Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Moment!

I write this on New Year's Eve, 2011.

So, today the end is upon us once again -- the end of another year, that is.  It's just another day meeting another day, another minute following another why do most of us find the particular moment when one year ends and another begins to be so significant?  Why do we feel that this moment is something worth celebrating?

The transition moment from one unit of time to another happens every moment.  But New Year's Eve is the only such transition moment that we, as a people, are aware of at the same time.  I think this sense of shared awareness of time (and space, because we also become conscious of the timezone we're in) is what makes this moment extra-special.

Becoming aware of time and space and our relationship to it is a very powerful thing; and becoming aware of this together unifies us in a powerful way.  We become more aware not only of time and space, but of all the other people in the world who are also aware of time and space -- at the same time, in the same world.

  • Awareness of time.
  • Awareness of space.
  • Awareness of self.
  • Awareness of others.
  • Mutual awareness of time - self - other.
  • Connectedness, sense of belonging, unification.

These are very potent ingredients for happiness, joy, and the unifying experience of deep love, just waiting for us to be open to them through our awareness of the latent goodness there.

People tend to celebrate New Year's Eve with other people, perhaps with the desire to heighten the joy inherent in this transition moment -- the timeless instant between moments -- by sharing it in the physical presence of others.

But it is the actual awareness of the above ingredients that is so magical, and this is not dependent on the physical presence of any other people at all.  The Joy of conscious awareness is something that happens within each of us whenever we open up to it, and it is available at each and every moment.  The magical transition between moments, the space within time, when the beginning meets the end, is eternally available, just waiting for us to notice it.

So, I wish all of you a happy new year, but especially...
an eternally Happy New Moment!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Play your Heart-Music, here, now

for Musicians (that is, Everyone, 

because we all have Music inside
and we all have a concert to play
for all of life is a performance, a play
and a most glorious one at that
filled with everything there is
playing all Infinitude):

there is no beginning to it, and there is no end to it
it doesn't start when you walk onstage and end when you walk off

realize:  you're already making Music inside you here, now
and you will continue making Music inside you afterwards, here, now

just because here-now might be on a stage with an instrument and notes makes no difference
because it will still be here, now

so make Music for me, for you, for All, for, now---NOW
sing your heart out inside, with smiling joy and light
because you love and are loved

and all is well, here, now
and all will continue to be well, here, now

what is a concert? what is a performance of any kind, musical or otherwise?
nothing but letting Music sing from the heart, here, now

I love to hear your Heart-Music


and I love you because
love your Heart-Music...

and who am I?
not other than you...

and who are you, who are we?
not other than Heart-Music
singing Itself from within

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

habits of thinking about feelings

round and round...
back and forth...

words on top of words...
feelings on top of feelings...

there is no relief, no peace
until I stop.

angry about being angry,
disgusted about being disgusted,
frustrated about being frustrated,
confused about being confused...

delighted about being delighted,
excited about being excited,
happy about being happy...

why not just experience the feeling
and then stop the habit of thinking and feeling something about the feeling?

why not stop to fully experience the feeling
without placing a label on it,
without judging it, interpreting it, or trying to ascribe meaning to it?

something that might be anger? no problem.  just a feeling.
something that might be sadness?  no problem.  just a feeling.

happy? no big deal.  just happy, just a feeling.
loving? no big deal.  just loving, just a feeling.

letting feelings be simple
is much simpler.

not knowing what they all mean
is just fine.

just to be here, just to experience what is
as it is
when it is...

this is enough.

Monday, November 14, 2011

loving the space between

as I teach, I see two people meeting
as I live, I see multiple objects coming together
as I breathe, I am aware of an inside and an outside

always, there is a space between
which lives and breathes and grows
like a tree spreading in all directions

can we work on the space between?
can we connect to that space and grow from it
just as we connect to one another?

the hands may meet a physical being
but what is it they must pass around and go through?
isn't there always always always just a little bit of space between?

I would like to learn to love this space,
this time-space which constantly presents itself
sometimes all too obvious, sometimes nearly nonexistent

I am learning to love this living space between
even as I love the objective "other" that I can see
living on the other side of nothing

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Everyone's an Actor

Who are you?  You're an actor!  
Take on your role, play it up, and own it!

You are the director.  Direct yourself!
The world is your stage, right here, right now.

Where are your feet?  NO! Don't move them!
Let them be where they are!

Where is your head? Where are your shoulders?
Let them be, and thrive within them.

Do you find your legs tight?  Then leave them alone.
Your role requires it, so play it!

How is your neck? Your spine?  Your chest?
Are they compressed?  Are they curved, or caved in?

However they are is how they need to be now,
To fulfill your unique role in this play.

So let yourself be uptight, and let yourself be down.
This is the character you are meant to play.

So put all of your energy into playing this role...
And own where you are, and enjoy it!

Enjoy yourself as you direct your body.
Wherever it is, whatever its shape,
In this moment it is according to script.

Relish the shape, relish the role,
and put your whole heart and soul in it.

Enjoy the role, enjoy the play!
And notice: are you breathing??

Maybe you can laugh at this comedy act.
Maybe it isn't a tragedy...?

Contort yourself more, exaggerate the acting...
See how the drama unfolds...

When you enjoy your part (even if it seems to be evil!),
You cannot help but breathe.

Now let the breath move your actor around.
What happens next?  You decide!

Does the character change?
Or stay stuck and enslaved?
You're the director; you're the one who can choose!

Are you a puppet, a slave, or an idiot?
Or a human being endowed with free will?

If you believe that you're free, then become the part.
Your thoughts will transform who you are.

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Neck is Free

Our nature is pure consciousness, and this consciousness is free.
We have the freedom to think, and the freedom to choose.
Whatever comes into our awareness is included in our experience,
so we can say: "I am that."

My nature is freedom, and yet this freedom means that I am also free to block or deny it.
When I block my freedom so that I am not free, I experience that, and become not-freedom.  I am that.

My body is included in who I am, so this body is free.  Yet, I block that freedom.
My neck is part of this body; the neck is free.
But I block this freedom by my lack of awareness of it, and thereby stiffening my neck.

Do I want to be free?  Or do I want to be stuck and stiff?

If I want to be free, what will free me?
I am the only one who has this power over myself.
Only I can choose whether to be free or stuck.

If I choose to experience freedom, how can I do this?

Every thought has an effect on the body.
I must realize that my nature is freedom, and think this thought.

I am free.
The neck is free.

When I think the thought, "The neck is free," knowing that this is true,
because my experience, my consciousness, includes all things,
I am that.

To think, "The neck is free," is to let the neck be free.
This, in itself, is the act of freeing the neck.
With this thought, we realize our inherent freedom and we allow it to be, without interfering with it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Process

What is my intention?  What is my goal?  What is my desired outcome?
Is the goal so important that I am willing to give up my well-being during the process of reaching it?
Is the goal really that important?
Is achieving a goal in the future really more important than who I am in the present?
Do I ultimately have any control over the future?

My student has a specific goal.
But, there are so many other goals attached to that goal, including issues of self-worth and happiness, that the goal has taken on larger-than-life proportions.
Fear of the worst has set in, and she realizes that she is stuck.
Speculation about the future has partially paralyzed her, so that it seems at times that she is not moving towards her goal, and that she is also not taking care of her well-being as well as she could.
She is usually not living in the present, she is not trusting the flow of present moments which become a process as they are experienced one after another, and she is experiencing pain which she can hardly endure.
If she continues in this direction, it is highly unlikely that she will achieve her goal, and her well-being will continue to suffer.

Is there a way to achieve our goal AND take care of our well-being in the process?
Is there a way to see ourselves as more important than the goal, and yet continue to aim towards the goal, and possibly achieve it?

I believe there is.


1. I think the first step is to make THAT the primary goal, while believing that it is possible.  In other words:  to consider our (well-)Being as more important than what we might achieve (the secondary goal), while aiming towards the goal and trusting that it is possible to achieve it with our wholeness/integrity intact.

2. The second step is to get out of the way, which means we need to see which thoughts are paralyzing us, and to stop thinking them.

3. The third step is to think the thoughts that will help carry us in the new direction.  These positive thoughts include thoughts of trust, and allowing the process to flow, and letting ourselves be carried towards our goal, while continuing on with the first two steps.

"The belief in a thing makes it happen." - Frank Lloyd Wright

What are your goals??

What do you believe??

Friday, September 16, 2011

The "I Wonder" Game

Purpose: to question without requiring an answer. to awaken curiosity. to open the mind to new possibilities. to see things in a new light. to become more childlike and creative. etc.

How to play: begin sentences with the words, "I wonder"... and do not rush to find an answer to your musings.  Wait and allow.  Watch and wonder.

Rules: I wonder if there are any...

How to win: you win by playing. you win by enjoying the game.

How to lose: you lose if you try to get it right or control the outcome and forget to wonder about that.

I wonder if I'm forgetting anything...hmmmmmm...............................
Ok! I wonder if anyone will join me in this game...  
I wonder what will happen next!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On Love and Depression

We are beings made of Love.  Love is not other than Life, because nothing can exist in isolation; there is always a constant exchange of energy which sustains and enhances all living things, a connection which unites everything that seems to be separate.

I believe that depression occurs when that exchange of energy...that constant movement of out of balance.

Pain and suffering are experienced when we are blind to this constant exchange, which happens all the time, effortlessly and automatically.

When we are blind to the fact that we are constantly receiving nourishment, support, and life-enhancing energy--Love--from without, we feel disconnected from the world and other people, and we begin to collapse into depression because we become ignorant of the exquisite beauty that surrounds us, and we forget that all is One, and we are part of It.

When we are blind to the fact that we are necessarily intertwined and constantly giving ourselves to the world, which is constantly receiving us (whether the world is aware of this or not), we feel worthless and disconnected, and we collapse into depression for the same reasons.

It is said that 'to give is more blessed than to receive'...perhaps because giving is usually perceived as something more active than receiving...but to receive is also an active opening and letting go...and perhaps equally blessed.  (Besides, are the two things really different??)

So there are two potential keys to rising up out of depression:  to give, and to receive.

What do we need to give?  What do we need to receive?

Our awareness of the ever-present Life-Love, within and without.

How do we do this?

We don't need to 'do' anything, because this Life-Love already is within us, and all around us, flowing and being Itself all the time.  We just need to stop blocking It and intend to be conscious of It, leaving ourselves alone, and letting Love Live...and letting Life Love.

If we stop for a moment to notice, we can choose to be open to receive the Life-Love that is constantly glowing and moving all around us, and we can allow It to enter us (one of the easiest ways is through the breath).

We can also choose to express/give the Life-Love that we are made of.  This giving happens by itself when we stop blocking it, because this Life-Love is what we are, and it is in the nature of the Good to shine and communicate Itself, through us and through everything that exists in this world.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Accepting Support

Support is everywhere: within and without.
It comes towards us through everything,
Always reaching for us, waiting for us to become aware of it.
If we stop disconnecting ourselves from it, and stop ignoring it or denying our need for it,
Our hearts and minds and bodies can finally open to humbly receive it.

We are connected to everything, as if by invisible strings, or golden threads.
If we trust these nourishing and sustaining lifelines of support,
And stop trying to support ourselves without this ever-present help from beyond ourselves,
We can let go and fall, to be caught up by this gentle embrace
Which wants to help us be ourselves.

By risking losing what we think is our balance,
By trusting that which is only known by intuition and deeply-buried experience,
We let it coax us back into our rightful shape.
In this way, we right ourselves,
And with bliss, we merge with and meet the space to which we rightfully belong.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Preparation and Anxiety

I have an AT presentation this afternoon, with less than 45 minutes to prepare for it.  I have had many days, even weeks, to prepare, yet have chosen not to.  Today, this thought brings up little twinges of anxiety, as if I were receiving micro-injections of adrenaline into my middle.


I feel it in my abdomen...

I am choosing not to react to these feelings, and to the thoughts that come up which are triggering the feelings.

Makes me curious...

Allowing myself to smile.
Allowing lengthening, widening, expanding.

Noticing muscular contractions which express a direction/energy that wants me to close up and shut down, freeze, fight, or flee...

Not reacting.
Not judging.

Not preparing.

Allowing life to flow as it will.

How could I possibly prepare to teach the Alexander Technique in any way other than by practicing it??

The Alexander Technique has been called 'a skill for life'.
How can you prepare for life if you're already alive?  No need.

No need to prepare.
And...this is the best way to prepare.

Just stopping.
Just noticing.
Just allowing.

Everything is flowing exactly as it needs to, and I am not interfering.
I'm enjoying the ride...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Suffering II

the suffering,
when allowed to move,
colors the mind,

...and it flows into life...

and the pain spreads
in waves
through contortions, twists and turns...

once the fear is accepted
and the scaffolding removed,
the soul is finally freed
to move
and be moved...

while the inner witness, the impersonal self, oversees the happening...
with care and steady calm, it guides the soul's inner suffering,
reminding it to allow all feelings
and let them flow as they must.

until the soul wakes up
and realizes

that perhaps the suffering does not belong to it alone.

perhaps this suffering is just something that comes,
larger than the very small story of one small being,
something that cannot be owned, trapped, or specifically named.

perhaps this suffering really belongs to another--
and another, and another...

in time, without hurry, the soul realizes
that this is truly the universal suffering of humanity itself,
which belongs to no one at all,
for this is the suffering that exists only because it must...

...and is only released once clearly seen in all its grandeur...

and with this realization, the breath comes
and the suffering is given space to live
and to move onwards
and outwards
through the body, mind, and soul.

this is how
the pain leads us home

when we choose to stop
and follow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Suffering I

Today, the father of one of my closest friends is dying, and she has gone to be with him.  This has made me think of death and suffering.  When we have compassion, we feel the suffering of others.  To have compassion is human; to suffer is also human.  Yet, one of our strongest habits is to avoid feeling our suffering out of fear.

Here are some helpful thoughts to tell ourselves during times of suffering:

Don't worry, me, I am here with you, within you--I am you, not separate from you.
I understand everything that you are going through, everything that you think, everything that you do.

Yes, you have suffered enough. But you will suffer more, despite that, because this is your lot.  Because you are human and you are surrounded by an imperfect world and imperfect human beings, just like you.

But you can suffer less than you do.  You can stay strong and centered and detached.  You can listen to others and have compassion.  You can feel their sorrow and sadness, and your own painful feelings.

But let those feelings live in you and MOVE!  

Don't hold onto them.  Don't try to get rid of them. Don't tighten in response.  Don't run away from them.  Don't deny them.  Don't minimize them.  Don't exaggerate them.  Don't ignore them. Don't fight them.

Above all, don't fear them!!!!!

Do not fear those feelings, my dear self.  Those feelings are a gateway to your True Self, just as pleasant ones are, as well.  Do not fear your feelings, for they are all a necessary part of who you are.  Pay attention to them, and let them be what they are.

Allow all feelings.
Allow them to move through you.
Feel them deeply, and let them  move you.
Feel the sadness, the sorrow, the compassion, the depth of humanity, the suffering.
Just make sure that you let it all move!

BREATHE with the feelings, and let them move you.

Movement is LIFE.

Breath is LIFE.

This is the way to open yourself and know yourself, so do not be afraid.

You fear yourself--which is necessary at first--but then come closer.
Do not let the fear stop you from coming closer and closer to who you really are, beyond those feelings.

Overcome your fear!!!
Open yourself to this fear, to all feelings, and risk knowing and loving yourself fully, just as you are.

I am here.
I am here for you, with open arms.
Here to embrace you and keep you safe.
Open your arms to yourself, and open your heart.

Surrender to the fear and open yourself up anyway, despite the fear, despite the pain.
Find me in your breath, as you let the feelings move inside.
I am here, I am here, I am here.

I am you.

Look no further than inside your own being.
I am your very own Self.
So open up to me and breathe and move, and LIVE.

Dare to be your WHOLE, TRUE SELF.

The only way to real happiness is to accept and move through whatever comes...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Embracing Life

"Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive -- the risk to be alive and express what we really are." - Miguel Angel Ruiz

We all want to live, or else we would no longer be alive.  But much of the time, people seem as if suspended somewhere between life and death, neither fully alive nor fully dead.  Why not decide today to risk being fully alive and expressing the fullness of life that we really are?  [Some AT suggestions for practicing this are at the bottom of this post.]

We speak of "embracing life."  But embracing life can be very difficult if a person does not first feel safely embraced by life.  To sincerely embrace something or someone involves opening up and making oneself vulnerable by expressing the truth of what is deep inside of us.  It can feel like a terrible risk if we think that something/someone we wish to embrace may not return our embrace; that could feel like the very essence of our being is being denied.

But life is not a person.  Life never denies us; it is only we who deny life.

I had a wonderful and significant dream just before waking this morning, which taught me some very important things.  It might sound strange to someone else, but please bear with me--I think it's worth sharing.


I was about to participate in an Alexander workshop (as a student), and just before it began, the teacher approached me.  He didn't recognize me, but he gave me a friendly hug.  It didn't matter at all who I was, and the hug was completely impersonal.  Yet, the touch-quality of the hug was so warm, reassuring, calm, and safe--the real touch of a great Alexander teacher's hands, but offered with the upper body.*
In my dream, even though the contact of the hug was full and frontal, this was a completely non-sexual, non-emotional, non-personal hug. This was the most accepting, whole-person, peaceful embrace of life that I could imagine.  It felt odd to accept this embrace in front of other people (what must they be thinking?!), but I chose to be the student and let the teacher lead, releasing into the safety of this innocent, natural human contact.  I distinctly remember the breath becoming free, full and synchronized.  Others were waiting to begin the workshop, but for me, the workshop had already begun, and the most important thing for me was being taught and learned.

Upon waking, I realized several things:
  • Our best teacher is life itself--the present moment--NOW, not a person outside of the Self.  People can help us realize this, but we really need to surrender to letting life be our teacher.
  • We need to take the risk to let life embrace us, so that we can then feel safe to embrace life.
  • Even when we seem to be alone, the life-teacher is always present, always right in front of us, always here, always embracing us, just waiting for us to return the embrace.
  • We will be happiest when we let ourselves be embraced by life--even in front of other people, even when it feels odd, even when we worry about what other people might think of us when we are in the midst of that embrace.
  • What is important, for each one of us, is to take the opportunity that stands before us NOW, to accept the embrace that is being offered to us individually.  We can let the rest of the world wait, trusting that it can take care of itself while we are experiencing the embrace of life for ourselves.  
  • Being individually embraced by life doesn't mean that we're any more special or important than anyone else.  Everyone in the world receives his/her own special embrace from life. 

Some AT directions to put this into practice:

  • The next time you feel like something is missing in your life, give yourself a moment to stop what you're doing.
  • Become aware of the space in front of you.  Without necessarily moving your body (you can remain passive), let yourself feel the space in front of you with the whole front of your body.  Feel how the air quietly and gently touches your hands, arms, torso, legs, neck, face.  If you're outside, turn towards the breeze and feel it caress the front of your body.
  • Let yourself feel this frontal space softly embracing you.  Let yourself be nourished and comforted by this space.  Be aware of drawing it in, towards and through your torso, letting it fill your chest and abdomen so that you can rest into your back.
  • Lying down on your stomach with a long pillow under your torso, forehead on the ground, with lower legs and ankles supported by another pillow if necessary, is also a nice way to feel supported from the front of you.
I find that there is a lot of focus on the back of the body in Alexander lessons.  We speak a lot about the spine lengthening, and about the back lengthening and widening to support us.  Let's make sure we are also aware of receiving support for and from the front, allowing life to embrace us from all sides, inside and out, as we return that embrace at every moment.  Let's take the risk to be ourselves.  We are made to embrace life with all our being.

*For those readers unfamiliar with Alexander Technique: the front middle of the torso and abdomen are rarely touched in a lesson, if at all, and the teacher uses only his/her hands to lightly contact a student's body in a completely non-invasive, detached way, such as on head, neck, back, and limbs. Greater emphasis is usually placed on the spine and support coming from the back rather than the front, as this area is much more vulnerable.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Opening to Grace, part II

Having been out of the country for many weeks, I've only taught a handful of lessons since the end of June.  Today, as I went to put hands on my student, my last blogpost came to mind, and I had a new experience when I contacted her, which I'd like to write about in case it might be useful to others.

In my last post, I spoke about having open, empty hands, unfurling to receive grace-fullness as they touch each other.  As my hands approached my student today, I noticed the emptiness of my hands, and as they made contact, connecting with her through her body, I had that same sense of my hands being filled with grace.

The human body is full of life.  And what is life if not grace--that elusive, indescribable, miraculous Essence of existence?

As I put my hands on a living person, the life in me makes contact with the life inside another.  This is miraculous to me and fills me with awe.  Every body is full of the grace of life.  Every cell is grace-full.

As my hands rest on this living being, what could there possibly be to change?  What could there be to fix?  What could be missing for this person?  What is lacking?  My hands feel the warm miracle of life, and I am in awe of its simple, innocent perfection.  Perhaps the only thing missing is an awareness and deep appreciation of this wholeness, this grace-full perfection of Life's Wonder that lives within.

Perhaps, if I can be present to my student's essential wholeness/perfection as I teach (as well as my own, for the life in us is not different), my student will wake up to it a bit more, too.  Deep down, I think this is what everyone who walks through the studio door is really seeking.  This awareness is what heals.  For what is health, but wholeness?

  • After becoming aware of your hands as in the previous post, practice placing your empty hands on different parts of your own body, and sense the life within your body, meeting your hands.
  • The next time you touch someone, take a moment to appreciate the emptiness of your hands first, and then appreciate their Grace-fullness as they make contact with the life in the other person.
  • Let your hands transmit appreciation from your heart.
  • Be aware of the innocent perfection of life, and know that this life cannot be added to, fixed, changed, or diminished.  It simply IS.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Opening to Grace, part I

Opening to being grace-full.

What is opening?
What is being?
What is grace?
What is full?

When awareness of the above are not present, nothing seems to work right.  Things don't flow, and clumsiness and suffering abound.  Coordination is off, and heaviness is predominant.

Grace, ease, joy, and lightness go hand-in-hand.
So as we wish for those, let us notice our hands.
Let hands touch one another, for the heart is expressed by the hands.
When in the womb, heart and hand were of one tissue.


  • Open the hands and observe them.  See their emptiness and how they have weathered.  
  • Let the hands unclench and soften, resting them on your lap or a table.  Let them be open and empty to receive grace-fullness.  
  • Now let the hands slowly come together, meeting each other in a natural way, and feel that now they are full.
  • As you go about your day, if you feel that you "have your hands full" with too much to do, try just stopping for a moment to appreciate your hands.  Let your hands open slowly, reflecting an opening heart.  
  • Experience their emptiness, and then let them hold each other gently, letting each hand fill the other with the grace of your own being.  Let this grace-fullness spread to your heart, and feel gratitude for your Self. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Moving Forward, Giving Back

I saw a sign as I was out walking yesterday.  Literally.
Although, the sign did announce that it was divine..."Divine Realty," to be precise.
"Divine Realty.  Moving forward.  Giving back."
Divine or not, it really made me stop and think.  And I'm still thinking about it!

"Realty" + "I" = Reality

A sign about homes.  My home, your home...
The body is our home, our real realty--our everyday reality while in this world.
A home which we carry around with us wherever we go.

"Moving forward, giving back."

Yes.  It is surely good to move forward and give back.  But how, exactly, does the body move forward and give back at the same time?  The image of the Buddha comes to mind.  The Buddha is often depicted as walking forward, leaving a trail of lotuses instead of footprints behind him, a trail of beauty for us to follow.  The Buddha is certainly a universal example of a human being moving forward while giving back.


  • While walking forward, are you moving forward into the future, while staying aware of the past behind you, giving beauty to those who come after you, or to those who were important in your past?
  • Are you able to move forward and give back, without looking back or clinging to the past?
  • Can you stay centered in the middle (present), while accepting forward (future) and back (past)?
  • Can you be aware of what is in front of you and behind you at the same time?
  • How can you "give back" to yourself and others, even as you move forward in life?
  • Is turning your back to something or someone necessarily a negative thing?  What if you are actually giving back by turning your back to it/them, so that you can move forward to the next present moment, the next steps in your life?  What if by doing so, you are offering lotus flowers of beauty and goodness, a trail blessed by your continued presence beyond space and time?
  • If you use a variation of the standard Alexander Technique directions (let the neck be free, to let the head move forward and up, to let the back lengthen and widen, to let the knees go forward and away), can you include a sense of generosity as you give your back lengthening and widening?  
  • Can you give neck free, give head forward & up, give back lengthening & widening, give knees, etc.?
  • What are other ways you can "give back" as you move forward and up, both literally and figuratively?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Life Rhythm

"There is a rhythm to everything in the cosmos.  The wind, the rain, the waves, the flow of our breath and heartbeat--everything has a rhythm.  Similarly, there is a rhythm in life.  Our thoughts and actions create the rhythm and melodies of our lives.  When the rhythm of our thoughts is lost, it reflects in our actions.  This will, in turn, throw off the very rhythm of life.  Today, this is what we are seeing all around us."  
- Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma)

  • Is there a rhythm to your daily life?
  • Does your life flow melodiously from one activity to another, or do you get stuck?
  • Do your movements flow with ease, or are they jerky and stiff?
  • Is there a balanced rhythm to your gait, or is there an uneven lopsidedness?
  • Notice where rhythm is irregular in your life, where would like it to be more regular. (Example: "My mealtimes are irregular."
  • Realize that you have a choice: to continue with the habitual irregularity, or to stop.
  • "Choosing to stop."
  • Change direction towards what you want: "My mealtimes are not irregular."  "I eat three meals per day, at roughly the same time" (or whatever you prefer).
Continue thinking in this way, and over time your habits will start to shift, as you start making the necessary adjustments towards your goal.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Laugh it up!

There are so many ways to laugh--just watch the people around you wherever you go, and watch yourself in the mirror, if you dare!

Do you throw your head back when you laugh?
Do you double over with laughter?
Are you thrown into stitches?

Or do you laugh it up?

Which parts of you do you laugh with?
Where do you feel it?
Where does the laughter originate?
Think about it for a moment.

Stomach, throat, chest, voice, face, torso...feet...mind?

How about laughing with your whole self, whole being, with a real, heart-y laugh?

Next time you laugh, notice whether you hold in your laughter in any way by tightening/constricting/pulling yourself down...or whether you collapse...or whether it energizes you and uplifts your spirits.

Does your laughter bring you closer to or further from what makes you laugh?

See if you can be aware of the space above you as you laugh, and choose not to tighten in reaction to the stimulus that you find funny.

Let yourself go into a freefall for laughter, aiming everything up!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Noticing the face

As you sit looking at the computer screen, stop for a moment and become aware of your face.

Do you notice any excess tension around the eyes? Forehead? Lips? Jaw?  Don't try to change your face or get rid of any of the tension just yet.

In fact, can you exaggerate it and get to know your habits better first?  The more information we can gather about what it is we're doing, the more control we can potentially have over it in the future.

What if you scrunched up your face even more, in the same direction?  What happens to the different areas of your face?  In which directions do the muscles pull?

Now stop and ask yourself to let go of it all.  Did you notice an expansion outwards?  Did your expression soften?  Did your breathing change?

Can you let go of more around the lips and jaw area?

Imagine that your face is a crumpled piece of cloth.  Can you imagine that someone is gently pulling it outwards from all sides, smoothing the tension that pulls on and tightens the muscles?  You can use your own hands, slowly and lightly, to smooth your face outwards from center, guiding muscles into release.

Can you let your vision soften, letting the eyes rest further back in their sockets?

How about letting the corners of your mouth aim slightly upwards, into the beginnings of a gentle smile?

Notice your face during different activities today: while listening to someone speak, when you wake up from sleeping, as you walk down the street, looking in the mirror, etc.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

You can rise above it

Are you feeling a specific emotion right now, or experiencing a general one today or this week?
Whatever it is (whether you experience it as "positive" or "negative"), can you rise above it?  There is always a higher place to aspire to.  Getting stuck in a feeling is not life-enhancing and doesn't contribute to personal growth until you have a breakthrough out of it.

Bring your awareness high up into your forehead (prefrontal cortex--PFC).
From there, can you observe the sensations in your body below?
Emotions have physical counterparts; they go hand in hand.
For instance, do you feel some constriction in your chest, or in your throat?  Neck? Hands? Belly?

Staying up in the PFC, gently ask yourself to stop constricting (in a general way, then in specific places, too).  "I wonder if I could let go of that? I'd like to stop tightening there."

Other helpful inhibitory thoughts:
"I'm allowing myself to feel X down there, and I'd like to stop feeding that feeling now.  I am not reacting to it. I'm not in a hurry.  I can feel X and yet be detached up here.  I want to stop interfering with peace (or happiness) now."

Staying forward and up is the key. When you experience an emotion/bodily sensation as "negative," staying "up" and aiming "forward" into life becomes much more difficult, and all the more important!

Friday, July 1, 2011


idea: I want to walk forwards
this may not be a verbalized idea at all

if I inhibit my habitual reaction to the idea of walking forwards
then my head releases forward and up, floating away from my spine

my head leads the way as I release into movement
trusting, I aim my whole self in the direction I'd like to go

released ankle joints mean that my body begins to fall forward
released knee and hip joints mean that my leg moves to catch me

instead of falling down, I fall up and forwards
and I am carried where I want to go, never leaving where I am

Saturday, June 25, 2011

About Inhibitory (Negative) Directions

In my last post (Three Simple Steps), the third step is framed in the negative ("I am not stiffening the neck"). I have often been asked, "Why not use a positive construction, such as 'I am letting the neck be free', instead of the negative?"  I'd like to attempt to answer this question here.

Apparently, towards the end of his life, F.M. Alexander told others that he believed we should only be giving inhibitory directions (instructions to 'not-do').  It seems that too many of his students were trying to do his direction, "Let the neck be free," and thereby actually stiffening as a result of their habitual mental-muscular doing/trying/effort.  I have also found this to be true with myself and my own students, so I have been experimenting with alternatives.  Missy Vineyard, who continues to be a great source of inspiration to me, speaks about this in her book, How You Stand, How You Move, How You Live, which I highly recommend to anyone wanting to further explore this topic and the Alexander Technique.

I have long been taught from various sources that the brain apparently does not understand the command "do not".  I also understand from my own life experience that positive thinking is essential in order to get positive results.  For this reason, I don't often give myself or a student the direct command, "Don't stiffen the neck" (unless I determine through observation that he/she can internally translate this for him/herself by understanding the hidden positive meaning behind these words).

Instead, I simply encourage the thought, "I am not stiffening the neck, or "not stiffening the neck".  To my mind, and to those of my students (because we arrive at a common understanding of the words we use while we work together), these are actually positive directions, especially the direction that begins with the words "I am".  This construction indicates a positive state of being, not a doing, even if it is then followed by the word "not".  What is being "done" is a stopping, an "un-doing", which is a very positive, active process.  There is nothing passive about un-doing or non-doing.

I also use clearly positive directions, such as "Let the neck be free," or "I am allowing open, loving Flow," or "aiming forward and up," etc., because I do think that we need to learn to respond constructively to both positive and negative instructions.  However, I am currently working with using the negative construction before adding the positives (if I do use them), and I am very careful with these, since I know that people tend to try to "do" the letting, or the allowing, and thereby get an opposite result.  I am also liberal (yet again very careful to note the student's reaction) with encouraging/praising words such as "Yes," or "That's right," or "Good," or "Yes! That's beautiful! Perfect!", as well as liberal-careful with preventive words such as, "No," or "No, not that way," or, "Stop."

I want to really emphasize that expressing, "I am..." or using another present-tense verb such as "Letting," or "Aiming..." or "Allowing..." tends to lend a better (more direct) result than expressing a command, such as "Let..." or "Aim," etc., because, besides implying something to do, the second option too easily implies privation in the present, rather than a positive state in the present.  Expressing the positive in the present requires a high level of trust, too.

When using inhibitory (negative) directions, it is also very important that a positive goal or motivator be uppermost in mind to begin with.  I often begin a lesson by having a student remember and/or explore his/her own positive goals (such as health and well-being, freedom, mobility, openness, life, flow, energy, happiness, etc.), so that everything we then do in the lesson is framed within an overall positive atmosphere.  I do my best to create and maintain an atmosphere of light-heartedness, smiles, curiosity, and laughter to that end, whenever possible.  I have a great pin that I picked up at an AT conference that says, "It is too serious to be serious about it.  F.M. Alexander Technique"!

So, in a nutshell, this is about using and including everything, both the negative and the positive, uniting opposites to bring everything back to wholeness, which, to me, is overwhelmingly positive!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Three Simple Steps

1. Notice the habit.
2. Realize there is a choice: to continue in the same direction, or to stop.  Choose to stop.
3. Give the new direction.



1. "Doing something unnecessary."
2. "Choosing to stop."
3. "Not doing that."

1. "Stiffening the whole self."
2. "Choosing to stop."
3. "Not stiffening the whole self." 

1. "Stiffening the neck."
2. "Choosing to stop."
3. "Not stiffening the neck."


1. Awareness:  We notice the reality of what is, right now.  There is no judgment involved in this step.  What is noticed is simply a fact, neither positive nor negative.
2. Free Will and Inhibition:  We recognize that we have free will; once we realize this, we are exercising it, by choosing either to continue on in the same habitual direction, or to stop that direction.
3. Direction:  We very actively, with real strength of purpose, certitude, and conviction, aim our thinking (not our habitual muscular activity) into the direction we wish to go.


This process implies a "pre-direction", something that motivates us to work through these steps.  We need to first know what we want; that there is a goal that we're aiming towards.  This goal may be as simple, general, and as huge as Life itself.  Or it may be something more specific, such as "good health", or "less pain in the knees", etc.

A "post-direction" is also a good idea: to celebrate the successful completion of those three steps.   This is not about celebrating the result; it is about celebrating that we were able to carry out those three steps.  Gratitude for our thinking minds.  Gratitude for free will and the ability to exercise it.  Gratitude for the fact that every time we follow through on these three steps, we are taking a positive step towards our goal.


Everything is contained in these three, simple steps.  But two essential elements are required for them to bear fruit: patience and trust.  Trust in the fact that every single thought has an immediate corresponding effect on the whole self, including the body; trust that there is an internal organizing factor within us which carries out those effects; trust that, in good time, with much repetition, the effects will be felt by us and the goal will be reached, without our needing to do anything else.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Not using "I" and"Mine"

When I teach, I often explain to my students that I like to use the first person when giving a direction, so that they can skip the step of translating my words into their own, and they can just silently (or out loud) repeat the same words for themselves, if they choose to.  For example, instead of saying, "Now, think of not stiffening your neck," I would say, "I am not stiffening my neck," and the student would then simply think, "I am not stiffening my neck." I also explain that in this way, we both derive immediate benefit, since I, of course, want to be thinking the same thing for myself.

Today, I'm wondering if the process could be made even simpler.  Might it be equally helpful not even to use the words "I" or "mine"?  Is it possible to avoid these words while I teach?  While I talk to my student?  While I think to myself?
Revised, subject-free version of those questions: Is it possible to avoid using the words "I" and "mine" while teaching?  While talking? While thinking?

One of the habits is to compulsively use complete sentences.  Another habit is to tend towards egoistic self-absorption.  Eliminating the subject from the sentence prevents those habits.

Experimenting with subject-free language:
  • Notice a habit.  For example: "Stiffening the neck" or "Holding the body up" or "Pulling down" or "Compressing the spine", etc.
  • Realize that there is now a choice: to continue the habitual direction, or to stop.
  • Make the choice: "Choosing to stop."
  • Change direction; give the new direction.  For example: "Not stiffening the neck" or "Not holding the body up" or "Not pulling down," or "Not compressing the spine", etc.
  • Or, framed in the positive: "Allowing fluidity" or "Releasing " or "Aiming up", etc.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Letting Others Live Their Lives

As an Alexander teacher--and maybe just because of who I am--I tend to see things that are going on in other people that they may be unaware of.  Sometimes, they are beautiful, positive things, and I rejoice to see them and share in that beauty with them.  At other times, I see some of the ways people are hurting themselves, creating their own pain and inner strife.  Sometimes, I see a person going in what looks like a healthy, loving direction; at other times, I see walls going up which create more hardening and separation.

I'm guessing that you can see those things happening in people, too.  The question is, how do we react when we see those things?  Do we react in a way that causes us to put up our own defensive walls of separation, or do we aggressively try to convince or change or correct the way others are behaving, risking triggering more reactions, likely to lead to more suffering all around?  Or, do we first respond in a way that softens us into openly accepting what is, making room for everything?  Clearly, we have a choice.

Only if we can first allow ourselves to release into fully accepting the whole of the other person--including even what seems wrong or hurtful--can we do anything really, truly loving for the other person.  Any action taken to help another needs to come from a place of love, and that love must first include unconditional, complete, total acceptance of the other person's free will to be who they are right now, and to go in the direction they are choosing.  Only if we allow them that freedom will they be able to trust us enough to then let us gently guide them into a better, healthier, more loving direction.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Making Good Use of Memory

When you have a few quiet moments to yourself and are not in a rush, try this experiment.

  • Close your eyes and conjure up a beautiful memory.
  • See and feel the details in your imagination.
  • What happens in your body as you re-live the experience?
  • Do you feel a release of tension?
  • How does this affect your breathing?
  • Arms? Legs? Neck? Torso? Feet?
  • Can you let the relief of this re-lived experience spread to fill your whole body?
  • Does it bring up a smile? Does your face relax?
  • Notice how consciously directing your thinking affects your body; how your state of being shifts, just because of the thought-images that you have allowed to permeate the rest of you.
  • Now, as you open your eyes and turn your attention back to your surroundings, notice how you react.  Do you want to stay more open and released, with more consciousness of beauty (peace, nature, love, presence, etc.), or do you want to shut down into a more habitual mode of going through your day?
  • Can you choose to bring this state of greater ease into your next activity, while letting go of the specific thought-images that brought you to this state?
  • Can you merge your experience of the past with your experience of the present, to become a new experience of your future?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Unblocking energetic, loving Flow

When we notice that one of our habitual reactions is to put up inner walls, shut things out of our experience, pull ourselves down, and block the life-flow of energy within; and when we know that this is not what we really want to be doing because it is inconsistent with our ultimate Goal of loving, joyous, generous Life--towards ourselves and others--this can be a helpful direction to give ourselves:

"I am not blocking open, energetic, loving Flow."

Repeated over and over, surrendering to the deepest part of us that knows exactly how to re-organize everything into a positive, upward direction, these words can seem to work magic to carry us effortlessly towards our Goal.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Accessing your Strength

"You're strong!" my new students often say to me in surprise, as I easily lift them up into a sitting position from lying down on my massage table.

This comment never ceases to amaze me, though, because my lifelong habit has been to believe that I am not strong at all.  The little old voice in my head immediately starts laughing and saying things like, "Ha! Little do you know! Me? I have no muscles at all!  I don't even remember the last time I exercised!  Me? Strong? That's ridiculous!" etc., etc.

Funny thing is, the more I practice the Alexander Technique, the more I discover a deep, inner strength, which has very little to do with muscle-power, but which has a real, effective power to move and do things in this world that I never would have dreamed were possible. For instance, I remember very well admiring my first Alexander teacher many years ago, thinking to myself: "What an amazingly beautiful profession!  He's so lucky!  I could never do that!!...and here I find myself, years later, teaching the Alexander Technique!

The way I see it, there are several essential components that combine with one another to access real, inner strength: (1) a very clear intention/goal, (2) a strong desire to carry out that intention/reach that goal, combined with (3) a strong refusal to do whatever gets in the way, (4) a letting go of the habitual effort associated with the patiently surrendering and trusting the deepest, most inner part of us that knows exactly how to bring about whatever it is we want done.

Example:  When I want to lift someone up off the table, that interfering voice in my head that tells me I'm weak and can't do it needs to be stopped.  When I stop that self-defeating chatter, then I can focus on my goal.  When I trust that there is an inner strength in me that can lift my student off the table, I need to surrender to that.  I then release my muscles instead of tensing them, find the support of the floor, make contact with my student, and aim us both where I want us to end up, and suddenly, there we are.

  • Is there something that you want to achieve in life, but believe it's impossible because you're too weak?  Whether it's creating your dream job or just lifting a heavy box?
  • What would happen if you stopped believing the thoughts that you're weak and incapable?
  • Can you start trusting that there is a deeper, greater part of you inside (which may be quite dormant at the moment) which does actually have the required strength?
  • Can you focus on your goal, stop the self-defeating inner chatter, trust your inner strength, and take the first step to take you in the direction of your goal?
  • If you can take one baby step in that direction, can you trust that you can then take the next one?
  • Do you see that letting go of habitual thoughts of weakness could potentially reveal a stronger Self?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Relating to the Past

For me, Alexander Technique is about relationships.  First, and foremost, it is about my relationship with myself.  "Know thyself."  All other relationships are relative to that one, and are directly affected by it.

(See end of this post for some ideas about how to practice relating to the past in a constructive way.)

Today, I am noticing how I relate to the past.  All too often, I react to my thoughts about the past.

I cling to pleasant memories, wanting to drag them into the present or push them into the future.
I fight with unpleasant memories, running away from them, resisting them, and fighting to make sure they don't ever happen again.
Or, I freeze in confusion, when I don't really understand what actually happened, because it is impossible to remember it all, and because our perspective is always limited and partial. 

In all of those cases, I am forgetting about the present moment, the only actual reality, the only time when I can really be at peace with myself.  Even if memories are pleasant, clinging to them can eventually pull me away from my center and off balance in a downward direction.

Clinging, fighting, pushing, fleeing, resisting, and freezing in response to memories are a total waste of psychophysical energy.  Those mind-body reactions to thoughts about the past are not helpful to my well-being.  The past is over.  It is an illusion.  It doesn't exist anymore.  

In essence, I am trying to have a relationship with something that doesn't exist!!!

Memories--thoughts about the past--are fine; my reactions to them are the problem.  Once the reactions come, the past needs to be recognized for the illusion that it is.  Only the present moment is real.

Letting go of the past releases energy which I can redirect into my relationship with the present moment, the only one that actually exists.  It is only in the present moment that I can come to know my true self as I am now.  

Before I can let go of the past, though, I need to accept it.  Accepting memories means simply letting the thoughts come whenever they do, without reacting to them.  It means being aware of them (because my thoughts about the past DO exist now, in the present), then releasing them from my attempts to control them, giving them up, and redirecting my awareness back to the present moment.  

It can be supremely difficult sometimes to aim myself back into the present moment.  To do so, again and again, from moment to moment, day after day, requires a kind of superhuman act of courage and trust, and it requires constant, vigilant practice.

But, I know at heart that this is essential if I want to live in peace.


Some ideas for putting this into practice:

  • Think of a memory you have.
  • How do you react to it?
  • Do you notice any tightening in your body, or constriction of your breath?
  • Do any emotions come up?  Feelings?  More thoughts?
  • Are you judging this memory, labeling it as positive, negative, good, bad, or neutral?
  • Are you getting sucked into thinking about it more?
  • Are you fighting it, fleeing from it, freezing, or clinging to it with attachment?
  • Does your response to the memory tend to pull you down or send you up?
  • Can you choose to let go of that memory and bring yourself back to the present moment?
  • Bring your awareness to your surroundings: sights, sounds, smells...
  • Become aware of the objects you are in contact with.
  • Choose to let go of the memory and put your energy into knowing yourself in relation to the present moment.
  • "I release myself from the past." "I give up the past." "I am saying NO to my reactions to these thoughts."
  • "I am here, now, being myself in the present moment."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Doing what we cannot do

"You must do the thing you cannot do. You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” --- Eleanor Roosevelt

One of the most difficult things to "do" is to "do" nothing at all.

Try it now:

  • Can you decide to take 30 seconds or 1 minute for yourself RIGHT NOW to practice Non-Doing?
  • Can you stop looking at this screen and just sit with yourself, Be with yourself, not doing anything else?
  • Stop now and try it.  Then come back and read on.


Were you able to do it?
Did you stop for the suggested amount of time when suggested, or are you still reading this without having stopped? 
If you didn't stop, why not?
What is there to lose?
What might there be to gain from trying the experiment?
If you didn't stop yet, here's another chance.

  • Stop now, and practice Non-Doing for 30 seconds - 1 minute before reading on.


If you chose to practice Non-Doing, what was it like?
What thoughts and/or feelings came up?
Were you able to continue "doing nothing" for 30 seconds - 1 minute?
Did that seem long or short?  Easy or difficult?  Pleasant or unpleasant?  Neutral?
Might this be something good to practice throughout your day?  Why?

Why do you think people tend to resist this practice so much? 

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Plants and animals, as far as I am aware, all tend to expand as they grow up.
Living things that are shrinking and getting smaller are tending towards death.
Most growing things, including people, require space and light to grow in.

Every stimulus in our life (including life, itself) presents us with a choice about how to respond.

Do we want to react in a habitual way that will bring us closer to death, by shrinking or halting inner movement?
Or, do we want to respond in a more conscious way that would allow for movement and growth aiming into space and light?
Can we see our challenges as "gifts for growth" (as a friend of mine once called them)?
Or, will we allow circumstances and ego to pull us down and trample our spirits, stunting our growth and blocking out light?

All directions exist, and are essential to wholeness.
Up and down, in and out, growing and shrinking.

Perhaps fully accepting the shrinking/freezing response as something natural and inevitable is actually part of the way we allow ourselves to grow.
Maybe finding a dynamic, constantly vibrating balance between shrinking and growing is a middle way which can help us see that life and death are part of one thing, after all.
Maybe the choice is not so much between life and death, up or down, in or out...but between seeing opposing things as separate, or seeing them as one united whole.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"I Can't" becomes "I Can"

There are days when I'm feeling low, tired, overwhelmed, stressed, and/or sick...and underneath all of those heavy feelings, when I look deeply, I discover that what I'm really thinking is usually variations on a theme of "I can't".

There are various possible ways I can respond to this thought:

  • Fight it.
  • Flee from it.
  • Freeze in my tracks.
  • Keep thinking it and believe it.
  • Collapse under the weight of this thought.
  • Stop thinking it.
  • Accept this thought and see it as something potentially true and life-affirming, rather than something that creates pain, suffering, and hopeless desperation.

I was sick last week and experiencing a great deal of stress, so I was presented with the opportunity to take a good look at these options.  I found the last one especially interesting.  

I realized that it was quite possible that I really can't do what I was intending to do on my own.  This left me with a need for help from something or someone other than my limited, conscious, thinking self--something much greater that could support me in carrying out my intentions.   When I opened myself to the possibility that there might actually be an untapped resource part of me (not somebody or something outside of myself which I need to depend on to do something for me) which really does have the solution and the strength to support and help me through my difficulties, I was presented with a choice: either take the risk to trust that unknown, deeper part of myself; not trust it and seek for something outside of myself for support; or give up on my intentions. (And the first two choices are not mutually exclusive; in fact, the combination of trusting myself and others can be particularly helpful at times.)

When I choose to trust this mysterious, unknowable part of me (some people call it the "higher Self", some people call it "God within", Missy Vineyard calls it our "inner helper", others prefer "inner teacher", "inner guide", "a little voice inside", "the primary control", etc.*), and let it help the smaller/ego part of me by organizing and coordinating the use of my whole self, I somehow start to know that "I can" follow through.  This trust restores my hope, confidence, and faith in myself, and it motivates me to continue onwards in the direction about which I was previously thinking "I can't".  

Uniting the inner, powerful Self with the lower, weaker self (which is thus transcended), is, to me, what it means to be fully human.  This is what it means to fulfill our potential and live with integrity.  In this unification lies our wholeness/holiness, and all things become possible.  May we all learn how to become whole again in this way.

And then, whenever we fall back and down into the habit of believing that "I can't" is something absolutely true (and, as long as we are human, this is pretty inevitable), may we remember to open ourselves up to trusting the Unknown within us, again and again and again.

*I am not intending here to equate all of these possible expressions; I'm just suggesting that any of these ideas could "work" in this context.

The Not-Thought Game

"Think the Not-Thought." - Dogen

As a child, I realized that I am more than my thoughts, because there is another part of me that has control over them.  During car rides with my family, I used to stare out the window and make a game of seeing if I could stop thinking.  I could do it, but only for a few seconds, at most.

As an adult, I realize that this game develops a very important skill which is essential to living a more conscious and constructive life.  We cannot consciously direct ourselves in a well-coordinated way without first clearing out the mind-clutter of unnecessary thoughts.  If we want to improve our "use" of ourselves, we need to practice "thinking the Not-Thought" on a regular basis.  This "not-thinking" is something very active.  Consciously "not-thinking" is not a passive activity; our habit is to passively think thoughts in a mindless/unconscious way.

  • Sit quietly for a few moments.
  • Notice whether you are thinking or not.
  • Ask yourself to stop thinking:  "Now I am practicing not-thinking."
  • You can drink in whatever you perceive through your senses, but choose not to think about it.
  • If you have a spiritual practice which involves the repetition of a mantra, this is something which might spontaneously flow into the empty space created by not-thinking.  The mantra then serves as a reminder to not-think.
  • The breath can also serve as a reminder to continue the practice of not-thinking.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Falling with Humility

Here we are, human beings suspended between the earth and the heavens.

If we wish to take up our rightful space, rise to our full stature, and get in proper form/shape, it is necessary not only to reach for the heights above, but also to be brought down low to meet the ground.  The awareness of aiming in both directions must occur simultaneously to achieve balance.

It is only in humility that we can open ourselves to the truth of full objectivity, and see what is right before our eyes and inscribed in our hearts.

So let us not fear our falling.  Let us know that the earth ("Mother Earth") will support us as we fall straight down towards it, and let us trust that in the sincerity of our free-fall, we shall again in time stand tall.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Sense of Unity

Last night, I watched part of a beautiful movie about a blind man whose sight was restored after a lifetime of not being able to see and wishing to be able to see light.

I was so struck by imagining what a shock it would be to, all of a sudden, have another sense added to my way of life.  To, all of a sudden, be coordinating vision with touch.  This would add a whole new dimension to the experience of everything in my immediate world, a new way to integrate and unite every object that I come into contact with.

  • Close your eyes and touch the objects around you.  Can you do this without imagining what they look like?
  • Open your eyes and look at the objects around you.  Can you imagine what they would feel like if you were touching them, as you look at them?  Can you caress the objects with your vision?
  • Now imagine an object far, far away.  Even though you cannot see it or touch it, or sense it with any of the physical senses, can you realize that it is still a part of your experience, and therefore a part of you?

I wonder:  what if we actually do have another sense available to us, which would help us to integrate, not only what we come into physical contact with (through sight, touch, hearing, smell, taste, or proprioception), but everything in our world and beyond--everything that we are in contact with in any way, through sheer existence?

Some people call this "the sense of the sacred", an awareness of the essential unity of everything.  We all have it, but we usually don't pay much attention to it, and we fall back into the habit of believing that things are separate, and can only be sensed through the physical senses.

  • Can you be aware of a country on the other side of this earth?
  • Can you be aware of the people there?
  • Can you be aware of the sufferings and delights of all mankind?
  • Can you rise above the 5 or 6 usual senses, and sense the interconnectedness of everything?
  • Can you realize that there is nothing separate from this sense, that all is included in it?
  • Can you realize that the physical senses are also included in this sense, and can be used to help unify things, just like touch and sight can go together to help describe an object?
  • Can you rest into this sense of unity, and let go of any thoughts or suggestions that resist it?
  • Can you give up and let go, in order to rest in this sense?

I, personally, can only find balance and harmony and inner peace when I give up and let go into this unifying "sense of the sacred", which is within me and all around.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Getting sick?

I haven't succumbed to a cold for many months now, despite many times when I felt like I was getting sick. To me, this feels like a real coup, because I have habitually gotten several colds every year, often lasting two weeks.  I, like most people, hate getting sick!

I've been experiencing a lot of extra stress over the last couple of weeks, and I've often been feeling like I might be getting a cold; but, thankfully, I have been able to stay healthy.  Today is another one of those days, and I feel sicker than the other times, so I want to really put my energy into being healthy.  I don't know if I will be successful, but this is what has been working for me lately.  (Or maybe it really IS the JuicePlus supplements that one of my friends has been selling me this year! :)

  • I am placing my awareness in the area behind my forehead (the prefrontal cortex, PFC).
  • I am noticing that my body is feeling sick, but I am not dropping my awareness down to those parts of my body that feel sick (nose, throat, etc.), continuing to aim forward and up with my mind. 
  • I am allowing feeling sensations to rise up to my brain, but I am staying high above them, as if I were at the top of a mountain top, gazing down and all around.
  • From the PFC, I tell myself: "I am refusing to react to whatever it is inside of me that is trying to make me sick." "I refuse to react to those feelings." "I am not reacting to the feelings of sickness." "Forward and UP!" "I am stopping the pattern that is causing me to feel sick."
  • I stay with this process, continually renewing my intentions throughout the day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

In the morning

One of the best ways for me to wake up in the morning, is to:

  • Remember the essential unity and connectedness of everything, including me
  • Remember the inherent goodness in all, including me
  • Remember to be grateful for everything in my life, positive and negative and neutral
  • Realize that part of me habitually denies or is unaware of Reality/Oneness, because I'm human
  • Inhibit / Stop that which interferes with that awareness/connectedness/Oneness
  • Refuse to base myself on feeling; instead, remember to stick to the Oneness Principle
  • With open-acceptance of everything in myself, direct myself into wholeness-goodness
  • Realize my true nature:  Being-Consciousness-Bliss, and allow this to be expressed
  • Not expect to feel or see positive results of the above process right away, trusting that in time I will

Monday, May 2, 2011

Self-control and pressure

"The way you see people is the way you treat them and the way you treat them is what they become." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.  I agree that this is very often the case.  However, I would add to the quote by Goethe: "...unless they know how to stay centered and lovingly detached by applying constructive, conscious self-control."

People have enormous influence over one another, on conscious and unconscious levels.  It says this about self-control in Wikipedia:

"Self-control is directly related to the pressure an individual may face.
  • Good Pressure: When an individual is in a competitive, yet non-judgemental and non-prejudicial environment, the individual may want to be like those around them. An individual may become motivated and inspired and gain self-control.
  • Bad Pressure: When an individual is in a judgemental and prejudicial environment and there is no competition, an individual may become depressed and unmotivated, losing self-control.
  • No Pressure: When an individual is free and there is no competition, and can do what one may feel, self-control is based on how an individual may feel. Since there are no other individuals to compare, an individual may be less motivated or more motivated depending on the urgency of whatever they are doing."

I would argue with the "no pressure" quote above.  True self-control is NOT based on how an individual feels; it is based on how the individual thinks.  I believe that true self-control happens in spite of how a person feels.  

Self-control may indeed be related to the pressure facing us, but it is entirely independent of that pressure.  Otherwise, we are speaking of something other than self-control.   Real self-control may very well increase in response to so-called "bad pressure."

Our feelings may fall into the category of "pressure" facing us.  What Alexander would call a "stimulus".   Let us learn to respond to them with constructive, conscious self-control.

Most importantly, let us realize that it takes enormous courage to develop the level of self-control needed to constantly, over and over, let go of our old ways...of trying to control.