Saturday, April 24, 2010


Day One: Awaring our Life
We are alive. Miracle. Gift. Burden. Curse. Blessing.
Call it anything you want, and still this is the fundamental of being who we are: we are alive.
This is a book of 108 ways to feel more alive, to connect to joy and skill and learning and ease and pleasure and happiness in our lives.
Today we’ll start with the basic: see how often and how enjoyably you can waken out of your ongoing set of activities and remember: this is me, this is my life, I am alive.
In this moment, I am alive. In this moment you are alive.
Feel what it feels like in this moment (yes, this one, while you are reading this page, or listening to this page.).
Both kinds of feeling: the emotional feeling, how do you feel.
The sensory feeling: what can you sense in your breathing, or torso, or arms or legs or spine or eyes or smile or toes or fingers about how it is to be you right now.
This is the game of today: wake up to the now of being alive. Sense and notice and feel what it is like, how the experience of you being you is going.
Notice yourself as a living being.
As much as you can, remember yourself. Do this in pausing to come back to awareness. Do this as an undercurrent of awaring while you are going about your daily life.

This is a wonderful start, and it could carry us all the way to an amazing new life, or an amazing deepening of all the wonder and joy in our present life.
Day Two: Breathing, Feet & Eyes
To be alive is to be in an amazing world. A world very different from the world of the womb, where there was no gravity, no light, we didn’t breathe air.

And so this is today’s game: to sense our feet. If we are walking or standing, we can feel our feet pressing into the ground, the floor, the Earth. If we are sitting, we can have our feet on the floor and sense them pressing even a little into the ground. If lying, or all comfortable in some laid back position, we can still sense our feet.
What does sensing mean? To feel the physical sensations of a certain part of ourselves, the bones and the muscles and the blood and fluids, and even the nerves if we can. The skin, and what’s inside the skin and what the skin is touching.
Sensing is the basis of movement and all the learning that was so crucial in our transition from more or less helpless baby, to walking and talking and functioning child. Sensing is why we like a warm bath, or a sunny day, or love making.
Sensing helps us make sense of our lives.
Sensing brings us back to the non-verbal experience of ourselves in the present.
So part one of today’s game: sense our feet.

Second part, we can feel and notice and enjoy our breathing. Try this right now, feet being sensed and breathing noticed and sensed. It’s a lot, and boy does it bring us to now.

Third part, add on the light coming in the eyes. What are we seeing, not as words about what we are seeing, but as pure sensation now.

This is a lot, these three are a miracle. Enjoy the miracle. Give it a sweet go and be nice to yourself when you forget, and very happy when you remember.
Day Three: Look at a Tree
Nature is out there, waiting for us to take a walk and enjoy her.
Or, nature is with us every moment, since each breath we take in brings the good old familiar to the point of being forgotten AIR into our lungs. Air is the environment, we breathe the environment, we breathe the air.
We are nature, our bodies are part of nature, and out there, outside, we can see a tree.
We can look at a tree.
We can enjoy this.
If we slow down and just look at the tree, we very often find a calm and sweet place in ourselves.
Because we are nature and looking at a tree reminds us of the life that we are gifted with.
Because a tree might slow us down and remind us that we are rooted in the Earth and rise to the Heavens.
Because we don’t have any expectations of a tree, we can love it easier. What does that mean? We don’t want it to love us more, or respect us more, or lose ten pounds, or “be there for us.” We are pretty clear that it just is what it is.
So we can love it.

Today’s game: look at some trees and feel, sense, realize how letting the tree “be what it is” makes loving it so easy.
Do this a little.
Do this a lot.
Enjoy the trees in your world, and if it’s winter and you are in some place with no trees, find anything else living, and see it as “just what it is,” and see if the love rises in your easily.

Day Four: Lying on the Floor
Gravity is a constant in our lives, until we do into outer space, or maybe when we have lucid dreams and can fly.
And on two feet gravity is amazingly complex and we have amazingly figured it out, and most of us have no idea of how amazing that is.
And if we sit down, gravity is a little easier to negotiate.
And if we lie down, say on our backs, it is as if our whole back is our feet. It’s easy. We can’t fall. We are safe. Our brains are free to pay attention more easily and clearly.

What are brains for?
The perception of differences.
Creating order out of disorder.
Creating pathways of action that can enable us to fulfill our intentions.
Brains are amazing, perhaps the most amazing thing in the Universe.
So today’s game: notice little differences in your life, differences that you might otherwise have missed.

Start this way: lie on your back. Raise your left foot, so that the foot is “standing” near your right knee, but over to the side a bit. Left foot on the floor or ground, left knee toward the ceiling.
Begin to rotate the left side of your pelvis to the right, keeping the right side on the floor. Do this three ways: starting this movement in your pelvis. Starting by push your left foot into the ground. Starting somehow from your lower back.
Push your lower back and stomach forward (toward the sky) as you do this movement many times.
Go slow. Notice differences in your spine and ribs and breathing as you go through the movement. Rest after a number of times and notice the difference in your two sides. Notice the difference in your sensing of the floor. All day, notice differences.
Day Five: Five Lines, Fully Alive
Double day, amazing day, dig in, learn, thrive, fail or not fail, learn. Love the learning. Thrive.
Here’s one half of the game: feel your life. Feel being alive. Contemplate and see if you can sense at a deep and non-verbal level what it feels like in you, in the present, to be Fully Alive.
How does this feel in your breathing, and your eyes and your brain and your legs and your spine and your arms. How does this feel in your heart? Soul?
I’m pretty sure fully alive doesn’t mean being good, but it could well mean feeling of good cheer, even underneath almost anything else.
Check it out for yourself.

And two, let your love of now, and love of life expand to sensing your five lines. Which are?
Think of yourself as a children’s drawing of a person: stick line for the spine, nice round head at top, with smiling face, two lines out for the arms, two lines out for the legs.
This is your five lines: two arms, two legs, spine plus head.
That’s the double yummy for today of being fully alive: add to this feeling and exploration of this feeling, an ongoing sensing of both legs, both arms and your spine and head.
Sensing your arms can start at the shoulders and come all the way to each finger tip.
Sensing your legs can start in your hip joints (one leg at a time is the best way to fill in this awaring), and sense all the way out to each toe. We often forget our wonderful and amazing toes.
Hip joint to toes, knees, bones, two in bottom leg, one in top. All that stuff. Sense and enjoy.
Paying real attention to yourself, enjoy. This is you being deeply kind to yourself. You are worth it. Enjoy the learning and the peace and power this might bring.
Day Six: Pick up Sticks
Sit in a chair.
Sit up more or less straight. Feel your pelvis at the chair or bench or rock or log below you.
Breathe and feel what that’s like and how that involves or doesn’t involve your ribs.
Lean over and move toward touching the floor. Easy, go a few times, breathe, explore.
Sit up again and rest.

Now, put your right forearm on your left knee, and prop yourself a bit, and from this lower your head and right arm toward the floor. And then come back up, and slowly lower your right hand to the floor, letting your head hang free. (If you are confined to a bed, bring your knees toward the ceiling from lying on your back, and gently move your right hand down your left thigh and then calf.). Take your right hand down your left calf, caressing this and letting your head and eyes look to the left and right , while your neck hangs freely.
Go up and down, and then after twelve or so times, come upright and rest.
Imagine doing this on the other side.
Now do this on the other side.
Now: take your left knee in your left hand and put your right hand behind your head. Gently, gently bring your knee up toward your head. Gently, gently bring your elbow toward your knee. Take turns, elbow down, knee up, both together. Sometime take the hand from behind your head and press on your sternum so it goes down and you lean forward and lower your head and bring your knee up.
Rest. Imagine doing this on the other side.
Put both elbows on both thighs and alternate pushing your belly out and arching your back a bit, and pulling your belly in and letting your sternum go down, and rounding your back as if the look between your legs. Easily. Rest.
Reach down as in the beginning and play with spine and eye awaring all day.
Day Seven: The Kingdom of Heaven
Jesus says, the Kingdom of Heaven is within.
Thich Nhat Hhan says the Kingdom of Heaven is either now or never.
You are alive.
You are here, and each moment of your life is now.
What is being present like for you?
Can you almost as if taste the difference when you are present and when you aren’t?
Is that difference as if you are entering the Kingdom of Heaven, and forgetting it?

Is it for you as if the Kingdom of Heaven, and our true self is always there, waiting for us to return home to it, when we return to the present.

Search this out today, which might require more slowing down and being quiet and going a little or a lot out of the “normal” routine.

See what kind of day a Kingdom of Heaven is found through the door of now day could be.

Eight: Undoing Hate
Sometimes we hate things, or don’t like them, or get angry, or wish fiercely that someone would get the …. out of our life, or at least out of our “space.”
Oh, well. That’s human, if we aren’t perfect yet, and let’s grant ourselves the great joy of non-perfection.
So we hate/ dislike / are annoyed with someone.


Byron Katie, a gal who had a wake up experience from her life as alchoholic, chain smoking, overweight, depressed screaming mother, has developed something called the work of Byron Katie.
The first step is not to be good. To actually get into the judging of others. Get into it and write it down.
Judge your neighbor.
Write it down.
Ask four questions.
Turn it around.

Hmmm. This apparently is not about pretending we are “above” making judgments, since we are asked to judge and write it on down on some paper.
And how do we know we are judging?
When we feel stressed or unhappy.
So, anytime you are stressed or unhappy, write down a should or a shouldn’t about someone else. Forget that you “shouldn’t” have judgments. Just write it down.
And then read it. Slowly. Look at those words.
Are they true, or are they just an opinion.
Begin to play this game today, the write down any judging thoughts and asking: IS IT TRUE? And, hey, why not: sense your five lines today, too. Good.
Day Nine: What to Leave Behind
The house is on fire. You have five seconds to grab two things and get out. What do you take?
The ship is sinking. You jump off. What do you take?
You are leaving this life. You have an hour to look back: what is it you love and are thankful for and cherish as you depart this sweet world?
What are we when our stuff is gone?
Who are we without the words and stories we tell about ourselves?
What is good and sweet and easy and always there for us, with friends, without friends, with money, without money? Who are we?

Who are you?
What is the essence of your life, your You-ness in each and every moment of your life?

This is all today. This is everything today, and any day: who are we, deep and wonderful and miraculously at our core?

Clear and present and sweet inside.
Who are you?

Ponder and sense and breathe into this question today. If the answer comes in words, see if you can find the answer even deeper than words.

Go slowly, even in the midst of all else.
Go slowly, and feel with your being: when you’ve left all the other stuff behind, who are you? Who are we?
Day Ten: 4 questions and a turn around
So we’ve started this game, the Byron Katie what to do about suffering and stress game.
It starts like this: Judge Your Neighbor, Write it Down, Ask 4 Questions, Turn it Around.
The game goes deep, though it lacks the usual complexity of most systems that bring you to freedom (except the BE PRESENT system, the ultimate in simplicity). The Katie game though, goes on like this, with 4 Questions about the thought/ story/ belief/ opinion that is always there behind and tied up with stress and suffering. Take this thought/ story/ belief/ opinion and ask 4 ways:

That’s it for the questions. The turn around is grand, and that’s for another day.

For today play with setting out to be happy and stress free and honest and present all day. From the present and honesty, notice when you aren’t happy, or are in stress. In those moments write down your complaint about reality, preferably in a should or shouldn’t sentence. Write the thought, a sentence, short.
Look at the sentence. See how believing it and being miserable are part of the same package.
Then ask the first two questions: Is it true? And, Can I absolutely know that this thought is true?
So and so shouldn’t have died? Can I absolutely know this is true? I shouldn’t have made that “mistake.” Can I absolutely know this is true? Ask all day, for any and every thought hooked into any and all suffering. Good.
Day Eleven: Back to Heaven
What if heaven is loving What Is?
What would that mean?
Who knows? You will know if you stay in the present and do the work of Byron Katie when we get out of loving the Now.
So let’s learn on forward, like this:
Stay happy and present if you can. And when you can’t, notice the stress and notice the suffering and WRITE IT DOWN.
Look at the sentence you’ve written. Feel and sense your suffering. Begin to get very clear how the two are married.
And today’s game: WRITE IT DOWN each time suffering comes along. Write down the thought/ concept/ idea/ belief/ story. Make sure the sentence is in some way a clear opposition to What Is. A should or shouldn’t in the sentence make this most clear.
And ask the first three questions: Is it true? Can I absolutely know that this is true? And three: HOW DO I REACT WHEN I ATTACH TO THIS THOUGHT?
The reaction is good to write down, writing down a laundry list of all the “benefits” to this thought.
Like this: “So and so should appreciate/ love/ respect/ accept me more.” And the first two questions, True? Absolutely true? Then, the third, when I believe this, I feel….. How? Bad, sad, mad, depressed? What ? And my body gets this way…. And I avoid this person, or snap at that person, and what? And do or don’t do what in my life?
Have the thought written down. Write the list of all the effects of believing in that thought. This is quite the liberating bit of inner knowledge. Here’s what so and so does. Here’s my belief about what so and so did. Here’s my list of suffering from believing that so and so should have been different in that instance.

Start to enjoy how good we are at making ourselves suffer when we attach to certain thoughts.
Day Twelve: Trying out Freedom.
Judge your neighbor. Write it down. Ask 4 questions. Turn it around.
Question 4: Who or what would I be without the story?
Question 4: Who or what would I be without attaching to the thought?
Do it today.
Not “let go” instantly, but do the write down, do the first 3 questions and then go to number 4: test out in imagination how your life would be without the thought, or if the thought is there, without believing in it.

Someone treats you poorly.
Write it down: “So and so shouldn’t have treated me poorly.”
First two questions: Is this True? Can I absolutely know this is true?
3rd Question: when I believe this, what goes on in me and my life.
4th Question: When I don’t believe this, even though “so and so” is still “treating me poorly,” who am I? What am I? What happens inside? How do I feel? What can I see and understand that I couldn’t when attached to the thought?
What openings happen physically when I don’t attach to the thought.

And check this out: there is no rule, as in: “get rid of the thought.”

It’s more like this: notice the difference: You have the story about the world.
One way to go, question 3, believe the thought and….. happens
Another way to go, question 4, don’t believe the thought and …… happens.

Compare the two.
All day: notice, write, ask and compare: Who am I with the story believed? And, Who am I when I don’t believe the story.
Enjoy, learn, thrive.
Day Thirteen: Turn Around One Way
Sit it a chair, on the forward edge of the chair, so that your back is upright and not leaning into anything.
Breathe and feel your feet on the floor and your bottom/ pelvis on the chair and your spine holding you upright.
Now turn to look to the left and to the right, a few times, easily, and slowly, comparing the two directions.
Now rest. Then turn your head just to the left a few times and notice how far you turn by noting what you see at the end of your turning. Go slowly. Don’t strain. Then rest, and turn to the right and see how far you go that way.
Rest again.
Now put your hands on the opposite shoulder, so the right hand is on the left shoulder and the left hand on the right shoulder. In this position, turn your head just left and back to the middle , but allow your chest to turn as if it wants to look to the left, too. Do this a number of times, slowly and without effort.
Rest. Lean back in your chair if you want to in the rests.
Now, come to the front of your chair and put the back of your right hand on your left cheek, and your left hand on the chair behind you. In this position, turn to the left and back to center a number of slow, gentle times. Feel the spine and ribs helping your turn to the left. Rest with hand down and eyes closed and feel yourself in the present.
Now, come to the front again, put your hands as above, and turn to the left and stay there. Begin to turn your eyes left and right a number of times as you stay slightly twisted to the left. Rest.
Now, come to the front and shift your weight from the right side of your pelvis to the left a number of times. Rest.
Now come to the front and put the back of each hand on the opposite cheek, and turn slowly to the left and back to the center a number of times. Then stay to the left with your hands and ribs, but rotate your head a little to kiss first the back of your right hand, then the back of your left hand. Rest.
Now turn both ways and compare the ease and distance to the beginning.
Day Fourteen: Another turn around
Judge your neighbor, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around.
Take any judgment and write it down in a should or shouldn’t form. So and so should be nicer. So and so shouldn’t lie to me.
Do the four questions.
Learn today and play with the turn around.

Like this:
So and so should be nicer to me.
One turn around: I should be nicer to so and so.
Another: I should be nicer to myself.

So and so shouldn’t lie to me.
One: I shouldn’t lie to so and so.
Two: I shouldn’t life to myself.

And for everything:
So and so should love me more.
I should love so and so more. (And you don’t have to live with a person, or even invite them to dinner just because you love them.)
Two: I should love me more.

And this:
So and so should be more present.
I should be more present.

Love and live and learn this.
Have fun, laugh at how human we all are, and come on back to the present, if that feels right and beautiful to you.

Day Fifteen: Turn around again
Sit in a chair and turn easily right and left. Rest. Now just turn to the right and see how easy that is, and how far you turn.
Now, lie down on the floor, ground or a firm bed. Turn your head easily to the right here, and see how easy it is and what is your range. Rest.
Raise your left foot so that the left sole is pressing into the floor, and the left knee toward the ceiling. Push your left foot into the ground and rotate your pelvis to the right and turn your head to the right at the same time. And come back to the middle with both pelvis and head. A number of times, very slowly and very gently.
Rest, which means bring your leg down next to the other one. Feel what is going on inside you.
Now stand the left foot again, and make the same movement, but this time move your head to the left each time your pelvis rotates to the right. And bring them both in synchronous timing, back to the middle and repeat a number of times. Each time try to learn a little more about yourself, and feel and little more ease and pleasure. After many times, rest.
Again stand your left foot, and put your arms toward the sky or ceiling, what we call forward, because if you are standing, this would be forward. Touch palm to palm and keep the arms straight. Now push again the left foot and rotate your pelvis to the right, pushing out your belly as you do this. After a few times with the arms simply pointed forward/ skyward, begin to take your arms three times to the right as your pelvis goes to the right, and three times to the left each time your pelvis goes to the right. Feel the differences.
Go slowly. Don’t push. Feel each time as different. Do many times, and rest.
Now: left foot standing, arms forward as above, and do all this: pelvis to the right with belly pushed out, arms to the left, and head to the right, then slowly bring everything back to the center. Many times. Easy. Joyous. Learning.
And now come to sitting again and turn your head right and left and see if awaring your pelvis and ribs and eyes make this different than before.
Sixteen: Turn Around Again
Someone loves you.
You love them.
Times get tricky and they begin to act in ways that bother and disturb you.
Write down a big list of all the things they are doing wrong.
Read t his list four ways: one, with big seriousness and annoyance at how “bad” and “inferior” they are.
Two: with delight at how human and imperfect they are.
Three: with curiosity about the pain in their lives, or the patterns they are stuck in.
Four: with clarity about how stuck and limited we all are when we act from our patterns rather than the present.

Then do the Work of Byron Katie on each and every flaw of theirs and re-write the list in turn around mode:

So and so is selfish, careless, passive aggressive and sneaky becomes: sometimes at least, I am selfish, careless, passive aggressive and sneaky.

They are you.
You are them.
The trick: to wake up to now, and change ourselves in the moment and have enough humor and wisdom and honesty to ask them in ways they can hear to consider changing. Admitting we do the same nonsense will probably make it a lot easier for the other person to hear.

Love is slowing down.

Learning is slowing down.

Spiritual wisdom often comes from slowing down.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chair lesson, for back ease and neck clarity, and joy of learning

Sitting and twisting in a probably new way

Sit in a chair. Let one elbow and forearm, your left, say, rest on your left knee, so you are bent forward and holding yourself up a bit with this left arm and elbow combination. Now take your right hand and place in behind your head, if you can comfortably do that. If not, put the back of your right hand on your check to the left of your mouth.

Either way, tilt your right elbow up toward the air, toward the sky, toward the ceiling and begin to make circles with this elbow. Imagine a long pencil or pen or feather dipped in ink with which you can paint on the ceiling or the sky. Make a nice circle from the elbow.

Go so slowly that your feel your ribs moving, so slowly you feel this in your pelvis, and so slowly most of all, so that you feel this in your back. Feel an arching when the elbow reaches a certain part of the circle and a folding in your back when the elbow comes to the other side of the circle.

Go slowly enough to notice where your circle gets away from a really round shape. Find the tension or hurry at those points and try to go even slower and with even less effort and see if that will help you draw the circle.

Bring your hands both to your lap and sit up and rest. Feel any changes.

Now, same left elbow down, and right elbow up and make your slow and interesting and pleasurable circles in the other direction

Rest again;

Now, switch arms and do the circle one way a number of times, and then rest, and then the other way a number of times, and rest then.

Feel on this side to a way to feel and connect and as if direct these circles from deep in your lower back and pelvis. Don’t strain. Don’t hurry.

Learn and enjoy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Moving Toes and Heels and hey, what about nowing???

Dogwood in bloom in Sonoma, Ca, in April

Brendan, my son, at the Anat Baniel Method training, Special Needs Children, Segment 4, as part of some 60 people doing grand learning

Movement with attention
is one grand path to feeling
to sharpening up the brain,
waking up to now

Try this:

1. Sit in a chair. Don't lean back. Feel your pelvis against the chair, and your spine holding up your head. Enjoy that. Close your eyes, and sense two arms, two legs, fingers, toes, breathing, and spine.

2. Do this for awhile, as if a meditation.

3. Imagine doing this sensing and awaring all day long.

4. Now, begin to move the toes of your left foot back and forth,
rotating at your heel. Go slowly. Go so slowly that each time you
do this, and do it many times, you can feel and sense and learn something new about your nervous system and your bones and your feet.

5. Take a rest.

6. Now, move the heel of your left foot back and forth (to the left and to the right),
slowly, pivoting on the front part of your foot. Many times, slowly, pleasurably,

7. Take a rest and feel the differences, left to right, and before to now.

8. Come back, if you've forgotten, to being present.

9. Lie on your back, and put both feet "standing," which means the foot is on the floor and the knees are pointed toward the ceiling.

10. In this position, a number of times rotate the toes of the left foot to the right and left. Rest. Then rotate the heel of this same foot. Rest.

11. In the rests, come into a deeper meditation.

12. Bring both feet to standing again, and push up your pelvis into the air. Do this a number of times, more and more arching your back, and pushing out your belly.

13. Rest with awareness and pleasure.

14. Again, feet standing, pelvis up, and bring the toes of your left foot as if for running. Toes on the floor. Put your hands behind your head on the floor, and tilt your whole upper body toward the left, and then back to the middle. It is as if the ribs on your right get longer and the left elbow comes closer, staying on the floor, to your left hip.

15. Rest.

16. Do all of 14 again, and use that to get your left hand to your left heel. Once there, rotate slowly your left heel right and left. See if you can feel the toes pressing the floor most clearly between the big toe and the second toe.

17. Rest. Imagine other moves you could make. Imagine being aware of your ankles and which toes press into the ground as you walk forward today.

18. Get up to standing and go forth to a life of slowing and awaring and happying.


Friday, April 09, 2010

Getting to the toes of the matter, joy life love learning, backs and back to the present, which is always here, just waiting

We walk each day, many times pressing down into the floor and Earth with our feet, and this pushes goes through us all the way up our spine. We usually don’t notice this. We have five toes on each foot. We usually don’t notice this. Today is as good a time as any to begin more and sweeter and happier noticing of these things. And more.

Lie on your back, please on a firm but comfortable surface. A lawn, a wood floor with a carpet or blanket on it, or a very firm bed. Feel your back pressing down. Feel the Earth pressing back up. Feel each leg in the sensing way, sensing the bones and muscles and blood and everything of each leg, one leg at a time.

Then sense your arms, one arm at a time, from finger tips to shoulder blades.

Now sense your spine, along the floor, where does it touch, where does it lift up? Sense the top and bottom and back side and front side of your spine.

Sense your arms and legs and spine and see if your had your toes, as part of that. If not, add them in, and your head and ribs. Sense your whole self on the floor.


Just that much, if you stay present with it, can change your life if you do it a few times a day.

And let’s do more.

Please raise one knee toward the ceiling, so that one foot is as if “standing” on the floor, sole pressing down. Pick either your left leg if you are right handed, or right leg is you are left handed, unless one leg foot toes ankle are in some sort of pain. Then pick the un-pain leg and foot, or the less pain if both don’t feel so great.

Good. Now begin to press this standing foot into the floor, and use this push to raise your pelvis on that side, so it lifts and rotates. Go slow. Only have half the pelvis coming off the floor. The side of the pelvis on the straight on the floor leg side stays down.

Do this slowly, many times, push the foot down, feel the pelvis rotate, feet your back arch.

Many times, each time with a sensing of a different part of you: toes, ankle, knee, hip joint, pelvis, spine, ribs, neck, head, arms. Feel different parts and all of you at the same time if you can.

After many times, say twenty to thirty, take a rest, let your leg down and feel the difference side to side. Rest long enough so that you feel your body and brain integrating what you learned, then raise your same foot to standing.

Throughout this lesson, if will always be this foot. At the end, you can get up and walk around, and feel some big differences and ten or twenty minutes later come back and do all this on the other side. Or right before you go to sleep is a great time to review and redo this lesson on the other side.

So stand the same foot again, and press again, first three times so the your knee falls in toward the middle as you press, and three times so that your knee head out over your foot as you press. Go back and forth three times each way, and sense how this is very different in your hip joint and in your toes.

Rest again and integrate.

Now, stand the same foot again, and from now on in the lesson, press your foot so that the knee is heading toward over the standing foot. Begin to press, and as you press, raise one side of your pelvis, rotate, arch your back, and push your belly out.

Really notice your belly going out on the pushing and arching phase of this movement. And now practice sometimes breathing in as your belly goes out, and sometimes breathing out. Feel the difference. Enjoy both ways.

Rest and integrate.

Always find pleasure and learning in each movement.

Standing your foot again, and press a number of times, knee toward over the standing foot, and belly out, and add this on: for three times, as you press, start the press as you have been all along, in your heel but now for three times, as the back arches and the knee moves a bit down toward the foot, push through the big toe of that foot. Three times. And then three times through the next toe, the index toe. And then three times through the middle toe. Then three times the ring toe. And three times the little toe.

Rest and integrate.

Stand the foot again. Always move slowly, with learning and enjoyment, and finding out about all parts of yourself, not just the toe that is pushing, say. Now, go through the previous movement, but the other way: 3 times the little toe, and so on working your way back to the big toe and sensing ribs and spine and breathing and pelvis as you press through your heel and then the selected toe.

Rest. Enjoy. Breathe. Feel yourself on the floor. Feel differences side to side. Feel differences in your general state from the beginning of this short lesson.

Roll to your side and get up and walk a bit, feeling the lopsidedness and the learning and the amazing results from going slow, from being present, from giving yourself the present of learning.


Enjoy your day, sense your toes a lot, and sometime during the day, go through this game on the other side.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Anti-aging, a beginning discussion, with some personal history stuff

Anti-Aging: What the heck?

What is “aging?”

Obviously, the calendar year keeps moving along and we can only say we are so many “years old,” and this number keeps growing. Fine, but while that happens is it necessary….

• to become more restricted and “creaky” in our body?

• to increase accidents and illnesses?

• to cut ourselves off from new ideas and activities?

• to live in something like a “rut” of established patterns of what we do, who we
associate with, and worst of all, the “thoughts” in our mind?

• to become more limited in our vocal range?

• to no longer skip, hop, jump or run?

• to have habits so deep we don’t even know they are habits?

• to be annoyed by and shy of the “new?”

• in general to narrow the range of movement and thought and feeling and activity to a tight and unchanging range?

The answer is obviously no. No we don’t have to narrow in. No we don’t have to get creaky.

But, even among people who are excited by the new in ideas and the arts, there is often the idea of the body getting more and more “clunky,” if not worse, unless one is willing to engage in endless and strenuous exercise and discipline.

This, luckily, is not so.

I’m a fairly good case study for this. Here’s me, at the top of the page, at 63, doing what I couldn’t at 43. In fact at 43, I could not walk down a wooded hillside where my son and I were camping without his help. My knees were hurting and not functioning that much.

One knee is still in pain in certain positions, but I can do stuff I wouldn’t have imagined back in the wee young days of my forties.

Changing my diet helped.

Doing tai chi helped.

Discovering again Feldenkrais in my 50’s made the huge difference, though. I had gone to Feldenkrais group movement classes in my 30’s and 40’s, often to great benefit, but by my 50’s, “good enough,” as a sort of steady undoing seemed my lot. I was active, even spending a few hours a day creating the 3 acre public garden that became the Sonoma Garden Park, but when I started up yoga in my 50’s, I kept it up as an exercise in doing something I was “bad” at. Lots of pain. Not much gain.

Then, one weekend, I attended a workshop with my yoga teacher girlfriend, where we did 3 movement lessons a day for two days in a row. The girlfriend, who could do almost anything “movement-wise,” felt as if her whole brain had shifted and woken up. I felt, hurrah!, as if I were ten years old again.

Needless to say, when I discovered this weekend was a lead in to a 4 year training to become a Practitioner in the Feldenkrais Method®, I signed up. I discovered things about movement and learning and neck and eyes and ribs and pelvis and knees, yes knees, and feet that I hadn’t even known I’d been craving to relearn. I keep going to what seemed like the source of anti-aging, and though the process was far more complicated than any I’d ever encountered, the joy and delight in how I felt, the enjoyment in learning “thinking” again at a non-verbal level, the delight in so much time spent with other people, all of us present and attentive to ourselves in the moment, was wonderful. Also re-activated was my general enthusiasm to try the “unthinkable,” like running for city council in Sonoma.

Five years later, still hungry to learn, I enrolled in another 4 year program, this time with Anat Baniel. And guess who joined me? The son who’d had to help me down the hill. Anat is an amazing teacher, who some think has taken this work to a new level.
Whatever, this kept my “youth-ing” going, and in my sixties I came to abandoning my Sonoma life and taking an adventure around the country where I lived in Tucson, Arcata, Atlanta, and western Colorado (Gunnison), as well as Orcas Island, while meeting people, practicing my work (this Feldie/ Anat Baniel work, and the Work of Byron Katie, plus coaching in being present and in forgiveness.)

Alright, enough about me.

How could this help you? Whatever age you are, whether you feel like the idea of “anti-aging” and vitality or not, these two methods, Feldenkrais and Anat Baniel can help all of us in all these ways, and more:

• By giving us, over and over, gentle and learnable nonverbal problems to solve (thus skipping all the mental humdrum we’ve accumulated at any age), we reactivate our brains to the learning mode.

• By creating “problems” and helping us discover not one, but a whole range of “solutions,” we begin to learn again about the joy of learning and it’s centrality to our well being.

• By working in the range of ease, and less effort (babies have very little muscle), and slowly, and with attention, we start to re-experience life at the level when we were all pretty much a genius: when as a baby, we went from blob, to rolling over, and sitting, and GI Joe lizard crawling and “normal” crawling, and walking and talking. All actions of immense complexity, that we learned by making lots of “mistakes,” which just means going down pathways were the learning is “this doesn’t work.” This is sweet territory to which to return.

• By creating movement patterns, in movement lessons, where DISCOVERY is everything and “Doing it Right,” is learned to be a dead end, we tap into the learner/ explorer/ discovered in us every night when we dream those crazy dreams.

• By the emphasis on staying with pleasure in our learning, and the pattern of doing something many times, but each time with pleasure and awareness in a different part of ourselves, we activate the joy in life that is our birthright

• By acting and resting and acting and resting over and over in an atmosphere of presence and ease, we come to another aspect of our “real selves,” the one who lives and thrives in the present.

• Learning is fun. Moving in new ways is fun. Fun breeds fun, and in an atmosphere of exploring and discovering and being present, we heighten our sense of fun as something easy and available, not an activity when we use a lot of substances and blow off a lot of steam.

• The process of learning and learning and learning retunes us to a life of vitality, and we somehow rediscover patterns of movement that are easy and pleasurable, patterns of thinking that are easy and pleasurable, and if we are lucky, even patterns of feeling that are easy and pleasurable. And then we are a bit ruined to the falling apart and creaky world of normal “aging,” and find ourselves in the world of learning, and being present and vitality and “anti-aging.”