Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lifting Weights, Lifting Rocks, Strengthening the Brain

At first, one wouldn't associate Feldenkrais with weight lifting, though, if you know me, you might associate the idea I'd go about lifting rocks instead of some bars of metal.

The muscles don't care what you lift.

And the brain likes to do it slowly and with variety.

If you go slow enough and vary the path of lifting enough, and set about using connections to lots of parts of yourself, you can enjoy getting strong, and use rocks, or the shovel as you work: take it easy, make it fun, use your intelligence.

Just go slow.

Have variety.

Keep it easy, not in terms of effort, because going slow can really give you a work out, but keep it easy in terms of skipping the endless reps and the ego necessitated giant loads of weights.

Make it fun.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Change and Anat

I am now redoing a training in the Feldenkrais Method, except that it is not the Feldenkrais Method. It’s the Anat Baniel Method . Anat Baniel is a woman who has known Dr. Feldenkrais since she was three years old, and out of luck and circumstance and pluck and intelligence and a certain disinclination to “fit in,” came to develop her own version of this work.

To her, this work is about miracles and about changing and transforming lives, the lives of the practitioners and the lives of their clients or patients or students, whatever you call them: people who want help. The Feldenkrais Way is not about “fixing” a shoulder, but about bringing alive connections in a whole person, in the so called “body” and the so called “brain,” bringing alive connections and easier and more biologically sound and internally pleasing and easeful ways of moving. And with these improvements , the shoulder takes care of itself.

In Anat’s work, the whole system expands out to include a discussion of the emotional issues that keep us from participating fully in the chance to change. These issues and embedded patterns / behaviors keep us from letting change unfold and transform our lives.

In her training, people get emotional, and that is “dealt” with,
not in a, “let’s stop and have a big cry fest,”
nor in "this is emotional garbage and besides the point,"
but as a chance to understand
what is keeping the sadness going,
or what is the difference between our sadness now and our original troubles,
or as a chance to clarify different degress and flavors of our sadness,

Actually, I’m not sure how all the ways Anat has of dealing with emotional issues, I just know she expects the feelings to be a big part of the process of transformation. And she is clear that the insights that make the Feldenkrais Way so powerful, can be applied to the emotional realm.

And the thinking.

If you’ve read me for awhile, you know how important I think is the Work of Byron Katie. Her work allows us to take the thoughts with which we prolong our suffering and do something with them besides fight them or believe them or even just “watch” them, as some systems suggest.

In Katie’s work we are given a way to be free of our suffering, to use the mind to heal the troubles of the mind.

In Anat’s work, we are encouraged to see the world as a place where well developed thinking is one of the strands of healing and success as a healer.

There is more to this, obviously.

I’m in the work again, starting in a third training really, since in addition to my regular four year training, I did a complete first year with the Russell Delman training as well. Now I’m up to 124 days of training beyond the 160, and 47 of those have been with Anat. The journey is sweet, re-discovering the depth to this work, and discovering a deeper and more powerful way of understanding it.

At least that’s what I think.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gurdjeiff and Feldenkrais

Gurdjieff is the last name of a man who was a big deal for awhile and still has a powerful influence. He studied and synthesized and maybe even came up with new ideas about man’s spiritual and psychological development.

In my way of seeing things, his main thrust was seeing that humanity is asleep, that most of us are, most of the times, going through our days in some sort of daze. That we are creatures of habit, with no coherent sense of ourselves. That we have a bunch of “I”s going around taking turns ruling the roost: one day the I who wants to save money, the next the I who wants to impress people with a fancy car, one hour the I who wants to learn a new skill, the next hour the I who just wants to get drunk and forget everything.

We are not real people, Gurdjieff says, but by “remembering ourselves,” which is to say, remembering that we are beings and alive and have an effect on others and the world around us, we can wake up and start being worthwhile human beings.

In an essay at Denis Leri’s Semiophysics site ( Moshe Feldenkrais and G.I.Gurdjieff,), he describes the relationship of Feldenkrais to Gurdjieff, how Feldenkrais is purported to have said that Gurdjieff is the strongest influence on what he was trying to do.
If we realize how much of Feldenkrais work is about undoing our slavery to our habitual ways of using ourselves poorly and inefficiently, and reconnecting to a way of being that can have an intention and explore and discover clear ways of achieving that intention, we can see how Feldenkrais is a natural extension of the Gurdjieff work.

I spend many years in the Gurdjieff work, and though I was thrilled to discover that carpentry and garden making and floor washing could be profound and useful meditations, the underlying push of the Gurdjieff work was a subtle or not so subtle: “Thou Shalt Remember Thyself.” Good advice, but if you can’t do it, is trying harder at something you can’t do the right path?

This seems a rhetorical question, eh?

And so, the Feldenkrais work, where you don’t try harder, but try smarter and with more variation and sense of learning: this is a way to wake up that is fun and delightful and gets results and feels good all at once. Because it is how human beings are meant to be.

According to whom? Me, I guess. You decide for you.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Jesus and Judo


One of my favorite Jesus parts of the Bible is when Jesus is talking about loving your enemy. He essentially says: anyone can love someone who is treating you really well, but when someone starts to act poorly, then the job of loving makes your ability to love real.

Moshe Feldenkrais, in a book I’m just discovering called Higher Judo, talks of a similar function of judo. He says that, Yeah, we seem like we are handling life as long as things are going our way, but what if they aren’t.

And he says, what if things really aren’t going our way: as in: we are being attacked, or are falling, or are being chocked. In these circumstances if we can, through judo, retain, poise and creativity and the ability to act, then when life throws annoying people our way or someone giving us some verbal guff, we are going to be easily able to deal with it.

So the way of judo, is to be able to act with freedom and creatively in all circumstances. Then we are a truly independent and free adult. The way of Jesus is to be able to love no matter who ratty and rotten someones else is: again, we are free and able to live from ourselves.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Feldenkrais and Love

Can I pull this off, to talk about Feldenkrais and love? I mean, isn’t Feldenkrais about moving with more ease, and getting out of pain, and transcending cerebral palsy, and moving to new levels of excellence in sports and yoga? Sure, it’s about that, and the reason it “works” is that it’s not “trying” to fix anyone, and this sounds strangely like love.

When we first meet someone, and they are different than us, if we “fall in love,” we are fascinated with their quirks and their difference from us. Later, when we fall back into our grouchy sleepwalking, then we’ll try to “fix” their quirks, which is to say, make them more like us. So, appreciating someone just as they are is part of love.

In Feldenkrais, we start with helping a person discover how it is that they are set up in their inner connections and their image of who they are, and what’s available to them. We work on expanding what’s available, not by “fixing” anything, but by playing with alternatives and variations. This playfulness, if remembered and kept in the foreground, makes a Feldenkrais lesson like falling in love, falling in love with the possibilities of being that are new and fresh and easy and natural (which might not then be new, but old, back in our childhood days, ways of moving and connecting and experimenting).

In love and in Feldenkrais rightly done, we are in a state of freshness. This leads me to calling my work WakeUp Feldenkrais, waking up to the moment and the moment’s possibilities. This is a state where we “don’t know.”

Falling in love, is falling, the old falls away, we love and are enthralled by the new, and it is a giddy and unknown world.

To be truly present is likewise a state of free fall. We are here, but without all the safe words and maps from back then. Then doesn’t count. We are only experience, without the usual underpinnings.

In a good Feldenkrais lesson, we aren’t “fixing” a shoulder, we are helping a shoulder become a shoulder again as a brain/ body / whole self/ person rediscovers and falls in love with all the possibilities and connections in being a being with a brain and movement and learning and awareness. The shoulder heals as almost an afterthought.

This could be vague mush, and many descriptions of “love” sound just so. Too vague. Too rhapsodical. And yet, we have most of us been there, falling in love with a person, or a piece of music or an orchid or a redwood or a rose or a sunset. The experience is everything, is new, is beyond needing to be judged, and we feel opened to a much bigger self, a Self that is fine without words to describe and pin it down. We are.

This is the state of a good Feldenkrais lesson, too, we simply are.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Martin Luther Kind, Racism, Corporatism, and Some Personal History

On the day Martin Luther King was shot, I was living on a block in the black and Puerto Rican section of Brooklyn known as Brownsville. Though not as notorious as the neighboring Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville was equally as poor and troubled. For some reason, in Brownsville the ongoing protest against the conditions of life took the form of about one fire a week on the block on which I lived. On the week after Martin Luther King was killed, the fires went up to one a day.

One of those fires was set by my at the time girlfriend, a black welfare mother, who unable to get the welfare department to give her permission to move to a better place, decided to slip in amongst all the action. Saving a few of her things, and putting on an appropriately tearful response to the fire department, she got temporary shelter in a downtown hotel, and then relocation to a better house.

What was I doing on Legion Street in Brownsville Brooklyn? I was there for at least three sets of reasons. One, curiosity. I’d spend the summer before in an organization called Appalachian Volunteers, a summer version of VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America, this during the time of the War on Poverty). During that summer I’d lived in a black section of a hillbilly town in the western tip of Virginia, a town named Norton, where the nearest big town was Bristol, Tennessee. I’d been shocked to discover, having been raised in a Lilly white town with no blacks, browns and very few Jews, that black people weren’t “just like” white people with a black paint job. They actually smelled different and laughed different and danced different (close, I mean, really close), and ATE WATERMELON. This was fascinating to me. I wanted to discover more about this.

Two, I was there out of the youthful idealism: how could I HELP make difference in this messed up country of ours.
Three, I was there to save me skin. By being in VISTA (the internal Peace Corps, as it were), I was granted a deferment from the Vietnam War, a place I very much did not want to go.

So I was in Brownsville, and I saw people shooting up, and I saw people having parties where they raised the rent by charging people to come, and I saw people setting fires to their apartment to get the welfare department to act, and I saw bedbugs and cockroaches and learned about landlords who would abandon buildings rather than bring them up to code. I got involved in welfare organizing, which was a long strategy (that failed) to force this country into a child support system, but involved informing welfare mothers of their rights to so many blankets, so many sheets, so many towels and so on, adding up the list of how much money to which they were entitled, often a huge amount, and then heading down to the welfare office with a big group to collect. And staying the night until we got what we were after.

This was interesting. This was fascinating. This was a learning grounds far more valuable than much of college.

And it began to seem a fraud. For even if we, the noble white volunteers, succeeded in helping bring about change, this would just prove, once more, that blacks couldn’t get the deal together on their own.

So, some of us gravitated toward trying to figure out how to organize against racism in the white community, and it was through a rather militant group called Whites Against Racism, that I met the mother of my children, would been dragged to a meeting by her sister, who had organized with the blacks down South.

So Martin Luther King tried to make a difference, and did, and then was killed. And I tried to make a difference, and, maybe, in a small way, did. And at least my mind was opened, and I saw how dark people were treated.

And I came to understand that this racism was part of a larger strategy, the age old divide and conquer strategy, since American corporations, especially in the South could keep their workers from organizing by always luring the white workers with the idea that “at least you are better than the blacks. You don’t want to organize with them, or they’ll be something wrong with you.”

Which is why the word, Corporatism, in the title of this essay. The world now is in a mess, and as Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad clarify in their book, The Guru Papers, lots of working needs to be done understanding and undermining and freeing ourselves from authoritarian structures in our religious and relationship systems, I want to emphasize that a world where corporations can push whole countries and economies around, is a world in deep trouble.

And what, pray tell, does this have to do with the Feldenkrais Way?

Well, the Feldenkrais Way is a way of moving toward freedom from the limitations inside which our habits have us trapped. By creating lessons where we are not aiming to “get it right,” where we are not imitating a teacher (since the teacher gives verbal directions in the group lessons, but never demonstrates the actions), since we are usually involved with our eyes closed and paying attention to differences inside ourselves, since there are many opportunities to “rest” and notice the differences as we go along, since the goal isn’t the thing, but the “how to” on the way to the goal, we begin in Feldenkrais lessons, to understand again that leaning is about exploring and discovering, not about imitating and getting it right.

In a sense, we are learning again to think for ourselves. We discover our habits, we explore options to those habits, we sense deeply how those options feel and work. We learn who we are as a pure and simple (and miraculous) brain learner and body mover system.

And our culture: there are some habits that need understanding and changing: of judging and placing people by sex, by race, this keeping people divided and conquered and unhappy, as the corporations swallow up (consume) the world, to make more stuff for the people to buy (consume) to alleviate their unhappiness and disconnection and partial servitude.

Can Feldenkrais, and WakeUp Feldenkrais, which is just a way of saying a more open dedication to awareness as the foundation, help with undoing these social habits, this destruction of our world and of people’s lives that is going on?

It could.

The habit of avoiding the Big Picture is another one. The habit of creating these wonderful things like yoga and Feldenkrais and then offering them only to those with money and leisure is certainly something that is going on.

And then, those of us who teach and practice Feldenkrais, and those whose lives have begun to become more open and free from this work, maybe somehow we can apply these strategies of learning and creating new pathways to the larger social issues.

If nothing else, the Feldenkrais Way is one of seeing that a sore shoulder is not just a sore shoulder, that ribs and spine and head and breathing and pelvis and feet and most of all, brain and understanding and awareness are all involved. It is a path of seeing the Whole Thing.

Our culture, our human species, at the edge of throwing itself off the cliff of ecological extinction, could do well to look at the Whole Thing, because the Whole Thing needs to be undone and redone.

A big job. Martin Luther took on a big job. Martin Luther King took on a big job. So can we, remembering awareness on the way, an a non-obsession with the goal the means to more adequately achieve this goal.

This essay, too, like yesterday’s (at Slow Sonoma) longer than usual. So be it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Yoga and Feldenkrais

Marle in down dog
Yoga can be called the science of union. Union between our real Self and the ordinary mind/ body go to work, talk to friends, eat a meal self. Or perhaps the union between inner awareness and outer action. Or perhaps the union between earth and spirit.

Another way of thinking about union, is to call it connection, or re-connection. It is in this light, that I think Feldenkrais work can be so useful to yoga. If we are seeking, through yoga, to connect with a more real and “eternal” part of ourselves, we have no choice but to come to an inner quietness and awareness. Indeed, the second verse of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a revered text thousands of years old, defines yoga as the “stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.”

To reconnect to the stillness in us, this is what all the fuss is about, and when we come to that stillness, one and all, whether watching a sunset, listening to music that touches us, moments of lost nowness in meditation or skiing or sex, we know the fuss is worth it.

And in yoga, all this moving of the limbs about is nice for exercise and flexibility, but within that movement, can we find a still place that can be just here, just now, can quietly and reverently experience exactly what and how and where we are in this moment? This being quiet and being now, that is the essence of yoga.

And how can Feldenkrais help that?

Well, in the Feldenkrais Way, we like to let things slow down, so attention can increase. We like to lower effort and “trying,” once more so awareness can increase. We like to shift attention from “getting there,” from the “goal,” to the process, the exploration of “how” we get to the goal.

Indeed a whole branch of the Feldenkrais work is called Awareness Through Movement. Movement is the word that has the most action in it, and the thing we tend to notice in these lessons, but the phrase is quite clear: we are after Awareness through this moving.

So we have a system, the Feldenkrais system, based on learning about awareness through slow and non-straining and exploratory and non-goal obsessed moving, and we have another system, the Way of Yoga, looking to bring about a unity of mind and body, or ordinary self and Higher Self, of earthly physicality and internal stilling of the mind. These two can, it seems to me, be of great use to each other.

Yoga can offer the Feldenkrais Way a specific set of shapes, or postures, or asanas, with which to explore awareness. It can offer the centuries’ accumulated wisdom of poses that ignite and suggest various strengths and possibilities in the human form. Feldenkrais thinking and practice can offer yoga a way of moving to these asanas, and even more important, within these asanas, to discover greater awareness in each moment as well as possibilities for ease and stillness that might not be found if one were going about yoga in the all too common mode of: “Am I getting this posture right? Right?,” which often translates into an undercurrent of unspoken, but deeply felt, “What am I doing wrong now?”

In the exploration and slowness and commitment to the “how,” of the Feldenkrais Way, we have an opportunity to deepen and soften and bring our yoga practice to a stillness that is much too often missing.

And this is nice.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Feldenkrais Method®

You can see long and detailed definitions, of mine and many other people, on my various websites. For now though, without looking at any of those, I have decided to reformulate this amazing system for myself, and you, gentle reader. I’ll do this four times a year. So here’s the winter version.

The Feldenkrais Method® is a system of mental and physical (and by extrapolation, emotional) improvement based on discovering natural and easy and efficient and pleasurable ways of moving our human mind/bodies. The mind and body are not seen as separate in this system, and the core of improvement comes from awareness, exploration and the discovery of new and non-habitual ways of learning and problem solving. This system was invented by Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) an Israeli physicist, engineer, biophysiologist, educator and judo master, who, in curing his “incurable” knees, found that his discoveries in engaging the nervous system in learning how to learn and integrating ourselves as a whole organisms could help people in many levels.

These levels of improvement can be viewed as subsets of Moshe’s famous definition of the aim of his work:

“Making the impossible possible; making the possible easy; and making the easy, elegant.”

Thus this work has many years of being useful at one level, that of severe limitation, say cerebral palsy or stroke recovery; and at a second level, that of helping people with aches and pains (back, shoulder, hip, etc.) recover their prior mobility; and at the third level, of making the good even better, for artists, athletes and musicians and other high performers who wish to enhance an already excellent state of activity.

The discovery, learning and awareness that are emphasized and developed throughout this work give rise to a view of possibilities far beyond “bodywork.” Once the practice of impossible to possible to easy to elegant becomes repeated over and over, a sense of opening of horizons and possibilities in many areas of life is a common occurrence.

(Note. The essays are rotating through the three blogs, more or less one per day.
So you might want to check:

Tai Chi Yoga Health Weight Loss Joy
Life on Earth ::: Slow Sonoma
for the last two essays.)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Yoga 3, Cat and Cow, for Heart, Mind and Body

Here’s a wonderful pose, one of the few in yoga where movement is actually part of the posture. It’s called Beetle Asana, at least that’s how it sounds, and has the remarkably useful English name of The Cat and the Cow.

1) For starters. Come to your hands and knees. Do this the normal mindless way, and then, hmmm, what would it be like to do it with awareness? Just how do your hands feel on the floor or Earth, and your knees? Are your feet flat to the ground or do you have your toes bent, in what they call the “for running” shape? Where are you looking? How does your spine feel? Are your hips over your knees, your shoulders over your hands? Fool around, play around, shift around, find what feels right for you today.

2) Breathe easily. Notice your breathing. Notice a happiness in breathing. See if there is any way that this simple act, the act of breathing can be easier and more pleasurable for you.

3) Now begin to arch your back and push out your belly as you breathe in. As you do this, lift your butt toward the sky, by tilting your pelvis so that your tailbone, too, is lifting. Do this each time you breath in, let yourself push forward with your belly, arch your back and tilt your butt to the sky. On the out breath, just come to “normal,” whatever that is.
Cow, belly down, ready to Moooo

4) Now try the opposite. As you breathe out, pull up your navel, lift the middle of your back toward the sky and tilt your tailbone under, as if you are going to tilt the front of your pelvis ( your sex) toward your face. Look down as you do this, so you are becoming nicely folded, with the center of your back being the high point of the curving you. This is the cat.

Cat, belly in, ready to hiss and ???strike

5) Alternate cat, with belly pulled in and back toward the sky, and cow, with the belly pushed forward and back arching so that shoulders and butt are the high points. Notice the tilting of your pelvis as you do this, and allow your head to come up when your butt comes up (the cow gives a big Mooooo), and allow your head to come down, looking between your legs when your pelvis tilts the other way.

6) Rest on your back and feel how you feel in your whole self. Notice your spine. Notice your breathing. Once again concentrate on being present and the happiness that comes from simple being at the moment with yourself.

7) Come back to hands and knees and begin to oscillate once again, cat and cow, belly in / belly out, face toward the pelvis / back of head toward the bottom. And try this variation: as you push your belly out and arch into the cow, breathe out. And as you pull your belly in and fold into the hissing cat, let your breathe in. Where does in the in breath go, if it can’t go into your belly? Discover. Go slow. Do this enough so you can enjoy the pushing out of the belly as you push your breath out. Again, allow your awareness to be on the happiness of being alive and moving with a feeling of pleasure and attention to yourself. Smile. Notice the shifting shape of your vertebrae. Notice the air coming in and out. Notice what you are seeing and hearing. Enjoy. Put intention on enjoyment as you move slowly and with awareness and curiosity.

8) Smile.

(Note. The essays are rotating through the three blogs, more or less one per day.
So you might want to check:

Tai Chi Yoga Health Weight Loss Joy
Life on Earth ::: Slow Sonoma
for the last two essays.)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Doing "Something"
(for spine, pelvis and brain, i.e. You)

Here’s a little movement set that can help with your backs, or your brains, or your skiing, or your breathing, or your posture, or your balance, or ……

1) Lie on the floor or some nicely firm surface. Spend some time coming home to who and how you are with a floor under you. What is touching and what isn’t? How long do your legs feel? Your arms? Your spine? Can you notice a difference in the ribs on the right side and those on the left? How about the two sides of the pelvis? Where is your head meeting the floor? How is your breathing? Add to this and enjoy scanning and returning to yourself.

2) Bring your left foot to standing,
foot to standing
"Left foot standing"
which means the sole of the foot is flat to the floor and your knee is bent. Notice what you can notice just by this change in position. Then begin to gently push this foot, your left foot, into the floor in such a way as to tilt the left side of your pelvis forward, which is up from the floor. Then release and press, each time feeling whatever connection you can between your feet pressing and your pelvis turning and lifting on the left side.
pelvis lifting
Left foot pushes into ground, left hip raises, and pelvis rotates to the right

3) Rest with your legs long and notice any difference side to side.

4) Bring your left foot again to standing and once more press your foot into the floor and raise and rotate the left side of your pelvis. Notice what is happening in your stomach and spine. See if you can be aware of differences in which vertebrae are rotating before which others. Notice a change in pressure on your ribs as you press and rotate.

5) Rest again, again using this time for your brain to integrate and your self to notice. Enjoy awareness and the fruits of awareness.

6) Bring your left foot again to standing and repeat this same movement, and now notice your belly area. Try several times keeping the belly tight and pulled in while you do this. Then try several times loosening and pushing out your belly as you do this? Which is easier? When you push out the belly, notice the arching in your spine. Try this experiment: sometimes as you arch your back and push out your belly, breathe out, and sometimes as you do this, breathe in.

7) Rest.

8) Bring your left foot to the same position. Take your hands each into the opposite armpit, sort of hugging yourself and your ribs. Rotate gently your ribs and chest to the right and to the left. Feel the way this moves your spine. Now, begin to push your foot again, raising and rotating your pelvis, and pushing out your belly. As you do this, rotate your torso to the right.
See how this goes.
torso right as pelvis right
Torso / ribs rotate right as your pelvis rotates to the right

9) Now as you lift your left hip, rotate your ribs and torso to the left as your pelvis keeps rotating, as all along, to the right. Go slow. Notice the difference.
torso left as pelvis right
Torso/ ribs left as pelvis rotates to the right

10 )Rest.

11) Now, alternate, once rotating your torso to the right as you lift the left side of your pelvis and push your belly out, and once rotating your torso to the left as you do this. Notice the difference. Go slow and enjoy both. Notice what is happening in your spine with each alternative.

12) Rest. Scan yourself and notice any differences from the beginning. This could expand for a much longer lesson, and today, it won’t. Slowly, roll to a side, come to stand and walk. Notice the difference when your left foot presses into the floor and when your right does as you walk. Notice if you feel taller and lighter. Notice your breathing. Notice any enjoyment in being alive and moving. Make an idea for yourself of keeping this enjoyment in difference times of your life and day.

And..... some other time,
do this on the other side.
But for awhile, see how this translates into awareness of your whole self,
and your right and left sides.

Enjoy going slow:
go to only
80% of what your "limit" would be,
with 300% of your usual awareness.
A good rule in Feldie lessons,
and life.

(Note. The essays are rotating through the three blogs, more or less one per day.
So you might want to check:

Tai Chi Yoga Health Weight Loss Joy
Life on Earth ::: Slow Sonoma
for the last two essays.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Doing "Nothing"

In any situation, we have a choice: to go through the motions, or to do whatever we are doing with awareness of ourselves in the moment. Now, I can be aware of my fingers on the keyboard and my pelvis as I sit and my breathing as it comes in and out and the sound of the keys being touched. I can be aware of my feet on the floor and the possible differences from the right foot and the left.

This is neither good nor bad, though I can be aware of a tendency to think: this is good. This is gooder, to be aware.

It is different though. And I like the difference, so I have the choice to go with awareness since I like being in this state.

You do, too, obviously and this has occurred to you, gentle reader, as you’ve read the above words.


To be in this moment gives us some delightful options, but one of those options is not to “do nothing.”

This is a bit of a twist we are going to go about here, because, as a life principle: doing nothing, as opposed to living our usual running around like a chicken with its head cut off kind of living, is much recommended.

There is the clever Buddhist book with a title: Just don’t Do Something, Sit There. This makes fun of the usual line: don’t just sit there, do something. And here’s the core of what I’m getting at today: to Sit There is to do something.

Actually, to sit there instead of rushing around, is to do two things: one, to stop the rushing around, and two, to be aware of ourselves in the “sitting there” state.

This is the meditation game: stop the rush, sit, notice the present while you sit. This is the Feldenkrais game: stop the usual habit, and do, slowly, something in many ways that expand awareness of possibilities.

Those of you reading these pages will have noticed that, as of yet, I haven’t put in any plugs for meditation per se, but have put in a lot of encouragement for doing anything and everything we do as if it were a meditation.

Even our rushing around, if we can pull that off. This is hard, if we are rushing in the frantic mode where our attention is “getting there,” or “getting this over,” or even the usual brainlessness to the now with our attention on something two things or three things down on our “to do” list.

And still: we can be in a hurry, and be slow inside, we can notice our walking fast while we walk fast, or talking fast while we talk fast, or driving fast while we drive fast.

This is when awareness is super important: to notice our tendencies when we are in a hurry, to not breathe, our tendencies to tense up, our tendencies to use far more physical effort than necessary.

This is how musicians and people at their computers give themselves “carpal tunnel.” They put the kind of effort into their fingers that is meant for the big muscles around the pelvis and in the back and thighs. They forget they have a back and pelvis and thighs that are part of their whole self.

They forget they have feet that are, right now, yes this now as we read this or write this, right now touching or not touching the ground.

Are we grounded? Do we know how our feet and our pelvis and perhaps our elbows or forearms are holding us up in the field of gravity?

Right now. Yes, this now. This one. Now.

So here we are again, again, sweet now, in the moment of gravity and the moment of breathing and awareness of breathing.

Gravity and breath and where is our body: what is the shape of our arms and legs and spine?

Gravity and breath and shape of our five lines (two legs, two arms, one spine) and the light coming in our eyes, right now, and the sounds coming in our ears, right now.

This is the “nothing” at the core of “doing nothing,” having this big gob of awareness on gravity, breath, five lines, light and sound.

Can we do that as an ongoing mediation? Yes. Sometimes. Can we do yoga or take a walk or do a Feldenkrais movement lesson this way?


And if we don’t, we have wasted the chance to delight in the awareness of now. Which is neither good nor bad, but is missing our lives as they are happening, which is sad, isn’t it?

And, when we realize it, an opportuniy to wake up, be aware, and begin to live the rich and full life we were meant to live.


(Note. The essays are rotating through the three blogs, more or less one per day.
So you might want to check:

Tai Chi Yoga Health Weight Loss Joy
Life on Earth ::: Slow Sonoma
for the last two essays.)