nice to so and so. My mate should listen better, turns around to I should listen better.

And all this: how is it like Feldenkrais?

Options, options, options.

We take a belief: “Mom shouldn’t have been so mean.”

We write it down and ask the first two questions, which puts it in a context: this is a belief, this isn’t the reality of the world. All Mom’s aren’t kind. This is the starting point: a habit of believing our Mom should have been one of the five good ones in the world.

Now the options:

With the belief.This is the usual option. With the belief how to we feel and act and react. This is question 3. We write a list: I feel sad, weak, a victim, terrible, small. Whatever. This is an option though, isn’t it: to believe the belief.

Option 2: Not to believe the story. Which is to say without the belief, who are we? Not to attach to the story. Not to have the thought. Who am I, with the Mom who did all the things that can be labeled “mean,” if I don’t have an attachment to a belief she should have been “better?”

And the final option: Turn it Around. What about this thought: I should have been, could have been less mean to Mom. Does that have any validity.

Okay. And how’s this all like Wakeup Feldenkrais?

Because WakeUp Feldenkrais is about waking up, and if we are a slave to all the feel sorry to ourselves emotions that come along, we can neither be free, nor happy, nor awake. We’ll just be spinning our wheels, wasting our time and life and breath and emotions in the same old suffering.

So, check out the Work of Byron Katie if you want, she’s over amongst all those other cool links.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

What is WakeUp Feldenkrais?

One word:

Two words:
Waking Up

Three words:
Learning New Options

Four words:
Expanding joy and effectiveness

Five words:
The Work of Byron Katie

Six words:
Transforming Ourselves thru Learning and Awareness

One sentence:
  • With human beings basically asleep to their lives, waking up is essential to knowing who we really are.

  • Two sentences:
  • While the Feldenkrais Method, in and of itself, is one of the primary systems in the world in coming to an awareness of who we really are, WakeUp Feldenkrais makes this explicit.

  • The goal is to not just wake in the lessons, but in all of our lives.

  • Three sentences:
  • Take everything written in the What is the Feldenkrais Method? essay/composition.

  • Mix in the incentive of waking from our ongoing sleep.

  • Add to the mix a realization that to truly transform our lives, an ongoing connection to pleasure and learning and awareness is necessary.

  • Four sentences:
  • People basically want to stay stuck.

  • We have this magical thinking: sure I want to change, as long as I don't have to change anything.

  • Although the unfamiliar can be “scary,” even more scary, to me, is staying in the same rut for years and years.

  • WakeUp Feldenkrais applies to all areas of our life: work, talking, moving, thinking, feeling, making love, taking a walk, changing a diaper, washing a dish.

  • Check this out, too, as highly pertinent:

  • Feldenkrais and our Big Self


    This is my idea of WakeUp Feldenkrais.

    Because Feldenkrais work is modeled on how we, as genius babies, learned from blobs to crawling and walking and talking, it is the premier approach for people who want to come to a higher state of organization and use of themselves.

    This could be the undoing of deficits.
    Deficits could be in childhood, as with cerebral palsy, autism, or various learning difficulties. Dyslexia and the normal reaction to the confinement and rigidity of even a 'good' school system create a narrowing down and a limiting of a child. This limiting cries out for waking up options to learning and growing.

    This is the Feldenkrais Method and the WakeUp Feldenkrais Way: How many more options for a full and rich and aware and now cenered and delight centered life can we together create?

    Deficits could be in adulthood, strokes, pains in the back or neck, shoulder, hands, stuff that happens from accidents and strokes, recovery from surgeries. or even the wish to avoid surgery. These are troubled times, with one good aspect: people decide it's finally okay to do something besides what they've always done.

    In desperation they return to one of the most wonderful aspects of human life: learning.

    But this work is not just bringing back of deficits.

    We want people to recover from a stroke or an accident or a sore shoulder or back and keep learning and end up functioning better than they have since they were a child.

    This is learning, not fixing.

    So, another use I'm interested in is the enhancing of excellence,helping people who are already good at teaching, or some sport like golf or skiing, or are excellent at an instrument or singing or acting, helping them, by getting them to tap into learning and learning about learning in new ways, to become even better at what they are already good at.

    And finally: my work, the work of WakeUp Feldenkrais, is about Waking Up into the moment.

    This is where we learn, this is where we are happy, this is where we love, this is where we love life.

    A good place.

    For a List of Many
    Fantastic Benefits,
    The Glories of Feldenkrais

    And now this fun way of looking at it all:

    WakeUp Feldenkrais is my term for what I emphasize in the Feldenkrais Method. The Feldenkrais Method, in and of itself, is based on the premise that core to being a human being is our ability to learn, that unlike a baby cow or goat or deer that has wired in the ability to walk and run, we humans need to learn vast ranges of behavior, from rolling over to crawling to walking to running and talking.

    This leaves us open to huge variations in how we cope with the challenges of gravity and motion and living in a family and a social order and some of these variations we have learned have become habits that get in the way of our having a good life.

    The Feldenkrais Method is about learning, through variation and awareness and slowing down of tempo and effort and getting out of our verbal minds, how to move in more pleasant and efficient ways. It is also about how to re-discover how to go about learning ANYTHING new.

    For now, let this suffice: we are human, we need to learn, some of our learning isn't serving us well, we can undo and transform our old habits and rise to a new level of organization and living.

    My take, the WakeUp Feldenkrais take, which is not exclusive to me at all, is that this method is about learning how to unlearn habits in all areas of our life, not just movement. So WakeUp Feldenkrais, to me, is about getting free of social habits, such as addiction to automobiles, and emotional habits, such as addiction to blaming others when we feel bad, to health habits, of wanting and using "experts" to "fix" us when we are unhealthy.

    And, that's not the core of WakeUp Feldenkrais. The core, is a focusing on Presence and awareness of this moment as the core of what the work is all about, the core of what the method is all about.. Indeed, along with love and connection to our Earth, awareness is at the core of what life is about, in my take.

    So in WakeUp Feldenkrais I am trying to set up an idea of coming to class or lesson in a state of awareness, and having that awareness deepened during class or lesson, and then after class or lesson, instead of falling into the usual sleep and yammer of most post-yoga, post-meditation, and even (sadly, alas) post-Feldenkrais class. The goal is to wake up, before, during and after class, or lesson, or any encounter we have with any human being, or part of our world, be it tree or cup of tea or door handle.

    The goal is to wake up in our lives.

    Cool, eh?

    And doubly cool that right now, we can practice and experience and enjoy this awareness of our life as it is going on right now and we are aware right now of our life going on right now.

    Sweet, eh?

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    Tuesday, Sept. 26: Presence is the End, Presence is the Way

    This has been said before, and maybe this won’t be the last time: either we are here, now, in our lives, or we are not.

    That sounds so stark, doesn’t it? Oh, well.

    In Feldenkrais, if we are lucky, the teacher is present and the client is present, and that is the main lesson. And that sounds like cheating, doesn’t it? Because if we aren’t efforting, how can we get anything done? If we are diagnosing and “fixing,” how can change come about?

    I keep coming back to that first metamorphosis in our life: from helpless blob to crawling little troublemaker. No one fixed us. We weren’t ever diagnosed with non-crawling syndrome. We weren’t, unless we had overly anxious and not having a life parents, on any timetable as to when crawling was the thing to do.

    We weren’t taught. No crawling class from nine to ten each morning. No one demonstrated. No one gave us directions.

    We were present. We were inquisitive. We explored in our moving and our brains. Our brains did what they are meant to do: they learned. We learned. We transformed.

    That’s what a Feldenkrais lesson is all about, learning and transformation.

    Can it be so easy? If we, teacher and student could remain present, it would be that easy. But the “get better” syndrome. The “get rid of my pain:” syndrome. The “fix me I’m a helpless baby” syndrome all come into full force. I know, that sounds exaggerated, but it actually is at the core of so called “civilized” medicine: that the doctor fixes and we are just passive swallowers of pills and knives and occasional good advice of the sort eat better and exercise, or of the sort: rest more. Or both. Usually it’s just fix me, drug me, cure me, I’m out of the loop.

    Imagine a baby waiting around for someone to fix her or his “non-crawling syndrome.” We’d think it a pretty pathetic child, or in huge need of Feldenkrais, because something like cerebral palsy is getting in the way of the brain’s and the person’s innate abilities to explore and learn.

    So, students want to be fixed, teacher want to prove they can fix, and the present and presence gets missed, and that’s mainly what makes it harder.

    And then, along with the fix me thing is an almost total lack of responsibility for our own healing, so people go home from a lesson, having learned to move slowly and give themselves lots of awareness, and they forget all that and go into acting and thinking and moving in exactly the ways that wrecked them in the first place.

    And I’ll guarantee you this: the ways we move when we wreck ourselves are never in the present.

    Thursday, September 21, 2006

    Thursday, Sept 21: Happiness, Slow and Fast

    There seems to be a common misperception of happiness, that it is only the big stuff: dancing your brains out to loud music, maybe in a drunken state of abandon (or sex in the same thrashing froth), or driving your four wheel drive vehicle through swash and dale, destroying habitat right and left, again, with a loud rock soundtrack giving false proof to how alive you are. This is the happiness as blowout school.

    Let’s look at children. Sometimes they are surely enthusiastic about life, running, jumping, splashing, shouting, laughing with abandon and glee. But the equivalent of the loud music frolicking or the driving and ruining big patches of the earth would be hard to find. A severely constrained child, if let loose finally, might bash the pans or throw rocks through a window or at least push some boulders down a hill, but the truly happy child does not seem to require the blow-off vibes of adult so called “happiness.”

    They can be calmly happy, playing in a stream, setting sticks to race away, happily rolling down a hill, happily watching clouds float by in the ski. Notice how little of this is available to children these days, as they are either indoors on some computer game or being chauffeured to and then participating in some organized sport.

    Here we have another great fake form of happiness: competition. Winning lets one half of the players be “happy,” and the others? Good sportsmanship? Maybe. Probably not. Probably they are learning to feel bad when they lose and are getting all firmed up to “try harder” next time.

    The scrimmages, though, without the score being a big deal, sometimes they are fun, and sometimes it’s just good exercise, keeping them out of trouble and finally outdoors and a sort of advanced form of baby sitting: their organized sport giving Mom or Dad a little time off before the return chauffeuring trip is required.

    The point is not supposed to be about how organized sports are depriving children of a chance to organize on their own, come up with rules and keep the rules and dealing with that whole thing on their own, and depriving them of creek time and lazy time and hill and dale time. The point is that real child happiness is not the thrash around sort that adults seem to mistake for a “really good time.”

    Of course, if all you do in your life is walk to the car and walk from the parking lot to the next office or store, then a thrashing around dance scene could be good exercise. And cathartic.

    And, to my mind, catharsis is not happiness. Happiness is either SLOW: watching the leaves blow in the wind, taking a walk hand in hand, singing a song you enjoy singing,

    or EXUBERANT, sailing in a brisk breeze or skiing a challenging slope, or even dancing with fullness and pleasure, just not all the I can thrash more than you stuff that you see so many boomers get into when the rock n’ roll goes on.

    And the happiness of learning, and discovery. This is key to a good and great childhood, and essential to a rich and vital adulthood, which is why this essay is in the Feldenkrais Blog.

    We can all have some fun, coming to the present, being happy already and then contemplating the various other forms of happiness in our lives.

    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    Wednesday, Sept. 20: Slow Down, Lie Down and Learn

    Not all Feldenkrais® lessons are lying on the floor or the ground. But most are.

    (What is a Feldenkrais lesson, and why the little doodad ® after the word the first time it appears? Feldenkrais lessons are lessons in increasing the ease and intelligence and flexibility and coherence of our movements and our thinking and of our life. They come from the work of a man, Moshe Feldenkrais, who lived from 1904 to 1984. He had wrecked knees and at the time an operation could only guarantee him a 50/50 chance of walking afterwards. He thought these foolish odds and went about exploring his own self cure. He discovered it, and the method, also needing a doodad the first time around, is called the Feldenkrais Method.®

    While we’re at it, we’ll get all the doodads out of the way. The Feldenkrais Method consists of group lessons, called Awareness Through Movement®, and individual lessons, called Functional Integration®. The lessons are contradictory to the “no pain / no gain" philosophy and to the efforting like a donkey that characterizes so much of modern yoga as well as sports as well as life. Instead of grunting with more effort through a movement we are already doing in a self-harming way, the Feldenkrais Method teaches us, in a vast variety of ways, to discover and enjoy and flourish in new and easier and more efficient manners of moving.

    End the mini intro.)

    Moshe is reputed to have said, that for people just to give up their struggle with daily life and lie on a table or on the floor for a few minutes was already half the benefit of the lesson.

    I agree.

    Everyone loves this surrender once they allow it, and they moan when you have a lesson that involves sitting or standing, and yet, and yet: they are too busy, too important, to scheduled inside and outside to take the time to come lie down, slow down and learn.

    Yoga or Pilates, people can handle that, maybe, if they can rush there in a car and get worn out, or maybe even (in the rare case) move with awareness and attention in the class, but it’s upright, and it feels strong ( and it is strong, which is one of the great things of yoga and Pilates, but that is not the point here.)

    The point is: we are afraid to let go and come to an aware state of relaxation. We want to either flop on the couch in front of the tube, or sip our glass of wine and go out into some drug induced relaxation, or go comatose on the bed. We don’t want to slow down, lie down and wake up to the moment.

    Ohmygod, how scary can you get? Learning without huffing and puffing? Learning where we go inside and discover ourselves and aren’t busy comparing ourselves to the teacher and to other people in the room? Oh, dear, can we handle that?
    And learning is why they are called Feldenkrais “lessons.” The hands on work is not a treatment, it’s a lesson. The group classes, are lessons. Lessons, not in the way we have experienced piano or singing or dancing or language or sports or yoga lessons, where the teachers says: Here this is the Right Way. Now do it the Right Way.

    No, lessons where the teachers says: try this and that and still this other and how about this and how about that, and what can you learn in there?

    A big part of why the lessons are so effective is because as students we are free from the ongoing effort to stand or sit in gravity. And another huge part is the freedom, this other sweet and very against the huff and puff grain freedom in the Feldenkrais Method (see, we don’t need the doodad now, which is a requirement of the Feldenkrais Guild), a freedom from ongoing effort to Do More, Do Faster, Do It Right.

    Indeed as much as the moving and experimenting and watching and discovery in each lesson,: a big part of the lesson is in learning to let go of the Do More, Do Faster, Do Harder, Do It Right mentality.

    This mentality is killing us. It is killing the earth. It is robbing our very moments, which is to say: our lives.

    Time to slow down, lie down and learn? I think so. How about you?

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    Monday, September 18: Feldenkrais, WakeUp Feldenkrais and Happiness

    Can Feldenkrais make you happy?


    Only you can make you happy.

    However, and ever and ever more: being present sets up pretty darned good conditions for being happy. And to really do a Feldenkrais lesson right you need to be present,. And, in WakeUp Feldenkrais the premise is: Come to class present, experience the class in the present and most important: be present after class instead of falling into the usual post-class yammer-yammer sleep.

    So. WakeUp Feldenkrais is about being present and all Feldenkrais lessons provide a marvelous opportunity to be present, since in the lessons, we put our awareness on small and non-forceful movements of our arms or legs or fingers or toes or ribs or eyes or breathing. Just about anything that can move, sooner or later we get around to moving it in a Feldie lesson.

    Isn’t that fun?

    I mean, really, isn’t moving with awareness fun?

    Yes, unless….

    Unless…we are moving to “get it right.” Then life goes back to hell on earth, when we are not with what we are doing, but are with a bunch of thoughts that are saying (in that oh, so accusative tone): this is the Right Way to do it, and you aren’t Doing It the Right Way. What a bummer this voice can be, what a bitch, what a bastard. And that is a big secret to unhappiness, isn’t it: to listen to the voice that is saying: You are Doing It Wrong. (Again). To listen to this voice, and to believe it, and voila: we are unhappy. (Again.)

    So I say: To hell with right/wrong in these matters.

    Let’s get back to : I Wonder, I Wonder, what will happen if I move this way, and then test out that way, and now try out this combination and now try that. A good lesson sets up this flavor: life as exploration and at the center of the experiment is our favorite thing; ourselves. We are the experiment. We are the laboratory.

    And as long as we don’t have to Get it Right, we can have a hell of a good time.

    Cool, eh?

    See , if you wish, for today’s essay on Happiness Now.

    Saturday, September 16, 2006

    Links as a Post


    • My Original Blog-site: Slowing Down, Waking Up, Health, Happiness & Transformation

    • The Byron Katie Work

    • 4 questions to turn your life around. And end emotional suffering.

    • Plus a blog
      even cooler than this, if you can imagine such a thing.


    • If we are going to wake up and change our useless and harmful habits, a

      Department of Peace

      is a very good idea, indeed.

      Not yet on the radar:

      A Department of Ecology


      a Department of Now


      a Department of Happiness!

    • Desk Trainer

    • Mini-lessons, 7-11 minutes, to help us at the computer, with sore necks,
      backs, wrists, and all that.

    • The Feldenkrais Center of Houston

    • Good questions, good answers, good vibes.

      Several Online Lessons.

      Sweet Overview>

      Good fun and learning all around.

    • Anat Baniel Method

    • One of the foremost Feldenkrais teachers.
      Information on Children with specical needs ,
      what the work is all about, Pain Relief ,
      improvement for high performers.
      Her Back DVD and Neck CD
      are both highly recommended

      In addition to the "normal" 160 days of training to become a certified Feldenkrais Practitioner,
      I have completed 109 extra days of training, including 34 with Anat.

      And what about
      NOW ?
      Yes, this
      Are we in some
      of rush?

      What if,
      we slowed down,
      came "home,"
      our breathing
      and sensing

      We might enjoy that,


    • Semiophysics

    • Site of my 160 day trainer, Dennis Leri, another foremost teacher in the field. Of note is an article on
      Moshe Feldenkrais and G.I.Gurdjieff,
      a Russian mystic/philosopher/psychological genius, who posited humanity's greatest weakness:
      going through our lives in a state of "sleep."

      Dennis has studied intensively in the martial arts. This link shows one of those fun
      video thingees of
      2004 Master Zhang Xue-xin - First 5 moves of HunYuan 83 Form.

    • Feldenkrais Guild

    • Find a Practitioner in your area. Frequently asked questions.

    • Feldenkrais Resources

    • Books, tapes, CD's, articles, classes.

    • Feldenkrais Thoughforms

    • Great thoughts, insightful articles.

    • Wellness In Motion

    • Maureen McHugh's Feldie site. The CASE STUDIES
      give examples from imroving posture and avoiding surgery, to transformation of balance and music.

      And what about
      NOW ?

    • Feldenkrais Buzz

    • Holly Bonasera's site with contributions from many.

    • Desiree Rumbaugh

    • A yoga teacher who plays enough that she's doing
      Feldenkrais at times without knowing it.

      Also, locally, the wonderful Marlie Wesner teaches in Sonoma, on Tues, Thurs and Sunday
      mornings at the

      Yoga Community


      Her classes, too, are about joy and learning, not forcing.

    • Feldenkrais For You

    • Holly again, with some audio lessons.

    • Thomas Chavez's book,

      Body Electronics

    • This goes to book reviews at The book is fine,
      a way to take total responsibility for our own health,

      as Byron Katie
      has us take total responsibility for our feelings,

      and Feldenkrais,
      for the possibility of coming to learning and improvement in body/mind.

    • Of course, far better to buy the book at an Independent Bookstore,
      such as locally

      Readers' Books

    • And what about
      NOW ?
      Yes, this

    • Body Talk

    • Intuitive inner healing for the Whole Self

    • Permaculture Activist Magazine

    • Whole systems approach to the Whole Earth

    • Green String Institute

    • Permaculture in action. Farming with Nature. Bob Cannard got me excited to
      move to Sonoma and go into the farming that led to the Community Garden, now
      called the Sonoma Garden Park. Treating "weeds" as they are: part of nature to
      nourish, not destroy.

    • Brendan Elms Photo

    • My son's website. Do you need a photographer?

    • Synergy

    • The only "supplement" Marlie and I can both completely recommend.
      A food really, devised by Mitchell May,
      after he cured himself of an incurable accident and found all the foods
      at the health food stores not really the caliber he wanted.

    • Not a pyramid,
      but we get 25% off our next purchase if you mention my name.

    • Raw Family, Raw Foods

    • Two teenagers, two adults, amazing changes in health by going raw
      (including one person losing 120 pounds, and
      others getting over asthma, diabetes and arthritis).

    Saturday, Sept. 16: Sitting to Standing,2

    From sitting to standing the obvious, the elusive obvious is

    When we move from sitting to standing:

    We change our weight from on our butt to having our weight on our feet.

    Pretty obvious, once we notice what really (actually) is going on,eh?

    Now the next question? What’s obvious about getting our weight off our butt as we go from sitting to standing?

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Thursday, Sept 14: The Elusive Obvious and Standing Up

    One of Moshe Feldenkrais’ books is titled, The Elusive Obvious. At the core of this book is that human beings are learners. We come into the world more or less helpless and end up walking and talking and having a life, most of us.

    Unlike a goat that can scamper around in a few minutes, or a dog that can talk to any other dog in the world, we learn our moving abilities and we learn language.

    We also learn stuff we don’t want to learn, like how to have a bad back. We don’t consciously go about this of course,, but we learn ways of using ourselves that don’t work well, and we end up hurting ourselves and then we think we have a bad back, instead of a bad brain, that either has forgotten, or never learned how to use ourselves in delightful and easy and efficient ways.

    When we were babies, our pathway of learning was discovery, discovery and exploration.

    So now, we are older and what are we learning?
    Hopefully something every day.

    Here is a little test for the illusive obvious: How do we get up from sitting to standing.

    This seems obvious: we just stand up.

    But what do we DO when we “just stand up.”

    This will help clarify how little we know about this: “Just stand up,” but first put your left ankle on your right knee, or your left ankle on your left knee.

    Now, “just stand up” onto one foot.

    There is something obvious about coming to stand that will make this not too difficult. Without this obvious understanding, coming to standing will be a struggle.

    Good luck figuring it out.

    Thursday, Sept 14: Feldie #3, The Core from two sides

    FELDIE FUN #3: AN ADVANCED (i.e. difficult) LESSON

    Where is the core?

    In the center.

    Where is the center?

    Take a tape measure, or take your mind, and it’s about halfway up from the floor, halfway down from the head, halfway in from the left, halfway in from the right, halfway front and back. And where’s that? Somewhere below the navel, not too far, centered left and right and front and back.

    And what else is down there? The big bones of the thighs and the upper legs and the biggest bones of the spine and the biggest muscles of our body.

    And what’s that tell us about how we are designed to move: big muscles for big movement, powerful muscles for powerful movement. One of Moshe Feldenkrais’ books is the Potent Self, and he meant it in the sexual sense and the physical sense and the social sense of umpf in our lives, and it’s all about having connection to this powerful region of ourselves.

    Okay. Enough of that. Now for the lesson.

    1) For starters, lie on your back and sense yourself in contact with the floor, or even better, the Earth, if you can go do this outside. (Write down the steps and schlep them outside?? You figure it out.) Sense what is easy on the Earth/floor and what is not. Sense where you put your attention: the easy places or the uncomfortable places. Sense differences right and left and sense differences in what parts of you are touching the floor, in spine and legs and arms, say, and what parts aren’t. There can be more, if you want to sense more. It never hurts. How are you breathing? How are your five lines?

    2) This is a non-core part, that will help make sure when we move from our core, we aren’t adding on, as we usually do, the jaw. This lesson is about coming to sit in two very different ways, and the jaw is not at all required. So figure out which of the three you can do. One, move your jaw easy and sweetly right and left. Two, move your jaw right and left as your eyes move in the opposite direction. Three, move your jaw right and left and your tongue moves in the opposite direction.

    3) Okay. Now the core. Come to sitting with your legs extended. Doing one of the three above ( jaw, jaw and eyes, jaw and tongue), begin to fold in the middle so you back comes toward the floor. Go slowly and sense the parts of you that need to push into the floor to do this, and sense the “core” muscles in your stomach that are keeping you from falling back. Do this a number of times, right up to the edge of where you would fall if you went a little farther. If you can go all the way back, find that tipping point from where it is easy to come forward and where it is more as if you are on the way to the floor.

    4) As in Feldie Fun #2, go slow, take rests, sense yourself, give up goals, explore, use less force in the areas that don’t need to use force (toes, jaw, fingers, ribs).

    5) What are your arms doing? For now, let your arms be forward. Come back to this tipping point and explore this: for a number of times come back up using your abdomen muscles, the famous “abs” people as so obsessed with, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes just because they eat in a way that’s going to give them a fat belly and want to wipe that out and be “sexy” again. Oh, well. Doesn’t matter. Use the abs.

    6) Rest.

    7) Now come back to the tipping point, and don’t use the abs. Put a hand on your belly to keep it soft. Use your back muscles, arch your back and come back to sitting with your back muscles. Recall the one, two or three with the jaw: do one of them to make sure a jutting jaw isn’t part of this. Even better, roll your head side to side, move your jaw (and eyes and tongue, if you can) and push forward with your belly and come up to sitting that way.

    8) Rest. Ready for more core-ism?

    9) Let your head hang backward. Come back to the tipping point, keeping jaw in motion and soft, and come forward once with the abs and once with the back muscles and arching, and continue back and forth.

    10) Rest. Ready for more core?

    11) Do the above, except with your hands behind your head and your head hanging back.

    12) Are you wrecking, straining or “no pain/ no gaining” is this. Go back to Start, and do everything with a smile in your heart and on your face. This is learning: how to come forward with the back and how to come forward with the abs. A hint: if you are sitting in a chair reading this, the more your back is holding you up, the better off you are going to be, the lower back, the arching slightly back that this lesson will get you “in touch” with.

    13) Happy trails, happy backs, happy sitting. You have permission to lie back on the floor, use the “abs” to come to the tipping point and then play from that point until you are sitting, as you come forward with your head hanging back and jaw having a good time, sometimes with the abs, and sometimes with the power of the lower back.

    Enjoy, learn, breathe. Being present and happy all the while.


    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Tuesday, Sept. 12: Waking Up


    To be in this moment, what a nice idea.

    To be in this moment, what a nice experience.

    How can we cultivate that?

  • Follow our breathing.

  • Sense our toes and our legs.

  • Sense our pelvis and our spine.

  • Sense our ribs and our arms.

  • Sense our fingers.

  • Notice the sensations of breathing.

  • Be aware of thoughts and their lure away from inner peace.

  • Decide that being present is sweeter than the thoughts.

  • Sense arms and legs and spine and pelvis and head as five lines and how that shape is, right now.

  • Notice the light coming in our eyes.

  • Notice the sounds coming in our ears.

  • Notice the act of awareness.

  • Enjoy and be thankful for this moment.

  • Be kind and amused with ourselves when we forget.

  • Come back with gratitude to our true home: awareness.

  • And thanks.

  • Monday, September 11, 2006

    Monday, September 11: WakeUp Feldie Thoughts on 9-11

    Okay, okay, let me make this clear: this is Feldenkrais via Chris Elms and what I think this all might have to say about 9-11.

    We could take a very contrarian view and say: 9-11 is great.

    We could take the normal view: a tragedy, either for the victims or the world or our highjacked democracy and so on. To me that’s so boring I’d rather take the 9-11 is great view.

    And being Feldie thinkers, what additional optional ways of going about this could we go:

    Academic/Jesuit: on the one hand good, on the other hand bad. Again, boring to me.

    So what’s left?

    One fall back, when in doubt, and it’s a premise of my idea of what WakeUp Feldenkrais is about: and that’s the fallback, the failsafe, the always solid ground of Now. Right now, this day is called 9-11 again, but is that true? It’s true on a calendar, but what is this day, really? What is this now, really?

    I was once married to a gal from the north country faire. Really, Winona, Minnesota was her home town, a town so beautiful Wynona Ryder is named for it, and so is my daughter Wenonah Elms. Anyway, when said Wenonah was a bit wee one, we traveled VW van (see essay today for another VW bus) to this beautiful town to visit her parents. Her dad is/was almost a saint and the mom kind of made up for it the other way around. She bitched the ex-wife, Peggy, endlessly for not visiting more often. Peggy kept saying, but we’re here now. Didn’t matter. At other times we hadn’t come and that was what was important to Grandma.

    Same with 9-11. The past is over and we can rehash and chain and enslave our lives to it, and often do, and then we can to the other route: come free and fresh into the present.


    Okay. That’s one out.. Another is to see the Big Lesson, which almost makes us snooze, just setting up that way, but what the hell. Fair warned we all are.

    The big lesson, is that, as Gurdjieff said: humanity is asleep. We are asleep. We are sleep walking through our days and nights until we get to at least have an excuse when we sleep through our sleep (and even here we get it wrong, and need Michael Krugman to help us out. See

    Humanity is asleep.

    Damn, who wants to hear that? Better say it again: humanity is asleep. You and I are asleep a lot of the time. In a good Feldenkrais lesson, we come into the moment and really “understand” the present. Better, we “feel” or “sense” the present. Which is the way out mentioned above. So the big lesson is humanity is not present.

    And sleeping people can be lead into almost any idiocy or atrocity. And they were and have been for centuries.

    When are we going to wake up?

    One moment at a time is a good start, don’t you feel/think?

    Saturday, September 09, 2006

    Saturday, Sept. 9: Let's Talk About Babies

    You were a baby once. I was a baby once. We didn’t know much, couldn’t do much, and we were amazing. We were alive. We knew how to learn. Most of us could suck and breathe and wiggle various parts of our selves. We could open and close our eyes and we were probably really good at sleeping.

    So starts the human life: dependant and with lots to learn.

    Somewhere along there, most of us leaned to walk and to talk. These learnings are acts of genius, when we realize how many unknowns we had to unravel, how many explorations we set in motion, how many dead ends we chased down, not knowing they were dead ends.

    We were very alive, very now, and there were no "dead ends." We had no end, we always were learning.

    Dead ends, open ends, rest times, sleep times, all these were just one more piece of learning.

    We didn’t start talking with words. We didn’t know what a word was. We didn’t know what language was. We started with sounds. Sound felt a certain way inside of us, and probably got certain responses from people around us.

    We didn’t start out with walking poorly. We didn’t start out with crawling poorly. We didn’t start out with rolling over. We started out with small movements, flailing around movements that sometimes turned into useful movements. A certain flail and our hand was at our mouth. A little later and another flail brought our hand to our mouth again, and a light bulb went off: this could be useful. We liked our mouths. We liked being able to bring our hands to our mouths.

    More flailing, more wiggling, more trying out this and that. For almost all of us, there weren’t other kids around crawling, so this wasn’t something we ever had a plan to learn. But after rolling over and some form of scooting ourselves around on the floor or ground, we happened on the crawling thing.

    Lots and lots and lots of learnings and dead ends and explorations preceded learning to crawl. And when we crawled, it sure as can be was not to please someone outside and strut our crawling stuff. We wanted something over THERE and we were HERE and crawling turned out to be an easier and quicker way to get from here to there.

    We learned in the field of gravity. We learned with weak arms and weak legs and strong muscles in the so-called core, which is another way of saying the middle. This is how we are made: big bones and big muscles around the pelvis, and another set of lesser big bones and big muscles around our shoulders. We learned, by messing around, by exploring, by discovery which muscles went various ways and we ended up with ideas and discoveries of things we could set out to do and accomplish. We could grab things. Pick up things. Drop things. Throw things. Roll over. Look this way, look that. And sooner or later, move our whole cute little baby body over to something at another part of the world.

    We were movers. We were learners. We were discoverers. This was good.

    This still is good and any day we live with an open and curious mind can still be a learning day. Would a Feldenkrais approach to what we are doing or thinking or feeling help keep the learning and discovery and joy open? That’s a rhetorical questions isn’t it?

    Enjoy your day. Enjoy your life. Enjoy your learning.

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Friday: Sept. 8: Feldie Fun #2

    Let’s remember our Feldie Way of going about “doing,” which is

  • to put our awareness on the process,

  • to go slow,

  • to use less force,

  • to use lots of awareness,

  • to breathe and smile and wonder,

  • to rest a lot,

  • to meander,

  • to undo the idea of finding the “right way,”

  • to return to how we learned as babies,

  • to indulge in the world of now,

  • to explore in the world of How?

  • to exult in the world of sensing,

  • to look for pleasure,

  • to goof around and experiment and look for learning.

  • Okay, so what shall we try today? Heck, let’s do a little more rotation around our central axis, because that is the easiest way to get to this radically wonderful and elusive obvious: our backs aren’t a thing, they are a co-operative venture of 24 vertebrae and various muscles and whatnot and a brain that is either making things easy and sweet and pleasurable, or not. I won’t give a separate number for the rests this time around.

    1) Sit at the front edge of your chair. Sit more or less tall and see how your Sitz bones feel on the chair and how your feet feel on the floor and how your breathing feels in your body and how you feel in your you. Now, slowly and easily turn your head to look behind yourself to the right and to the left. See what is the same and what is different about each direction. Pick the direction that is easiest to turn. Rest.

    2) Turn halfway to that direction and put your hands under the opposite armpit. Slowly and all the rest of the above list, rotate your shoulders and ribs to the right as you move your head and tongue to the left, and then rotate your shoulders and torso to the left as you rotate your head and tongue to the right. The tongue? Yeah, let it go a little farther that your head is going, as if it’s leading the motion in that direction. Go back and forth and bunch of times, noticing how many vertebrae you can enjoyably notice. Rest (Come to the center and close your eyes in rests.)

    3) Turn halfway in that direction and move your eyes one way and your head the other. Back and forth, easy and fun. Now, move your eyes one way and your tongue the other. Sometimes move your head the way the tongue is moving, sometimes move it the way the eyes are moving. Slow way down. Get confused or not, and see how it is to stop, start again and really figure out what the heck you are doing. Are you having fun? If not, rest and figure out a way to go about confusion and learning and having fun. Rest.

    4) Do the same thing again and make sure you really can figure out if the tongue and head are moving as one, or the head and eyes. And make sure that the tongue and the eyes keep moving in opposite directions. Rest.

    5) Move to half way. Move your knees so that one knee comes forward and the other comes back. Allow, enjoy, notice as that rotates your hips right and left. Do this for awhile until it is easy. Then put your hand in your opposite armpits and have your arms and torso rotating one way and your hips the other. Remember all the Feldie ways above. Enjoy. Rest.

    6) Turn to look over around yourself to each direction and see what difference this has all made.

    7) Turn halfway. Slump and slouch and bring your belly in and let your head come forward and your pelvis tilt so you are more on the tailbone. Then push your belly forward and arch your back and tilt onto the front of the pelvis. Feel all the vertebrae in this movement. Rest.

    8) Do the simple reference, turning left and right and enjoying the awareness and the involvement of neck and eyes and pelvis and ribs and maybe even the tongue.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    Thursday, September 7: Change's weird requirement: We actually change

    A letter I wrote back to a fine person
    who is skitting in and out of being involved,
    and who wrote

    "I'll catch up with you some other time for another appointment"

    I wrote:

    " This phrase
    sounds almost like the famous...."I'll think about it...."
    which means... later to the point of infinity.

    The ordinary part of us all wants
    to always do
    what we always did.
    And then,
    if that doesn't work,
    and we stumble or crumble into
    pain or trouble,
    we want, magically, to
    have the pain go away
    and have the
    "fix-it," "make it all go away"
    without our really doing anything different.

    The human lot:
    "Please let me change,
    as long as I don't have to
    change anything."

    This is ordinary
    and keeps us coming again
    and again
    to the stuck points that
    the outside cures don't address.

    On, the inner hand
    I'm looking for extra-ordinary people
    and the extra-ordinary person in you
    who want(s) to change enough
    to actually be willing to change.

    Which requires
    actually doing things
    and thinking things
    and organizing in
    new ways.

    More fun ways,
    more efficient ways,
    less painful ways,
    more pleasurable ways.

    But different.
    Change requires change.

    So, if you are up for that,
    "catch up" with me more sooner than later.


    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Wednesday, Sept. 6: Awareness, Feldenkrais and WakeUp Feldenkrais

    Feldenkrais, in and of itself, is a huge boost toward waking up. To do movements such as turning our eyes to the left as we turn our heads to the right, requires an attention to the moment. To follow instructions that have us doing something we have never done before, requires an attention that we can’t have if our mind is wandering.

    And then, the repetition of the movements gives us a chance to either finally let our mind wander, or to deeply get more and more aware of how these movements are affecting us. Unlike yoga where you do a posture and then move on within a couple of minutes, in a Feldenkrais lesson you can spend half an hour doing variations on one movement. To some people this is agony. They want to stress and rip and get moving. Which is fine, though these tend to be the people who have back injuries a couple of times a year.

    Leaving all that out, Feldenkrais also gives us a chance to give a deeper attention to ourselves because so many of the lessons are on the ground, where we don’t have to contend with gravity, and can focus a big chunk of our brain on the arms or feet or hips or pelvis or ribs, or spine, all without the usual tug of war with gravity and keeping upright.

    And in addition to slowness and repetition and being out of gravity and novelty of movement, we are given the sweet opportunity, in the better lessons, to participate in a discovery of option A way to move, and option B, and option C, and maybe more. We are given a vacation from “doing it right,” and get to go into direct sensory experience of the difference in ease and range and connection and effort if we do something a variety of ways.

    This is not only a vacation, but an incentive to zone in on the present, because this experience is so unlike so much of our everyday life, where “getting it right,” is what we stress and strain and worry over, sometimes almost constantly. This might be “getting it right” about getting to the next place(s) on time, or “getting it right” in doing the job the way someone wants us to, or “getting it right” in impressing someone, or “getting it right” in the yoga studio, or “getting it right” in our diet.

    In many Feldenkrais lessons, we experiment with a bunch of ways of doing something. Maybe all are right. Maybe all are wrong. This doesn’t matter. What matters is whether or not we can notice a difference, and if we can, learning is happening. And then, we don’t have to “get it right” to know what to do with the learning, because our whole mind/body system is designed to pick out the easiest and most pleasant ways of doing things, if the options are available to it. To “it” means to us, and that’s what these lessons are about: giving us options and learning and information and sensations of new and more interesting and easier and better ways of doing and thinking and even feeling.

    Okay, okay. So what is WakeUp Feldenkrais? WakeUp Feldenkrais is an opportunity to use this awareness to bring awareness to the center of our life. Often we will have a Feldenkrais lesson and then when it is over, go into unconscious yammer about how great a lesson it was. What if we stayed aware once we began to talk?

    Usually we come into the lesson in some sort of ‘this is the kind of day I’ve been having’ mode, rather than: this is how I am standing and breathing as I come into the room mode. What if the very coming to the lesson were the beginning of waking up to the moment?

    And then when we go home from a lesson, more at ease and connected to ourselves. How can we keep an awareness in our moving as we get ready for bed or read a book or talk with someone in our homes after the lesson?

    This might sound hard, as if we always need to be vigilant.

    I’d say it’s exciting, as if we could always be awake.

    That’s what WakeUp Feldenkrais is about, for starters.

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    Monday, September 4: An oldie, back again: Feldenkrais, Movement and Children

    Once upon a time, I taught fourth grade. I like to ask the children their favorite time of day. There were always two answers: lunch ( food, plus freedom to move) and recess ( freedom to move). One has to spend only a short while with a three year old to see how exciting and delightful movement is to children.

    Life is movement. Slow movement in a redwood tree, faster in bamboo, and we get to walk to the redwood trees in Bartholomew Park. To walk on two feet is not so easy and yet almost every child performs this feat of genius: they learn to roll over, to raise their head to look at the world, they learn to crawl, to walk. And to talk. Another act of genius. Our brains are mighty and magnificent and love to learn.

    How might we re-awaken our latent and deeply human urge to learn? One way is to re-establish a connection to our love of and fascination with movement. Movement that is “present” at three levels is truly delicious, an opportunity to “wake up” to our Life. Like this: find a peaceful place to walk. Sense your arms and legs as they move and be aware of which foot is pressing down on the Earth. That’s the skeletal level. Add on awareness of breath, the old life maintaining breathing in and breathing out. That’s the lung, heart, air level. And add on an awareness of light coming into the eyes and sound coming into the ears as we stroll through the world on this miracle called Life.

    Some people think that if you can improve the quality of your movement, you can improve the quality of your life. Moshe Feldenkrais was one of these people. Born in 1904, in what is now Poland, he left home at 14 and walked to Palestine. Starting life there as a laborer, he later received a doctor in science in physics from the Sorbonne in France. Mastering several languages, always intensely curious, he became the appointed Westerner to bring judo to Europe. Wrecking his knees playing soccer, he opted to discover how to heal them himself. His discoveries resulted in the Feldenkrais Method®, which he developed and taught from the 50’s until his death in 1984.

    Feldenkrais wrote only a few books, with each title illuminating an important aspect of his work: Awareness Through Movement, the Potent Self, and The Elusive Obvious. His work has been of use to all ranges of people, from children with cerebral palsy, to stroke victims, to seniors with balance issues, to professional musicians and athletes, to people with sore backs, shoulders, hips, to those wishing to improve walking, dancing, golf, skiing, or simply the quality of their lives.

    What the work always has in common is the awareness that comes from discovering options to our habitual ways of moving.


    This may sound vague, but as we walk, there is a deep and useful connection of our left shoulder and right hip, our right foot and the pelvis, our eyes and the spine.

    Meditation is nice, and this, an awareness of our arms and legs and breath and spine and light and sound as we move, this is a very sweet meditation. After finishing this chapter we can all go take a walking. Walking isn’t just for warding off feared heart attacks. It’s for exulting in the miracle of being human. Walk today, walk tomorrow. For the rest of your life, watch children and see how they flow as one. And take walks in Nature, delighting to wake at three levels.

    Monday, September 4: Options and Habits

    In Feldenkrais, a central idea is that we are stuck, not in our backs or our shoulders or our necks, but in our brains. We have a habit of how to do something that’s burned it’s way into a rut. We are in a rut, and the rut is causing us pain, and our solution usually is to do the rut-thing a little more vigorously.
    So. We are in a habit that’s not working. We put more effort into the non-working habit, and we get: worse. Not better. What a surprise.

    One solution is a novel and brilliant one: do anything else.

    Another solution is to have three or four options and try out different ways of going about what was our habit.

    For example?

  • Sit in our chair with our weight more on our feet than usual.

  • Sit in our chair with our weight more forward onto our pelvis than usual.

  • Sit on our chair with our weight more backward than usual.

  • Sit on our chair with our eyes looking down at the computer screen.

  • Sit at our chair with our eyes looking up to the computer screen.

  • Move our chair two inches farther back from the screen.

  • Move it two inches forward.

  • Turn our heads right and left while keeping our eyes on the screen.

  • Keep our nose pointed toward the screen and move our eyes right and left.

  • Look up with our nose and down with our eyes.

  • Look down with our nose and up with our eyes.

  • How was that?

    If we do this slowly and with curiosity, we will learn at either a conscious or a more subliminal level, how to function “better” in a chair. Here “better” can mean easier, or with less strain, or more able to move and turn and think and breathe.

    If we do this slowly and with attention, we may catch the “How do I work as a human mind/brain/feeling/thinking/moving organism?” bug. We might not only enjoy our sitting more, but ourselves and exploration in our life more.

    And all that, from just fooling around and trying out options. All we have to loose is stuckness in our habits, and we can always include the old habit as one of our new variety of options. Freedom, learning, ease: all nice possibilities when we go about things this way.

    For now.

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Sunday, Sept. 3: Another oldie: Between the Ears

    Happy Thanksgiving;

    Let’s say I have a repetitive strain injury, aka RSI . My hands and fingers seem tense and cramped and painful, from too much time at the computer, perhaps. One way to look at this as a problem of the hands, or a problem of computer-itis. However, another way of looking at this is as a problem between the ears. What does that mean? It means that the problem is that my brain has forgotten how to use my hands the way nature designed hands to be used, as part of an arm, which is part of a shoulder girdle, which is floating near and in synch with my ribs, which are attached to my spine, which is connected to my pelvis, which is rooted down into the floor via my legs and feet.

    So according to nature, when I use my hands at the computer, I can feel their use all the way down into my feet. According to bad habits that have gotten into that space between the ears, the hands are supposed to crank away on their own. Guess which way is going to feel easy and integrated with all of me, and which way is going to lead to pain and injury.

    This is what Moshe ´ Feldenkrais discovered that led to his creating the Feldenkrais Method®. His knees were wrecked from soccer and a mental habit of playing with intent to win at all costs. At the time, in the 1940’s, his doctors told him an operation would have a 50% chance of success. He thought that was the same as flipping a coin and set out to discover how to heal himself. Drawing on his background as a judo master, and a scientist, he set out to discover how our bodies work, when they work efficiently, and from observing babies in his wife’s pediatric practice, he saw more of how we move when we move naturally. He discovered that to heal his knees, he need to learn to more naturally move his ankles and toes and legs and pelvis and ribs and spine and neck and breathing and eyes, and brain. He needed to relearn how to go about something with curiosity rather than intent to succeed. When he learned all this, he could walk and even do judo again in his seventies with knees which should have left him paralyzed.

    This is the glory of finding a solution between the ears, rather than in the knees or the hands or the shoulders or the back.

    Similarly, in the “Work” of Byron Katie (see links, to right), the usual suspects are rejected as the cause of the pain. Instead of a “bad” husband who says the wrong thing to us, and a “bad” wife who doesn’t smile at the right time, or “bad” parents who criticized us, or “bad” children who disobey, or “bad” people around town who don’t appreciate us or return our calls, the problem is between our ears. It is our thinking about and reaction to their so called “bad” behaviors that causes us the pain. This is not to say that all is equal, and we might as well be rude or selfish since if others don’t like it, it’s their problem. This is about our own freedom and happiness inside. The world is such that other people are going to be busy or distracted or mean or selfish occasionally and we can either deal with our pain as a problem between our ears, which we can do something about, or as a problem “out there,” which is usually a straight path to frustration and ineffectiveness.

    This all relates to the essay two back on seeing a “problem” as a chance to use our curiosity and intelligence to make the whole system better rather than falling for the attack mode. So whether it’s insects attacking plants that stimulates us to improve the soil and growing conditions, or a “bad” person, who stimulates us to see what in our thinking and reacting is setting us up to push our own buttons, or a sore back giving us a chance to learn how to organize ourselves in a freer and more natural way, these “problems” are all an opportunity to use that most miraculous (and under-utilized) piece of matter in the universe: our human brains.

    ( More of Byron Katie at

    Hey, hello, you are here. Keep looking, reading and enjoying. Contact me for Feldenkrais or Byron Katie lessons, at 707-996-1437

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    Friday, Sept. 1: Little Miss Sunshine, Healing and Feldenkrais

    How does cure take place? How does change happen? I’ve just been re-acquainting myself with a healing system called Body Electronics (gleaned from the book, Body Electronics, by Thomas Chavez). Two concepts from it are relevant to today’s essay. In one, the contrast is made between “off” management of health issues, wherein the whole focus is to turn “off” the symptoms, usually by drugs. In this model, people seem to “get better,” but since the causes behind their symptoms weren’t dealt with, they actually get worse, as now, on top of the original troubles, they have inner disturbances from the drugs.

    In “on” management, a way is found to go along with the body’s natural tendency to cure itself, and strength and balancing is given so the system can do what it needs to do, a burning out of something that needs to be cleared.

    The second concept from Body Electronics is that we go through periods of balance and periods of de-stabilization, or chaos. The “off” systems bring us out of our destabilization at a lower level of balance, and the “on” systems leave us at a higher level of balance.

    Now to Feldenkrais, which when dealing with sore backs or necks or shoulders makes the claim that the issue isn’t in the tissue, it’s between the ears. That is to say, it is the organization of ourselves that caused this soreness, and until we reorganize, by coming to a higher level of functioning ( that is to say, by learning) we will keep having this symptom, no matter how many chiropractors “adjust” us, or physical therapists get us “stronger.”

    Okay now to Little Miss Sunshine. If you haven’t seen it, I think you’ll love it. This is a movie where we start with symptom heaven, a father who has a job that isn’t working, a mother who is out of sorts with her husband and her teenage son, the teenage son who hates everyone and won’t speak, the grandfather who snorts heroin, and the mother/wife’s brother, who has just failed at committing suicide. Into this mix, the one healthy person is the young daughter, who though chubby and normal, wants to be a beauty queen.

    So, if left to themselves, each character would have their world set up to preserve their neurosis and their unhappiness. But, luckily for us, the viewers, the story forces them into chaos: they all have to get into a VW bus together for a long ride. And during this ride , numerous plot surprises mean their world gets more chaotic. This is a happy movie: they use the chaos to rise to a higher and even, by the end, a wonderful level.

    So: they are messes. Chaos shakes up their world. They could sink to bigger messes, but they don’t, they rise to new and better people.

    This is healing: to get a little extra stress into the system, and change. In Feldenkrais, we ideally create this "stress" by bringing people so gently they hardly realize it, to a challenging level of functioning. And then in that stress/chaos, show people a way to rise to a higher level of functioning, which is a new higher level of balance.

    Think about times in your life when “hard times” ended up bringing about some of the best changes you ever went through and you’ll feel inside what I’m talking about.