Sunday, January 29, 2012

On Prayer and AT

What do the words "pray" and "prayer" mean to you?
Do they trigger a reaction in you, of any kind?

Take a moment to inhibit (pause to not-react), if you will.
Take a moment to create a space of nonjudgmental observation around these words and your relation to them.

Now, if you are curious about your beliefs and reactions related to these words, go ahead and read the following poem.

"Pray - period! Don't expect anything.
Or better, expect nothing.
Prayer cleanses us of expectations
 and allows holy will, providence,
and life itself an entry.
What could be more worth the effort -
or the non-effort?"
-  Thomas Moore

Don't expect anything.
Expect nothing.
Cleansing ourselves of expectations.
Allowing the holy will (isn't the innermost, deepest essence, Self, holy?) entry.
Allowing providence (guardianship, control) entry.
Allowing life to enter into us.

What if prayer, thought of in this way, were not so different from what we mean in Alexander "jargon", when we consider the words "inhibition" and "direction" and "conscious control of the individual" and "not endgaining" and "non-doing"...all with a view towards knowing the Self?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Most Valuable Knowledge

"...the most valuable knowledge we can possess 
is that of the use and functioning of the self
and of the means 
whereby the human individual 
may progressively raise 
the standard of his health and general well-being."

- F.M. Alexander

What is knowledge?
What makes something more or less valuable?
What is meant by the self?
How does the self function?
How can the self be used?
What is the human individual?
What is progress?
What is a standard?
What is meant by and included in health and general well-being? 

These are all questions which may be asked while exploring the Alexander Technique.

Is it possible to be absolutely certain about our answers?
Is there a limit, or are these words merely indicators, signposts that aim us in a certain direction, towards the Unknown, into Mystery?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Are you free?

Are you free?

Take a moment and think it through.  Keep it simple.  What does being "free" mean to you?  What is the opposite of that?

Notice, I am not asking, "Do you feel free?"  Is your response to the question "Are you free?" really answering the question "Are you feeling free?"  There's a big difference.  The question, "Are you free?"  is about how you identify with the 'being' of your essential nature.  Is this nature--are you--free or not?

If you're having difficulty answering this question, or if you've decided that you are not free, consider this one: "Do you have free will?"

What does that mean to you?  To me, "free will" means that, in any given moment, I can be aware of having a choice before me, and I have the freedom to make one.  When I am conscious of this free will, I  identify myself as being free.  No matter whether I feel free or not.

When I think, "I am free," and I really believe/know that, I tend to orient myself in a direction which will help me eventually (or maybe right away!) feel free; even though I may not feel free at all at the outset.

I think it is a habit to believe that we are not free, and therefore experience many moments in our life during which we feel enslaved, without the freedom to choose our responses to what life brings our way.  In my opinion, this is an error, an illusion, a habitual way of thinking which is not logical or in accordance with the reality of the state of being human.  I know from experience that I, as a human being endowed with free will, am essentially free, and always free to make choices.

What you think is what you get.  If the habit is to (consciously or unconsciously) think/believe "I am not free", you will eventually (sometimes immediately) feel that you are not free.  And, since our habit is to base ourselves--our concept of who we are--on our feelings instead of our reasoning, our feelings will end up convincing us that we actually are not free, even if that is not in accordance with the reality of our deepest being.

On the contrary, if we become accustomed to thinking/believing "I am free," we will end up by feeling free, sooner or later.  We all feel better and happier when we feel truly free/released/liberated, so I think this sense of freedom is something worth aspiring to, through developing our awareness of it.

I, personally, want to think and believe "I am free" because I know from experience that it has a positive effect on my whole being.  It rings true, and it coordinates my whole mind, body, and soul in a way that makes me happy.  To me, this is a good reason to practice developing the new habit of thinking which relies on my understanding that I am free--under any and all circumstances.

It's my choice to realize that I am free or not, just as it is your choice to realize your own freedom or not.

All it takes is discernment, and one thought, "I am free"; and then deciding to follow through on that thought over time.


I have a student who, after I explained this, exclaimed in some frustration, "But it can't be so simple!"

I think it is this simple.

It's as simple as making a fist through the conscious intention to make the hand tight, and then releasing the fist-squeeze by thinking/willing the hand's release.

To think "I am not free" is like making a fist/cage for our whole self (body/mind/soul), while to think "I am free" releases the whole of who we are.

The difference, perhaps, lies only in the imagined/believed simplicity of releasing a hand.  We may think that creating/releasing a fist is simple because we can literally see the hand, and think of it as something small and isolated, but is it really?  Isn't a hand as infinitely complex in its minute details as any other organism?  And, isn't it just as connected to the rest of the body as any other part, or parts put together?

If we can make and a release a fist through a simple thought, we can do the same for the whole body.

What is not always a simple matter, though, is to set aside the belief that it isn't this simple for long enough to try it out and experience positive results!

Yes, I am free, and yes, it is that simple.
It makes me smile!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

down day?

down day?
we all have those;
a type of down
that feels alone

there's a positive down
aiming down to the earth
when the bones take over
for All they're worth

remembering the roots
of our humble origin
remembering the heavens
to which we aspire

the heart breathes a smile
the muscles melt
the soul sings silence
as the world joins in

down day?
doesn't matter why...
feet to the earth
crown to the sky

down day?
just let it be...
let the down carry on
letting you become We

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Feeling Love

Do you feel love?
Do you feel loved?

Is there a difference?

We can only feel love if we are open to feeling it.
Are you open to feeling love?

If you aren't, what is it that gets in the way?

If love is the tendency towards openness, flow, radiance, energy, expansion, life, light, joy...
then what blocks love must be the tendency to oppose those things:
closedness, stuckness, hardness, darkness, stagnation, compression, heaviness, inertia, passivity...

How do we find love?

The feeling cannot be gotten directly, if it is experienced as absent.
The feeling/experience can be our goal, but the feeling is not the means whereby we "achieve" or "get" it.

We must stick to principle, relying on our clear intentions, well-directed and appropriate thoughts.
We must stop thinking/doing the thoughts/actions which block love,
and instead aim our thoughts/actions in the direction of the goal.

Then, with trust in the means-whereby and faith in the processes of the Self,
We wait patiently, with calm acceptance of the present conditions, for the fruits to ripen and love to bloom.

Some people are fortunate to feel the joy of love most of the time.  Most of us, however, experience periods of dryness, times when joyful love is not felt.  In times like that, the following thoughts may prove helpful:

  • I am aware that I am unhappy, not feeling love.
  • I am free to feel unhappy and loveless.
  • I know that happiness and love are possible.
  • My goal is to enjoy and feel the happiness that comes with experiencing love.
  • I am blocking love.
  • I am stopping.  
  • I am not blocking love's joy, light, and flow.
  • I am open to love.
  • I am allowing love to flow through me.
  • I am allowing myself to feel love.
  • I am not expecting an instant result.
  • I am waiting, allowing, trusting.
  • I know that love is here, now, within me and all around.
  • I am open to experiencing love.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pure Thoughts of Light

It is possible to stop the habitual way of thinking, which tends to be chaotic, dispersed, and heavy,
in order to allow for a new way of thought, which is simple, positive and uplifting.

Curious and open, I am allowing the habitual way of thinking to slow down and become centered.

Empty mind-body.
Thinking the not-thought.
Quiet, peaceful, calm.

Noticing the breath.

Inner quiet.

Allowing ease and flow.

Through the eyes, allowing the Light to enter.
Through the pores, allowing the Light to enter.
Through the breath, allowing the Light to enter.

Pure Light, within and without.
Pure Thought, shining out.

Light, free, centered, unifying.

Smiling, breathing.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Goal

There are so many possible goals in life, and so many possible starting points.  They are infinite, really.

Sometimes, my specific goal is small and limited.  Maybe I just want the pain in my shoulders to go away.

But what if I realize that the pain in my shoulders is connected to Everything?
Why not take it ALL into account?  I want the big picture.  The whole thing!  The One Goal that includes all possible lesser goals.

Maybe I'm greedy, maybe I'm ambitious...but yes, there are times when I want it all.
Does this ever happen to you?
I think this is a natural, normal -- even desirable -- part of being human.

So where do I start when I have the vision of such a grand and mysterious Goal?
I laugh, because anywhere will do.  It's all part of the All.
With consciousness and a clear purpose, I can start from anywhere, and get where I want to go.

If I feel that I want to "get" somewhere or something, or "change" something, I am obviously perceiving the lack of the All, the lack of Infinite Joy.  I feel separated from It; other than It.  Yet, as soon as I am aware of my smallness/limitation (here, now), then I can also become aware of the Goal, that Infinite All.  This is the first step: having the end in mind.

But what is this Goal, exactly?
Ah, there are so many words for it....

The All, The One, Mystery, Infinitude, Being, Energy, Light, Freedom, Power, Joy, Love, Peace, Beatitude, Beauty, Bliss, Life, Truth, One, Absolute, Consciousness, Perfection............

Some people call this God or Heaven, some people call it Nirvana or the Void.
Some people have no name for it at all.
Sometimes it even seems like nothing.

Yet, whether it has a name or is nameless, there is an eternal yearning for IT.  To yearn, to aim, to wish, to desire...this is human.  Why? Because the human starting point is inevitably limitation, and this consciousness of limitation leads to a desire for limitlessness and unite with and become the All...this is to realize our inherent freedom, the grand, ultimate purpose of our existence.

Practical exploration:

  • Right now, I feel limited, not free, tight, diminished, not whole, unintegrated, pain, suffering, etc.
  • I am aware that there is another possibility, something more, something "better", to aim for.
  • I wish for the Goal because I know that the Goal IS, and I want to have/be It.
  • Because I know It, part of me must actually be aware of It, and that part that is aware must Be It.
  • I know that this Being part of me is the part that leads me to the Goal, so I will focus on It.
  • I am free.  No matter what I feel like, I know that my essential being Is Being Itself, and It is free.

  • The neck is.  I leave the neck alone.  I let the neck Be.  Being is Freedom.  The neck is free.
  • The head is aware of forward and up.
  • The back lengthens and widens into bliss from the heart.
  • The limbs extend into Infinitude.
  • All of me expands into Infinitude and touches the One, the All, within and without.
  • I am filled with the Joy of Being.