Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Wednesday: May 31, Chapter 3: Rotation, Head, Tongue, Pelvis

Life is movement. This book will be offering up awareness through movement lessons every third chapter. To learn to be more aware, and to improve our inner image of who we are, and to increase flexibility of mind and body, and to get smarter, and….To get us out of the ruts of moving the way we always have. To re-turn to our love of learning. To have more joy in the simple and wonderful moving possibilities of being human. And….
We’ll talk plenty of the benefits. Now to the first lesson. Please lie on your back, in a comfortable but firm place. A wooden floor with a mat. A spot of grass. Even a very firm bed. Find a place to lie on your back and enjoy being free from the demands of gravity.

1) Start by scanning your self. Feel the sensations of you against the surface underneath you. Feel the sensations in your right leg, from ankle and toes all the way up to the hip joint. Do the same for the left leg, and compare the two. Does one feel longer or heavier? What is the difference, if any, in the way the toes are pointing? Which areas are touching the floor/ground and which are rising up from it? Now sense your arms, in as complete a way as possible. And your spine, where is it touching the floor/ground and where does it rise up? How is your pelvis lying? Where is your head resting on the floor? How is your breathing? This could go on and on, and feel free to ask yourself questions about how it feels to be you, right now, lying on the floor. (Read a section, or a sentence, and then do it. Go back at the end, perhaps, and repeat when everything is clear to you.)

2) Begin to slowly roll your head left and right. If you are more comfortable on your back with your knees up and feet standing, come to this position. Let your head roll simply and easily right and left. Do this many times, each time searching for ease and pleasure. Increase awareness of what else happens as your head rotates. Go less than your full range. Always go slow and with less effort and more awareness. Notice your breathing as you do this. Notice any places you are using extra effort and let this effort be less. Make this pleasurable and learning at the same time, learning how you connect to you.

3) Rest. Always rest between movements to allow your brain to integrate whatever it is you are learning, and to break the habit of rushing from one thing to the next. After a rest, raise your knees forward, so your feet are standing on the ground. Let your knees go easily side to side and again, go less than the full possibility and go so slowly that you can sense, vertebra by vertebra, the rotation in your spine. Feel what else is involved as your legs move side to side, especially being aware of your pelvis and your ribs. Make sure to notice your breathing as well, and to search for extra effort and let that effort go. Do this many times, with pleasure and increasing learning.

4) Rest. Notice how you feel now, compared to before moving. Now move your tongue to the left and the right inside your mouth. This is a simple movement and you can enjoy its ease. And what more awareness can you bring to it? Make sure, again, to sense for extra effort, to search for pleasure and learning and to include awareness of your breathing as part of the movement.

5) Rest. Then, with the feet standing, begin to move the knees to the left as you move the head to the right. And then bring your knees to the right and your head to the left. Be gentle. Notice how in the middle knees and head are both lined up forward. This can be a very small movement. Make it slow and graceful. This movement can be confusing. Go slowly. Keep awareness on finding and decreasing extra effort. Bring awareness to your breathing when you can. Keep this up until it is slow and easy and pleasurable and you can sense your breathing as well as the moving of your head and legs/pelvis in opposite directions. Notice what is happening in your spine.

6) Rest. Rest a little longer than you might habitual want to. Now move your head right while you move your tongue to the left, and bring your head back to the left at you move your tongue to the right. As before, slow is fine, small is fine, less effort is absolutely crucial. Breathe easily and notice your breathing as you do this many times, with learning and pleasure and mindfulness.

7) Rest. Now think about this, and only try if it seems fun and useful. If not, come back to it at some later time. Think this through before you try or don’t try this: your head goes right, your tongue left and your pelvis/legs (with feet standing on the floor) to the right. And then you do the reverse, with head to the left, tongue to the right and pelvis/legs to the left. If you decide to do this, go slow. Don’t demand instant learning. If it is “hard,” then good, you have something to learn. If it is “easy,” good, then do it with greater and greater attention to more of you, to ribs and spine and breathing and even the shifting of weight on feet and shoulder blades. Go slowly. Increase mindfulness and pleasure.

8) Rest. Now, with feet standing, simple move the knees right and left and push out your belly a bit each time you go to the side. To help this, you might push one hip slightly off the floor/ground as you rotate to the other side, and push out your belly as you raise each hip. Remember to keep this easy, to do less than your full range. Feel the belly moving forward as coming from your back directly behind your belly button. I call this the “power back,” and for now, to co-ordinate the power back moving forward as the legs tilt side to side is wonderful. Again, slow, aware, pleasant.

9) Rest. Move your legs in this way and in one left/right cycle move your head in the same direction as the pelvis, and in the next cycle, move your head in the opposite direction. This version includes the power back moving forward each time your legs tilt to the sides. Do this many times, until you can breathe easily and with awareness as you do this. As always, do less with more mindfulness and pleasure.

10) Rest. Let your legs go long if they aren’t already. Notice how you are lying on the floor/ground now. Notice changes. Notice new feelings of aliveness or connectedness or relaxation or pleasure. Review in your mind some or all of the movements. Come to standing, and see if you feel different than usual. Walk around for awhile with awareness and no rushing off to the next thing, nor any talking to interrupt your inner attention and present awareness.

Wednesday: May 31, Chapter 2: How to Use This Book

(the order is changing. this is the way I'm creating the book, discovering as I go. For the book in its final order, I guess you'll have to order a hard copy. Anyway, the chapters are all useful, and I'm reconstructing the book so that every third chapter is a lesson in moving/thinking/sensing/awareness. Hopefully, they'll all, each and every one, be useful to you.)

My goal in life is to be awake and happy and useful to others. This book is my offering of usefulness to you. My wish is for you to use this book to make a deep and radical transformation in your life. If your life is good, I hope for it to become great. If it is great, to become greater. If it is troubled and painful, I hope for it to come up, in notches and continuously, to better and better until it is great.

Much of this book will be using the ideas of Moshe Feldenkrais, a physicist and judo master and discoverer who lived from 1904 to 1984. His ideas can show us ways to improve our moving and our thinking and our feeling, how to change the over all tone of our lives, how to recharge ourselves with the thrill of learning, how to come to a more easy and fruitful awareness of the present.

The book will always draw on the Work of Byron Katie, a woman who “woke up” in 1986, in Barstow, California, and discovered a way of investigating our unhappiness and suffering that allows us pathways and options out of the emotional suffering that plagues so many of us, sometimes just occasionally, sometimes in huge and awful doses.

In addition, I will be emphasizing a need to reconnect with Nature and with Earth, and to eat and live in ways that promote deep and wonderful health. I will bring in additional ideas that have come to me, or that I have formulated over the years, all to the aim of helping you to a more happy, aware and useful life.

For this to best happen, I recommend you read this book differently than you might read most books. Read only a chapter a day, or maybe two, at most three. Every third chapter will be lessons in moving and awareness, with the Feldenkrais Method® flavor. They will give you something real to do, something that will produce ease and increased co-ordination in you, but as well, will begin to give you a deeper and clearer sense of who you are, moment by moment. They will improve posture and breathing and thinking and peacefulness.

The deal is, though, not just to do them and then don’t do anything until three days later when you read the next moving lesson chapter. Do some sort of moving from these lessons every day. It won’t take much of your time. And the time you take will be a meditation that will enhance your connection to the present, the present of the present, as well as continue to build a heightened ease and vitality in your self and your life.

And the other chapters, like this one: Don’t just read and then set the book down. Spend some time after each chapter in some sort of contemplative state. Sit or lie down or walk and breathe smoothly. Let the ideas and possibilities of that day’s chapter circulate in you, in conscious levels and deeper, unknown levels. Don’t answer the phones or fall for the usual busy-ness. Allow the ideas to float around without pigeonholing them back to your old ways of thinking.

Have a little journal, and write after each chapter anything you can think that relates to your life from what was said. Write down ideas you liked. Write down ideas that popped up in you. Right down ways you’d like to change or pathways you’d like to explore, or what the present is like for you right now.

That’s always good to write, think, feel and notice: what is this present right now, this incredible gift. This chapter is over, so I hope you give yourself the opportunity to contemplate and write a bit, make this chapter yours, write down something from the heart and now of you. Our life is now. How wonderful to remember and live from that.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tuesday, May 30, Chapter 31: Gwan Outside

Maybe it’s a beautiful day, maybe not. Gwan outside anyway. As in, go on outside. Walk out the door, look at the sky. Walk out the door and move down the sidewalk or the pathway or whatever you have out there, that will allow you to do that most human of activities: walk. Walk down the street, walk down the path, breathe some fresh air. If you are in the middle of a busy city, walk to a park. If you don’t live near a park worth walking to, move. Life that is totally dependant on cars to get us to someplace decent to walk is not worth living, in my opinionated opinion.

We came from nature, we are nature. This body thing is our small earth, and by breathing with awareness and sensing our spines and letting a little smile come to our faces, we light up the little Earth, but this spending all our time indoors is mentally unstable. Gyms are the most idiotic to me. Ride a bike that moves to a garden and dig dirt and push around wheelbarrows if you want to get strong, or walk to a park and do push ups. But to drive a car to a gym to get on a bike that goes nowhere in a noisy room full of mindless body building robots, what drivel.

Yoga, too, always indoors. Pilates. Dance. Feldenkrais, even, always indoors. Does this have to be? I don’t think so. Not when the weather is nice, and even when it’s a little uncomfortable, can we take a little responsibility for how much of the Earth is being wrecked for air conditioners because people can’t stand anything above 80 degrees, or for heating when it gets below 70? This is pretty sad when it’s all cars and controlled temperature and indoors. Is that really living? I don’t think so. What do you think?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Monday, May29: Chapter 30: Four levels of the work

EASE IN OUR BODIES. MORE BODY AWARENESS, MOVE WITH GREATER COMFORT AND FLEXIBILITY AND ENJOYMENT. The fourth level goal of the Chris Elms Feldenkrais® work, is what people usually think of when they think of Feldenkrais. “Oh, it’s some sort of amazing bodywork that really gets you in touch with the subtle levels of moving.” (Or, “It’s some weird stuff, where you lie on the floor and go slow. Very unsexy and you don’t even sweat. How boring.”) Yes, Feldenkrais movements can wake us up to moving in ways that we haven’t since we were small children. Yes, it is slow, so the brain can actually learn something new, instead of reprogramming more deeply what we habitually do. It can promote flexibility without strain and efforting. It can give us a whole new idea of how to be at ease and comfortable in our bodies.

GREATER FLEXIBILITY IN THINKING AND FEELING, AS WELL AS BODY. The third level of this work, as I conceive it, is to increase thinking and feeling abilities. This occurs with anyone who does any Feldenkrais work on a long term and consistent basis, especially anyone who experiments and plays with the movements every day, and really tries to penetrate the method of this work. Because the method is so opposite to the “no pain, no gain” mentality, just practicing the attention to the process instead of the goal will yield magnificent results in all aspects of participants’ lives, not just in the physical. Because the work is about learning by experimentation, rather than imitating the "right way" to do something, we can begin to realize we could learn and question in the thinking and feeling realms as well. Because the work is a way of over and over experiencing the power of trying out variations, and a re-entry into the thrill of discovery, we can stop taking for granted the fixed and conventional interpretation of "how things are."

EXPAND, IMPROVE, TRANSFORM OUR LIVES. The second level of the work, is to expand the possibilities in our lives, to move beyond the confines of our habitual thinking and feeling and doing and sensing. To learn more about all of life and to transform ourselves in the process. I would like to see an awakening out of the traps our society places us in, rushing from here to there, no time to think, or be quiet, or explore what it is to be us, lots of time being addicted to television or crappy food or automobiles. This goal is to awaken to pathways that we might never have dared to enter, and not only enter them, but delight in the learning that leads to excelling in them.

WAKE UP TO THE PRESENT. The highest level of the work is simple this: to wake up. To come to awareness as an ongoing core to our existence. Since this awareness will be based not on a specific meditation, but a whole practice of experimentation and learning and discovery, this awareness will be useful at all moments in our lives. The life of sleep and habit and routine will seem stale and pale and uninteresting to us. We will more and more see through our habitual ways of being, thinking, feeling, moving, speaking, reaction, and setting up our days, of talking and (non-)listening, of walking and lying down and sitting and going about little or big tasks. Where are we at any and every moment? How can we wake up and be happy here? What are the habits and ongoing trance in our way? What we will discover on the other side of habit and trance will be the uniqueness that is us, alive, and present.

Monday, May29: Chapter 29: Memorial Day: All Hail the Ongoing Trance

So, today we are suppose to honor the dead, who died so that we may be free. Notice the similarities to the Jesus riff: he died so that we may live eternal life, or whatever. Both statements string words together and put a “so that” in there, that makes one think that there is a causal relationship, but is it true?

We’ll leave Jesus for some other time, but the soldiers, poor guys, died to protect their buddies, and they died because they were young and angry and their anger got focused on the latest “enemy,” and they died because they were young and idealistic and they believed that “their country” was in “danger” and that they were doing some good for “their” country, by protecting it against whoever was the latest bad guys. They died because some politician sent them off to die, and they believed that they could like themselves more inside, or maybe just hate themselves less, if they were “patriotic,” which they have been well trained to believe, equals “good.”

Scratch any good argument between a couple, and it gets down to “I’m right, and you are wrong.” If the argument escalates, it gets to the level of “I’m good and you are bad.” That’s it. Every argument is about that. “You are wrong about how you treated me. You are bad for how you treated me.” “You are wrong for what you did. You are bad for what you did.”

Each counters with more and more example of how the other is wrong and bad, and the arguments ends if someone will buckle under and admit they are wrong, or one or both break into tears, or one or both escalate and start to whomp on each other. Or someone rushes away, slams the door, and roars off in the car to get in some accident.

Notch it up and we have war, where each country is right and to prove how right/good they are, and how wrong/bad the other country is, they set out kill enough of the other country’s people and/or soldiers until the other country gives up. Apology is nice, but capitulation is the end of war. What a great game to play for a humankind living out its lives in a trance.

How else can the obvious be avoided: these are other people we are killing to prove we are better people than they are? These people have mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and lovers and children. These people think they are right. We think we are right. Bang, bang, someone is dead. Bang, bang everyone is dead.

So, the sucker racket continues. Lives of sleep, being feed a system of beliefs about good and bad, about this country and other countries, about duty and honor, about dangers that usually don’t exist.

“But what if someone broke into your house, wouldn’t you protect it?” That’s always the fallback argument for war. Well, let’s look at a couple of examples. A deluded fellow breaks into the Queen’s Quarters in England. She sees him and says, “Are you alright? Can I get you something to drink?” He feels taken care of and calms down.

Someone breaks into a devout Christian’s apartment and focuses a gun on her. She says, “Don’t be afraid. God loves you. Let’s pray together and everything will be alright.” He goes along with that idea, prays, and turns himself in.

A friend of mine is hiking in the back country of Jamaica. Three men and a gun appear and ask her for her money. She says, “Sure. You can have everything. And I’ll give you more back at the hotel. But please put the gun down, and don’t you feel awful being grown men having to do this to support yourselves?” She means it. Two freak out and run away. The last cries, sticks around and tell s her how hard it has been to break into a wood carving business. She invites him back to the hotel, so she can give him some money to help set up the business. He refuses, and next time she is on the island, he has his business set up.

Yeah, yeah, someone could say, but what if Hitler breaks into your house and starts killing people. Well, then kill Hitler I guess, but how did Hitler come to power? What did World War I, and the brutal “peace treaty” have to do with his rise to power? What did a history of men of power ordering the ordinary man to go off and fight for “the cause” have to do with people falling for Hitler’s nonsense? What did an ongoing sleep contribute? What did the trance of the German people, galvanized by the burning of their parliament building as this country’s tranced out populace was galvanized by 9-11, have to do with his rise to power? What did the German belief in myths and superheroes and our people is better than others have to do with it? The same old, if I’m not better than you, I’m nothing lie that people have been swallowing for centuries.

It takes a sleeping people to let a Hitler come to power. It takes a sleeping people to believe that war is a noble profession. It takes a sleeping people to get roused each year at Memorial Day and actually believe that people dying in Vietnam, say, had anything to do with American freedoms. It had to do with a delusion of dominoes and Lyndon Johnson’s ego. What does the Iraq war have to do with our freedoms?

This is almost too easy a rant. Can I rant and stay awake to the moment, to my breath, to my fingers typing , to my spine in gravity, to my possibility of ongoing happiness? The feeling of righteousness, so comfortable, can be another habit, another way to go into trance, well know to the masters of war. And to ask myself about my waking and sleeping is to begin to come back, the remember myself. When I remind myself of the present, I can escape the trance of righteous ranting and come back to this sweetness of now.

Now that is worth remembering. This is worth remembering. Yes. Every day. Indeed.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sunday, May 28, ch 28, Moving is Life

Sit it a comfortable place. Breathe and notice your breathing. Notice gravity and how your spine is holding up your head and how your feet are place on the ground. Notice your over-all feeling tone.
1) Bring your right shoulder forward, easily, simply, many times. Notice breathing and spine and gravity while you do this. Notice what else moves as you do this. See how pleasurable you can make this.

2) Rest a bit. Then bring your left shoulder forward, with all the same awareness and wish for ease and mindfulness and pleasure.
3) Rest a bit. Bring one shoulder forward and the other back, back and forth, many times, with ease and pleasure.

4) Rest a bit. Now bring both shoulders forward and come back to your starting place. Again, many times, easy, exploring and enjoying.

5) Rest a bit. Now bring both shoulders back and return to the starting position.

6) Rest. Find the place in your back directly behind your belly button. We’ll call this your power back area. Bring this area back by tucking in your stomach and rocking back on your pelvis. Feel this as a rolling forward in the chest and a come back in your belly. Let your breath come out as you do this. Do this easily.

7) Rest. Now, move the power back forward. Press your belly out, rock forward on your pelvis and feel your back arching and your spine

8) lengthening. Do this many times, with ease and increasing pleasure and clarity.

9) Rest. Now move both shoulders forward as you move your power back backward. Go slow. Feel how this can be easy and elegant. Enjoy this. Learn from this.

10) Rest. Now move both shoulders backward as you move your power back forward. Feel the rocking in your pelvis. Feel your belly pushing forward. Allow yourself sometimes to breathe in as your belly push out and sometimes to breathe out. Go slow. Feel the whole spine, from bottom to top moving as your shoulders move forward.

11) Rest. Now move shoulders both forward and back as the power back moves in the opposite direction.

12) Rest on your back. If you have time, do everything above on your back. One shoulder forward, and then the other, and then both forward, both back, power back forward, power back back, and the combination of shoulders and back.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Saturday, May 27: Chapter 27: Waking Up is Fun

It’s now five thirty in the morning. According to the habitual mind, this is “too early.” Old habits say: “Should be sleeping.” And the old bugaboo: “Going to be tired later.”

Later, shmater. Maybe yes, maybe no, but why waste my time now worrying about and preprogramming myself to be tired later? I’ve got somewhere to go early this morning, so now is the marvelous time to get up and write today’s essay. If I didn’t have to get up early, it would be a marvelous time to lie in bed and sense myself and follow my breathing. Maybe I could make small and interesting movements that gave pleasure to my brain and my body, and allowed me to explore possible new connections between possible friends: say the toes and the tongue. Or the pelvis and the elbow. Or the elbow and the lips. Who knows? Just like a party where guests who are previously unfamiliar, if they are open, can gain great delights by associating with someone out of their usual range of acquaintance, so in sensing new combinations, we can have some inner delight.

Inner delight. Either I’ve got that going or not. If it’s happening, I’m living right. If not, time to wake up. Wake up with the realization that sensing myself and my breathing can always bring my back to the present. Wake up with the awareness that words in my head can either be pointing to useful activity and love in my life, or to useless complaining and worry. Wake up with the excitement of what can I be aware of now. And then now.

And then now.

It’s no big deal and it’s the biggest deal in the world, this difference between some world that was or will be and right now, fingers on the keyboard, right now air coming in my nose, right now, feet on the floor. This is my life. Yours is….?

Air in or air out or between breaths. Something is connecting you with gravity. The Earth is down there, under butt, or feet, or lying down self, and we can always sense our relationship to gravity.

We can always notice what is wonderful about now. We can always wonder how we are stopping ourselves if now doesn’t seem wonderful. We can wonder if perhaps releasing our breathing to be more free, perhaps making some small movements that will help our “bodies” feel more comfortable and alive, we can wonder if we are holding our hearts in a tight and condemning mood toward someone or to something. (Bad weather, idiots of the other political party). We can sense our breathing in our lungs, which are around our hearts. We can sense the heart and the breathing and our connection to gravity, and we can bring a slight smile to the corners of our mouth and wonder, why oh why am I not enjoying this now.

Whether it is “early” or “late,” it’s always the right time to be awake and aware and happy. And then, after indulging in that enough, time to get up and go out and be useful to the world or to other people. And if we don’t know how to have a jolly time doing that yet, great: we can have the joy of learning what we need to learn next.

It’s always the right time, isn’t it?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday, May 26: Chapter 26: Food and awareness

When I come home from a morning out, and enter the house, the first impulse is: Eat. Now, I’ve been on my bike for a twenty minute ride and it’s after one thirty, and still: this is habit. What’s the easiest way to still discomfort: food. What’s our earliest habit? Food.

What is life about when we are young? Exploration, learning and comfort. Being feed, being kept to a minimal comfort. We get fed by squawking, and we eat with our mouths. The tongue can taste and we are regaled over and over by sounds coming from the mouths and tongues of those around us. We learn, somehow, our Mother Tongue. We learn to talk.

We learn lots more than that. We learn what will get us in trouble, we learn what will get us goodies, we learn what tones of voices mean what, we learn that these giants around us not only care about our welfare, they care about controlling us, keeping us from bothering them, keeping us from doing this, from touching that, from going there, and later, from saying this or that.

Control and the tongue. We learn to control our tongue and we can talk. Their tongues tell us all sorts of ways to behave. Their tongues try to tell us who we are. Their tongues tell us that this and that and how we are supposed to cramp ourselves down. This is why it is such a treat to live in a foreign land where everyone is speaking in words and sounds different than those that were used to shape and mold and limit and warp us.

The tongue and eating. We all most of us know of the homunculus in the brain, the representation of which areas of our body are most important ( tongue, mouth, thumb) and which have less mental real estate ( our upper arms, say, our ribs). This is where we were and are most conditioned. This is where it is hardest to wake up to the present, while shoving food in our mouths and while shoving words out.

Have you been to meditation retreats, or “spiritual” dance classes, or “spiritual”: yoga classes, or even Feldenkrais classes where the emphasis is on detailed and exact attention to the present. And then the class is over and what do people do? Rush to put food in their mouth and rush to yammer. The talk, chat, yammer is out of the present, gone, as asleep as it can get. “My wonderful experience…” “I was so clear….” “My wonderful breakthrough….” And so on.

Enthusiasm is wonderful. Without it, life is a drag. But the enthusiasm for our yammering, for our presentation of our wonderful accomplishments, at the expense of being awake, this is a high price to pay. Better this, of course, than your everyday zombies, complaining if they open their mouth, and always in a rush or a jam, but still: this is the hard area. To speak and be present. To eat and be present.

And what is the easiest route? Moving ourselves in new or almost new ways, with interest and attention. This is what we did most of in our lives when we were young and being left alone to learn on our own. No one thought rolling over or finding our face with our fingers (and toes!) was something we needed to be taught, so we spent hours and days and months exploring and using our brains to create a more clear and complex understanding of ourselves and our abilities to move in the world. This is where we have the most freedom from outer regimentation, especially if we get back down on the ground or floor and start doing the little “meaningless” movements that make up our tennis game and our golf game and our yoga and all the “grown up” activities we have barely a chance of improving if we keep going at them in the same old ways.

So, the goal of life is to improve tennis via small and aware movements? No, one goal of life might be to be tricked by our wish to improve tennis or yoga or a sore back or a depressed spirit, tricked into Feldenkrais work, where, paying attention to small and new moving, and connecting to learning as it’s own reward, we find ourselves free to be not only present, but excited about learning. This is a fine state in which to spend our days: awake and excited to be learning. The tricky part is that in learning, you have to be willing to go into some place that you don’t know yet, you have to make “mistakes,” you have to live in the “don’t know yet” territory so frightening to most.

Oh, well. It’s that or the ongoing trace. And if things get uncomfortable: eat some food, take a drink, call someone up on the cell.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thursday, May 25, Chapter 25: Process vs. Diagnosis

I was working with a child today, and as he and I deepened awareness of his connection of his legs and arms to the center of himself, we talked a bit, too. He said of his ability to remember things, “I can’t.” I decided to introduce the idea, “Can’t yet.”

I pointed to a nearby chair and asked him if he could jump up on it. No. So this was something he “Can’t yet,” do. We looked at a twelve foot high shade structure outside and decided that jumping up to this probably warranted a “Can’t.” Then at the end of the class, I asked what we’d talked about earlier about how to talk a little differently. He couldn’t remember. Fine. That’s why I was reviewing it, to bring it back in. I pointed to the chair. “Oh, yeah. I can’t yet.” And the shade structure, “Can’t.”

I was pleased with this, and yet his teacher pointed out the deep significance that he hadn’t remembered what we’d talked about. Yeah, yeah, but then he did, I said, but she was on the way to something else. Next time I see her, I’ll ponder with her whether she might benefit from thinking about how he “can’t yet” learn to remember things, rather than being so vigilante in pinning down his inabilities.

What is learning, anyway? You take something you can’t do yet, and learn how to do it. You take something that seems all the same to you and learn to distinguish differences. Big and pig, kind of the same, with an important difference. Two plus three and two plus four, how are they the same, how are they different? Forget the right answer, what’s is the process of working toward a right answer?

To the teacher, his inability was the big deal. To me, the process of taking a concept and making it concrete was the exciting and interesting process, the idea jumping up on the chair, someday vs. jumping over the shade structure, no way. The differences and how they could manifest in his language.

I don’t know if all teachers like to seize on the shortcomings of their pupils, and this teacher will go to bat for kids that officials want to pigeonhole and put away in ridiculous programs, but this is the tendency in our whole culture. Sore shoulder? Get a diagnosis. Find a surgeon or a physical therapist to “fix” it. Sore shoulder as a chance to learn how I’m using myself poorly, how I could use myself more efficiently and gracefully: that’s too cumbersome. That requires learning. That requires a process of examination and trail and error.

What a pity when the world is all about finding what’s wrong and rooting it out instead of finding possibilities for learning and improvement and going with this.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wednesday: May 24, Chapter 24: The Ongoing Trance

Farmers’ Market, people out strolling around, listening to music, buying fresh food (some, though most stuffing their faces with pizza, popcorn or corndogs). Mouths open for food. Mouths open to talk. How you doing? This is happening. That is happening. Isn’t it lovely? Kids running around. Music playing. More food. More mouths. More talking.

All great, with a minor detail: it’s all being done in a trance. Awareness of feet on ground? Awareness of the other person’s voice, or our voice:? Awareness of our posture? Awareness of our footsteps? Awareness of the light in the sky? Awareness of which ear is hearing the sound? Awareness of waiting to look inside and see if we can come up with something other than the same old set of words to say? Awareness of our talking to get attention? Awareness of our interrupting others? Awareness of our agenda as we talk? Awareness of what we are seeing as we talk? Awareness of gravity and breathing as we listen? Awareness of our skeleton holding us up? Awareness of how we go to where we are standing or sitting?

Oh, well. It feels good. It’s outdoors. It’s away from the television. It’s out of the car. It’s out of the schedule. It’s a start.
And what’s next?

Time is for beginners. Breath is for finishers. This is a beginning: taking some time outdoors, with others, out of the busy thing. Next: can we come to market and remember ourselves?

What a shocking idea. What would it be like to be really awake in yammer land? Tune in and find out.

Or not.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, Chapter 23: Byron Katie again

So we are walking along, content. The thoughts come popping in, not exactly from outer space, but from somewhere that we aren’t keeping track of. The old shit thoughts: so and so should have treated me better, more people should be interested in waking up to the present, more people should ride their bikes, or be less stupid, or care more about the environment.

Maybe they are good thoughts, “right “ thoughts, but there goes the old peace of mind that comes with following the breathing and enjoying my feet on the ground and the clouds, right now, in the sky. Who would I be without the story, the thoughts, the pieces of evidence of how messed up everything is? Peaceful.

And yet: at some level, everything is messed up. Is that true? Well, not every thing. The ability to learn, to be present, to be happy, to love, these are way un messed up. So, without the thought, everything is messed up, I can see the world as it is, part messed, part wonderful. This is Feldenkrais, differentiate, take things apart, look at and test everything out from as many angles and points of view as possible.

And what does Byron Katie recommend. Well, she has various statements like, “When I argue with reality, I lose, but only 100% of the time.” What is the reality? The environment is in trouble. Okay. Do I want to be peaceful about that or agitated? That’s my choice. Do I believe that I’ll only work on the environment if I’m agitated? Is that belief true?

I don’t think so. I see lots of sporadically agitated folks, driving their cars around in a froth to meetings to whip other people into a froth about “saving the environment.” But what of the cars and our own inner environment as we get from place to place. What if one of the best things we can do for “the environment” is to slow down and be happy, so we’ll need less cars, and less shopping, and less needing to rush off to some Heal Me Now seminar way far away.

What if we were content in our daily life? How undermining would that be to the “environmental problem?” Quite a bit, I’d say.

And Katie, Byron Katie what is her advice: Judge Your Neighbor, Write it down, Ask four questions, Turn it Around.

Take some scrap paper. Take a sense of humor. Realize that if we are in bad moods, we are in some sort of war with reality. Write down our judgment on how Reality should be different.

This slows things down. I’ve said it before, and will say it again: change takes places by slowing down, in our movement, in our thinking, in our rushing around in our lives, in our conversations. Slow it down, write it down, all the troubles, write them down, but as judgments, pissed off baby demands that the world be just the way WE SAY it should be.

Judge the world, the neighbor, the whatever.

Write it down.

Ask four questions, is it true?, Can I really and absolutely know it’s true? How do I react when I believe the thoughts? Who or what would I be if I didn’t believe the thoughts?

Turn it around, stand it on it’s head. In Feldenkrais, we get huge awareness leaps by trying standing up things while lying down. We make big progress doing things “wrong,” and some more difficult and unfamiliar way. Here, too, we can look at the belief as a chance to learn about what we are missing in our own education. So and so should be more flexible in their thinking. Hmm. How could that apply to me?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday, May22: Chapter 22: Paths to Waking

There are many paths to waking up to the present. Some folks have heart attacks and their physicians suggest they take up meditation. They try it, and discover that to be present is to be peaceful and so for a couple of times a day they are present, off and on, and the rest of the day, sort of, they have a background idea: if I were more present, I could be more peaceful.

Some play sports and they realize that what they like about tennis or skiing is the intensity of being right in the moment with the ball or the swing or the ski or the snow. Their solution is sometimes to up the rate of skiing or tennis, and occasionally they realize that this focus on the moment can come in walking across a room and picking up a telephone.

Others are stimulated by death. They are approaching death and all the usual escapes, even shopping the mall, even mega-thriller movies, don’t really seem to be what it is all about. They figure, what the hell, I’ll go putter in the garden. They realize, why rush, I’ll never get to all the weeds, and why try so hard to make the garden perfect, it’ll never be perfect enough, so they just hang out and putter and garden and enjoy the smells and the butterflies and the glories of being alive. Sometimes these people, since they are no longer in a rush, and no longer trying to do the ridiculous (live up to others’ expectations, get everything done now, perfectly), spontaneously cure themselves. Sometimes they are so busy being peaceful in the present, they don’t even notice.

Sometimes the death of someone we love can snap us into waking up. We grieve. We wish them back. The more we wish, the more unhappy we get. We fall asleep in a miserable funk and have a dream of hugging and having a pleasant conversation with our missing friend. We wake up sobbing, and then realize, I can still love this person. I can still tell this person anything I want to say. We talk to this person, and seem to get a strange and wonderful answer: one of us is dead, the other isn’t. Your job, as the non-dead, is to live. To live is to appreciate, as I forgot to do, the preciousness of every single moment.

Boredom could be a stimulus. Having the intelligence enough to realize even without heart attacks or impending death that trips to the shoe store and vacations to whatever are all nice, and what about the times in between? Doesn’t that time count? A feeling of pleasure and peace and excitement begins to build by paying attention to our everyday state of being, how we feel sitting in a chair, how we feel going to a gathering, how we feel going to work, being at work, coming home from work. How we feel, listening to the same old people complain about the same old thing. How we feel hearing ourselves complain about the same old thing.

A sense of the weariness of life lived at the level of the high or low functioning robot comes to us. The solution could be to hype it up: go to Mexico, jump off a cliff, have an affair, rob a bank, take up kayaking. The solution could also be to take up surfing, but the more amazing kind of surfing, surfing the moment to see if we can ride right along with life as it (and we) are unfolding, breath by breath, sound by sound, sensation by sensation, sight by sight.

This is an adventure. Crazy and always available, almost too easy, almost too hard, completely amazing. Always available. Always available. Always available.

Monday, May22: Chapter 21: Three Choices

We can either be functioning at the level of a well adjusted robot. Here the inner chatter is upbeat most of the time (“beautiful day,” “wonderful town,” great friends and children”) and we are keeping ourselves busy doing things we more or less enjoy doing. Children are great to help people elevate to high functioning robot, since they actually do the new and the unexpected occasionally and thus can spark us into realizing that sameness isn’t all of life. Vacations can provide a change of impressions which serves again to stimulate us with something out of the ordinary, and a variety of books, movies, activities again provides a counterfeit experience of living in each moment as it is new and fresh.

Or least appealing choice is to function at the lower level of robot life. Here the inner chatter is all about how people don’t treat us right, our situation is so tough, things are bad and they are going to get worse, terrible childhood, bad marriage, bad health, bad luck, all sorts of victim talk. Continually stressed, full of blame, feeling unhappy or angry, stuck, trapped, depressed, frantic, these folk aren’t happy campers and are good suckers for hating foreigners or communists or terrorists or Arabs or black people, but a mother-in-law or noisy neighbor can often do the trick. Numbing out with fats and sugar or television or buying crap are all popular activities here.

The third alternative is awareness. To wake up to this moment and then this moment and then this moment. This is a beautiful place to be and can be written about and talked about and extolled either from a state of awareness or the state of a high functioning robot repeating words and ideas about the here and now, while not being totally asleep to the present. Witness the Power of Now phenomenon. .

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Saturday, May 20: Chapter 20: Three Brains, or the Carriage and the Drunk Driver

In the work of G. I. Gurdjieff is the ancient Sufi teacher allegory of the cart and the driver. The cart, designed for rough and variable pathways, has been spoiled by being kept to easily traveled byways, and hardly any attention has been given to keeping it up and running smoothly. The horse, not particularly lead by the driver, lurches this way and that, whatever momentary urgings being its guide. The driver, more or less drunk, sometimes has a great vision of going this way, sometimes that, and wonders where all the time went when he never ends up anywhere particularly useful or pleasant. And the Master, the one who should be awake, directing the driver, is asleep, waking only occasionally to wonder how the hell they ended up where they were.

Let’s say the horse is our emotions.

And the carriage our body.

The driver our consciousness, in the way Feldenkrais uses consciousness, to distinguish between the state of being non-asleep “awake,” as when we just wake in the morning or from a nap, and the state of “consciousness,” where we know where we are, in what bed, or place, in what town, and so on. Beyond consciousness, in Feldenkrais’ map, is our awareness, that lovely state we’ve talked about and sniffed at and tried even to come into, the ability to know right now what we are doing and seeing and hearing and touching and moving, right now.

And this is the Master, our awareness.

The driver and the Master could also be called sleeping or small self and waking or Large self. They probably have something to do with the higher centers of the brain, but they might include the heart and the nervous system as well, and who knows, the Master might be not really in any location specifically.

Nowadays, though, people love to think something is “explained” if they can point to an area of the brain, though the Sufis did fine for centuries understanding and enlightening themselves and others with the more functional approach of horse, carriage, driver and Master. The locations people do a reptile, mammal, human wrap, with the reptile movement flight and fight brain being at the core.

Then comes the mammal, feeling s and connections and general taking care of the herd/tribe stuff in the middle.

And then, above and surrounding all the neo-cortex, with the forebrain at the front. These are our regions of thinking and music and speech and mathematics and connecting the dots and have inspirations and so on.

This is all probably really, really important, but some other book can tell you about it and for now at least, this is enough of the three brains.

I personally either like the cart and driver and carriage and am I going to be awake to have a say in that?

And I like Feldenkrais’ four aspects: movement, sensation, feeling and thinking, that are aspects of any action we take.

Is there someone home while we are living our life? This is the crucial question, askable at any and all moments.

Even now.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday, May 19: Chapter 19: Connect, explore, play: life needs, Feldenkrais pillars

At an interesting talk last night, the speaker mentioned three levels of imperative to human beings. One is to connect, to connect as flesh and blood with other flesh and blood. To have someone we model ourselves after when we are babies and children, and to have people we relate to on a face to face, finger to finger, looking at and seeing, listening to and hearing level throughout our lives.

Another need, is to explore, he said, and I’d expand to explore and learn. This is what transforms us from blobs on our backs, to roly poly babies that can get to our stomachs, to hellraisers who crawl around and get into way too much trouble. This is what gives us the information to teach ourselves to walk and to talk. We try this out. We try that out. The more things we try, the less afraid we are to experiment, the more we will learn and the more skillful we will be, even though the experimentation is for its own sake, not to be better at crawling or rolling over or walking or talking.

The third imperative of all children, all animals, all humans, is play. Which is to go about something in a non-linear, non-programmed, non-relentless way, a way in which the going is the delight. Needless to say, this childish play can easily be converted into programmed sports with official uniforms and adults hounding the kids right and left to do better or “win,” as if the obvious could be completely ignored about games in which one team wins. The obvious, is that for one team to win, another team has to lose, and immense amounts of lying goes into saying it doesn’t matter if you win or not, it’s how you play, but watch the adults at child soccer or baseball games and listen to their voices, and you can tell what matters.

The speaker said all animals, when not watched by humans, spend big portions of their time playing. He must have meant non-domestic animals, because I can’t imagine cows frolicking much, but who knows, unwatched buffalo might, or might used to have before they were almost whipped out by the same sort of mentality that has lead to war after war, and leads people to power yoga instead of Feldenkrais. The “get things done, and if anything’s in your way, mow ‘em down” approach to life and obstacles and Enemies, by they the enemy of animals not totatlly dominated, or our own bodies not whipped into “shape,” or the coercion of nature by chemicals and poisons, into an agriculture that has almost nothing to do with nature or the natural.

This is the genius of the Feldenkrais approach: if anything’s hard, you don’t plough through, push through, or otherwise force yourself where you aren’t ready yet.

No. You apply the three imperatives, with my slight modification of the first to connection to the Self. There is a deep part of us, aware of the moment, and aware of our aliveness. This is what Feldenkrais, by slow and attentive movement, can open up for people. We spend so much of our lives in a trance dominated by our imagined picture of how we are being perceived by others, that we have almost no energy left over to actually pay attention to ourselves. A few people can meditate and come to this centering. Some can garden peacefully, and be in the moment with the Earth and their plants and their own bodies, but even here, many garden like robots with their minds chattering away at all the usual froth, and the emotional tone being not one of enjoyment, but of “getting things over, so I can get to the next thing.”

The second imperative, to explore and learn, is what sets Feldenkrais firmly out of the category of “bodywork,” into which people, whose minds are in deep ruts, love to place it. It is learning work. It is improving the self work. Learning through moving the various aspects of our body/mind system (i.e. ourselves) is just the quickest way to learn, because it is what the human brain is focused on doing when we are young, and is best at: finding pleasant and amusing and efficient ways of moving. People wake up to this a couple of minutes a month when they make love, or maybe for some hours of horse back riding, or walking, but then, between these activities, it’s back to sleep, back into the ruts, back to being a robot. Watch people yammering after yoga classes if you don’t believe me.

Learning by exploring, this is the essence of Feldenkrais lessons. There is no “right” way to move, but five or six or eight different approaches might be explored to find the one or two or three that are amusing and possibly useful new possibilities. Every lesson is different and there are hundreds of lessons. Many find them hard to tolerate, because there are big batch of time when you move slowly and without efforting and straining, so all that identification which says, “I am the strain and stress and tension of my efforts,” this part is lost.

We are left with the adventure, the play, the trying out of the new and the novel and the different. We roll around. We try things no one every thinks of. We do things the wrong way. We do things backwards, and on our bellies and our backs. We roll around. We have a good time. And this people avoid, preferring their good time in the cinema, or beating themselves up in power yoga or Pilates.

Oh, well. The effects of all this power and bashing and leaving the present and disconnecting from nature are all around us. Maybe a few of us can enjoy incredibly rich and beautiful and learning lives as the others rush off the cliff in their lockstep ruts.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday, May 18, Chapter 18: The Present

You are walking along in a beautiful place. This is a good thing. You feel your feet touching and lifting from the ground. This is a good thing. You notice the air coming in and out of your nostrils. This is a good thing. You see the trees and the birds, you feel the slight breeze, you hear bird song and insects. All good, all now.

And then you think about the party you didn’t get invited to. Bummer. Why were you left out. The thoughts go on and on and you aren’t really on the walk anymore, you are in some strange bummer/thought land

If on the walk, you might not be able to write down the thoughts, but what if you were so habituated to being in the present, that you noticed your breathing was no longer happy, that your feelings were no longer happy, your walk was no longer connected to you? And you wonder: how did this happen?

And you notice all the thoughts.

And you can see and feel the results of all those thoughts.

And then you could ask the fourth question: who or what would I be without the thoughts, and you’d be right back where you started, just on a walk, enjoy bird and breath and feet touch ground. Maybe this is where you bring your attention, back to left foot, right foot on the ground, breath coming in, breath coming out.

Simplicity itself and you are happy again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wednesday: May 17, Chapter 17: The Work of Byron Katie

The Work of Byron Katie is simplicity itself, and came from a woman’s discovery that she need not suffer any more emotionally. Byron Katie had spend ten years of her life in depression, alcoholism, chain smoking, raging at her family, and just in general being miserable. Then she “woke up,” to a clarity in which nothing was bothering her, in which everything was wonderful.

This waking seemed to be connected with a clarity that her suffering came from her attachment to certain thoughts, be they “My husband should love me more,” or “My daughter should listen to me more,” or “I shouldn’t weigh so much.”

She discovered that if she wrote her thoughts down, when they snuck back in to disturb her new blissful peace, that helped capture and slow them. This slowing down is necessary for all real learning, whether in Feldenkrais, in spiritual work, or in emotional work. Writing down slows down the thoughts, puts them in front of us on paper, makes them blunt. Oh, my: this is the source of years of suffering, “My father shouldn’t have been so critical.” Seven words.

Writing down is a start and then questioning begins. We don’t reject the thoughts, we don’t overcome them, we don’t shout them down with positive affirmations. We just bring our minds to look at what our minds have come up with. The thoughts come. We judge. We love to judge.

Write the thoughts down. There are the judgments.

Now, ask four questions.
1) Is it true?
2) Can I absolutely know this is true?
3) How do I react when I attach to these thoughts?
4) Who (or what) would I be without these thoughts?

There’s a finally phase, the “turn around,” which is an opportunity to examine if perhaps what we are preaching to another might be good medicine for ourselves. It’s one more opportunity to create differentiation in our stuck thinking, so that instead of going around and around for years, “My father shouldn’t have been so critical,” I can test out, was I critical of him? Am I critical of myself? If the answers are both yes, maybe I can ease back from my demands on him.

And what of these four questions.

IS IT TRUE? This sometimes drives people crazy. Because according to convention, someone shouldn’t lie to us, say, so the statement, “So and so shouldn’t have lied to me” seems straightforward and true. But this is the truth of reality, not the truth of how people “should” behave ( and even that can be tempered when we think back on the times we have lied, or at least fudged truth.)

If so and so lied, our opinion is that they shouldn’t have. Our belief is that they shouldn’t have. Social convention might agree (then we are Right!) that they shouldn’t have lied. And yet, the reality might be: they lied. (Then again, they might not have lied. We might have gotten that part wrong. This is weird and amazing work, a lot like the Feldenkrais work in that the more we can find that we aren’t doing well, the more we can grow and change, rather than the usual trying to hide behind having it all “together” instantly.)

IS IT ABSOLUTELY TRUE? Okay, okay, this is for when we dig in our heels, and it’s true that so and so shouldn’t have had an affair behind our backs. Absolutely true, means in the scheme of the whole universe, such a things should never have happened. Even this can be hard, sometimes, not in personal matters, but with corporations, say, whipping out whole species with their callous actions. Well, maybe we can say it’s absolutely true, there. I don’t know. The goal is to examine things.

HOW DO I REACT WHEN I ATTACH TO THIS THOUGHT? Now we start to take total responsibility. If the words, “My father shouldn’t have been so critical,” make me bummed and angry and defeated and resentful, I can start to wise up: it’s not my father bothering me. It’s my thoughts about my father that are bothering me. Same with the liar or the adulterer, their actions are over. That’s reality. My conviction that reality should have been otherwise brings up the list I write down as the answer to this question.

This is the consequences of my thinking.

If I keep thinking these thoughts, I will keep feeling these feelings.

Does that mean I “should” stop having these thoughts? Not necessarily, but I can temporarily, at least, go to the fourth question to try out the world without the thoughts. So:

WHO OR WHAT WOULD I BE WITHOUT ATTACHING TO THESE THOUGHTS? Same critical Dad, lying friend, adulterer mate, and yet, what is my experience if I don’t attach to these thoughts? Notice, there is no command: don’t attach. Just an experiment. What would it be like?

So we have our feelings and they either start from our thoughts or get caught up in our thoughts and are kept alive by our thoughts. Now we have a marvelous tool to begin to examine the thoughts, and, like good scientists, or seekers of the truth, discover what happens when we pry open our closed and fixed minds.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tuesday, May 16, Chapter 16: What Gives When We Choose Unhappiness?

Well, this is again close to the Big Enchilada question of how to want things and not be pissy and unhappy if we don’t get them. Yet. Or ever. This unhappiness thing has a whole life of it’s own, and the more we can see how we are DOING our unhappiness, the more we can begin to do something else.

So, again, it’s up to you to look, but if you discover that unhappiness is coming from you, then you can think: If I am doing this, how much do I want to do this? And how long?

That seems heresy, doesn’t it? So contradictory to the bad feelings come from outer space or other people myths. If I’m doing my unhappiness, how long do I want to indulge in it and how intense do I want it to be. (Actually bad feelings might come from diet, but let’s postpone that for now, but being healthy physically, is part of the complete picture of a full and wonderful life.)

Like movement, that carried to extremes and becomes unpleasant, unhappiness can be backed away from. I can back off from unhappiness, do less, and with more awareness and see what’s really going on.

Here’s a couple of rackets to look at before we dive into the Byron Katie work, which we can find out about just fine on your own, either reading her books (Loving What Is. And I Need Your Love. Is that true? ) or looking at her website,

One racket of our unhappiness is to punish people around us. Let them see how much we are suffering since they didn’t do whatever we wanted them to do. This can be quite common in couples, where one will mope and sulk until the other finally asks: “Okay, What did I do?” Kids and their parents, or parents and their children, this is a favorite. Let me push you around with my suffering.

Weirder, though, is the idea of punishing someone who is gone, or in the past, or dead, but still, in some part of our minds, we think our suffering will make this missing, or past or dead person feel really guilty.

And then there is the racket with ourselves. Which works like this: I want a new job and indulge in big batches of unhappiness when I don’t get it. The racket, here, is that I’m pretending that I need to whip myself with unhappiness to keep up my efforts to get the new job. It’s as if I believe I should be punished with unhappiness until I get what I want. Which can create a driven life, that may or may not be “successful,” but certainly will be unhappy, because any time I want to move to something new, I’ll go back to punishing myself with unhappiness until I get it.

There’s more to this, but it’s a pretty big piece. Chew it over and digest well.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Monday, May 15: Chapter15: Time to Move

1) Come to the front edge of your chair. Start up a little of the good old belly forward and belly back stuff. Belly forward and a rocking forward on your pelvis. Belly back and rocking back on your pelvis.

2) Bring your breathing into this, sometimes breathing out as your belly goes out and sometimes breathing in as your belly goes out.

3) Now allow your sternum to join the fun. As your belly comes forward, let your sternum rise a little and come forward a little, as if you had eyes in the middle of your breastbone and were going to look up a bit with those eyes. When you belly comes back, let your sternum come down and back a bit, getting softer and more yielding. Keep the breathing going one way or another, keep noticing the pelvis rocking.

4) Rest a while. The interlace your fingers and put them behind your head, and as your belly comes in, allow your elbows to come forward and down, toward your knees. No big deal about getting there. Always do less than 100%. Always go for ease and less effort and more mindfulness. Go for pleasure. When the belly goes out, let the elbows raise toward the ceiling or sky, up and even a little back, if that’s a do in eighty percent of your range. Keep it easy. Keep it interesting. Keep it pleasurable.

5) Rest. And then, begin to take the right elbow toward the left knee. Maybe even outside the knee a little. Let your nose turn to the left as you do this, and keep softening your sternum as you go down. When you come up, belly forward, sternum up and forward, let your right elbow come up and to the right, and let your eyes follow the right elbow as it comes up and behind you maybe. Your chest will rotate up and to the right also.

6) Rest. Do the same the other side. First interlace your hands in the other order, putting another finger on top. Then allow the left shoulder to come down toward the right knee. Again, stomach comes in, and breath goes out, ( or in, this is an adventure, an exploration, not a recipe), let the elbow come toward or past the right knee, and when you rise up, bring the left shoulder and elbow up and back and rotate your whole self to the left and up, as if one a lengthening diagonal.

7) If this gets confusing, try to go more slowly and realize that anything you do with attention and mindfulness will feel good and be useful to you.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sunday, May 14: Ch. 14: Who's Doing This

Now, life can get interesting. If we are happy, cool, be happy. If we aren’t happy, where is this coming from? As you may have guessed, if you gotten this far, happiness does not descend from outer space, or the surroundings. It is something we do. Now, this is only my experience. Don’t you believe that until you’ve figured out whether or not that is true for yourself.

Every time you are unhappy, look for the pieces: the constriction of breathing and movement and ease in our bodies, a bunch of thoughts, and a possible racket, or at least a set of actions we get engaged in, or predisposed to. These actions might be going to the corner and sitting in it and bending up in a little bummed out ball, but that’s an action. It takes a certain amount of doing to pull ourselves away from the world and keep ourselves all curled up. The curling up, of course, will relate to restricted breathing and constricted movement.

Looking at the thoughts that accompany our unhappiness is the genius of the Byron Katie work, which I might as well get around to soon, though it might be time for a little more moving next chapter, but before her method even, just to notice that the feeling of our feeling is one thing, and the thoughts, are another. One way to know the thoughts aren’t so useful to our life is to note how they go over and over and over, like a stuck record, and how, if we are the chatty type, we try to get other people to hear them over and over and agree. Agree how wronged we were. Agree how bad someone else is. Agree what a tough break we’ve had. This gets close to racket land, but it’s at the heart of most unhappiness, the insistence on being Right.

And, if we are slaves to the usual world of other people’s perceptions, we can only be Right, if other people agree with us.

So watching the thoughts go on and on, and maybe even getting a little bit sick of spending our lives that way can be a nice lead up to the Byron Katie work.

And what of feelings that just “sneak up” on us, and don’t have any thoughts attached. We just feel “out of sorts,” or “down.”

Well, I’d say, without the thoughts, they are pretty easy: just sense what you feel, let the breathing be free, do some free and interesting movement, and they’ll take care of themselves. If “just” feeling, say, “out of sorts” leads us to begin to judge or complain about others, then we have a batch of thoughts we can work with, and then we can work with that.

And if we don’t want to work with our thoughts, and we want to obsess and we want to be right, hell, let’s just admit it: we want to be unhappy. And then, we can be unhappy about our wish to be unhappy. Or we can be curious about that. What gives if we want to be unhappy?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Saturday, May 13: Chapter 13: The Pieces of Unhappiness

So, if we are going to explore this unhappiness thing, we need to separate out the parts to it. One way of doing it is to separate out 1: What happened., 2: The Story about what happened, and 3: The racket that we develop around what happened.

Example. My sweetheart leaves me. That’s the what happened part. My story about it could be all sorts of things, usually including the following: This is unfair. She’s bad/a bitch/ whatever. I’m so terrible. Life is so terrible. Poor me.

The racket is my getting other people to feel sorry for me, or to “help” and “comfort” me. The racket could also be demanding X, Y and Z from any future women I go out with. The racket could also be using my tragedy as an excuse to skip work, which I want to skip anyway, but don’t have the guts to admit. And so on.

Another way of separating out unhappiness is this:

The breath.

The words in the head ( so called “thinking.”)

My actions in the world.

Funny thing about unhappiness. What we really don’t like about it is how we feel clamped down and unalive inside during our unhappiness and much of this is as simple as noticing that we are limiting our breathing and stifling our wish to move.

The words in my head, the Story, this is the genius of the Work of Byron Katie, because she invites us to play with these words, rather than drive ourselves crazier and crazier by repeating our mantra of “She shouldn’t have left me,” or “Woe is I,” or “She’s such a …..,” of “Life is so unfair.” Or whatever, you know how we can be when we obsess.

And then my actions are my racket, how I try to push around other people with my victimization, but they can also be the running away kinds of actions, taking long drives to go places I don’t need to go, taking long drives to go shopping, watching endless television, doing five thousand push-ups.

These is all food for watching. We can watch our lack of breathing.

We can watch our words, thinking, story.

We can watch our actions.

We can wonder: all this from my reaction to something happening that I didn’t like. Hmm. What’s that about?

Saturday, May 13: Chapter 12: Tried and False

Is there such a phrase? Tried and false, as the opposite of tried and true? Who knows? I don’t. But I’ll use it anyway, and see what happens.

The point of this section is to list some ways that don’t work to get another person or ourselves out of unhappiness, or if they do work, they are setting up processes that are counter to long term happiness.

So, here’s the first: Telling someone they are wrong. “You aren’t really unhappy.” “How can you be unhappy? You have a red car, a green wife and a blue house.” Or whatever.

Another is this: Telling someone to fling it off. “Snap out of it.” “Pull yourself together.” “You can do better than that.”

Here’s one, that seems to work, but ends up sending the message that the person will get a reward if they are unhappy. This is the way of sensualizing them out of their unhappiness. Tickling a child, say. Or, making love to an adult. It works, sometimes spectacularly, all those tears converted into orgasm, but what’s the message: Want good sex? Get really unhappy first, and I’ll come rescue you.

People eating and drinking to escape unhappiness is closely related, though a little different. Both damp down the bad feelings, depress the whole system, a kind of numbing that seems to feel good because it is lessening the pain. You’ve heard the drinkers saying, “I’m not feeling any pain.” Or, as the face is stuffed with ice cream or whatever, satisfaction does come to the taste buds and the nerves that are programmed for us to eat fat to keep from starvation, but again, this problem: a reward for feeling unhappy. And again: missing a chance to discover what our unhappiness is all about.

An interesting paradox here: Happiness is good, but unhappiness is not bad. When we treat it as bad, we are like the physical therapists, or message folk, good hearted wonderful people, who want to eliminate whatever is “wrong” in the body, rather than taking what is going on as a beginning of a map that will lead us to self knowledge and radical improvement.

This could be what this exploration of happiness and unhappiness is all about: once more we have a choice of “fixing” as a quick elimination of the problem, or a deep and radical healing, where we can get better and better and better. So we don’t “snap out of it,” we aware into it, and come out whole and healed.

And happy.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday, May 12: Chapter 11: Happiness as Choice

This sounds impossible, doesn’t it? I mean, what the hell, if all we had to do was chose to be happy, why wouldn’t we?

Perhaps this is a question worth asking.

One of the wonderful tools of the Feldenkrais work, and in most work that involves real change, is the process of differentiation. What’s that mean? Not glomping everything together. All rich people are mean. All rainy days suck. All immigrants are stealing jobs from blah, blah. These are example of undifferentiated thinking.

Feeling, too, can be seen as something we throw into one big pot and therein wallow, or as something we do that we can separate out Actually, feelings, the emotional sort and the physical sort, are often seen as mysterious forces that assail us, maybe from our past, maybe from outer space, maybe from other people (You know the riff: “You make me so mad/angry/sad/whatever.”)

But what if we were unhappy and we started to separate out various components. Say, we didn’t have a mate, and we wished we had one. Now, the undifferentiated way to respond to this would be, as I’ve just mentioned, wallow away. “Poor me. No mate. Life is tough.” And so on.

Or, the bitter approach, “I’ve tried so hard, but there are no good …. (men, women) out there. Recall the message from our sweet/sexy heroine in Sex and the City. She tries so hard, poor dear, and the guys just leave, or get weird, or have an emotional problem. What’s a girl to do?

Anyway: undifferentiated, and life is all good, “Yeah, I’ve got my man/woman.” (This lasts for what? Five months?). Or, all bad: “How terrible. I can’t find a good woman/man.”

How would differentiated thinking help with this feeling? Or, how would differentiated feeling help with this thinking? Which do we want to tackle first?

Differentiated thinking: I’ve got no mate. What’s good about that? What’s not so good about that? What am I doing to contribute to the not getting? What am I doing to keep up possibilities of finding someone?

And then, the important questions: Do I really need a mate to be happy? Did the last mate “make” me happy? Is it the job of a mate to “make” me happy? Is it any one else’s job in the universe to “make” me happy?

Damn, where does all that point? If it’s not anyone else’s job to “make” me happy, then it must be my job.

Which is very close to saying that happiness is my choice.

Okay: how about differentiated feeling? How do I feel this with the “I need a mate story?” Okay. If I drop the “I need a mate story,” how do I feel? Now, for the tricky one: “How can I want and try to get a mate and still be happy even if I don’t succeed yet? Or right away? Or ever?”

This is no small potatoes. This is the essence of Buddhism, really, all the non-attachment stuff. I mean, if you snuff out desires, sure, then you aren’t ever going to be disappointed. But what about, going ahead and wanting things and being able to separate out getting what you want and happiness.

What am I saying?

I’m saying that this is one of the Big Enchiladas in life: How to be happy when you don’t get what you want. We are, most of us, trained to be happy when we get what we want. And the sour grapes/ no desire approach of “I never wanted a mate, anyway,” approach can seemingly solve the unhappiness from that perspective.

But what about this: “I really want a mate, and I’m really happy, right now, without one.” Is that possible?

Sounds like it’s going to take a bit of work, doesn’t it? There is always the smart thinking of, “If I’m happy, I’m going to be in better shape to find and attract a mate,” but beyond that, this is the Biggie: How to want and even deeply want, and be sweetly happy as the wanting does not seem to be fulfilled?

How the hell can we do that?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Thursday, May 11, Chapter 10: A Mini-Lesson, a Vacation

This is just a short piece of a longer lesson, which takes 40 minutes to an hour. This is part of the glory of these lessons: you slow down and get in touch with who you are when the center of you is your paying attention. Not getting things done. Not performing. Not hurrying on to the next thing. Not putting up with boring other people. Not stuck in some car or office.

This is you, in the moment, learning what happens when you move slowly and with attention. What happens different when you try different things: that’s science, that’s curiosity.

So, here’s the piece. Sit. In a chair or better on the floor. If on the floor, put the soles of your feet together if you can, or close to this is you can’t.

Now begin to protrude your belly forward. First just figure out that you can do this, and then slow down and do this with awareness. This is you moving you. Notice the changes in your back, and in your pelvis’ contact with the floor or ground or chair. Most fun, of course, to do this outside, on the Earth.

Protrude your belly and come back, back and forth, feeling the change in your spines and ribs and sternum and neck and belly, belly, let it out.

Now, not just noticing this, but notice breathing as well, and try this experiment: sometimes breathe out as you protrude your belly, sometimes breathe in. Notice the difference in sensation, and the difference in feeling tone. Notice which is “easier” and which is less easy, and see if you can discover why? It’s probably just habit, since both ways of breathing with belly out and extremely useful.

Now, create more variation and experimentation: sometimes when your belly goes forward, let your head come back a little. Do this both breathing in and breathing out. And other times, and this will be more difficult, as your belly comes forward, let your head tilt forward and down, as if looking at your navel.

Do these variations, and add back in awareness of your spine and ribs and sternum and especially your pelvis. Notice the pelvis and your back and how the shape of you is moving with a certain elegance and grace in this movement. Enjoy this. Enjoy you. Take a vacation from all the stress of getting things done and doing things right, and fall back in love with now and with learning and with yourself as an aware and learning being.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Wednesday: May 10, Chapter 9: Sex and the City

Marlie and I had some wonderful wasted time last night watching Sex and the City. We don’t get television, but through the DVD thing and a daughter who likes to bring her Pa up to speed, we finished watching the last season. What a trip.

Four pretty women, each taking their turn thrashing around in bed with someone, and spending most of their time talking at restaurants over the How Can I GET problem. They all supposedly work, but that is never shown, because the real work is the quest to GET.

The blond slut, wants to get: yes, laid. Okay, that sets us up for lots of fun, except that something interesting happens with her over the season.

The only one allowed dark hair falls in love with a Jewish man, and after the obligatory thrashing around, she must be in love, and to marry him ( after thrashing/love what can possibly be next but getting the guy legally?), she must convert to Judaism. So that keeps her busy, until they marry, and then her next GET project is the get a child thing, and she has trouble and has fun acupuncture treatment and so on.

The bright red haired, garish almost, is a single Mom, and she really wants to GET her ex-husband, or father of her child, back. I’m not sure which he is, but he’s kind of a nice, nerdish guy, and since he apparently finds someone else, she has to GET the handsome black doctor, so we see some black on white thrashing. Big thrill.

The star, who works two minutes a show typing in the writers’ ideas of wisdom, some of which actually are pretty smart, is another blond, though in the deal at the beginning of the show it’s more red, but what’s important is that she’s a doll, more or less in the Playmate mode, as explained by a recent New Yorker article. The ideal Playmate was the sweet, innocent girl next door with gigantic jugs. Doris Day in the face, Jane Mansfield in the body. She has the most trouble with her GET project and that gives us something to root for, and a fun lie to believe: there are no good ….( fill in the blank, men if you are a woman, women if you are a man) out there.

Trouble is this. In the second to last episode, she finds herself happily kissing her former high school sweetie, and they even get to Go All The Way ( more thrashing), but he has a problem. He’s checked himself into an open mental institution. She goes to visit. Does she ask him what’s bothering him? No. Does she ask him what he’s been doing in his life? No. Does she try to see how deep his problem is and how she can relate to that? No.

Instead they talk about him not really being available for her GETTING project for the ten months he’s in the institution, which, except for the obligatory, catching the nut scene, seems like a country club place.

So, in all this getting, who among the four actually does what we all need to do sooner or later: figure out how to get along with and love someone once all the buzz of brand new thrashing is over? The slut! She settles in with a younger actor, and they learn that talking about what’s going on can actually be beneficial. And she learns to hold hands. ( Dostoyevsky, this isn’t). But she actually works a few things out.

The red head finally says, I love you to her ex-, and so she GETS him, but the working out: not around. The dark haired one has problems with her GETTING the child, but by imitating Elizabeth Taylor, she’s apparently up for another try. The star GETS or DOESN’T GET the handsome Russian. Who cares? Or, let's be more nice: what a pity, a life devoted to getting.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tuesday, May 9, Chapter 8: Feldenkrais® Work, as Science, Judo, Learning

When Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) was inventing his system of learning and improvement, he was a Doctor of Science. He was also the man picked by Kano, the originator of judo, to bring that form to Europe. He had wrecked his knees playing soccer, and in the forties was almost crippled. Going to the doctors of the time, he was told that if he was operated on, he would have a fifty-fifty chance of not being able to walk at all. Moshe said he could flip a coin for such odds and that, as a scientist, you don’t conduct experiments unless you have an eighty or ninety per cent chance of success.

So he set about learning how to heal himself, and in doing so, discovered that what was important wasn’t brand new knees, for his would always be severely damaged, but to learn to function at the highest possible level, given whatever conditions could not be changed, or could only partially be changed (most scoliosis, say). In thinking about and discovering how to improve function, he discovered that learning was an intrinsic process, that at the core of learning was awareness, and that by moving slowly and with awareness, we could not only learn to move in easier and more efficient and pleasant ways, but we would increase our capacities for awareness and thinking as well.

His system ended up being useful for children with cerebral palsy, for adults with strokes, for professional athletes, for people stressed and strained by working at computers, for carpenters and gardeners and yoga teachers who have strained themselves in their work, for professional dancers and musicians and artists who have begun to injure or limit themselves, to people with MS, Fibromyalgia, autism, ADD, and a host of other “incurable” ailments, to say nothing of just plain getting creaky and older and wishing to be able to move with more ease and grace the way we did when we were younger.

Science was always Feldenkrais’ outlook. This was an experiment in learning about ourselves. It was not a system of fixing ourselves, by doing things “right.” It was an opportunity to learn again as children do, trying this and that, “mistake” after “mistake” teaching them more and more until they happen on a useful mode and all of a sudden they know how to roll over or to crawl. It’s been discovered that there is no one path to learning to crawl, and that those children who try to most different ways along the way, learn the quickest.

Judo was also deeply informing, the idea of moving efficiently and wisely from the core of ourselves and keeping our heads mobile while we moved, to be able to look in all directions (to see an attacker in judo, to see what’s happening in the world for a child, to keep from getting stiff and stuck, for the rest of us). Moving from the core, sometimes called the hara, the spot just below and in from the belly button, this will connect us back to the ease of using our biggest muscles, which are in our middle, to do our biggest work. Easier to think about is that the pelvis is the centre of all easy and efficient action. And many people can relate to the pleasures that can come from that region, too.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Monday, May 8: Chapter 7: Movement is Life, Waking Up

If we didn’t move, we wouldn’t be alive. If we move with awareness we rise up out of the level of unconscious automatons and become real human beings. This is all of us. Me walking to this computer, was I aware of each step? No. So, in those moments I was an automaton. Not bad or evil, this, but I was missing an awareness, a full awareness, of those moments. Me typing these words, am I aware of my fingers moving? Now, having asked the question, I am.

This is one of the glories of life, we can become aware, which means to be knowing what we are doing while we are doing it. We can also function habitually, going from morning to night according to our patterns, but to me, this isn’t really living.

When we came into this world, we were babies, more or less blobs. We could rotate our heads. We could move our limbs a bit. We could suck. Then, by experiment after experiment, we learned to move in ways that got us to roll over, or to grab the rattle, or to sit up. This learning was from inside us. It was trail and error. It was discovery. It was by using our attention and awareness that we became more and more clear on who we were and how we could move in the world.

We have this chance, now, as adults, to begin to move again with awareness and to not only increase the quality of our movement (which, in and of itself will improve the quality of our life), but the quality of our awareness, which, to my mind, is the core of our being.

Okay, okay. So much for the theory, let’s have some practice. Be in either a sitting or standing position. Rotate your head to the left and right, as if to look at something behind you. See how far you turn (do it easily, this isn’t a contest, but a chance t be aware) and what is the comfort in your neck and yourself as you do this.

Please place your right hand across your chest and into your left armpit. Feel your ribs on the side there, and if you can, come around back to feel a little of your left shoulder blade. Now place your left hand across your chest and into your right arm pit, feeling for the same connections on this side.

With yourself well hugged like this, rotate your chest and shoulders right and left.

Can you do this? Yes, of course you can, and then notice the tendency once we can do something to just go into automatic. Wee, rock and roll.

Fine, now do this slower and more mindfully. Do this at least 7 or eight times each way, and each time you do it you less effort and add in more awareness. How can you use less effort? How can you make this more enjoyable? What do you notice happening when you rotate your shoulders like this? What do you notice in your spine? In your neck? In your breathing? In the weight on your “sit” bones if you are sitting, or the weight on your feet if you are standing?

Now rest. Rests are good for the brain, good for the organism, good for learning.

Now, do this movement again and consciously turn your head the same way that you are turning your shoulders and ribs. Again, bring as much comfort and mindfulness to this as you can. Again, and in all the following movements, do this at least seven or 8 times in each direction, and each time you do it, add more ease and awareness.

And rest.

Now, do this movement, but leave your head facing straight ahead, so the shoulders are moving, but your head isn’t. Here, pay especially attention to keeping your breathing smooth and gentle and in awareness. Also notice your spine and your weight shifting.

And rest.

Now, do this movement of your shoulders and ribs in rotation and take your head the opposite direction. So when your shoulders and ribs rotate to the left, your head and nose turn to the right. And vice versa. This needs slowness. This needs breathing. This need doing smaller and more gentle moving so you are such that your breathing is easy and conscious as you do this.

And rest.

And now, simply rotate the shoulders and ribs easily, without any concern for or demands on your head.

And rest

And now, turn around left and right, to look behind you and see if there is a difference in quality and range of moving? If you have done this movement game with awareness and attention, there will be a pleasant change.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Saturday, May 6: Chapter 6: How to give Yourself Hay Fever

I hardly ever have hay fever, but I had a bit of a sneeze and itchy eyes yesterday. As with emotions, I could take the victim approach: oh, me oh my, this hay fever just happened to me, all those mean pollens in the air. Or I could take responsibility. How did I do the hay fever to myself yesterday?

By eating gluten, for one. Gluten not even in the form of wheat or floor, which are the usual culprits, but in the form of sprouted rye bread. Gluten and some casein, the glue like core to cheeses, these were how I gave myself hay fever. The casein from some cheese samples when we were up visiting another town.

The greatest way to really pour on the hay fever is to eat pizza. I have an amazing memory of living in the country around Sonoma and being not only surrounded by fields of grass, but spending a couple of hours a day scything them down, wonderful physical work. Never did I get hay fever. Then once, in my days of giving up bread, I had to have my fix, and brought some home from a pot luck dinner (pot lucks are the bane of people trying to get free of the habitually unhealthy way most people eat). I ate a bunch of the bread, good Artisan bread, and bingo, sneezing my head off.

And, even more amazing, the dog next door, the day after the family had Mary’s pizza delivered, sneezing all day. A dog with have fever from the gluten in the crust and the casein/glue in the cheese!

If you want to check out how to go gluten and casein free, check out the GFCF Diet, in, a site for Talking About Curing Autism Now. This diet helps 85% of autistic kids improve their symptoms, and will help probably an even higher percentage of hay fever sufferers.

Saturday, May 6: Chapter 5: Emotions, Happiness, a Start

Emotions are fun, and they tend to drive people crazy. They drive people crazy because most people are wimps, liars, and babies about emotions. They think that emotions just come, that they descend, as if from outer space. They think that other people are “making” them sad, or angry, or nervous, or whatever. They don’t take responsibility for the emotions as something, that once arising, they are doing.

And how do the emotions arise?

Well, that’s a bigger discussion, and one that we’ll get into when we return to the Byron Katie work. But for now think about this. You are walking along in a pretty meadow, feeling content. And then you think of your ex-mate. You have the ongoing habitual thought about your mate, that this person should have treated you better. You start to feel bad.

Then you keep thinking about the ex-mate and keep feeling bad.

Then you see a beautiful deer and you come back into the moment. You get very still and follow your breathing and life suddenly seems full and wonderful again. The ex-mate is gone, you are here, you are glad to be here, outdoors, in touch with outer nature of the meadow and the deer and the inner nature of sensing your feet on earth and your breathing coming in and out slowly.

Are you happy, right now?

If so, how are you doing that?

If not, how are you doing unhappiness to yourself?

If you don’t know this, what kind of life must you live if happiness and unhappiness are not something that you have a say in?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday, May 5: Chapter 4: Clarity in the now, via sensation

Here’s the good news: when we come to the present, we feel alive, we participate fully in our lives, we notice what’s really happening, we appreciate life and nature and people around us, we grow and learn and love and laugh.

Here’s the bad news: when we aren’t in the present, we are more or less a robot. Now, if we had chirpy happy, honest and friendly parents, full of praise and joy of life, there’s a chance we will be a well adjusted robot. This, in my experience, is only a theoretical possibility, since I’ve never meant one of these people.

Which means this: if we want to be happy and useful and loving and real: we’ve got to wake up to the present.

Okay, okay, Chris, so how to do this? Well, the whole book is about this, but as an ongoing meditation, here’s the start, and the start is how we got going in life: sensing ourselves.

Are we alive right now? What’s the test? The test is: Are we breathing? To wake to the present we can know we are breathing. Why bother? Is life different, sweeter, richer, more full and peace when we follow our breathing? For me it is. How about for you? Start it up, now, as you read these words and make it your goal, for the rest of your waking life: follow your breathing. Know where we are: breathing in, on the pause between in and out, breathing out, or on the pause between breathing out.

Feeling bad, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually: count your breaths. See if you can follow your breaths up to ten and then start over. If you can do this four or five times I can almost guarantee a shift in whatever is bothering you.

Is this enough to be present? No.

We come out of the womb, the nice warm womb and we’ve got a new world. A world where if someone isn’t holding us, we fall to the next lowest surface. Gravity. Gravity. Gravity. It need not be a grave matter, but until we go to outer space, it’s always here, here, here. So, in addition to breathing, add on attention to what is, right now, our relationship to gravity. If we are sitting, sense the pressure on the sit bones, on the butt as it were, and on the feet, and the hands and arms if they are pressing down on something, and the back, too, if we are slouching.

If we are lying down, where is the pressure pulling us into that on which we are lying? Our back and back of legs? Our side, and ribs and shoulder and side of leg? Our belly and front of legs and chest? Feel this if we are lying.

If we are standing, what is the pressure on our feet? How does that feel, right now, as a concrete, observable sensation.

Okay, breathing and gravity, is that enough to get us present? Almost.

Add on the basics of what we are as a movable body, which means this, add on the sensation of each arm, each leg and our pelvis/spine/head. Think of us as five lines. Sense those lines, either slightly, or deeply, either as rough noticing, or as detailed sensation from hip to all the toes, from shoulder to all the fingers, from pelvis clearly through each vertebrae up the neck to the head.

That’s the fancy way, and the simple say, is to know what is our shape right now, the shape of our arms, bent or straight, legs what is their shape, and the spine.

This is a lot. So. Give it a go. This can be done. Take a try at it. Love yourself as we go about this. If you start to give yourself a hard time, bring the attention back to sensing the breathing, sensing your relationship to gravity and sensing your five lines. Hard? Yes. But a lot better than being a robot.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Thursday: May 4, Chapter 3: Clarity in Thinking, Three Kinds of Business

Another fun person on this planet Earth, is a gal who goes by the name of Byron Katie. She is one of those amazing souls who suffered, suffered, suffered, ten years of depression, alcoholism, obesity, raging, chain smoking and so on. Then, in a depressed funk, lying on the floor of a half-way house, feeling unworthy of lying even on a bed, she “woke up.” Being from Barstow, and of no spiritual background, she just “woke up” to a clarity of the wonder of life without the burden of her thoughts about life.

We’ll go into this more as we go. For now, one concept she came up with to help herself stay clear was this. There are three (three!) kinds of business in this world: my business, your business and God’s business.

God’s business is the Earthquakes and that sort of thing.

Your business is what you think, feel and do.

My business is what I think, feel, and do. And sense.

So, someone I live with comes into the house and gives me a glaring look. Hmm. In the world of patterns and habits I can think, something is wrong with me. Or that something is wrong with them. From a clarity of thinking perspective, this glaring look is that person’s business. If I choose to let it bother me, my business. The clarity of thinking obviously helps my clarity of emotion and peace of mind, but the first step is just, as Katie says, “getting the bodies straight.” The person giving the glaring look is over there. I’m here. The glaring look, their business. How I respond to it: my business.

Someone doesn’t call me back. Their business. I get “upset” by this. My business. I take it personally, my business. I wonder what’s up, my business. I complain to another person about this, my business. I don’t call again, my business. I do call again, my business. Now we are into action, too, but the clarity is what is happening here. The other person did or didn’t do such and such. Their business. I do or don’t do such and such. My business.

Children love this. Your Mom is angry, whose business is it? They love realizing that this is Mom’s deal, that they don’t have to think it’s their business. They get upset about Mom’s anger, whose business? Theirs. They like having this distinction, this freedom.

This begins to make life a lot easier, when other people’s stuff goes back to be other people’s stuff. Even the past, crappy parents and whatnot. Whose business was it that they were crappy parents? Theirs. Now, we might have picked up habitual responses to their behavior, and that’s what the work of getting free is partly about, but when we come back to our own business, we see that only one person has the business of getting us free from the responses and habits we created around their nonsense.

And that one person is just us. Simple, sweet and clear.