Friday, December 29, 2006

The Wonder of Life

mushroom in forest on Christmas Day
Poking up in forest on Christmas Day


Life loves being alive. Life doesn’t care that it’s a new year. Life wants today to be the best, the sweetest, the most wonderful day. So, hey, what the hell: let’s make this day just that.

Let’s follow our breathing.


Let’s get into the now.

And how.
Let’s make silly rhymes, all the time. Or sometime. Or plant some thyme.

Let’s eat right and smile.

Let’s find everyone that still bothers us and get clear with them.

Let’s get outside and walk, or do yoga, or ride our bikes, or garden, or hike, or skip, or dance.

Let’s dance in our garden.

Let’s putter in our garden.

Let’s learn a new musical instrument.

Let’s write a little bit each day, and say something to a friend with a voice and mind and heart full of delight at having a friend to share something with in a voice and mind and heart full of delight.

If no friends are around, let’s talk to ourselves that way, on paper and in the mirror.

Let’s talk to the sky and listen to the sky, talk to the Earth and listen to the Earth, and listen to how nice it feels to move slowly and with awareness and listen to how nice it feels to move with rhythm and joy.

And so on.

Let’s have a grand day.

(Note. The essays are rotating through the three blogs, more or less one per day.
So you might want to check:
WakeUp Feldenkrais®
Tai Chi Yoga Health Weight Loss Joy

for the last two essays.)

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Making Resolutions, One Year Later

Jack London Park on Christmas day hike
Christmas Day hike in Jack London State Park.
Near Sonoma, in Glen Ellen, California.
Photo: (finally) Me. With help from my son,
and a new digital camera,
we finally got one of our own pictures on.

This is fun.

Last year, on this date, I decided to write once a day in my blogsite. And I was interested in being
while doing an essay a day: An Invitation to Adventure, Dec. 27, 2005.

I didn’t succeed, every day, and I wasn't always present with every essay,
but I did succeed many.

And then another blog was spawned.

And then another.

So between the three, I’ve pretty much written 365 essays or poems or simple ( like this) postings.

So , what is this all about?

Well, it’s deciding to do something, rather than to restrain from something.

And it’s deciding to do something that can be done in small chunks, and these small chunks can be enjoyable.

And it’s about not rushing, which is the weird thing, this feeling as if we have to cram everything, way too much, so much stuff, busy, busy, into our lives that we don’t have time for what is important.

A resolution to take a walk every morning before breakfast: that’s the kind of thing that can make life really wonderful.

A resolution to sit down with your guitar for ten to twenty minutes a day, or more: that again, is a commitment to spending your life in ways that you really want to be.

Human being, not human doing, that’s the key. Resolutions are almost always things we do, but how can we make them things we do that have that sweet and wonderful quality of being, of being present, of being present to the glorious miracle of being alive in this moment.

That’s the good way to use resolutions.

Not: “I’m going to exercise more.” Nah. I’m going to do 15 minutes of yoga and take a walk every day, and if I want to do more, I will.

Make your resolution something you don’t have to drive to, something you don’t have to spend money on, something that can be as simple as thinking of five things every morning that make you smile, or sending out wishes to five people you love every day at sundown.

Make it simple.

Or let it be a little complicated, if that is building from last year’s resolution. Make the steps small and fun and do-able. Do able in the be able mode.

To do in a way that helps us be, be alive to the moment. This seems the right way to frame resolutions. What do you think?

(Note. The essays are rotating through the three blogs, more or less one per day.
So you might want to check:
WakeUp Feldenkrais®
Tai Chi Yoga Health Weight Loss Joy

for the last two essays.)

Labels: , ,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Some Good Advice, from me to me (and you, perhaps)

Squash blossom
(down Santa Barbara way )
in the solstice dawn.
Photo by Silani Wahlgren.


In the Byron Katie work, one of the joys is the "turn around" section. After asking the four questions, which loosen up our minds about first, the set-in-stone idea we have about our story, and second, give us the alternative of how we are when we attach to the belief and how we are when we don't, the final trump is this : What is the "turn around" to your story/ belief/ thought? (As usual, you can't go wrong refreshing your heart mind and soul at

So, Marlie should listen more, becomes I should listen more. Other people should be more conscious becomes, I should be more conscious. George Bush shouldn't go to war, becomes I shouldn't go to war in my mind with George Bush.

It ends up, all the good advice we are giving to the world is meant at least for one person, and that person is ourselves.


So, I wrote an essay ( You are alive: the miracle of it all ) for here a few days ago, on slowing down and getting outside. It was an essay on coming back to center and slowness and earth during the holiday madness.

I sent it off to the two newspapers in town, and two days ago it appeared as a column in one paper, and yesterday as a letter in the other.

It was actually easier to read as a column, less words per line, and I was yesterday reading a part of the essay to Marlie about "slowing down" and not being a slave to our "to do" lists.

Now it just so happened I was about to rush off and drive half an hour to go buy some maybe needed presents, maybe not, and was sort of pumped up to "get this out of the way." This is a good sign that we are out of reality, when we start thinking of the next thing in our day as something to "get over with" rather than something we are looking forward to in its own right.

So, here I am pumped and ready to race off and get something off my "to do" list (you know, the one we carry around like a ball and chain in our minds), and I read these wise words about how little we are in the present, and how often we are slaves to past regrets or to worries or to the famous "to do" list.

Even if the words had been written by me a couple of days ago, they were written in a calm and happy state, so it was a different me than the revved up, let's get in the car and get this done guy who was reading them.

And I thought: this is true.

I don't need to do this.

I'd rather slow down and watch the sun a little, during the time of day it is delightful in the room in which I was reading this fine advice of mine to me. Slow down, watch the sun, talk to Marlie, and find some things easier and more local and delightful to do by riding my bike.

So that's what I did.

I slowed down and had a wonderful afternoon. To hell with the "to do" list. The old saying is oft overused and so what: we are not human doings, we are human beings.

Love yourself and your self in a body and your breathing and what you are seeing and hearing and sensing right now. Take it slow. You are worth it.

(Note. The essays are rotating through the three blogs, more or less one per day.
So you might want to check:
WakeUp Feldenkrais®
Tai Chi Yoga Health Weight Loss Joy

for the last two essays.)

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Importance of a Smile

We all know those moments in our life when everything changes because a smile comes unexpectedly our way.

This is one of the reasons we are alive: to smile unexpectedly to others and change their lives.

And what is the turn around? We are here to smile unexpectedly to ourselves, to change our inner weather with a flash of happiness where we had but a moment ago expected none.

Smile, though your heart is breaking, says the song.

I say, smile every time you sense yourself to double the pleasure of giving yourself real and non-verbal attention. Gobs of the emotional problems in the world come from people wishing and wanting and demanding attention from outside themselves, and they could have (we could have) simply and wonderfully sensed and breathed with awareness and flashed themselves an inner smile.


Breathing in , I sense my body.

Breathing out, I release tension where I can and smile inside and a little hint of a smile on my face.

There: the kindest meditation in the world.

'Tis the season to be jolly: smile.

( Note: I'm back on a one a day essay/ thought/ contemplation/ posting per day,
am rotating them through,
then wakeup-feldenkrais,
then taichiyoghealthweightloss,
if that interests you.)

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Real World as Medicine and Solace

Pretty Apples on a Tree
Apples in the Garden (Photo: Richard Dale)

This is a loaded one, eh? What is the real world? Well, let's just say, that getting outside, and putting our feet on something besides concrete or asphalt, or a wooden or otherwise floor, that's the real world. Breathing air that isn't trapped inside four walls and a roof and a floor, that's the real world. Looking up at the sky, out into the horizon, having some trees or desert or water, something of nature around you, that's the real world.

And inside? What of our insides? Because obviously, we can be walking along, feet on the sand, ocean waves majestically breaking to one side and tropical paradise to the other, and if our mind is full of our divorce, or our resentments, or our anguish, or our hatred, or our worry, we might as well be sitting in some crowded freeway, with some real reasons to be annoyed.

Which is a slip, really, because if we really do the Byron Katie work, then even in the stalled freeway, without our story, we are just a person sitting in a car and going slow, and we still have our breathing and our awareness and a chance to be present and happy even if we aren't getting what we want.

This, ah, this, is one of the great art forms of a real and happy life: to be happy even when we aren't "getting what we want."

And on the way: go on outside, breathe and be present. That helps.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Miracles all over the Place, and we forget

Here's a story of Moshe working with a young man who started with trouble and had had that trouble made even worse by the "help" of surgery.

Hollyhock FlowerPhoto: R. Dale

"And I'll never forget what Karl Pribram said at the end of that 'demonstration' (for some who might not know, Pribram was a former brain surgeon turned neuroscientist/researcher at Stanford University--who came up with the "Holographic" model of the brain --which sparked Moshe's imagination no end).

"The young man had, I believe, Cerebral Palsy and had undergone brain surgery to eliminate the spasticity in his right arm. The surgeon's scalpel had slipped in the operation and mistakenly severed a nerve governing the young man's tongue.

" He could no longer speak clearly, as his tongue was not able to differentiate itself from his lower jaw. To add insult to injury, his spasticity left only for a few weeks or months-- and then came back worse than before--plus he could not speak clearly.

"Interestingly, when he played tennis, which he adored, he lost his spasticity and could also speak more clearly. And flirt with the girls. So, Moshe pulled a clean handkerchief out of his pocket, and took his tongue and moved it this way and that way --'showing off' for Pribram.

"Then after about 15 minutes, he stopped and said to the young man, "So what do you have to say".

"The young man replied--clear as a bell--"Hello".

"Not a dry eye in the house.

"Then Moshe went on and worked with his arm and soon the spasticity left. The whole thing took maybe 40 minutes, tops.

"Karl looked at Moshe, awestruck, and said--"You can do more with your hands, than I ever could accomplish with my scalpel".( Recounted by Deborah Elizabeth Lotus)

There are two miracles here: one, the work of Moshe Feldenkrais, which a few thousand of us in the world are trained to duplicate and expand upon.

And two: the reluctance of almost everyone to go through the kind of learning that this young man went through in his transformation. Moshe gave his brain a chance to rewire and to learn anew, as we all learn when we are fresh and young and alive.

We have this chance every day of our lives and throw it away, throw it away, throw it away as we muddle along doing the same things in the same way, feeling the same things, saying the same things, thinking the same things, eating the same things, running raggedy to keep a show afloat that has nothing to do with our real selves.

This is the miracle: we are alive and could be living moment after moment of newness and presence. And we forget.

This is the miracle: at any moment we can wake up and remember, once more: this is me, this is now, this is my life.

I am alive.

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 11, 2006

Mine eyes have seen the distance, and it is Good

An important and wonderful part of being a human being is to walk in or near open spaces where we can see into the distance. We spend so much of our life looking at a computer screen so near to our faces and indoors in rooms where everything is but a few feet away. When in our cars, sometimes we get to look into the distance, and that may be one of the few good things about cars, but it is through a glass, darkly or not so darkly, and we have to keep our attention on the wheel and the road and the possibilities of danger and the need for safety.

As humans, we evolved in nature, and I do believe it was in open plains, not the dense forests, but that doesn't matter. Even a redwood forest has a clearing now and then, where you can at least look up a couple of hundred feet to the tops of the trees and a couple of miles up to see the sky.

Where is the horizon?

Right now. In your life. How far would you have to walk from where you are sitting reading this to get a nice view of the horizon, some pleasant view of sky meeting earth that carried your mind and vision out into the distance.?

Feet on the ground, feeling the weight shift from side to side, this is one of the wonderful pleasures of walking.

Pushing yourself forward as the back leg pushes into the ground, propelling ourselves with our own muscles and coordination, this too is wonderful and healthy and fine.

And to be aware of the land and world around us, near and far, as we walk down a path, or along a sidewalk, or down a beach, or over a meadow, as we move forward and the world appears to move backwards and recede to our sides: this is food for our souls and our selves.

Light coming in the eyes and the shapes of the world being transformed by our brains into the known world, this is all more than just science, this is one more glory of life, one more miracle, that these rays from the sun (photons, waves, photon-waves), shot into space a mere eight minutes ago, traveling 93 million miles in that eight minutes, bouncing off the mountains in the distance and then into our eyes and we walk and breath and see the mountains and feel the beauty and grandeur of the world.

This is good.

Feet, breath, earth, the distance views, our eyes, the magic of light, the magic of vision. This is all good.

Let us partake, every day if at all possible.

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 08, 2006

You are Alive: the Miracle of it All

We are alive. That's a miracle. In this season when the days get shorter and the night moves toward the longest night, when the dark is strong and the cold is rising, some people tell the story of a birth of a miracle.

And yet, every birth is a miracle, an event of huge magnitude in this immense universe, and each day is one more miracle granted to us in our life.

Are we savoring that miracle?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no, probably.

And to be aware of when life is sweet and amazing for us is to begin to pull back from all those forces that want us to rush through our lives in some sort of forgetful frenzy. Always preparing, planning, worrying, regretting, scurrying from one item on the "to do" list to the next, short of breath or forgetting to breathe in our anxiety to "get it all done," accepting invitations we wished we had the courage to decline with grace and honesty, plowing ahead in states of tension and dis-ease and forgetting that one little detail:

We are alive.

We are alive and this is a miracle, this every second of this miracle of our life.

Sometimes, taking off in a happy sprint, or dancing up a storm, or skiing down and beautiful mountain, the joy of speed and motion can be one of life's great thrills. But the rush/ rush hurry/ hurry speed with which we are stressing and dis-easing our lives, this is all a distraction from the miracle.

We are alive.

Could slowing down help to remember this miracle? I think so.

Could coming outside, reconnecting our feet with the ground, reconnection our eyes with the sky, our lungs with the fresh air, our souls with the fullness of nature, could this help us remember this miracle? I think so.

Could allowing ourselves to slow to the natural human pace, the pace of walking, the joy of shifting right to left to right to left, with the pelvis swinging one way as the shoulders swing the other, feeling ourselves propel ourselves with delight and ease as human beings are meant to move, could this facilitate our inner peace and joy and commitment to the wonder of life?

I think so. What about you?

( This continues with "Moving and Learning, the Miracle continues," at WakeUp Feldenkrais)

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Nailed, or Eating my own Medicine

One of the great things about the Byron Katie work is that you don't have to fish around in your "shadow," or delve through your past "troubles." If something isn't finished in me, life will always give me an opportunity to deal with it. If I'm not yet clear on my patience, I can catch myself via the Byron Katie work having thoughts on how so and so should slow down and be more patient.

After asking the four questions, (see, as usual, her website,, if you've forgotten them), I get to do the turn around and check out the turn around truth. Is it true that the so and so named Chris Elms should be more patient?

Well, yes, it is. It always is. (Often in a somewhat hilarious way, where I'm impatient with so and so to be more patient. Or I'm angry at so and so for being angry. Or I'm grumpy at so and so for being grumpy. And so on, the delight of life when we start to look inward for truth.)

And yesterday, I got nailed, having gotten in the car mode for the fourth straight day to attend an advanced training with Anat Baniel. ( A fantastic training by the way, on working with children with cerebral palsy and other hugely demanding challenges that Feldenkrais, especially in Anat's refinement, is by far the best system in the world for helping. See, if you'd like to learn more.)

I was in a rush to get to the last day's session, which started in San Rafael at 9 AM, on a weekday, a Tuesday. The day before, Monday, we started at 9:30 and all the 9 traffic was gone and it was a breeze. Yesterday, stuck in all this traffic I was going to be "late."

Ohmygod, what a tragedy, eh?

Well, I got sucked into thinking that way, thinking that this was a tragedy, since that day before by arriving a little early, I got to do some very valuable practice work.

So I was in a rush and the traffic was SLOW, and I resorted to the get off the freeway and then come back on from that same exit thing. Except in one off lane, it looked like too many cars were trying the same trick, and so I cut back in, having passed a mess of cars, and done just what I and you and everyone hated people when they do it.

Luckily for my reality check, a CHP car came right up behind, pulled me over and out came a friendly Highway Patrol man, who gave me a nice little talk and then gave me a ticket, my first since I was sixteen.

This was reality saying: okay, Chris. If you are going to preach slowing down, the time for you to slow down, is exactly when you don't want to.

I didn't slow down.

I got nailed.

Thanks Universe.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, December 01, 2006

technical difficulties

beautiful earth

This will hopefully be a picture of the earth, c/o NASA.

My father once worked for Nasa, at the Houston Manned Space Flight Center back in the get a man to the moon days.
He and everyone else succeeded.

Now it's get the people into their bodies, into the present and back to Earth, before we ruin it.

And be happy on the way.

Actually, if we aren't happy, we are going to keep doing the things that wreck the Earth. See the earlier Conversation with Gub, #7, on the importance of simple pleasures.

This is called technical difficulties, because someone sent me an e-mail of all these nice earth images, and I couldn't get them into this posting. So I went to Nasa.

On the way to the moon, you discover, home is here.

So, be good to yourself and the Earth and if you want happness or awareness ideas, feel free to browse through past essays.

There are literally hundreds of them.