Wednesday, March 31, 2010

To be fully alive, Day Twenty Eight

We can torture ourselves to live up to some standard of “being good.” We can look inside and love ourselves and look outside and at least enjoy the people around us, and from a sense of being “Fully Alive,” we can treat them in ways that make us and them happy.

the porpoise of Life
Chris Elms, March 31, 2010

The porpoise of
Life is to

Not to be good
Though if you are really stressed
or have an IQ lower than
Body Temperature
Being Good
Will keep you out of

But to be
go ahead
and make

Just be present enough
Look at everyone around you
Be happier
When they are happy
And do something in your actions
That creates
Fully aliveness in

So this is the game today: be present. Present and happy. Sense your arms and legs and spine, without “trying to” be “good,” but just because it’s interesting and feels good. Smile when you breathe out. Look out at other people and make the game of the day to create mutually enjoyable situations.

This is best done, you’ll probably find, be being present and happy and acting from then.

But find out for yourself and enjoy.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Twenty Seven: Toward Heaven, one way: Awakened Movement

The easiest motion for humans is rotating around our central axis. As if you want to turn around and see someone beside or behind you. This game today clues us in to at least 4 levels of our selves that can cooperate and become easier and more clear in rotating to the left.

Please sit more or less upright at the front edge of your chair, sensing both arms and both legs and your spine and breathing, and slowly and deliciously turning your head to the right and left quite a few times, each time feeling it as if it were brand new.

(Mini-sermon: to experience and look forward to and delight in the new is to stay young and vital throughout life, especially if this involved discoveries in our bodies and in our emotional and spiritual habits, not just our intellect; to stick to, cling to, be afraid to leave the familiar is to ossify into a more and more narrow “aging,” which may be nothing more than the loss of zest of all the newness and nowness that our lives could embrace, and could be embracing our lives.)

Rest from rotating your head. Breathe and sense your spine and be aware of gravity and enjoy all three. Feel the depths and details of who you are, in the moment, in your body. Now. Feel the thrill and ease of being in the now.

Begin to turn your head to the left a number of times. Then rest. Then using your ribs with your hands on them, turn to the left a number of times with the head and the ribs as “friends.” Then rest. (At this point, and even earlier if you do this again, you might enjoy taking our any glasses you are wearing.)

Now turn to the left about half way, and stop. Keep your head and chest pointed this way, and move your eyes slowly right and left. Breathe. Be easy in this. Come back to the middle and rest.

Now, again, turn ribs and head about halfway to the left and stop. Notice at what your eyes are directed; keep your eyes in this direction and move your head, slowly, slowly, gently right and left. Feel a softening in your neck as your neck and eyes are allowed to not be in their usual coupled pattern.

Rest. Close your eyes in the rest and move them gently left and right. Feel something like a soothing in this..

Again, turn halfway left with ribs and head. Now, you’re your eyes one way and the head the opposite. Eyes to the left and head to the right. Eyes to the right and head to the left, and they match up and point the same way at this ‘halfway to the left” position. Make it small. Very slow. Very gentle. Make sure you are breathing.

Take it as a learning game. Do this many times, and then rest.

Think about your pelvis, your bottom, the base of your spine, the whole area “down there.” If it’s “large” smile. It’s just you. Think about how to rotate, in sitting your pelvis to the left.

Then try out whatever you thought. Did it work? Good.

Try this: push your right knee forward and a bit to the left and see if that help rotate your pelvis to the left. And then do this many times. Slowly. Enjoyably. Learning about your spine and pelvis. Ease. Pleasure. Even a little skill maybe.

Then rest, and feel yourself as a many leveled movement maker. You can move and rotate your pelvis, your ribs, your head, your eyes. Think about rotating them all, either at once, or in some sequence, to the left.

Be patient. Learning takes coming out of the daily rush long enough to be present to what we are learning. Enjoy even the “frustrations” in this activity, but most of all enjoy the opportunity to sense yourself, and be present and learn about how you can move and BE with more ease, pleasure and skill. (Ease, pleasure and skill are my new wish for the phrase ESP.)

Now, rotate to the left in this sequence: turn your eyes to the left and then your head and then your ribs, and then your pelvis. And come back in the same order, eyes, head, ribs, pelvis.


Then try pelvis, ribs, head, eyes and back the same.

Notice these all day, the pelvis, head, ribs and eyes. Notice turning and being you in the middle of all this.

Notice your noticing. Enjoy that.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Day Twenty-six: Loving the space in between

We do this. We do that. Yesterday we talked of not rushing from one to the next. Today let’s make the “pauses” between each activity a sweet and precious part of our lives.

We do A.

As per yesterday, we keep with A, let the next thing ( B ) be in the quiet distance.

No rush to it, no planning it while we are doing A.

And then A comes to an end. In life, little tangled threads often appear, and A has developed almost tendrils, reaching out for more and more. Oh, well. We have to learn to trust our feeling that “enough” has been done on A. (It can almost be like a getting “fed up” feeling, but if we don’t go too long, we can start to sense the “enough for now” feeling.)

Good… A is done.

B is waiting.

Today’s game, let it wait. Really wait. Take a walk. Sit and close your eyes and follow your breathing. Do a few pieces of one of the movement lessons we’ve been playing with. Call it meditation if you want.

And rest, pause, go into the quiet. Real quiet and let that be something that refills you before you do the “next thing.”


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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day Twenty-Five: Life with less "have to"

How much do we “have to” get done in a day? How much of that can we do, for the sake of doing and the practice of being present and cheerful as we go about anything. Go about everything.

This moment fades, glides, washes, flows into the next. One word follows another in this book. One breath follows the next in our life.

Our attention wavers, sometimes now, sometimes not.

One thing that happens is that the “have to” voice pops up, telling us that we “have to” do something. “Have to” get the dishes done, “have to” go to work, “have to” attend that meeting you said you’d attend.

And does that voice help?

I don’t know.

Why don’t we explore today: how do we go from one activity to the next? Do we start stewing and planning activity C before we are done with B? And in this tensing up and rehearsing ahead of time, losing our ability to be present during B? And then when C comes, to which we rush from B, often not noticing the transition, the journey, the time in between. We get to C and once there we are not quite there. We focus on C only so long, and begin to think about and feel the “have to” of D coming along, which tightens us up to quickly finish C. So now we have double trouble, maybe triple: we “have to” get C over, we “have to” worry about getting to and doing D, and we “have to” do D, if we don’t have nervous breakdown before we get there.

Ah, well. The usual human mess.

And how about today, watching the “have to” voice and experimenting with “just doing” whatever it is we do.

And experiment with short spaces of empty time, not in rush, not in transition, not “thinking about/ worrying about” the next thing, just an empty minute or two between activities. What will happen? Let’s find out.


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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day Twenty-Four: Sensing the Floor, our Constant companion: Gravity

We can be in reality or not. A basic and wonderful and ongoing and usually forgotten aspect of the Reality on Earth is gravity. We can sense our relationship to gravity right now.

This now. This one and only.

Are we standing. Can we sense and get the understanding of how our feet are pressing down into the Earth as the Earth pulls us towards its center, and whatever surface we are on presses back up.

Sitting. If we aren’t leaning back, and don’t have armrests, we are sitting on each Sitz/ sit bone, our ishiums (or is it ishii?), and we have weight probably little on one or both feet. If you are sitting check this out.

If you are leaning back, feel how that turns “sitting” into something like “lying down,” and notice how back and bottom and thighs on the chair and maybe feet all are pressing into whatever is holding you up.

Pay attention to whatever is hold you up.

Shift a little to get more clear about this. Shift left, shift right, shift forward, shift back: wake up to the moment and your ongoing relationship to gravity.

Tomorrow we’ll get a little fancier in sitting, and clarify the pelvis some more, but for today, pay attention to your butt, when you sit. If you have judgmental words in your head about it’s size, drop them.

Sense is about real experience in the real moment.


This now.

Read these words and add on awareness of gravity.

If that is “too easy,” add on awareness of your breathing.

If that is a delight, add on awareness of awaring as a central gift and birthright of being a human.

Enjoy your day on planet earth.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day Twenty-Three: How to be free, one: Be angry but do not sin

If we are “normal” and have the usual rough and tumble in our lives, situations will come up that “tick us off.” This is Life on Earth. And in the Bible, this suggestion is offered, an amazing distinction: BE ANGRY BUT DO NOT SIN. How to go about this.

Well, shucks, first step is obviously to get clear on what anger is and what sin is. The following views are mine and not approved or disapproved by any person or agency.

To be angry means to rise up in that hot blooded state where our muscles and emotions (e-motion, the pointing of our motion a certain way) are mobilized for some big deal effort of the sort where we rip to shreds, kill, wound, or otherwise push away some thing or persons that are either actually threatening us, or are perceived as a threat to us.

Needless to say, a lot of conditioning can make us perceive very weird things as a threat ( a black person moving into our neighborhood/ dating our daughter; someone making fun of our favorite book/ movie/ car/ laundry soup; you name it).

But anyway, anger rises, and we want to bash, physically or verbally, or both.

And there might be real situations where this makes total sense: we see someone abusing a child, say.

Okay, anger brings out the slasher and basher in us.

What to do with that?

Here’s my latest interpretation: either act, or don’t act, speak, or keep our peace, and inside have an attitude of love.

Sounds weird. Sound impossible. Oh, well.

Sin, as I understand it now, is leaving the present and leaving an abiding in love. That “simple.” (Ha!)

Our child is swinging a bat around and could seriously harm their younger sibling. We could just stop them and give a little talk. But maybe we get angry, and come at them with strong words and actions. Or maybe we aren’t angry, but pretend to come at them in angry, to get the point across.

The “do not sin” part, is that while we are doing this, a part of us fully and completely remembers that this little rascal is a child of God, a child of ours, a beloved and wonderful being.

That’s the do no sin part, acting in a rage or not acting, and still being angry, while all along, underneath that anger we love the other person, see them as our equal in some way, have at least a partial realization (easy to bring back later, out of the heat of the moment) that just about any idiotic, mean or selfish thing they are doing, we have done sometime in our past.

So, be angry, act or it or don’t. This is part of our growing to wisdom and a certain control in our lives. Act even, and shake up the whole scene, create conditions for a more just and safe and kind world. Stop a criminal in their tracks. Wake up someone to a mean habit of theirs.

Fine. But not with an I am better than you inner state.

No, our job/ path/ challenge / opportunity is to rise to our Real Self level and do that by keeping alive inside of us a sense of living in the present (sensing our anger, seeing the other and hearing them in the moment), a sensing inside our own real bodies in the rushing of our emotions, AND a realization of their lovable nature as human beings, even under the mess.

How to translate that into today’s practice: think about and cultivate something like “joyous anger,” a sense that our joy and love is our primary relationship in life no matter what we do.

So, hey, cultivate joy and love and presence and if anger comes along, great! Welcome it as a chance to build our joy and love and presence muscle, even while the temptation is to do the “normal” thing, become a beast fighting a beast (or worse, a beast fighting an imagined beast, remember the person insulting our magazine taste).


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Monday, March 22, 2010

Day Twenty-two, What to Do?

What to do, is really a question of how to be, and today’s game, to be, to be, to be of good cheer, whether things are “going your way,” or not.

The present is always here. Today’s game is to be present, as is the game of every day. To be present in your body, noticing both arms and both legs and spine and breathing.

And to be of good cheer.

Walking in and out of your house, sense your arms and legs and spine. Notice your breathing. Be of good cheer.

Walking, talking, silent, riding a bike, driving a car, walking, riding a bicycle: be of good cheer.

Making your food: be of good cheer.

Things not going your way: be of good cheer.

Feeling tired and awful: be of good cheer.

People not treating you right: be of good cheer. (And, by all means, do the Work first, if that will help you. These lessons/ actions/ meditations/ practices/ games are to be played any and all the time you want and find them useful, not just on the ‘assignment’ day.

Hint: slowing down, being present, not falling into the rushing to the next thing way of being, this will immensely help this game.

The game, even as you read this: be present in your sensing, and
Be of Good Cheer.
Now, now, now.

And what happens when we “fail,” and get in a grumpy mood. It happens, we find that we’ve “messed up,” which is to say, “forgotten ourselves,” and have drifted out of good cheer, so what? The world isn’t over. We get an A+ for just playing this game, so why not be of good cheer about forgetting and remembering again.

What a miracle to remember the present.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day Twenty-One: The Turn Around

We all have these judgments, these shoulds and shouldn’t, for other people. After putting the written down judgment through the mill of the 4 questions, a great deal of wisdom, healing, humor and humility can be had by doing what is called the “Turn Around.”

The turn around, most simply, is taking that you’ve preached and turning the sermon back on yourself.

“So and so should be nicer to you” TURNS AROUND to “I should be nicer to so and so.”

“This person shouldn’t gossip about me” TURNS AROUND to “I shouldn’t gossip about this person” (especially I shouldn’t gossip to others about how this person gossips about me.)

“This parent shouldn’t have been so critical” TURNS AROUND to “I shouldn’t have been so critical of this parent,” (again, watching for the insidious, “they started it thing,” where I’m critical of this parent about their being critical of me.)

In all relationship trouble, this turn around gets us out of the other person’s business and focusing on the one person we might be able to change, ourselves.

And there is an inward pointing turn around that works like this:

“So and so should be nicer to me” TURNS AROUND to “I should be nicer to me.”

“That one shouldn’t disrespect me” TURNS AROUND to “I shouldn’t disrespect me.”

This is deep work, great play. Today take all judgment at least to the turn around, and if you have time, do the 4 questions first. Enjoy what this teaches and gives you.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Day 20: A peek into the Other Universe

In the fourth question of the work of Byron Katie, we ask: #4: Who or what would I be if I didn’t have this thought, or didn’t attach to this thought?

This isn’t say, “let it go,” though if you can, great.

If you can’t, do this question: imagine just for a second or two, or longer, that the other person is doing whatever they do to drive you crazy, bother, “hurt” you.

And you see them doing it in your mind’s eye.

But you don’t have the story that they should be any different. You don’t believe the should or the shouldn’t.

You aren’t at war with “What Is.”

See how this feels.

Contrast it with how you feel when you do believe (#3) that they should be different, or that the world should be different.

Just notice.

No requirement to shift, change, or as I’ve said, to “let go.” Just notice.

And today, go for all four questions when any unhappiness comes along:

#1: Is it true?

#2: Can I absolutely know that this is true?

#3 How do I react when I attach to this thought?

#4: Who or how would I be without attaching to this thought?

See what happens.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Day 19: Who are we, how we suffer, when we believe the story

We can be ‘right” until we’re blue in the face. And Katie’s third question helps us face what the consequences of being attached to our thought. Question #3: How do I react (feel, act, react, live, exist in my body, behave around others) when I attach to the thought?

So, we’re judged our somebody, ex-spouse, parents, evil co-worker, whomever. We’ve written it down in should or shouldn’t form. We’ve asked the firs two questions: Is it true? Can I absolutely know that this it true?

Now the third question, the consequence question, and this best calls for pencil and paper, also. We ask and then write down a list of how we react when we believe and attach to this thought.

All the consequences, we write down. “So and so should have been more ‘fair’ to me.” Write down how you react when you hold this one: is it sad, angry, withdrawing, vicious gossip, feeling the victim, whatever.

My mother/ father/ child “should” be more….

Again, get into believing it, and write down all that happens when you do.

This may be painful, but it’s what we already do to ourselves when we believe and attach to our opinions/ stories ‘ beliefs/ thoughts.

This is getting it clear, in front of our face.

So today, when unhappiness sneaks in, ask the first three questions and see what happens.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day Eighteen: Is this thought Absolutely True?

The Second Question of the Work of Byron Katie:
Can I absolutely know that this thought/ belief/ opinion/ idea/ concept is true?

This is the second question in the suggested sequence of the Work (Judge Your Neighbor, Write it Down, Ask 4 Questions, Turn it Around).

As in yesterday’s exercise, you will be taking “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” about other people and subjecting them now to questioning, but today, two questions:

1. Is it true?
2. Can I absolutely know it’s true?

This second question comes in handy with a belief/ thought/ idea of ours that we know intellectually isn’t “true” the way gravity is true, but just can’t get ourselves to say, “No” to the first question. (And we don’t have to say any particular answer to any question. This is our work, our search, our truth.)

This question helps us push our minds into a more clear situation: Is it absolutely true, this thought I’m having?

Another person might have done something that our feeling bad selves and lots of our “friends” agree that they “shouldn’t” have done. BUT: can we absolutely know that for their highest good and our highest good, they should have been different and better people? (As if we “really” know what better people is?)

So, for today, hang out with some “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” about other people that you aren’t so sure are not true? Ask this second question often. Think and feel and be quiet for the answer and see what you come to. You don’t have to answer, “No,” but see what happens when you deeply ask.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day Seventeen: The Work of Byron Katie, Question #1

A sort of “death” needs to take place to achieve real happiness and emotional freedom. The Byron Katie work offers simple, though life and heart changing, tools to achieve this. Today the first question: IS IT TRUE?

Other people sometimes drive us crazy. Sometimes we drive ourselves crazy. Sometimes the world seems “awful,” “unfair,” or just plain “too hard.”

Good. All this unhappiness is Reality’s gift to us.

And a grand incentive to learn and master this path of undoing emotional suffering and bondage: the Work of Byron Kaite.

The work of Byron Katie leads us back to the one person who can make us happy or unhappy--- ourselves. It does this by suggesting that we:

Judge our neighbor.

Write it down.

Ask four questions.

Turn it around.

Today’s work/ game / play/ learning is this: notice all our thoughts that are of the ilk, “So and so should be different.” Write these –in one sentence form -- down on paper. Cut to the chase: puteither a should or a shouldn’t in the sentence. Like “X should be nicer to me.” “Z shouldn’t be so angry at me.” “T shouldn’t ignore me.” “My Mother/ Father/ Brother sister should have…”

Write them down. This is judging. This is writing it down.

And ask the first question after you write it down: Is it true?

Don’t get too fancy, and work at opening your heart and mind to this distinction: true vs. an opinion. If I hold out a rock and let it go, my opinion makes no difference in the truth of gravity. If I have the opinion that X should be nicer to me, that is not the same kind of truth. It’s what I want. Other people might agree. Agree that I am “right,” and X is “wrong.” Oh, well. Their agreement or disagreement, though the source of much gossip and social backbiting, doesn’t make my opinion true.

Spend the day noticing your thoughts that want others to be different, write down the should/ shouldn’t sentences about these “wrong” people, and then begin to come to freedom by asking, Is it true?

This work can be “gotten” from the Website:, and from Katie’s books, all of which are wonderful on CD listening form. Find the books and CD’s also at her site.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 16: Why Wake Up, part one

Why Be Aware?

This is a silly question,
except if we are running around
in one of our usual

And then, in a pause say,
or walking across a lawn,
or talking to someone
and realizing we are just pumping
up inside getting all ready
to spring our next
over used download,

or putting off someone
who might love
in the real moment

and suddenly,
we realize:
OMG (I learned that recently,
teenage talk, slang: Oh MY God,
said as one word, OHMYGOD)
I have been on autopilot
the last...ten minutes,

And then we are aware
of ourselves,
in this moment.

Something shifts.
That can be our game today:
what shifts,

Does moving slowly
in the Feldenkrais
help that
waking to now?

Try it:
connect to gravity
and from awaring of that,
moving some part of you,
gently, easily
and see what else that shifts,
and how it involves
and possibly shifts
your use of gravity.


Move another part of you,
and awaring of the first
while you move and aware
the second.


Play with combinations.

See what happens.

See how awareness
and awaring
come into your life
while you do this.


And then,
see how awaring can be the
main game of your day,


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Monday, March 15, 2010

Day Fifteen: “It is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

“It is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

This phrase, from Jesus, comes in the Bible shortly after ar rich man who “wants it all” is told by Jesus: okay, you’ve been good, that’s great, now give away everything to the poor and follow me.

What would “giving away all our possessions?” mean in this esoteric Christianity of love and being present that I am exploring as part of this book?

Like this: what are our “possessions?” Wow, everything we put “my” in front of. My home, my ideas, my country, my family, my beliefs, my books, my concepts, my name.

All the stuff that comes up, “No,” when we get present and dwell in the moment and ask, from that place: “Who am I really?”

I am “So and so,” (our name). “No.”

I am a man/ woman. Well, biologically, yes indeed, but is this correct to who we Really are, as we sense and aware in the moment? Try it out: sense and aware right now and see, outside of concepts and social behaviors and patterns of actions, is man/ woman who we really are?

You decide.

Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, TV watcher, book reader, ecologist, not caring: these again, fit us into various crowds we “like” or “don’t like,” but are they who we really are?

Play with this today: if you were to die to your possessions of all the “my” this and “my” that, would nothing be left, or would something that is the essential you?

And see if unhappiness today, as it comes and goes, has anything to do with so called “identification” (or clinging) to these various conceptual and material possessions in our life.

This is game. This is an exploration. This is huge. Enjoy.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010


There are two types of prayer: prayers of thanksgiving and praise for the glory of this life, this chance at the miracle of being alive, even the glory of our so called “troubles.” And there are prayers asking for help out of your troubles.

Take some time to pray today.

Many times, take a little bit of time.

Ask for what you want, if you want to make that kind of prayer. Don’t worry or demand, but ask for health, or ease for yourself or another.

And alternate the asking prayers with short happy grateful thanksgiving prayers. You can sing about this, if you want, or write a poem or a song.

Doesn’t matter.

A little thanksgiving goes a long away.

And do this a lot, in little one or two minute doses all day.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day Thirteen: Lucky Thirteen

Time is usually a mechanical construct, but there are real seasons to a year, and to a day. Taking a walk with sensing and tuning in to these seasons, is a sweet way to wake up to a different aspect of “now.”

Today, the thirteenth day of our sojourn, I’ll call lucky. I’m prejudiced, having been born on the thirteenth (Friday the 13, 1945, a while back, a war still going on, a great President having just died the day before). And who else thought thirteen lucky and significant?

The witches of Europe, who numbered maybe in the millions until the Church didn’t like woman having smarts, and didn’t like connection to natural life, and didn’t like people who discovered life from the Earth up, rather than from Authority down. So, a twelve month calendar was a necessity, instead of the witches 13 moon year.

The moon is full 13 times a year, and each moon month is roughly the same length, and all have nothing to do with some construct on paper, but with the real rotation of the moon around our planet. February is an idea. A full moon during the time of deepest snows and short days getting a bit longer, is a part of life’s natural rhythm.

So, hey, today, take a walk or two, and sense with your feet and your moving legs, and hands and moving arms, and spine holding up your head, and eyes taking in the world, and breathing coming and going in its own rhythm, sense how this season, whatever season you are in feels, at a subtle and everyday sensory level, to you.

And play with awakening also to the season of the day. Again, 5 in the afternoon is a construct that crowds the freeways of the world, but a time in the season of the day when the sun is setting, or moving toward setting, and coolness or darkness might or might not be coming according to the season in the year, this is all there, throughout the day.

Day a walk or two and sense the season of the year and the season of the day. Stay as happily present in sensation and sight and sound and awaring as you can. Enjoy.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Day Twelve, 5 lines in folding, on the back version

Crescent Beach

We can do something in sitting and then again on our backs, and experience the way life can be amazing when we try things out in a variety of ways.

On day five, we went into an exploration of sensing our five lines and of folding forward from the sitting position. Today we’ll lie on the floor or a firm bed or table, and do the same sequence, again as slowly and we as much awareness, enjoyment and playful discovery as possible.

First lie down, and simply sense yourself on the floor or table. Where is touching? How big do you feel? Can you feel each leg, and each arm and your spine, the five lines of you? Can you notice your breathing?

Can you notice a difference that come to the floor and leaving gravity behind makes in your ability to release, so called “relax,” and not so called, but for real, pay attention to yourself?

Now. Lets go through the same sequence.

1) First feel down your left leg, from knee toward your foot with your right hand.
John feeling left lower leg with right hand
It is of no importance if you “get there” or not, just take it easy and feel each part of your back and ribs and pelvis that is available for you to pay attention to.

Go back and forth slowly, and without any effort to “go to the limit.” And each times you aren’t folding in, come all the way back to the table or floor and release any effort.

2) Rest. Feel yourself on the table, and what is new in your awareness.

3) Bring your right hand behind your head and your left hand behind your left knee, and bring your right elbow toward your left knee. Slowly, not trying to “get there,” any there. And coming back to complete release between each movement. And each time feeling a little more in your spine and ribs and pelvis.
hand behind head, toward knee
Keep your neck and breathing free. See how to make this pleasure, not “crunches.”

4) Rest again, fully and enjoyably. Not look to the left and put your right hand behind your left ear, and your left hand behind your left knee. Bring elbow toward knee again, each time allowing yourself to twist a little as you fold and each time coming back to the table and completely releasing any efforting.
head to left, elbow toward knee
Do this many times, with ease, slowness and curiosity. And pleasure.

5) Rest again. Last variation (though you can invent ten or twenty more, if you wish). Hold your left leg as you did in sitting, left hand at the left knee and right hand and the left ankle, and bring your leg and head toward each other.
head toward left leg
Many times, releasing, folding, releasing, learning. Enjoy.

6) Rest.

7) Go back to the original move, or exploring down your left lower leg with your right hand. Enjoy.

8) Lie back and sense the differences, in feeling/ sensation in your back, in breathing, in length of your spine, in internal ease. Enjoy.

And today, if you wish, fold and unfold in sitting and lying down, and sense your five lines all you wish.


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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day Eleven, Toward Heaven, 2, emotions without words

Emotions can crowd in and “take over” our lives. Another way toward freedom and love is to separate out the sensation of an emotion and the words/ chatter/ obsessive story that usually accompanies.

Yesterday we gave ourselves a real treat, and begin to experience and “play” with emotions as actions we can vary in length, and intensity. As actions we can perhaps even see as just one choice among many (someone gives us a hard time? Try out angry. Try out curious. Try out amused. Try out loving.)

Today, we are going to come back to the core of this book: unity with nature and with now.

As creatures on the Earth, we are always in some Now.

As emotional creatures, we sometimes have “feelings” and emotions. These feelings always have a here and now set of sensations: something happens in our breathing, something happens at various places in our body.

Almost always we have words around the motion. “He should have given my more respect.” “That was a mean thing to do.” “This isn’t fair.” “So and so is so selfish.” “How can they do this to me.”

These words distract us from the present. These words tend to be of a sort that we go over and over them, and often try to talk to/ complain to someone else and get them to agree with our words, agree that we are “right” and someone else is “wrong.” But even without complaining, we can go over and over with these words.

And today the game is to keep the sensations, get into them with as much awareness and presence as possible, and to let the words slide.

Just sense how the emotions and feelings are resonating as here and now experience. Be curious and attentive to this here and now experience. Don’t dilute it with any words.

See what happens when you do that.

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Troubled?. Love Poem to God, by Hafiz

Then stay with me, for I am not.

A thousand naked amorous ones dwell in
ancient caves
beneath my Eye.

Here’s the pick:
My whole body is an
Emerald that begs:
“Take me.”

Write all that bothers you
On a parchment.
Offer it to God.

Even from this distance of a
Millennium, I can reach out the

Flame from my heart
into your life

And turn
all that frightens
Holy Ash

Rendered by Daniel Ladinsky
Love Poems to God

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ten: Emotions as actions

Emotions, viewed as actions, are something we can vary, and in this variation become free of long time stuck reactions and misery.

Say someone, some X ( either an ex-partner, friend, or just some other person we’ll call X), does something Y. And we react in a usual way, Z.

X does Y and out of our emotional machine box comes Z.

So and so gives us a mean little comment and we feel ‘hurt,” say.

Okay, we might take that as a given.

Later, we’ll look deeply into the work of Byron Katie as a way out of slavery to our habitual reactions.

And for today, since we just looked at “acture” as the use of ourselves in actions, let’s look at emotions as if they were an action.

Say we go to “hurt.” Okay, that’s our default. Now, just to begin to broad the scope of how we react, can we stand up and feel our “hurt?”

What if we stand and see what happens if we put the weight on our right foot as we feel our “hurt.” The left foot.

If we think of the person.

If we look at what’s really here, now.

If we follow our breathing while we feel “hurt?”

If we sense our five lines while we feel “hurt?”

And now for the deeper variations:

What if we think, hmmm, I’m making this action of “hurt” and if so, how long would I like to feel it? One minute? Four minutes? Ten minutes?

And since I’m doing it, do I want a little bit of hurt, a medium amount, a big chunk.

And then blending these two: big hurt for 10 seconds. Little hurt for two days.

Just to think it’s something we get to chose starts to do wonders.

And now even deeper.

If “hurt” is one action, what if we try other Z’s to the equation, X does Y and we react (which means act, but they start it rolling) with Z.

What if they do Y, and we get curious?









Some of these actions are obviously farther from our available repertoire than others. So be it. The trying and the experimenting and going slow and gentle with ourselves is the game.

For today.

For life.

This could be a whole book, a whole life. Let’s see how today goes as a start.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Day Nine: Acture and the reality of life: Moving along

Beyond and smarter/ most useful than posture: “Acture,” a word that hasn’t caught on yet

Moshe Feldenkrais was a fun and feisty genius of a guy. He had a saying about posture, that “Posture is for posts.” Which is to say, only posts in front of a building, or at the corner of a fence are “supposed” to stand up perfectly straight and unchanging.

Life isn’t shapes and poses, it is motion. So here’s the word fun and feisty Feldenkrais came up with to talk about what our bodies needed: “acture.”

Acture is the optimal shaping of ourselves so we can move easily and freely, without preliminary shifting around, to another position. Six directions. We are ready to move easily in six directions when we have fun and feisty and fine acture: up, down, right, left, front, back. Obviously we could scoot off on the diagonal either in a forward diagonal of many possibility trajectories, or a backward one.

In sitting, if we were to sit so we could hop on our bottoms a couple of inches to the right, and a couple to the left and a couple forward and a couple back, this would begin to clue us in to our sitting “acture.”

The usual slumping to the back of the seat would definitely not do, and yet what most people usually call “sitting up straight” might have us too far back in this rigid idea of “vertical” to move easily in this bottom hopping way.

What works best in coming to standing from sitting?

Life is about being present, and one of the things we do a lot and don’t notice is transition from one set place or position to another. These transitions, lying to sitting, sitting to standing, the other way around, we usually take for granted until something goes wrong.

But they are amazing.

Spend the day noticing transitions and thinking and sensing what feels like it would be good “acture” for you.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Day Eight: Getting Straight or Not, A Real Spine Moves

A spine is not meant to be “straight,” but to help us move and orient in the world. By furling and unfurling our spines and ourselves, we come to a clearer understanding of what it means to be human.

Many of us, at one time or another, get the idea into our head that we want “better posture.” Often this idea was drilled into us in teenage years, with some adult saying, in usually not so pleasant a voice, “stand up straighter,” or “stop slumping.” Or some such commandment.

Whatever the baggage and past conditioning, it does feel better to stand with a fuller and longer spine. Much of yoga works toward this, and we’ll go for a sort of brain yoga as this book unfolds. I am trained in what is called the Feldenkrais Method®, named after a man, Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) who was a physicist, engineer, judo master and student of babies and human development. He wanted to heal something in him that medical surgery couldn’t repair at the time, and he did, discovering along the way a system of attentive moving that awakened awareness and propelled people into all sorts of improvements in their life.

I’m also trained in the Anat Baniel Method, developed by, not so surprisingly, Anat Baniel, a student of Moshe Feldenkrais who has spent 30 expanding and deepening his system.

Be that as it may, stand in your socks or barefoot on some comfortable floor or ground.

Feel the you of you in standing.

Now, hold your arms straight out to your sides, begin to roll your arms forward, so the thumbs orient from up, to forward to down. And as you roll your arms forward, bend your knees, and let your whole upper body round toward your pelvis, as if you were curling up in a ball. Then uncurl yourself and rotate your hand and arms backwards, so the thumbs come back to up, and rotate to point to the back. While this is happening, arch your spine and let your head look up a little and soften your belly and let your belly come forward as your lower back comes in a little.

Don’t worry if this isn’t obvious right away. Give it a try. Go slowly. See if it can make “sense” to you and deeply, pleasurably and full of pleasure, sense and learn about yourself.

Go back and forth like this. Read the directions several times, and figure it out. Go beyond reading about it. DO IT. SENSE YOURSELF IN MOTION, SENSE THE SPINE ROUNDING AND ARCHING. Breathe as you do this. Sense both arms and legs.

When you finish doing this, sense your “posture” all day.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Day Seven, The Kingdom of Heaven, Resting on Seventh

The Kingdom of Heaven can be an abstract concept, or an ongoing experience. To coax it more fully into our lives, slowing down, at least occasionally, is essential. Some traditions call for this every seven days.

Is within. The Kingdom of Heaven is within, says Jesus in the Bible. Within. Not up in the sky. Not some high grade Santa Claus’s reward for being good little boys and girls in our life.

Within ourselves.

Within our own bodies, these temporary shells, in there, right Now, is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Maybe now IS the Kingdom of Heaven. To be explored later. For today, let’s look within our bodies.

For today, day seven, spend some time doing as little as possible.

You know, take a walk. Lie down and move slowly. Take a nap. Meditate. Go TV free. Go book and reading free.

Go eating light or large, but if large do it slowly and in the middle of the day and don’t have dinner.

Slow down on the seventh day and do a lazy and open minded and happily awaring search scan meandering listen for the Kingdom of Heaven within.


Who are you?

How does slowing down help you find you.

How does it taste and feel and sense to get some inkling of an experience of the Kingdom of Heaven?




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Friday, March 05, 2010

Day Six: This is my life, hmmm, interesting

This is our life, today, now, this moment.

Sometimes we have this funny idea, as if we are in some sort of rehearsal, and that later, “sometime,” our real life will start. Almost as if we are in some sort of prison, or suspended animation, and when we get out, our “real life” will start. But hey, even in prison, each moment is our life. And that’s all our prison: forgetting this life, right now.

So, have fun, or feel the tragedy of how much we miss it, but play with awakening to the realization t:

This moment in our life.

Right now.

Play with this as many times as you would like and enjoy:

This moment, now, this is my life.

This can sometimes be an incentive for a different way of feeling and living. Even my writing, you reading,

this is our life.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Day Five, More Alive: 2 arms, 2 legs, 1 spine = 5 lines

To meditate in action, we can sense “five lines.” To improve action increase slowness, variation, awareness.
Play this game today: Sense both arms and both legs and your spine, and follow your breathing. A lot, and a blast when we can pull it off.

And here’s a great warm up into the five lines, and a sweet beginning to healing and improving our backs.

Try this : five lines in sitting.

1) Sit, not at the back of the chair, feel your five lines: two arms, two legs, spine.

2) Move your pelvis back and forth a bit, and sense the shifting shape of your spine, like this: belly in, weight to back of your pelvis, head and chest a little down and forward; now rocking to the front of your pelvis, belly a little forward, back arched, head upright. Sense your 5 lines in this.

3) Take your right hand at your left thigh, and lean forward and caress your left leg, with your hand going toward the foot, and back up again.
John in sitting, right hand down left leg
Many times. Sense your five lines and other parts while you do this.

4) Rest. And then, take the left hand behind the left knee, and right hand behind your head, and lift your left knee a little and bring your right elbow toward your left knee.
right hand behind head, right elbow toward left knee
Go gently, slowly, easily. Many times. Sensing your five lines.

5) Rest., Now, look to the left and put your right hand behind your head and near or over your left ear. Hold again your left knee with your left hand.
elbow behnd ear, toward knee
Letting your head and spine turn even more to the left, and sensing your five lines as you do this, bring elbow and knee towards each other again.
When you come back up, let your elbow go out the the right a bit, so you are sure you are coming all the way up. Even let your back straighten and arch slightly each time you come up.
head up, elbow back
Go nice and slowly, feeling a bit of a twist to the left each time you go down, and an untwisting to the right as you come up. Slowly, slowly, slowly. And enjoy.

6) Rest. Now pick you left leg, with your right hand holding your right ankle and left hand holding your left knee. Lift the knee and leg toward your face and let the chest and head come forward, and then back, slowly, sensing your 5 lines.

A bit, shift your held leg right and left, again sensing your five lines, minimizing effort and maximizing pleasure and learning.

7) Rest. Do the original movement of right hand down the left leg and see if this is different, all the while sensing your 5 lines.

8) If you want to do the opposite side, 5 lines, all the steps go ahead.

Today’s game: five lines, and feeling how to make bending more interesting and variable for ourselves.

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Day Four: Open the Door. To What? Whom? How? Wow!

Opening a door to possibility: What if there is a God?

What if there is a God? What would She, He or It be like?

If you have a god, or God in your life, spend today connecting with God as much as you can.

Explore how being present to breathing, or to sensing your legs and arms and being aware of the difference this “sensing” makes, how that might calm you and bring you to a place where you are more free to turn toward God

If you are not a God person, imagine something “like” God, and look for that throughout your day.

Don’t get fancy.

Just what could be “like” God in your life, whether that might be nature, or the smiles on other people’s faces, or happiness, or artistic or musical beauty, or a good cup of soup.

Your search, your game, your learning, dis-covery.


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