Saturday, November 29, 2008

Beginnings of an Answer for Lynette

wonderful Lynette
asked about the Alexander Yanai Lesson #512.

If you know what these are:

If not: they are 550
lessons Moshe Feldenkrais recorded
as he gave them on Alexander Yanai Street
in Tel Aviv, Israel,
over a period of many years.

So: here's a start to a rather convoluted

You are lying, on belly,
left leg long,
right knee up toward belly on the side,
right hand down alongside body
and under right thigh, with palm down,
left hand standing near the head, elbow up.

And you bring,
the right hand up to the head

Here's my beginning take on

In standing:
one would be standing on the left leg,
the right knee would be bent,
sort of in "tree pose" of yoga,
right foot on right thigh,
right hand down near crotch,
palm facing backwards.

As if taking a sword from a scabbard
on your left hip,
you pull the sword out with your right hand
come across yourself in the front,
and end up pointing
the sword to the sky
directly above your right shoulder.

the upright
end play with the lesson is this:
on knees, upright,
right arm going in circles either backward,
or forward at your side.

The lie down version,
my cutting to what I think is the chase:

One right side,
knees bent,
left hand standing in front of chest,
right arm hand down in crotch area.

Play first just with extending
so knees are straight down from spine,
as in the standing on knees position above.

Then use this extented knees/ thighs
arched back position,
to bring the right arm
under the body and in circles
this way
and that.

Obviously it's a big lesson,
and a hugely valuable one,
and begins to show how much mileage
we can get from working on the "downside"
parts of us,
those the are often "trapped"
in babies,
and in our habits
are "trapped"
out of our awareness.

just the start.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mysticism, the work of Idries Shah, letter to feldie forum

When I first read Marty' s Mystical remark,
I thought of a couple of things,
and then thought the world could live without those

That is probably still an accurate guess,
but since Jeff's delightful threading in these waters,
here goes:

1. The Sufis have a strong and clear teaching about
avoiding and/or leaving behind mystical experiences,
for many of the reasons that Jeff mentions,
and most importantly, that they keep a person back from
real development.

Quotes below.

2. Not too long ago I was receiving a lesson from Marcie
L., and she asked about the lessons my trainer gave. (Don't guess,
doesn't matter.)
I said, they were amazing, though more mystical than anything.
I didn't mean this as criticism,
but I certainly didn't think of this as praise, since
a this sort of "oh wow" experience, at this point in my learning/ growth,
seems to bring the Functional
Integration lessons to the level of stimulation
rather than information.

3. Idries Shah, burst into the world in the 60's
gifting the world with all sorts of previously hidden
or poorly translated Sufi material.

three main strands:
a. Amazing stories, that operate at many levels. The best, Tales of the Dervishes, is must reading every five or ten years.

b. Explanation and overview and opening view into
the real world of Sufism,
the best book being, The Sufis.

c. The teahouse, underground route to Sufism in the humor
stories (supposedly) of Mullah (not a bad word back then) Nasrudin .
The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin.

4. Some quotes from the Sufis:

(page 375, my old edition, in section, Miracles and Magic):
"This limiting effect of the sense of wonderment
is the reason why Sufi teachers have spoken against
indulgence in the ecstatic experience,
which is only a stage in the development of the Sufi. Lost in awe and wonderment, the Sufi Seeker is halted when he should be going forward
to the realization beyond.
The seeking of temporary (or even permanent) mystical
experience is therefore spoken of as a 'veil.'"

page 380 : "The Sufi's task is to organize himself
as to make possible for the meaningful operation of an organ or perception
and action
which will have a continuing effect."

page 381: "Both high magic and ordinary mysticism,
viewed from this light,
become for the Sufi merely the struggling on of a partial
methodology which will simply reproduce its own pattern.
Unless it evolved far enough to enable it to reproduce more than it inherited,
unless, in fact,
there is a genetic amplification of scope and sufficient power
of reproduction of that scope,
the whole thing is a creaking anachronism."

5. The first story in the Sufis,
called the Islanders,
read side by side
Moshe's beginnings in Awareness Through Movement
about the fate of humanity resting
in whether we will all be fitted nicely to be like
everyone else,
or find the way to become that which we truly could,
makes amazing tribute
to the breadth of Moshe's vision,
and the deal I sometime harp:
the link of Moshe and Gurdjieff
and the slight problem of sleeping me, you, us, humanity.

Chris Elms

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sitting to Standing

One of the great gifts
of Moshe Feldenkrais

was his engineer/ physicist


looking at our bodies
moving in the real world

with real possibilities
and real

the constants of gravity
and a big head at the top
of a long spine
and the big muscles
around the pelvis

being a good three
to start with


if you are sitting:
where is your weight
in this world of gravity?

On your butt.

If you are standing:
where is your weight?

On your feet.

So, sitting to standing
is shifting the weight
from butt to feet,
a movement of the center of mass
of our bodies

try two ways.

At front edge of chair.
Put one hand in your hair.
Bend forward,
Pull your head easily, sweetly,
and down,
as if looking under the chair,

until your weight is clearly over your feet.

Then come to standing.

Put one hand behind your neck,
with fingers as far down
your back as possible,
pointing down.

Warming up,
noticing arching and rounding in your back:
Elbow goes down
and stomach comes in,
elbow goes up,
and stomach comes out.

Do the warm up
feel the weight in your pelvis,
the shape in your spine/ back,
the in or out
of your belly.

Find a place where elbow
is kind of pointed up and forward.
belly out,
the arching shape in your spine,

and from that

bring weight forward to
your feet,
and see if there's a way
you can arch
your back, lift your butt
at just the right time,

just a tinsy little bit,
and raise your pelvis
ever so slightly,
like half an inch,
off the chair.

Go slowly,
back and forth from there.

Take lots of rests
and feel
imagine this through.

Play with two ways:

head down,
and pelvis just barely off chair.

head upish and forward,
and pelvis just barely off the chair.

This is a week's long

Don't rush.

Your patience and curiosity
will be rewarded.


Monday, November 24, 2008

on back, arch, flex, sidebend....learn, learn, learn

starting position
Okay: here's some beginnings to an amazing learning.
These positions
are just places to come to and away from
with awareness

The more of yourself you can feel,
all your bones,
your shape,
what's happening to belly,
to spine,
to breathing,
to legs and arms.

Soft face,
easy neck,
awareness as you go,
not just at end points.

So, above: start with right foot "standing",
left leg under,
left hand behind your head.

arch and twist
Push very easily on your right foot,
and push out your belly,
and arch your back
and twist the right side of your pelvis to the left.

Go back and forth,
many times, between this and the "starting position."

Feel what happens in your spine,
your ribs,
your foot pushing into "ground,"
your belly coming out as your back arches,
your spine twisting also.

Feel, feel, sense, sense, learn, learn.

Rest after 10-20 times
of slowly, learning-ly, pleasurably doing this.

sidebending too
Now, with both hands behind head,
both elbows staying down,
add a sidebending of your head,
nose staying pointing to sky or ceiling,
as you do the movement.

Feel all the above,
plus spine making three
and interesting shapes: arching,
side bending.

Again, 10-20 times, each time learning
a little something more.


fingers in toes
Now, if you can,
take the fingers of the right hand
into the toes of the left foot.

Take your time.

Go toward the foot
as you arch and twist, if your hand needs
some help.

Maybe "cheat" by lifting yourself a little
as per next step.

If you "can't" don't worry.
Imagine it.

Now, combine doing movement #2, the
arching and twisting

with coming back to #1,

and then folding in like this in

Slow, slow,
resist the crank out, sittup urge,
do little,
do 80% of what you think you can.

80% of your "limit"
and 200% of your usual awareness.

This is great learning.
Great spine awakening.
Great awareness awakening.

Do 10-20.


Imagine how this would be
on the other side,
everything reversed.


arm out 45 degrees
Take your right arm out
at about 45 degrees from your body.
Imagine the elbow as a fulcrum for
rolling up.
Push the elbow into the ground a number of times.

roll over elbow to up
This is difficult.
With left elbow behind head, roll over to the right,
weight over right elbow,
head kept low,
left elbow pointing low,
roll over right elbow until you are in this reclining position.

We need another picture here,
of after rolling up,
bringing the right elbow more
under your shoulder to hold you up.

This is to show the people already Feldenkrais
and Anat Baniel practitioners
some possibilities.

For the lay people,
once you are in this semi reclining position,
leaning back on the right elbow,
left hand behind the head,

you arch and
fold your back,

as below pictured

on elbow, other elbow back
your back arches,
your elbow comes back,
your spine twists,
your belly comes out,
your spine lengthens.
And your foot presses down.

Go slowly from this "limit,"
again going to 80%
with 200% awareness,

to the folding in the next

on elbow, leaning forward
Feel the twist,
and what happens in ribs,
and all of your spine,
and your whole shape.

Go slowly, slowly
learn, learn,

aware, aware,


Saturday, November 22, 2008

loving of moving, tuck in/round, and spring out/ arch

folding in,
as in bringing belly in
tilting pelvis toward chin
round the back,
bring arms in

then, rotate to the front,
arch back,
tilt pelvis a little so butt toward head
(just a little)
head upright
spine long
push through feet and hands
and Earth

breathe in,
get ready

breathe out
push out belly
push into ground and hands

brush knee this is called,
one hand pushes forward
one by the other knee

the whole of Tai Chi
except reverse Monkey
can be done as a series
of breathe in, contract, coil, round

and press up and out
expand / push/ pounce

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Round and ready, arch and expand: gardening and life


shovel in




is a sweet chance
to see
if all the rolling
around on the floor,
and working in chairs
and this and that

can translate
to the "real" world
of action

like martial arts,
a chance to move our big muscles

unlike martial arts,
a way to feed ourselves
and connect to the Earth

and a series of photos
hinting at the rounding and breathing in
and loading to use power

then arching, pushing, extending
breathing out
using power

a hint of the usefulness
of doing both sides
in gardening

one sided lessons amazing on the floor,
but "out in the world"
we tend to get stuck in a pattern

I like 3 right handed digs
right foot in, hold shovel nearer
the end with right hand
and then three left foot left hand

dig left foot

19, rounding to get

ready left hand forward

throwing, left hand nearer

the change helps
me not "go to sleep"
as I enjoy
moving soil rather than
fighting to get it done

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Five lines of our us, six directions of our spine

we sit in a chair

five lines:
two legs, can we sense them,
five toes each side, usually
the calf, the knee, the thigh
the hip joint

sense both legs,
heels, ankles
both legs all of them

two arms
more digits,
fingers this time
all of them
and the hands
and the wists
you know the parts,
all the way to the shoulder socket

where do these guys fit:
sense the spine pelvis ribs shoulder blade

might as well throw
in awareness of the head
and the end of the spine

that's us

that's a lot

and sitting:

on what?

where are we balanced
out with gravity?

and the directions of the spine:

the earliest
the fetus:

1. bending our spine in a C pointing forward
mid back back
pelvis rotating forward at bottom part
sternum down
head forward

sort of the slump thing
and it could be a lengthened
C forward

can we do it
both ways

2. the easiest for the spine
wrists behind head
if we can
or back of hand to opposite cheek
and rotate,
feel the spine shifting
one vertebrae atop another,
rotate right

3. rotate left

what's left?


4. C pointing backwards
belly forward,
arching back
looking up in a lengthening way
not shortening neck
butt rotating up toward back of the head
breathing soft
rotating to front side of pelvis
feel us
getting taller


5. wrist again behind head
or hands interlaced
now making side facing

tilting left first
not a pizza tower
but left elbow down
left hip up
shortening ribs over there
and back to center
C pointing left (open part of C)

6. open part of C to the right
right elbow down
right hip up,
shortening R side ribs
lengthening L side,
feel weight coming all
to L side of pelvis

and sitting
5 lines
6 spine moves

this can be a little
a lot
of awakening of awareness


Friday, November 07, 2008

Awakened Movement

sukha party

To move


To move

to be alive

To move

to move toward
or away
from various things in life

To move

a chance
to dance

To dance

a chance
to express
our life,
the joy
the other stuff

And what would awakened movement
be like?

A chance
to move dance
and motion
in ourself
in a slow
and aware way

or even,
after we've gotten the sense
and feel of it,
a fast
and aware way

to move so we know
how we are moving

and can slop
change directions

while we move

A nice state,
a nice practice

I think

Then again
are just

And experience
is all
we can
really know.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

skeleton, halloween, five lines, death, happiness and so on

on belly over table

Once we were born
Someday we die

long time
in skeleton-land


spine holds up head
arms off shoulder things

legs off pelvis thing,
at hip joints

if sitting:
we are sitting on the pelvis thing

sense that

move and
and love
from there:

grab someone cute
and have some fun:

now we are alive

we'll be dead


(for waking up)