Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wednesday, Sept. 20: The Big Rush

This is our excuse: we need our cars because we are in a hurry. We don’t have half an hour to “get there.” We need to “get there “ in ten minutes. So we take the car.

We are “late,” so we take the car.

We have “something to go to” next, so we take the car, since we’ve scheduled things just a few minutes apart.

(This is an essay for a small town, Sonoma to be exact, where everything is a mile or two away from each other and there are plenty of flat, more or less car free roads on which to ride a bicycle, and a long bike path off on it's own in addition. What to do in a place like L.A. is no small question, and then again: slowing down the speed of our driving and the pace of our lives and bringing our attention back to right now: this will work in any city, town, village or forest. Or boat. Or desert. You get the idea.)

Which means what: we are in a rush. The clock is running our lives. We are ruining the Earth. And what’s the solution?

Slow down.

Slow down.

That’s how this site got named Slow Sonoma. I was running for City Council a couple of years ago, and my message was: slow down. Slow down the rate of building. Slow down the speed we drive our cars. Slow down and get out of our cars and walk. Slow down and come back to the present, where life is really lived.

I didn’t win and in the aftermath, I went to a lot of City Council meetings after to prepare for running again, and I saw this on the council: people asleep. People in a rush who had to drive their cars the mile or less to the meeting. People talking about ecology and totally disconnected from living it. It wasn’t for me. I was glad I hadn’t won.

And the ideas are still good: how many days a week can we stay out of our cars? How many minutes of our day can we come to the present and really be at one with our life?

Even this minute, even this moment?

You betcha.

Todays's essay in WakeUp Feldenkrais is about the glories of Feldenkrais in allowing us to Lie Down, Slow Down and Learn.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday, September 18: Happiness Now???

Happiness now sounds kind of like cheating, doesn’t’ it? I mean, happiness after a long struggle, that’s what we like to see in the movies. How boring to come to a movie and it starts with the people smiling and enjoying each other and being nice, and they keep having a good time, and then for the final act, they keep on having a good time.

Nah. We like to either start with trouble and work our way up. Or start happy, have it torn away and claw our way back up to happiness. In our movies, anyway. And do we come to think that our lives have to be that way?

I think we do. What do you think?

Would life be boring if we were just happy, and then happy and then happy? I doubt it, but there is a lot of conditioning going on that says that this would be enough, isn’t there? Voices that say, that’s too much. Not for us. We don’t deserve that.

So, then, we come to the fine compromise in this country: the pursuit of happiness. It’s okay to admit that happiness is what we want, as long as it’s out there, either just slightly out of reach, or way, way down the road. But for now: we’ve got to get busy suffering and earning the happiness that will (maybe) come later, some later, some later that can keep receding, receding into the distance, like the end of the rainbow, that when chased down, always keeps slipping away.

The right job will make us happy. And then we have enough money and the right car will make us happy. And then the car will attract the right Babe, and she will make us happy. And the Babe wants children, and actually, kids do tend to be one place where people, ordinary, non-enlightened, non-hereandnow people, fall into happiness now and then. Watching the kiddies play. Hearing the kids laugh. Watching a baby smile or eat or learn.

These all remind us of who we really are, being that are meant to be right here now, and that when we are right here now, happiness or learning or both are usually taking place.


So, when do we get to be happy?

When do we want to be happy?

Would right now, be okay? Could we tolerate that? What would we lose if we were happy hearing or reading these words, and we didn’t demand that first we check of whatever our usual list is of :To Be Accomplished/ Finished/ Achieved Before I am Allowed to be Happy?

This is a question that can be answered either by more words, or better by far, by us all putting down this book, or looking away from the computer, closing our eyes and going inside and scooping up a little happiness, listening to it laugh like a child, and experiencing as a way of being right now, not some theoretically state later, but experiencing right now, what happiness now has to offer for us.

Right now.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Saturday, Sept. 16: What's Good?

What’s good is your life? Do you like the way you walk? Do you like the way you talk? Do you like to listen to music? Do you like to sing? Do you dance around a bit and allow the birds to entertain you? Do you have some people you love to hug?

Do you have someone to sleep naked with?

Do you have a garden in which you love to stroll and putter and work and watch and rest and smile and eat?

Do you have a good book to read?

Do you have a good story to tell?

Are you happy?

I hope so.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday, September 11: Thoughts on 9-11

Riding my bike down the bike path on Monday, September 11, 2006., I hear a big ruckus. Dogs barking, barking. When I come up to it, it’s the usual: a dog in a yard having a tantrum about a couple of dogs walking by on the bike path nearby. My territory, bark, bark. No, I’m the boss around here, bark, bark.

That reminded me of what I see as the core of the whole 9-11 mentality: one spoiled brat, made rich by oil, sends planes to knock down the “enemy’s (bark, bark) towers. Another spoiled brat, made rich by oil, bark, bark, is going to show who is boss, so it’s off to war we go, no wait, one war isn’t enough, bark, bark, let’s knock down a dictator, who this country’s secret apparatus set in power way back, who also happens to be rich with oil. Bark, bark, bark. It would be funny, if so many people didn’t have to die while these people have to show who's the big toughest dog on the block.

Then, rounding the bend and coming off the bike path, I spot an encouraging sight, a bus stop with at least eight kids waiting and having a good time talking and joking around together. This is rare in my sightings. Sometimes I see one or two kids at a stop, but rarely a nice little pack having a good time. What I do see, however, often is gobs and gobs of cars of parents who just have to get in their (usually very large) cars and drive the kiddies to school. Thereby depriving the little angels of a chance to either use their feet and walk, or to hang out and have a good time away from parents and with other kids at a bus stop.

And the drive to school: takes gas. Remember all the rich top dogs, bark, bark who got rich with oil?

As an aside: if someone comes to your door running for City Council: ask them if they came on bike or foot, or drove the mile or so to your neighborhood. Ask them how many City Council meetings they attended last year and how many of those meetings they went to on a bike or on foot.

Back to 9-11.

This might seem off the track, but it isn’t: GO SEE LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, quick, before it leaves the local theater and you can’t ride a bike to see it. It’s tremendous. In it a family of neurotic, at best, people, are forced into one VW bus together and endure crisis after crisis. A point G. Gurdjieff, a Russian philosopher and mystic made a long time ago, was that for people to change out of their ruts, they needed certain shocks to their system. The tricky point is these shocks, if handled wrong, could make a person worse. Which is to say: a crisis gives people and communities and countries a chance to either pull their stuff together and rise to a higher level of functioning, or it gives them an excuse to dissolve to a lower level. You’ve all either seen or participated in divorces that go one way or the other.

Anyway, in Little Miss Sunshine ( Thursday night, Sept. 21, might be the last night) , the people rise from the mess and get to be better people. And the movie is fun.

After 9-11, people sunk to the lowest common level: eye for an eye. And as Gandhi said, enough of that and the whole world is blind.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday, Sept. 10: Feeling Bad is Good, for awhile

Sometimes it’s good
to feel bad
for a little while, anyway

Not for the feeling bad of it
for the usual Bullshit Reasons
(1. “I deserve to suffer.
2. So and so will feel bad/guilty when I suffer
3. Everyone else is suffering, who am I to break ranks?
4. You have to feel the lows to feel the highs
5. It’s the human condition.
6. It’s what everyone expects in these circumstances.
7. It’s what I’m used to.
8. It’s a good excuse to binge in ….. or ……")

No, none of that nonsense.

Feeling bad is good, for awhile,
First to give us a chance to Notice,
capital, N, Notice
how we want to run away from feeling bad

and How, specifically, we want to run away:

Off to the movies, the internet, the television?
Food in the mouth?
Get busy.
Get vigorous.
Read a lot.
Go shopping.
Talk on the phone.
Find people to feel our pain, or agree with us, or at least
Pay Attention to Us
Talk on the phone in order to get the others to do the above

And so on.
Me: I like food and getting vigorous and movies and reading and blame.
Do whatever you do and thus you get to Notice,
capital N, Notice
what your escape from feeling bad is.

Oh, yeah: drinking and drugs. Sugar, the legal drug.

Whatever: that’s a lot of our lives
wrapped up in
our escape from feeling bad programs

learning these programs
these diversions from real living
is one great gift
of feeling bad

And then, once we’ve noticed what these
runnaway predilictions

the other good thing about feeling bad
is that we get to learn
to deal with it

not as in bully
and bulldoze it away
(that's another escape route)
by learning...

usually by discovering that it’s not real
that it is from a believing of a story
that others taught us
and it’s a constricting of our breathing
and our whole mind/body self
and it’s a narrowing away from life in the Now
Falling instead into complaining land
Woe is me land
Damn you land
This isn't fair land
I'm so unlucky land

And so on.
We learn to look and learn
and the Work of Ms. Byron Katie
is great here,

Four questions
After we Write it Down
And then maybe we are ready to check out the
Turn around

A revolution, really, revolve the whole Feeling Bad into a tumbler
and turn it around
mix it up
question it
get under it
stand under understand
that’s all a good start

Getting our lives back:
The feeling bad wants to be the boss,

but curiosity
and learning
and really inward honesty
and self humor
ah, with those
we can use the feeling bad

As a springboard
A springboard to inner freedom and
Peace and
Happiness and
Love, even

That sounds pretty good.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Saturday, Sept. 9: Life on Earth

Life on earth is good.

We forget.

We wake up to the moment.
Hug a friend.
Smell a flower.
Slow down and taste our food.
Slow down and take a walk.
Slow down and look at the sky and feel our feet as we walk.
Slow down and follow our breathing.

Slow down and sit on the ground
Do nothing for awhile

And life on Earth

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tuesday, Sept. 5: Options and Freedom


(This follows a posting on Options and how we sit in our chair at the computer on my Feldie site yesterday at WakeUp Feldenkrais.)

“Just relax,” someone might say, and we think, ‘Right. If I knew how to relax, I would.’

We know how to relax when we know how to relax, but what to do at other times. If we “try” to relax we usually defeat ourselves, as we do when we “try” to go to sleep. That’s because “trying” is involved with tensing up and constricting and pushing ourselves, all of which take us away from “just relax,” whatever that is.

Is there really an action we can take which is the action of “relaxing.” Well, there sort of is, but if we watch ourselves even a little, we’ll discover that we don’t “do” anything when we relax, as we “do” when we pick up a rock, or pull out a weed, or take a bite of an apple, or take a bite of a weed, or type a letter onto a page, or even read a string of words off a page.

When we “relax,” we do less of the over-working of our minds and muscles that feels tense, for the rather obvious reason that it is tense. We are holding, clenching, closing our muscles harder than they need to close, or maybe even clenching and tightening muscles that have nothing to do with what we are doing.

Example. Lifting that rock again, if it’s heavy and a lot of people will tense their jaw. The jaw does not contribute to rock lifting. Tensing the jaw contributes to a state where someone might tell us, or we might tell ourselves: “just relax.”

Now, if we notice that our jaw is tense and we tense it less, then we are relaxing, and we have more energy for lifting the rock, though we might not impress others as much with how hard we are “trying.”

Oh, well.

This fits in with the idea of options since one of the great games to “relaxing,” is to give ourselves three ways to do something that we habitually do. The there options are: more of what we are doing, the same as what we always did, and less of what we are doing.

Obvious. Once more The Elusive Obvious, as Feldenkrais title one of his books.

Let’s look at some examples again. Since almost everyone carries extra tension in the jaws, we can try this:
  • Tense our jaws more than usual.

  • Tense our jaws the “normal” amount.

  • Now tense our jaw a little less than “normal.”

  • And now, let's apply these more tensing, less and "normal," to our own custom area were we discover ourselves tighter than we wish we were.
  • Find an area in yourself that is tense right now, and see if you can make it a little more tense.

  • Now see if you can swing to slightly less than normal tension.

  • Then see if you can come back to the middle, the “normal,” and notice if this “normal” feels different now that you have options that you can create yourself.

  • In Byron Katie we do this with the thinking with which we drive ourselves crazy. We take a thought like: “So and so should be nicer to me.”
  • In one of the questions (#3: How do you react when you attach to this thought?), we get into how badly we feel when we go under the influence of the thought.

  • In another question (#4: Who would you be without this thought?), we check out the experience of a neutral point of not having our brain on this particular drug.

  • And in the “turn-around,” we try out the upside down of the thought: “I should be nice to so and so.”

  • Suddenly, once more, we aren’t stuck.

    Cool, eh?

    And back to Feldenkrais- land. Say we have scoliosis, a little or a lot, and always lean to the left, just a little or a lot. To do this simple action, so simple, so obvious, so effective, we once again try out the three:
  • Lean a little more than usual.

  • Lean a little less than usual.

  • Lean the “normal” amount.

  • Notice we can do this with any habit we find, and suddenly we are a laboratory in which we have tons of fascinating experiments, all of which will lead us to knowing what to do when someone says: “Just relax.”

    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    Saturday, Sept. 2: Feeling Bad and still....Happiness

    Sometimes we don’t feel good. Say we ate too much. Or we are tired. Or someone is giving us a hard time.

    Now. The natural, normal thing to do, is to try to avoid the feeling bad. Take a Tums. Drink a cup of coffee. Slam the door, either literally or emotionally/ internally on the person giving us the hard time.

    Or we could do another rather common action, which is to feel bad about feeling bad. “Oh, I’m so stupid. I ate too much again. What’s the matter with me?”

    Or: I’m going to push ahead twice as hard and show this tiredness who is boss.

    Or : with the person giving us a hard time, we could feel bad that they are being the way they are, or get into some story about how this has happened ever since childhood.

    There are other approaches, the most heretical being to love what is. In the Byron Katie section, we have a whole process for dealing with the thinking that often underpins our feeling bad. And then again, we can just take the mindset of loving that feeling in our bodies when we ate too much. Not loving in the sense that we want this to be our normal state, but loving in the sense of sensing this area and relaxing and breathing and sending it the kind of kind attention we send to someone or something we love.

    Or: with the tiredness, we can again be curious and kind and sense exactly what the tiredness is doing in us, how it is, to be us, in this moment, alive and experiencing this tiredness. We can take this tiredness as an invitation to slow down and get true to what we really need in the present, which is often simply to come back and BE in the present.

    Or: with the person giving us a hard time (and this is hard, obviously): To see them as a person, who isn’t us, who are saying and doing certain things that have to do with them, and enjoying them being who they are, even if that is a person who is giving us a hard time. (And like Byron Katie says, once we can love our enemy, we don’t have to invite them to dinner.)

    And then, when we can do this, we can be truly happy, because we don’t have to have everything “just so,” in order to be happy. We can be happy even though we “feel bad,” because our “feeling bad” is like the presenting symptom in Feldenkrais or real healing: it’s showing us that something needs attention, and in giving that attention and enjoying treating ourselves and our lives well, we cannot help but be happy.

    So the secret of happiness is not to run away from feeling bad, but to acknowledge, sense, appreciate and love what is, and all that we can feel in that state is something that has no real word, and is pointed to with phrases like: the peace that passeth understanding, or freedom, or truth, or love.

    Oh happiness.