Monday, July 31, 2006

Monday, July 31: An easier, softer and smarter neck


This is a sample Feldenkrais® lesson. Named after Moshe Feldenkrais, who lived 1904-1984, who was a judo master, a scientist and an inventor, this system improves function and thinking and awareness.

Come to the front edge of your chair. Turn your head easily right and left. Do this with your eyes open and with your eyes closed. See what this is like and notice if you can sense a difference side to side. See if you can go a little slower and a little more mindfully and see what is to enjoy in this simple movement.


Bring your left hand to your nose. Turn slowly and easily to the left and then back to the center. Do this a number of times, each time with more ease and awareness of your whole self, ribs, spine, pelvis, feet, shoulder blades, breathing, tongue, really your whole self.


Bring your left hand back to your nose. Turn half way to the left and stop. Now do an interesting thing: move your nose back to pointing straight ahead and move your hand to the left at the same time. Then bring your nose to the left and your hand until it is forward from your chest, in the direction you are sitting. So your head is going from straight ahead and to the left and back, and so is your hand, but they are going in a cross pattern with each other. Do this slowly and enough times so ii becomes easy and interesting.


Hand to nose again. Come half way again to the left. Now keep the hand right here and move your head to the left and then past your hand until you are pointed with your nose straight ahead. And dig this: keep your eyes on your hand, which isn’t moving, as your head goes right and left past it. Go slow. Sense. Breathe. Don’t demand you learn instantly. Go slow enough and small enough and with less effort, so learning can take place.

Rest. So learning can integrate.

Hand to nose. Halfway to start. Hand left as nose goes right and vice versa, and the eyes keep following your hand. This is difficult, and so learn about how you react to difficult learning challenges. And then go small, go slow, go with breath, come to learning and ease.


Now turn your head, sans hand, right and left. Notice the differences.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Saturday, July 29: Breathe in, breathe out



Breathe out.


What if these were the same length? A count of four or three or seven, say? Four steps, or four heartbeats. Or six steps or five heartbeats. Or six pedals around on the bicycle. The rhythm of life, the sweet rhythm.

Breathe in.

Pause the same length of time.

Breathe out.

Pause the same length of “time.”

What “time” if we are right here, now?

Sensing our selves, our connection to gravity.

Alive in the moment, what more do we need?

Breathe in.


Breathe out.


Sensing this moment,

this beautiful moment

and the life

our life


Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday, July 28: Awareness, the ongoing sleep and the Feldenkrais possibility

Awareness is really cool and we are so disconnected from it. Our attention is hooked into habitual grooves and these grooves keep us eating and going to the bathroom and getting dressed and going to work and driving to the store and shopping and coming home and having a family and raising kids and having arguments and going to movies and talking walks on the hillside and typing in to the computer and reading words in a book or on a computer, all of this we can do in a state of semi-sleep.


And the wild thing about this is, just as in our night sleep we don’t know we are dreaming when we are dreaming (usually), so in our day “sleep,” we don’t know we are missing the moments as we are living them. How can we know that we are missing them?

This is how: come to this moment and notice how it is different, more bright and clear and vital than the moments where we were not present. And then we have this terrible realization: I just missed the last two hours or two years or twenty years of my life without being present to my life.

This can be discouraging enough so that the temptation is quite strong to just fall back under to the ongoing sleep. We can talk to our friends and acquaintances and be asleep, earn a living, walk the dog and be asleep, talk on the cell phone and drive and be asleep, type at the computer or read a book and be asleep. We can function.

We can react. Someone steps on our toe. We scream. Someone cuts us off on the freeway, we fume. Someone “insults” us, we feel hurt or angry or snap back. All sorts of ping-pong reactions can go on that make our days different one from an other. If we go to a foreign country or go camping or do almost anything out of our routine, we start to notice the world freshly, in the moment. We almost wake up, at least we are interested. This is why vacations are so nice.

And the real question in this: a vacation from what?

Really, it’s a vacation from our disconnection to the present that we need, a vacation from being continually in a semi-panic mode, since we are always keying up for what comes next. We are always impatient, because now is just a stepping stone to something else, which means we are almost always impatient, unless we are zonked out at a movie or in front of a television, or busy stuffing food or alcohol or coffee into our systems. We rush and then get exhausted and hide from our exhaustion in “entertainment,” or overeating, or stimulants, or emotional states or yapping endlessly on our ubiquitous cell phones.

And so this is what the vacation that we need is all about. The vacation we really need is a vacation from impatience. In other words, I don’t have to hurry to finish typing these words. You don’t have to hurry to finish reading them. I can follow my breathing and enjoy my connection to self and gravity as I type. You can follow your breathing and enjoy your connection to self and gravity as you listen or read.

And then I can get up and do something and really be there with it, and so can you.

And what does that have to do with Feldenkrais®? Lots, it turns out.

One. If we are making slow and non-habitual movements, we have something that we can and almost have to pay attention to in the moment. “Lift the head up and down,” and we can crank that out like zombies. “Lift the head and eyes up and down slowly, and put awareness as well on your breathing and your ribs and your pelvis and your vertebrae all up and down your back.” Hmm. That’s a lot to ask of a zombie. We might actually have to wake up to notice that.

“Lift and lower your head with awareness on ribs and spine and pelvis and move your eyes in the opposite direction. Which is to say, as you lift your head, let your eyes look down toward your belly, and as you lower your head, let your eyes look up toward your forehead. Follow and soften your breathing as you do this.”

Aha, we have here nothing short of an invitation to wake up to the present, at least for a little while. (To hear people go into yammer mode after lessons is to be aware that the awareness is ephemeral and requires an ongoing effort, something we all dislike.)

Two. Our brains were designed for a couple of things. They are in charge of balancing out and intercommunicating with the liver and the lungs and the heart and the spleen and keeping all that inner machinery going. When we were babies, milk into our mouths turned into fuel for our cells and poop for our rear ends without any awareness on our part. However, if we wanted to get across the room, or roll over, we need to learn these activities. This seems “obvious” (in an elusive sort of way to most people, and us too, much of the time), the ability to crawl or roll over or come to sitting from lying on the floor. But once upon a time, we had to learn all that. We didn’t learn from a book, nor from instructors.

This is another huge use of our brain. We learned by trying this and that, just for the sake of trying this and that to see what happened, or how it felt , or what it was like. We had a lot of awareness and we weren’t really trying to roll over or to crawl, but we did want to move across the room, we did want to reach something that rolling over could really help achieve.

We learned by moving, by experimenting, by discovering. We learned by a combination of awareness and playfulness and earnest exploration. This was handy for us. This was us at our best in learning. This is our heritage: to move and be aware and explore and discover. This was using our brains to get smarter and move more easily and elegantly in the world, not to show off, but to live more. Life was exciting and we could get more of it if we moved better. Yippee, help me learn brain. And the brain did, and loved it. And awareness was a huge part of that learning, the biggest jump in learning we would ever make in our lives.

Awareness is a big part of our make-up when we are small. With it we transform ourselves from helpless blobs to mischievous imps, getting into everything and starting to talk and scramble around in the verbal world.

Unfortunately, once we start to talk, the giants start to train us in their ideas of what the world is about, so our hands move from delicate and miraculous objects of adoration, exploration and manipulation, and become “hands,” the word. Our eyes become “eyes,” and that blue stuff up above becomes the “sky.” We get tuned into and trained into a cultural understand of ourselves and the “world,” and we lose that vibrant connection to learning and awareness and exploration.

Anyway, Feldenkrais work brings us back to the ground, back to wiggling and exploring the pieces of crawling and rolling over and what is it like to put weight through our skeleton against gravity? We take ourselves back to the beginning, when we didn’t know so much, and hence, not knowing much, had a world of learning ahead of us. A “hand” becomes a hand again, and a “spine” as real spine, with lots of vertebrae we can become aware of and learn about as we move them this way and that.

Three. The Feldenkrais Method®. I’ve come to discover, is a learning system. Moving is the means, but learning is the core. And learning is being aware of new information and knowing that there is a difference about this new information. To learn, real learning, not rote learning, we have to wake up and notice what’s going on. This is why we all love the Hollywood movie, where the type A man or woman, who always does things a hard and fast and rigid way, gets broken open into learning by heartache, or being turned into a child, or having to dress in the opposite sex, or being stuck in some radically new situation with some radically different person. The type A sort wakes up, sees the world in new way, falls in love, it’s all so groovy. Of course, a month later, they are probably back in a rut, maybe a new rut, but let’s let Hollywood keep alive an important myth: people can change.

It’s a myth that points to a possibility. People can transform their lives.

It’s hard, but not impossible.

I’ll posit this, though: without awareness we can not change. Changing ourselves, improving either our tennis or our relationship or our walking, all this is impossible without awareness.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thursday, July 27: the Advantages to having a Grumpy Mom

The main advantage is that I get to practice what I preach, which is dong the Work, when people don’t give you what you want. ( Is it true Mom shouldn’t be grumpy? No. How do I feel when I attach to that belief? Bad, sad, mad. Who would I be without the myth that Mom shouldn’t be grumpy? Happy, free amused. What’s the turn-around: I shouldn’t be grumpy about Mom being grumpy).

My mom loves to be disapproving. She can’t help it. It’s what makes the robot in her happy, or, more truly (and sadly), it’s how she was treated when she was young.

Oh, well. Much as we can wish for a nice parent, or that our parents had experienced pleasant childhoods, or that we had experienced total childhood bliss, the way the world work is that usually this isn’t the case. At least not in our fragmented world, based on accumulating stuff and obsessed with surface and fear oriented Western so-called “civilization.”

Anyway, back to good old Mom. I was thinking about how I keep suggesting that she try out a Feldenkrais class in Awareness Through Movement down where she lives and she keeps pooh-poohing it. The conditioned me could take offence, and the happy me just smiles and breathes and wonders: what would it be like to be so uncurious?

Life must be hard for her and a lot of people, afraid to try something new that a friend or a child is enthusiastic about.

The reason I’m with Marlie is that someone I barely knew came out and helped out at the garden I was developing and then after that said she was going to yoga and did I want to come. I’d never in a million years thought about doing yoga, but what the heck, she asked, so I’ll give it a try. I was terrible at it and thought that was interesting and decided to stick out something I was terrible at. I got better. Marlie was one of the yoga teachers. We got to be friends. And then more.

And if Mom tried Feldenkrais she couldn’t be terrible at it, since it’s always about exploring what you can do and discourages people from stressing and efforting. It’s about the mind and discovering and it’s fun and you feel so much more alive and connected and present after a class. And poor old Mom is missing all that.

Oh well.

And that’s her business, eh? If I get into her business and think she should be curious and learning and happy in the ways I am, shoot, I’ll end up grumpy, too.

And that won’t be any fun.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wednesday, July 26: Happiness even inside Unhappiness

The deep work is this: even when we are unhappy, to find the happiness inside that.



And I’m not talking about being happy that we are suffering, as if our suffering is a punishment we deserve. This actually goes on a lot: we don’t accomplish something and then beat ourselves up about it as if that’s the way to make some invisible Judge happy.

Forget the judge. Or do the Byron Katie work with the judgment. For now, though, consider this possibility: even when you mind is railing away at you, and your body is feeling that constricted and sloggy feeling we feel when we feel bad, that you can sense some calm and still and serene place inside all that, and that place is happy.

Happy to be alive.

Or happy because that’s what it always is.

Or happy that you came home to your core and discovered yourself.

Or happy because happy isn’t even the right word for it, since there’s no word, or some combination of peace and ease and release and love and gratitude and joy and happiness is all there, always, waiting for us in our core.

Wouldn’t that be nice? Or: isn’t that nice?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tuesday, July 25: Five questions to lead us closer to us

Sometimes the Body Talk can be done over distance, and my happiness and life enhancement and Byron Katie work can all be done over the phone.
Here’s a preview I request that people do, which is actually a fun way to spend 10 minutes.

Find a timer, and write, fast without stopping to think or correct spelling or make it logical or neat or anything, for two minutes each on the following:

1. What’s bothering you in your life now?

2. What you like about life now?

3. What do you notice in the present?

4. What is your dream?

5. If you can write anything now, what would you write?

If you were doing long distance work, I’d have you email this to me, with a picture of yourself and a picture of some nice spot in nature from which you could (and are requested to) do the work while talking on a cell phone if you have one. I’d require one of those phones that has the cord to a little speaking dealie, so you can have both hands free while we talk. Me I don’t have a cell phone, so I couldn’t work with me in nature, but then again, since I am me, I can just go out and nature and skip the cell phone.

If this seems fun: try this 10 minutes of scrawling exercise. I’m going to go do it now before I post this, in case it’s really hard or weird in some way that’s not obvious.

(Back from trying this out.)
Okay, glad I did that. I’d recommend this: between each question, close your eyes, sense yourself, and follow your breathing. If you hand is tight from fast writing, slow down a bit next question and give your fingers a little sweet massage before you start up again. This old, “getting things done” thing is really in us, or me at least.

If you are able to write with both hands, try doing the what you like question and the what is your dream question with your non-dominant hand.

Don’t take huge breaks between sections, but if the mood strikes you, go find another place to sit or lie or stand if that is your mood before the next question. Enjoy this as a short and easy tapping in to yourself and what’s important to you.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Monday, July 24: Rotation, Feldenkrais, Pleasure and Learning

A baby doesn’t have a plan: (“ By six months I’ll learn to roll over and begin to crawl.”) Most times the child doesn’t even see crawling. All the giants are doing the walking thing, which is just some part of the world to the child, like trees and walls. It has no idea it might walk, or crawl or roll over or sit up someday. But the child loves to learn, loves to experiment and comes equipped with a brain whose main job is to make order out of chaos, to make sense out of nonsense, to discover ways of moving that bring that baby a more interesting and satisfying life. Hands and arms wave around, and suddenly, a hand gets to the mouth. The second time this happens, it is no longer chance and learning takes place and all sorts of possibilities open up: fingers to chew, stuff to bring to the mouth, lips to wiggle, sounds to play with, who knows, when learning takes place, the skies the limit.

Same with this Feldenkrais work. You won’t be taught the “right” way to do anything, unless you have a poor teacher, and there aren’t many. You will be given opportunity after opportunity to discover ways of moving that are natural and clear and pleasurable.

So let’s play with an example of learning, and discovering the blueprint of how we, as a species, evolved to move gracefully and pleasurably and efficiently, where efficiency isn’t some robot kind of thing, but less effort, no wasted energy, a smooth path of action, which is why this sort of efficiency blends over into pleasure: it feels great to do something as we are meant to move.

One: Sit in a chair, comfortably and at the front edge of the chair at the same time. Feel your pelvis resting on the chair, and holding up your spine. Feel your head held up by your spine. Close your eyes and turn your head gently to the right and to the left. Does it feel different turning to one side than the other? Does one way seem easier?

Now come to the center and rest. Close your eyes. Breathe. Notice the moment and give your brain and nervous system a chance to rest. Enjoy the rests and enjoy the movements. This is your life.

Two: Now turn your head just to the left. And then back to the center. Do this a number of times and allow other parts of your self to come into your awareness. Your ribs. Your spine. Your breathing. The distribution of weight on your pelvis. The various vertebrae of the neck. Do this movement six to eight times, easily and with pleasure and awareness.

Rest, as per above.

(You can read one paragraph at a time. Recall it and do that much, or have someone read to you, or record this and then listen to your recording.)

However you do this, make the movements slow and full of awareness. Do each movement with attention and curiosity, letting go the “I know how to do this” way of thinking/being.

Also, and this is very important: keep the movement comfortable. Don’t go to your limit. Don’t stretch. Don’t try to impress some imaginary yoga teacher. Give information to your brain and your self by moving slowly and with awareness so you can feel, RIGHT NOW, IN THIS MOMENT, what it is like to be you and alive and doing this movement.

Three: Now, bring your left hand to your nose, and turn your head and finger and left arm to the left and back to the center a number of times. At least six to eight, but up to twenty or thirty if you are really enjoying this. Go slow. Mind-full means your movement is filled by your mind. Notice all the while as background grounding your breathing and your connection to gravity in your pelvis and your feet and your spine.

Enjoy this. Happiness now, remember? Why not? You don’t have to “get” anything out of this. Just move slowly and don’t strain and stress and you’ll be happy. If your neck is sore and you can only move it half an inch, fine, the brain is interested in differences, not in big deals. If you can’t move your neck even half an inch, maybe you should call a Feldenkrais practitioner like right this minute, checking out the website to find one. Otherwise, proceed and enjoy.


Four. Did I mention that you can do this in your mind, if your neck is really sore? That’s another possibility. Just visualize doing the lesson and you’ll get benefits and enjoyment. Okay: now put your left hand or some finger back on your nose and turn about half the rotation you have been doing. Look where you are looking and see what is halfway just now. It might change. Now, staying with your head facing as it is and bring your hand, at nose level ( if that’s hard, bring it lower) to the right so it comes to the front again, and then in front of your nose and to the left.

This is interesting, and maybe “difficult,” but only in the part of us that gets to learn. Goodie. Your head and eyes stay focused and fixed, and your hand goes to the left of your face and to the right, back and forth, easy and gently. Be nice to yourself. Be nice to your now. Your now is sacred. It’s you.

Feel this three different ways. Feel this as moving your hand from front to the left and back to the front. Feel this as moving your elbow right and left. And feel this as moving your shoulder right and left. Go slow. Breathe. Notice. Be here now. Enjoy.


Five. Put the hand at the nose, turn halfway again, and leave the hand there, while turning the head, your head, your one and only noggin from facing forward to facing to the left. I.e. keep the moving on your left side, and just move your nose right and left, and leave your hand at the halfway point.

Never do this more than is comfortable and enjoyable. If you get in stress after four movements, rest and then do a few more. Always do at least six, and as I said before you can do twenty or thirty if you wish. With all the movements explore what else you can bring into this present based world: spine, ribs, shoulder blade, jaw, breathing, arm bones, pelvis, legs, feet.


Six: Bring your hand to your nose, or mouth, and move to the halfway place. Stop. And only move your eyes left and right. Breathe. Make this easy. And aware. And enjoyable.


Seven: Come to halfway again, and look at what you see in that direction. Keep your eyes focused that way and move your hand and head back and forth, rotating right and left.


Eight. Come to halfway with hand and head, and move your head to the right and your hand to the left, and your head back to the left and your hand to the right. Go slow. Sense all of this. Breathe. If it’s “hard” then learning is taking place. Learning is fun, though sometimes frustrating at first.


Nine: Extra credit and fun. Do the previous movement, and follow your hand with your eyes. So, head left, hand right, eyes left in one part of the movement, and then head right, hand left and eyes right in the next. Go slow. Do a little tiny movement. Small is good. Slow is good. The brain loves learning and notices difference. It doesn’t want big deals. It doesn’t want you to hurt yourself. Rest if you are frustrated. Do a very small movement, very slowly and learn not only how to do this, but how to breathe with and enjoy this.

This is creating new neural pathways in your brain. This is real learning, as opposed to sitting around and letting someone’s words blah, blah into your head.

Ten: turn your head to the right and left. Which is easier? Which way goes more:? Which way is softer and more pleasant.


That’s learning, that’s enjoyment, that’s a big chunk of what a good life is all about.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

It's Hot

It is hot, yes

And that's the way it is.

I can chose to complain,
or I can chose the experience.

Either way, it's going to keep
being hot.

Oh, well.

Or, maybe:
what about the fun
of sweating:
no need for Bikram yoga
for this kid
this afternoon.

Free detoxing
or something like that.

Either complain,
or enjoy.

With three choices
we are free.

Two is getting there,
three or more is free.


Sunday: July 23: Quickie

Fast Feldenkrais
since I don't have a bunch of time
this morning.


Move your head easily right and left.

Move your knees easily right and left.

Move your eyes easily right and left.

Move your knees right and head to the left,
and head to the right and knees to the left.

If you want to get fancy,
move your eyes the same way as you
move your knees,
which will be opposite the way
your head is moving.


Just move your head right and left.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Saturday, July 22: What is real? A mini-response

Who knows. Or, let’s start with the basics:

On this Earth, we have sunlight. That fuels our days.

The Earth rotates. We have night when we are in the shadow. That makes our nights.

Pick up a leaf, let it go. It flutters to the ground. Gravity is real. No one knows “what?” gravity is, and yet, until we go up into outer space: gravity is a primary influence in our lives.

We started as babies, blobs on the Earth. Set us down on our backs and we don’t know what to do. We try this, we try that, we rest, we sleep, we eat, we shit and pee, we move this, move that.

We learn. Human brains are for learning. We started out not knowing how to crawl, or sit up in gravity, or stand in gravity, or walk in gravity. We learned. Learning is real and the distinguishing characteristic of the human species. A dog in Brazil, meeting a dog in Canada, has no communication problems.

Humans learned a language. A big deal saint in India that Marlie and I are interested in because he suggests fun things like sticking your thumb on the Earth for as long as it takes to do a certain chant ( see a couple of days ago) 108 times (about an hour for me, less for Marlie), this guy didn’t talk the first seven years. He had better things to do.

This is also real: there is a world of words and there is the directly sensed world, as in the feel of my feet on the floor right now, as I knowing, when I inquire with my attention, where my elbows are in relation to my pelvis. This is real. Or real enough. You can get into atoms are empty so nothing is anything, but what planet is that about? You sit on a chair, the “chair” is not real, and maybe even the thing that gets called the chair is full of empty space, and still: you sit on it, and if you miss, plop, down you fall to the ground, gravity again.

What else is real?

Who knows.

Maybe happiness. Maybe love. Maybe a quiet peace when we let go or don’t believe in or laugh at our stories and thoughts and beliefs. In silence is a great deal of wisdom. Inside there is a vast richness.

This can be experienced. The experience is real. The words here on this page: a suggestion, marks of light on dark, or dark on light. How does the brain know the letters: noticing differences.

What do brains do? Notice differences. Co-ordinate this and that. Discover the easiest way to do something. Get stuck in habitual patterns. Rise to the occasion and discover new ways, sometimes.

How to set up our lives so we keep giving ourselves enough stress so that we have to rise to the present and to learn, to take the delight of “I don’t know,” and discover something we didn’t know? Good question. Too much stress and we crumble. Not enough stress and we are lazy and worthless, like most of the “civilized” world, afraid to walk, or move in nature if it’s too hot or too cool. This veers off into a habitual rant of mine.

Is “lazy” real?

Who knows.

Is talking a walk in a sweet and cool morning and looking at the sky and seeing it without any words for what we are seeing, is that real? I think so.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday, July 21: Happiness and sin and Now

Is our birthright
Does that mean we are
Capital W
We aren’t happy?


It just means we
are off the mark
which is the original definition of
means missing the mark

So being unhappy is a sin
against our original nature

Of course,
If some asshole is bombing us
we can be unhappy
about the whole human

Why do we bomb each other?
Because we are unhappy.
Why are we unhappy?

That’s a big question
Much of the answer is about
Coming home

To breath

To the present

To seeing the beauty around us

To tasting the sweetness of life

Happy Friday

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Thursday, July 20: Helping the Earth

What can we do? Lots it turns out. To some it might seem “hard,” and to others a great liberation, and to all, eventually, these changes will be a great blessing, since they all involve living at a rate that is conducive to presence and happiness.

This is what our life is, living moment by moment. When we rush through our days, always thinking of the “next thing” we need to get done, we end up exhausted, and having racked up a lot of carbon producing miles on our cars. The suburban myth is that if you drive around enough, shop enough, take your kids to enough “activities,” then you’ll be happy. But is it true?

Think back on what made you the happiest in the last year. Was it rushed moments? Was it peaceful times in nature? Was it pleasant times with friends? Was it a quiet moment when you actually watched the joy with which a child was playing some spontaneous game? Or even a moment when you opened up to some spontaneous game.

This is what can heal the Earth, if humanity can turn its back on quantity and return to the quality of our lives, in the moment.

Which means: driving less. Feet are meant for walking. Bodies are meant to move. Eyes are meant to scan the horizon as we walk outside in the real world. Give yourself this treat. Skip the weird idea of driving to somewhere else to take a walk, or somewhere else to exercise, especially in so small a town as Sonoma. Walk to the bike path. Or walk near where you live. Walk or ride a bike to the gym. Walk to the Overlook Trail, or ride a bike. Walk to work, or take a bike. How many days can you go without being in a car?

It will take a little longer. It will give you a chance to breathe real air, to move your body in a leisurely and human way. It will give you a chance to think, especially if you are kind enough to yourself to leave off the cell phone, or don’t even take it while you walk. What’s the sense of chattering away while you could be looking at sky and leaves and grass and other people? You don’t need to know where everyone else is and everyone else doesn’t need to know where you are.

Learn to be happy. Or more happy.

This is the most subversive activity we can undertake. The major destroyers of the Earth: wars, and too much stuff, and driving too much all come out of people acting out ways to avoid their unhappiness. Being happy, we can sit home and read a book, or talk to a neighbor over the fence as we tend to our own garden.

Ah, that reminds me. Fire the mow and blow guys. They are good people and all that, but basically they are yard janitors, and they are robbing your yard of all the leaves and grass that should be building up your own soil. And robbing you of exercise. Get rid of your gas mower, get a push mower, and get strong and help the earth by mowing your own lawn. If it’s too big to hand mow, make it smaller. Put down newspaper and then cover the paper with woodchips or compost. Plant trees. We need the oxygen, you and your friends can use the fruit, animals can use the habitat.

Have fun.

Take up or return to low impact activities, reading, playing musical instruments, conversation. Find people to talk to that you can walk to. Be happy. Drive less. Shop less. Breathe more. Walk more. Come to the present more.

That’s a fine present for yourself, and the people you are around, and the Earth. Win, win, win.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wednesday, July 19: The Importance of Love

Love is a good thing, and real love is hard to come to and easy to dwell in. What the heck does that mean?

It means, once we let go of all our "conditions," to love is as free and easy and liberating as anything in life. It allows our life to soar the way we know it's meant to soar.

It means we usually love those who treat us well and get snarly when they don’t treat us well, and scorn or dislike or avoid/dislike or avoid/hate those who don’t treat us with whatever standards of respect and attention and appreciation we imagine we “need” from the outside world.

This “need “ idea is nonsense, a good way to stay trapped in believing that it is the outside world’s job to make us happy. From the Byron Katie work, after we’ve asked the four questions ( Is it true? Can I absolutely know it’s true? How do I react when I attach to the thought? Who would I be without attaching to/ believing in the thought?) we do the turn around. This often leads to wisdom and freedom.

I need your appreciation, turns around to I need my own appreciation. I need your attention, respect, approval, all turn us back to ourselves.

And so what does this have to do with love?

Love is loving that other person, or a whole batch of people, or everyone, for what they are, without demanding that they shape up. You can still wish they could come to the present or be less war-like, or smile more, or drive their cars less, or say nicer things about you, but the really happy and serene and peaceful inner from freedom is to love ‘em anyway.


Do the Work of Byron Katie.

Or, come into the present and see if from that peaceful and serene place you aren’t so bothered by their shenanigans.

Or, do an experiment: try loving them and disliking them and hating them, and see the effects of each variety on your inner weather.

Or, what else can you come up with? (There are ideas floating around that we are all one. What would that do to our dislikes and hatreds?)

Ultimately, it’s our life, our inner weather. If we are happy, if we aren’t in love with the people around us, what can of existence are we having on this Earth. And, hey, while we are at it, loving the Earth is a sweet way to be, too. Don’t have time for that sort of nonsense? Are you sure??

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tuesday, July 18: A Way Inconvenient Truth

Human beings have three choices: to be asleep as a low grade robot, to be asleep as a high grade robot, or to wake up.

Does this have a connection to the inconvenient truth of us falling asleep at the wheel of taking care of the Earth that takes care of us?

Is that a rhetorical question, or what?

So, here’s the deal: we are awake to the moment and are deliciously happy to talk to a friend, to walk to the store, to listen to the bird: this is all pretty easy on the Earth. Or we are a high grade robot, full of vim and vigor, rushing with good smiles from work to meeting to gym to family activities. We get a lot done and it looks like we’re there, but if we were asked if we were really in the moment, the answer would be, No. This isn’t so great for our lives, nor is all the rushing very good for the Earth. As the low grade robot, we snarl at our family, give the finger as we rush around in our cars, complain about everything we notice and are surprised to end up in a hospital with one of the diseases of our time. The hospital pumps us with poisons and radioactives, and all this is way ungood for the Earth.

So, am I saying we could be happier if we would slow down and be less of a go getter ( or go get and follow our breathing and sense ourselves at the same time?) and take more pleasure in the simple things and wake up to the moment and that would be good for the Earth?


Monday, July 17, 2006

Monday, July 17: It's a Mess, yes, and still: happiness is crucial

The world is a mess. Look around you. Read the editorial pages. Watch how people drive. If you can stand it, watch a little television. Listen to people as they yammer on their cell phones. Read the headlines. Read the news. Read the hidden news, notice the weather patterns, go see An Inconvenient Truth again.

Okay. Situation Normal, All Fucked Up. That’s snafu, a phrase from world war 2 describing what the Army life had to offer people. With the glories of capitalism, we’ve had almost a permanent war economy since that war and has it helped?


Okay, okay, so snafu, snafu, snafu, how can we possibly feel happy? It’s such a mess, don’t we have to fix it?

Well, some of us might want to do a little or a lot toward fixing it, but that’s not the issue, the issue is this:

The feeling in our conditioning is, Yes. First we cure our disease, or get rid of our burdensome spouse, or move to a new town, and then we’ll be happy. But what if we die before the disease is cured? What if the spouse is only half or a quarter of the problem and we are missing all sorts of great chances to learn to love and know and laugh at ourselves along the way? What if this town and the one we are moving to are full of smart and dumb and good and selfish people, and what we need to learn is here, now, in front of our faces?

That is all to say: we don’t live forever, and some of these problems may not be solved in our lifetimes. Does that mean we plan to spend the rest of our lives in a froth until the mess is straightened out?

I don’t think so, nor do you.

In fact, when we get suckered into this thinking: Thou Shalt not be Happy Until the Mess is Fixed, we tend to hold our breathes, get anxious and want a really quick fix, so we can breathe and be happy. And most quick fixes turn out to be one more contributor to the Mess. Indeedeo, most of our mess can be attributed to greed and the inability to slow down and be happy now.

If we were happy now, we wouldn’t have to buy extra stuff, we wouldn’t have to rush off in our car, when a leisurely walk would be more enjoyable, we wouldn’t need to cram extra meetings or tasks into our day to get our guilt off our back. If we were happy, we could do one thing or three, and our attention would be one doing each thing well, with a peaceful and happy mind,.

We wouldn’t be in the rat race: how many tasks can I cram into my hour? How much stress can I handle? How much unpleasantness can I deny? And then, what to do with all that stress? Buy something. Drink or eat too much. Tear around on our weekends like there was no tomorrow.

So, the earth is in trouble. Global warming is real. Weather is a mess. So let’s get our inner weather together, smile, be happy, get on our bikes, hang up our wash, put in fluorescent lights, bug our politicians, walk instead of drive, talk to friends instead of rush off to something far away. Let’s be happy, do less, buy less, use less, and enjoy life more.

How’s that sound? Sounds good to me. How about you?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sunday, July 16: Two Inconvient Truths = an opportunity to be more alive

Actually two of them:

One: global warming is well of it’s way and the only way to reverse this course is to reverse what we do, as individuals and as political groups.

Two: people are asleep to the present and in this sleep, the guiding force in their (our, for I’m in this boat, too) lives is habit, the inertia of doing things robotlike, as we’ve done before.

So: about the movie: see it.

About our habits around the car: look inside and see what we’d really have to lose if we got out of them a couple of days a week and took the bus or walked or rode a bike. And this shift in our habit, what possible wonderful side effects could it have in terms of shaking us up out of our sleep, and giving us an idea and an actuality of slowing down as we went about our lives?

How could this make our lives significantly better, taking 20 minutes to get to work by walking instead of 5 by car; how could this make the movie twice as good by having a fifteen minute bike ride home to mull it over instead of getting in the steel box and back to being controlled by the automobile? How could our lives by more fun, more rooted in the pleasure of movement and being outdoors if we went to various meetings and the store and the farmer’s market on our bikes?

Some wonderful gains await us, if we are willing to be brave and get beyond our fears of “being tired,” or “being different,” or “being sweaty.” How about this as an alternative: being alive?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Saturday, July 15: Thumb on Earth, Feldenkrais and enchanting-ment

Moshe Feldenkrais and Fritz Perls both clued us in: don’t get bogged down in the “Why?” Stick with the “How?” Not Why are you feeling bad or sore or in pain or limited or stuck, but How? This leads to understanding and ability to change, rather than the sort of "understanding" that is just bullshitting about all the reasons we are so wrecked.

That’s a lead-in to a project Marlie and I are embarked on: chanting a mantra, a long mantra, 108 times each day with our thumb on the Earth. I’ll write out the chant later, and skipping the why we are doing it, I’ll just say that once you start, it’s pretty interesting to keep going. The idea is to do it for 41 days, and if you miss a day you start all over again, so that’s an incentive to keep going, once you’ve started.

Why do it?

Why not? It gets you down on the ground and gets you using your tongue. Recall the homunculus, the little man representation in the brain of what parts of our body are important and which aren’t? The parts that are important, the mouth and tongue and thumbs are huge. The back and legs are little tiny things. Anyway, this chanting give an opportunity to be thumb and tongue for about an hour. And to be outside.

And to do some Feldenkrais along with this, since to keep count, I shift my orientation from 1 to 8, going in almost a whole circle of where I’m facing. Thumb stays put, but sometimes I side sit to the right and sometimes to the left. I have different areas of trees and earth and horizon to scan as I go from one to eight in my cycles. And then I have cycles of three eights (24, eh?) after which I turn one of my shoes to mark that off.

So, the latest fun is adding on a differentiation between the first eight (attention on the pelvis as I move through varations on looking down and up in whatever orientation 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 take me), the second eight (attention on ribs) and third eight (attention on movement and variation in head, neck, eyes all that good stuff.)

If you haven’t done Feldenkrais, this can sound obscure. If you have, you realize how much you can learn from attention to head and pelvis and ribs. So I get to go thru this 4 times as I work up to 24 and 48 and 72 and 96, and then one more set of 8 and a 4 and I’m done.

Sounds nutty, but I love being next to the Earth and seeing what I see in that hour and sensing tongue and thumb and pelvis and ribs and head and neck and eyes and jaw and spine and feet and toes and arms and fingers. I.e. I’m doing the chant and focusing, living in lots of here and now moving attention. Crazy or not, it’s very intense and healing.

What’s the chant?
Here she blows, goes,
grows, and sometimes: glows:

Om Aim Kleem Sauom
Sera Hana Bhava
Saya Noli Bhava
Tri-pura Bhava
Tiga Yoli Bhava
Wari-pura Bhava
Bhava Noli Bhava
Pari-pura Bhava
Bhava Noli Bhava
Om Adi Ti-ru Mu-ru-ga
Om Guru Guru Paramaguru
Om Kumaraa Rana Kalaam
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti-hi

Wild, eh? Earth and sound and commitment and attention. Not a bad combo. Why? Who knows. Why not?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday, July 14: Happiness Now, heresy, but what the heck

I give a title to this site, as Happiness Today, and just what part of today are we willing to be happy? After the wash is done? After we get back from work? After we finish worrying about whether so and so likes us as much as they are supposed to? After we eat, or get to wherever we want to get?

Hmm. What’s wrong with that approach? Well, if we really let ourselves be happy after x, then it might make life kind of interesting. But the trouble with this sort of thinking is that by the time we get to whenever we were supposed to be happy, we are so used to thinking and planning and looking ahead to the next couple of things on our “to do” list, that we plum forget about happiness now.

So, this leaves now as the bestest time to get happy. Yes, I know, bestest is not a good work, and certainly not the goodest word, but part of happiness is making mistakes. Weird, because learning competence can contribute greatly to happiness, but there is learning competence in a playful and discovering fashion, ala Feldenkrais, and there is learning competence with a nose to the grindstone kind of attitude. No fun, this second route, and usually will lead to burn-out, or injury.

So chill, but chill with awareness. Since if we don’t know we are here, now how are we going to be in touch with whether we are happy or not? There can be a whole long discussion about the happiness you feel when you don’t even know it, but let’s go for this: wake up to the moment, know you are alive right now, and be happy.

Why happy?

This is our natural state if things are relatively calm inside. Outside is beyond our control often, but if the kitchen is messy and we come to the present and look and see: this is a mess, then we can come back to our breathing and clean with enjoyment. The here and now sensations of moving our bodies to clean a kitchen are not anything less than here and now sensations of moving our bodies to do something useful. Yoga is nice, Feldenkrais is nice, but if we are afraid or too lazy to move our bodies to clean up the joint, do we really know how to move?

Probably not.

So being happy now is about being present to our lives and being able to do what needs to be done while being in our bodies while we do it. This is really simple stuff, changing diapers, cleaning the sink, taking out the garbage, sweeping the back porch, walking to the store. Find ways to make our life simple and physical and be present with that. Tend to or make a garden. Clean the dishes. Make our food slowly and with awareness.

This is our life, now and being happy and present is just about the best present we can give to ourselves. And if we are with others? They will be thrilled if we can be present around them, though it may confuse them a little, since people are so unused to anyone being present around other people. It’s usually my robot and your robot going through our “How are you?” “What you been doing?” “How are the kids?” routine. Or the you tell me your plan for the next segment of the day and I’ll tell you my plan, which is how most people who are so-called in a family together interact.

What a shock and delight to actually stop the chatter, stop the meaningless dialogue and actually be present with another person.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Thursday, July 13: Feeling Badly, and the Way Out

Feeling bad is a wake up call. Just like physical pain means: stop doing what you are doing and figure out something else to do, emotional pain means…. Stop doing what you are doing and figure out something else to do.

Wow. Notice the sentence, the words: figure out something else to DO. This is the first step out of feeling bad: realizing that it is something you are doing, that it is not created in outer space, nor is it created in the so-called circumstances. It’s created in you.

Gasp. That means you are responsible, which feels “hard,” but is actually our salvation, ‘cause if we are doing it to ourselves, we can stop and do something else.

What else? Well, let’s take little baby steps, a method that leads to miracles in the Feldenkrais work. Let’s find the emotional pain and break it down into two parts: the kinesthetic, sensing part and the blah, blah words in the head part. Let’s take this approach: honor the first, and be skeptical of the second.

Like this: if say, someone dies, we have an aching feeling inside, and this aching feeling might be strongest if we lie down in a bed we used to share with that person, and they are no longer there. This is the mammal in us, sad for what we once loved and hugged and touched. Fine, this pain has places and shapes and sizes and intensity.

Feel those places and shapes and sizes and intensities. Breathe into it and feel it more. Honor it. Allow it to be whatever it is, and yet: keep this feeling of the non-verbal sensing sort. No words about the pain, how bad it is. No words about the why of the pain, how could she/he die, this wasn’t the right time, if I’d only done/said this before you died.

No words.


Feeling as sensation. Go with it, go deep, see what happens.

And the words. Well, there’s the work of Byron Katie, or there’s just the simple experiencing of how much easier life is without going along with the blah/blah, or there’s this: asking smart questions of the words. But that’s later, another time.

For now, just sense the physical part and breathe and sense the rest of yourself and move in gentle and easy and even interesting ways. Let the life in you be manifested as moving, let the pain be what it is and where it is, and allow the rest of you to feel good. This is life. It is very full. Some of you feels vital and alive. Some of you is in pain.

This is living. This is awareness. This is being present. This feels good even as part of you feels bad and will heal you over and over and over.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wednesday, July 12: Babies and Balance and What life is all about

Babies lie around.
They aren’t waiting for anything, really.
They are exploring the possibilities,
trying out life.

Seeing how this moves, how that moves,
some patterns, some
uses of themselves.

They are linking up to intention:
move this hand this way and it ends up
in the mouth.

Move both hands out this other way and arch the back
and twist a little, push the old belly out, that feels
and zowie
I’ve rolled over.
That’s pretty fun.

Later when they walk, they’ll discover balance
actually, crawling too, balancing so as not to
on their faces
actually sitting up, if you tilt too much this way or that
poom, over you go.

Lots of learning
and one persistant
teacher: gravity.

Various limitations: the arms only so long,
legs will go this way and not that,
eyes way up here,
need to turn head or eyes to see over there,
arms and legs have various thingees
between them
that need to be discovered
and re-searched and re-searched
until possibilities of co-ordinated
are dis-covered.

Oh, well.

No complaints.
Fun. Learning.
They are using their brains and their selves to become more
to learn
to move
to act in the world
to live.
This might be a model
for us older ones:

Balance is nice
especially if you are out of balance
(with the Now, with the Earth, with the folks around us)
( with our internal organs and endocrines and whatnot)
and still

Learning is transformative, fun
fun, indeed
what being human is all about.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tuesday, July 11: Whole Self Healing: 4 modalities


We are a whole being, and yet much of our life is splitting us up, disconnecting us from nature, from our inner nature, from our awareness of the moment, from inner peace, from our inner abilities to heal and learn and keep evolving and creating. This work, in all its aspects, is about tapping INSIDE to connect us back to who we really are and with that connection and renewal, to have not only healing take place, but our lives transform into fuller and richer and more creative journeys. An indication that we are on the right wavelength is when we feel happy and present to the moment and grateful for being alive moment by beautiful moment.

• CHRIS ELMS FELDENKRAIS®. Connect to learning and awareness and your body/mind in relation to gravity and movement. Link intention, attention and action. Calm down, and discover how you where meant to be as a happy animal on this earth, remember what it was like to roll and run and jump and skip when you were young? Improve thinking, moving, inner connection, well being, breathing, over all health and resilience, and enthusiasm for life and for learning.

Chris Elms Feldenkrais can be of great help to improve these, and more areas:
Walking, running, dancing, singing,
Reading, art, music, tai chi, yoga.

Tennis, golf, any sport, breathing.
Concentration, gardening, studying.

Life clarity
Decisions and transitions
Artists, creativity, teachers of musicians and artists and sports

High performance, professional athletes
Klunky, everyday "getting older" bodies that don't work so well any more
Sore back, shoulder, neck, knees, you name it: pain is the message, wake up and improve.

Repetitive strain, accident, stroke, MS
transformation and rehabilitation.

Cerebral palsy, autism, dyslexia.
Horse riding, love making, tea sipping.

Meditating, relaxing, sleeping, eye-sight.
Reading, math, child or adult learning.

• BODY TALK. Use the innate wisdom of your body’s wish to be whole and healthy to connect all the players in your internal orchestra, to come up with a symphony of beautiful health. This wisdom is the guide to connecting and healing both body organs and parts (liver, pituitary, elbow, sternum) and healing and upgrading mental constructs (old beliefs, stuck past memories), as well as radically streamlined inner balancing procedures. This connection helps you to recharge, reconnect, and heal. So called dis-ease, is often dis-connection. This system brings the connections that bring your innate healing back into effective action.

Here are areas, for which Body Talk can be a great benefit:

Chronic Fatigue
Emotional Disorders
Menstrual Irregularities
Back Pain
Learning Disorders
Sports Injuries
Digestive Disorders

• THE WORK OF BYRON KATIE. A woman who “woke” up in 1986 from years of depression and alcoholism, Byron Katie realized that it was not the world that was driving her crazy, it was her thoughts about the world. She devised a radically simple process to accomplish what might takes years in therapy and that has the same wisdom as Buddhism. The process: judge your neighbor (don’t pretend to be too good), write it down ( slow down the thinking, as Feldenkrais slows down the moving. Slow is the path to waking and awareness in a world of habitually rushing and pushing.), ask four questions, turn in around. That’s judge your neighbor, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around. What are the four questions: see

This combines with my wisdom over 30 years of various psychological work. The focus is HAPPINESS TODAY,
and leaving behind all the excuses why happiness needs to wait until x, y and z happen. This is our birthright, this is what we can all come home to: ourselves in the moment. The present is an ever-ready present we can make to ourselves.

This can be in person, or over the phone.

Areas in which this work can be of immense benefit:
Life clarity
Holding old grudges/ people not forgiven
Childhood gunk
Co-worker gunk
Past relationship gunk
Family troubles, children driving you crazy, all that sludge/hell/trouble/resource for change.
Angst and unease
Self-esteem stuff
Lack of inner peace
( Indeed, indeed, while all the other three modalities can, and will, help all of these "conditions," The Work of BK goes right at it. The Work is about the undoing of emotional dis-ease.)

• NATURE CONNECT. To be healthy we need to walk on the Earth, breathe real outdoor air, touch the Earth with our bare hands and bare feet, learn how to slow down and to run and to skip. How to eat healthy. How to say yes to sunsets and no to TV. This is my intuitive assessment of how you can use more connection to a natural style of living to radically increase your chances for deep health, and the health of the planet. We will meet outside and construct connection to present and nature and happiness in the moment. The time for real change, if pleasant and interesting, is now.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Monday, July 10: Happiness Now

Happiness Now.

Is a good idea.


Because it's the only time we are alive
and if we are waiting around for it,
what is our life
in those moments of waiting.

This seems "hard" on a tired
with a picture of
a "hard" commute
on my mind.

Oh, well. Hard schmard.
My mind can focus on my breathing
and my sensing
and my fingers
typing right now
and the sounds
and all that jazz.

My spine can be in my awarenss
and the sweet pelvis,
can rock and roll a little.

Have you visited
Lots of good Feldie moves

And now
happiness now?

Sure, why not?
Beats the hell out of feeling sorry
for myself
because of "hard" commute coming up.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Friday, July 7: It's Okay, or What to ask when you feel badly

It’s okay
To feel good
Even when you feel bad

What the hell’s that mean?
It means, go inside the feeling bad and
A question
Or two
Or ten:

Is this all I’m feeling?
What am I forgetting?

What is the belief that is stirring this bad feeling?

Where in my body do I distribute this bad feeling?

What would happen if I stopped the thoughts and sensed the part of my body that is involved?

What would happen if I saw the thinking as a temporary belief, a mild insanity, rather than set in stone?

What if the opposite of what I believe has some truth, also?

What do I get when I indulge in this feeling?

What would it be like to think of nothing, or something else?

What could I do for myself that I’d suggest to someone else who was indulging in this feeling bad?

How can I divide up the feeling into what’s essential and what’s petty?

How can I see myself ten years from now, indulging in this feeling: what’s that look like?

What would I be like without the thoughts that are behind this feeling?

What would it be like to think of this feeling as something that I’ll let stick around for so many minutes, and I decide the number?

What if I decide how intense this feeling will be?

What if I see and sense and feel this feeling as something I’m doing and ask: is this really what I want to do?

What if I go into nature and come into the present, then what happens?

And so on.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Thursday, July 6: Barking Dogs

Barking Dogs

Nearby they bark
and I have choices:

to take a walk
or to get in a state

to be "upset"
or to follow my breathing

to wish the dog groomer women
a not pleasant future
to wish myself a pleasant

the gods are darking
the bogs are larking
the dogs are barking

and what is my mind

right now?
to sniff out the happiness
that exists
in every moment?

Thursday, July 6: The Sun and Sensing, Today?


The sun shines, the Earth warms
The Earth warms, we stretch our limbs,
Roll out of bed
Stretch our feet down onto the floor
Walk to the door, open, go..
Breathe the air
Take a walk
Follow our breathing

Ah, that feels nice, breathing and knowing

See if we can keep our minds empty
Feel, sense our feet as they step
Notice the light and images coming in our eyes
Enjoy the sounds coming in our ears
Follow the breathing

Oh, my! Who has time for that,
the simple exultation of pure Being?
Maybe later,
on a vacation, or something.
Not today, not now, surely not today, not now.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Wednesday, July 5: A Few Principles

Use less force. Try less and breathe more. Wait longer and be more curious about what possibilities can happen that you hadn’t guess could happen.

Try something that you aren’t sure about, but are curious about. Who could you talk to that would be “hard” to talk to, or “impossible,” or “not right,” or worst of all: strange.

Wait with your breathing in a pleasant place while you do none of the things that your panic and wish to get something done instantly demand that you do.

Go to bed and breathe and smile. Wake up and breathe and sense yourself. Go to be and breathe and smile and sense yourself. Get up from your be and walk about the world breathing and smiling and sensing yourself.

See how you can be useful each day, and if nothing happens, write a list of principles that might be useful to yourself and others.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Monday, July 3: Independance, and so on

Independence day is coming tomorrow, which means….? A parade and some booths and some hot dogs for normal folk and fireworks for all. Isn’t that nice? A change of pace, something besides the usual. A chance to come up from low grade to a higher grade of robot, our attention off the usual grind and onto the silliness of people riding horses or carrying banners or flags.

Patriotic. Or idiotic? Who knows. Back in some ancient date, 1776, which isn’t so ancient in world history, some people decided that they didn’t want some foreigners controlling their country. So they threw the foreigners out. Since then many people have followed this idea, say in Vietnam, and the French and the Americans decided to kill them for copying this American idea. Now some Iraq people seem to have this idea, and some Iraq people seem hell bent on make hell of life for everyone, but we do seem to be the British once more, trying to enforce our Empire.

Oh, well. Can we, can I, be awake to the moment while all this is going on? That’s the question. Can I be awake and happy and useful to myself and to others and to the planet? Well, today’s another day to give it a go, and now, of all times, is the greatest time to come back to the now and feel my fingers on the keys and my breathing coming in and out and the feel of how my spine is holding me up in space and how my arms and legs and spines are situation in this wonderful world.

Waking up. That could be a new revolution, don’t you think? If people were awake, they could be happy, and wouldn’t need to rush off to buy stuff and we wouldn’t have a world oriented around stuff for people to buy. Gads, what would the world be for, if not stuff and shopping for stuff? Well, who knows, taking walks, talking to people with real listening, tending to our gardens. I think we could all find something to do. Just repairing all the damage will keep us busy for awhile, and by then we can surely have evolved ways for humanity to pass its time other than consuming the Earth to make way too much stuff for way too many people to consume.

What a dream, eh?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sunday, July 2: What is the Feldenkrais Method® ?

Or, more precisely, what is my version of the Feldenkrais Method, since Moshe Feldenkrais, the inventor, was very clear: each practitioner was to go out and find her or his “handwriting,” her or his way to make this amazing work even more amazing and unique.

First, we’ll start with Moshe, who lived from 1904 to 1984. When he was 14 he took off on foot with some friends from what is present day Poland to Palestine. He arrived and set about making a life for himself, starting as a laborer and going to night school. At the time, in the 1920’s, the British were ruling Palestine with the tried and true divide and conquer method, stirring up enmity between the Arabs and the Jews. Long story short, Moshe leaned a hodge podge of judo from books to help the Jews, who weren’t allowed to carry knives, in fights with the Arabs, who were. This hodge podge worked so poorly in real battle that he set about inventing something that people could use that started with the initial natural frightened reflexes and worked from there. He came up with a bit, and wrote a book and had to leave, because the British didn’t want “troublemakers” around.

He went to Paris where he was working on his Doctorate in Science, when he met real Judo, when Kano, the inventor of Judo, came to Paris. Long story short, Moshe was invited to be the first European to get trained by the Japanese in Judo, and hence the first to get a black belt.

Then his knees, already in trouble with early soccer injuries, got into serious trouble in the 40’s. By then he was a Doctor of Science, which is a slightly broader degree than a PhD. Going to a medical doctor, he was told that if his knees were operated on, he’d have a fifty-fifty chance of walking again. “I can flip a coin for those odds,” was his response, so he set about curing himself. Drawing on science and anatomy and judo and his wife’s pediatric practice, he rediscovered how we learn how to move well. In these discoveries he learned that leaning is the core, and that to really function well we need to know about our toes and ankles and pelvis and ribs and fingers and spines and breathing and eyes and neck and especially our brain. All of us is what it took, but with this all of us miracles could take place.

His discoveries led to the Feldenkrais Method, which can help children with cerebral palsy, people recently out of operations, professional athletes, people who want to walk and dance and breathe and move more gracefully, essentially anyone willing and interested in improving just about anything. Anything? Almost, because Moshe discovered that at the core of physical improvement was the brain, the nervous system, our level of organization, so his system is really a system of learning how to better learn. Learn anything, reading, math, statistics, dancing, golf, singing, meditation.

His discoveries are many, but they include what all good learning includes: chances to see the results of different options, a sense of delight and discovery, an open mindedness, a sense of wonder, a deepened clarity of what is going on and what alternatives could be possible, a heightened connection with the parts and the whole of our bodies or our body/minds, or the problem at hand.

His system has hundred of classes that can be taught to groups, that are unlike most movement classes in that the participants are most of the time on the floor or ground, out of gravity, and the instructions are verbal without a teacher modeling for the students. They are also different in that the “how” of the process is the important aspect, the learning, not the “what” of getting a certain pose, or muscle building, or movement achievement done. Acute listening is called upon, acute awareness of the self in the present, and an experimentation begins wherein the student learns more and more about how to be in their body and mind in a comfortable and kind and learning way.

The other part of his system is a miraculous kind of hands on work, called Functional Integration.® If done right, the touch is almost hidden, it’s so subtle, and movements are brought forth from what is easy and do-able by the client. These easy movements gently expand into more and more options, as the brain of the client sweetly and easily discovers new and easier ways of moving and breathing and being. This work can be almost miraculous, especially if the person is not being yanked around at the same time by various physical therapists or chiropractors of the let’s force it a little bit and get you to “move right” school. If a person just comes to Feldenkrais, and deeply allows their nervous system to experience and expand from these subtle changes, and can restrain themselves from taking a newfound ability to run one mile and charging off for five miles, then truly amazing and life changing results can occur.

Since this is a learning, not a fixing, system, people end up functioning at a higher level than they have since they were children, rather than at the level they were at before the accident or the stroke or the back pain. The idea isn’t to get anyone back to a mediocre level of functioning. The process is to awake the person’s love of learning so that improvement and learning can become central and delightful to that person’s life, which can then become richer and more pleasant than ever before.

For a short and interesting experiment in the method, try the free trial lesson at

I didn’t get to my take on this method. Well, this whole blogsite, with all of its more than two hundred essays, is what the Chris Elms whole self healing is about. If you haven’t dipped in, be my guest. Almost anything you’d like to learn for life improvement can be found inhere. Almost.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Saturday, July 1: The Delight of Being You

As you sit or stand or lie down, just how does it feel to be you? When do you breathe in, when do you breathe out? What happens if you notice your pelvis and let it move a little, as if in a circle, as if doing a hoola hoop?

Can you enjoy your belly coming forward, soft and full, and your ribs rolling around form side to side and your belly tucking in as your pelvis tucks forward?

Like this enjoy the belly and the pelvis as if they are chasing each other in circles. Can you feel that? Can you enjoy that? Can you be delighted to be you?


Roll your imaginary hoola hoop, both in a sitting and a standing position, and breathe easily. Do this in both directions. Do this with eyes open and closed. Feel your feet on the ground. When you are sitting, feel to change of weight on the chair. When standing, feel the change of weight on your feet.

Now do it slower and with more awareness and enjoyment. See how much of you, you can delight in.