Sunday, February 09, 2020

Has Life Experience Compromised Your Posture?

What are the somatic consequences of insecurity? Or, guilt and shame, for that matter? As a teenager - all teenagers are more concerned with how other people see them than anything - even I could see that my mother was ashamed of being a divorced woman. She grew up in the fifties in the very Catholic part of Switzerland where we lived. The most common colloquialism there was and is, if I'm not mistaken, "It's just not done!" No judgement there!

In fact, I remember the neighbors who lived in the apartment downstairs: two sisters and a brother, all in their seventies at least. We had to go by their door every time we walked four flights up or down on that creaking staircase to each successive beautiful herringbone landing. The front door of each apartment was framed in glass. There was always the flicker of the curtain moving as someone checked out who was going by. I guess it was more interesting than watching TV for them to speculate about what other people were up to.

For my mother, living in an environment where her every move was observed, it would be reasonable to expect a little bit of self-consciousness. Add to that the sheer force of the mandate she had been living with since she was small: the proclamation that divorce is a sin and it's easy to think that might cross her mind when she felt judged in any way. She was also someone who was very hard on herself because she valued other people and what they thought. She was always the first person people came to when they had a problem.

Yet, who did she have to go to? For her, it was all about being strong, even in the face of shame about being a single mother - that on top of all the usual difficulties of raising three kids on her own without a lot of money. For my part, a young sixteen year-old observing her mother from the growing detachment of adolescence, I knew instinctively that this was nothing for her to be ashamed of, but there was nothing I could do for her. What mother would listen to her teenage daughter giving advice about the topic of marriage and divorce? I could sense her shame and see it in her self-carriage. It made her smaller. It made her shrink not just emotionally, but physically, every time she went somewhere that reminded her of what she thought she "should" be. Her life blueprint was that she should happily married. There was no way for her to resolve that unless she dropped that old fifties social expectation that every woman of her generation was raised with and programmed to expect.

This kind of programming is subliminal. My mother wasn't stupid or naïve. She had been studying to be a doctor when my parents met at the ETH in Zürich. Yet, because of conflict with her own mother, she gave it all up to marry a man who could whisk her far, far away to America. Shame begins it's subtle control over our way of moving through life when our expectations do not match how things turn out.

The posture of shame causes a collapsing of the head over the heart. It's as if the person is trying to make themselves smaller, or as if they would rather be invisible. As Brené Brown, who is an expert on shame, has commented, there is a public aspect to shame.
Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging. Women often experience shame when they are entangled in a web of layered, conflicting and competing social-community expectations" ~Brené Brown

As mature adults, rather than people run by social mores, we might hope that we could prevent ourselves from succumbing to the pressure to conform. But the truth is, we may not even realize we are compromising our posture by making ourselves smaller, as if that could prevent people from seeing us. Or, perhaps it's a subconscious attempt to avoid seeing shame or sadness in ourselves that makes us shorten, become smaller and become prone to physical pain if it lasts for years.

This is an example of how the body speaks its mind and we don't listen. We ignore it by not feeling, or we don't choose to feel and therefor it goes unnoticed. Either way, it may become self-evident by looking in the mirror. There may be a visually discernible shrinking from some aspect of life. Or, it may manifests as pain in the neck or throat - generally the pain shows up in the area above the blockage. This is consistent with my previous experience as an acupressure practitioner, as well as in my experience as a Feldenkrais practitioner.

Alternatively, it might only show up as a vague sense of discomfort or blockage inside the throat. It may manifest as an inability to speak up, or to be assertive, or as a feeling of not being enough...These are all ways the body tries to signal to consciousness that something is amiss. What's to be done? Instead of tuning out, tune in! Awareness Through Movement (ATM) classes are a perfect chance to tune in every week, to prevent the buildup of such patterns over time. Otherwise, you miss such subtle signals that something is amiss in the first place. This makes it impossible to do the inner work that can alleviate the ravages of memories or experiences in the past which have left us feeling less than the person we would like to be.
Numerous cognitive neuroscientists have conducted studies which reveal that only 5% of our decisions, emotions, actions and behavior is conscious. The remaining 95% of what we do is generated in various non-conscious ways.
Not only is our behavior unconscious, for the most part, so is the use of the muscles of the eyes in reading, as well as the way we stand when happy or sad. In ATM classes, awareness of how we move in space is an ability that grows more and more accessible by going to a lot of classes. Every lesson includes the opportunity to expand the ability to be aware of the way the body is holding tension - or releasing it - using a process of a body scan before and after the lesson to assess the shift from tension to ease. This allows students to improve sensitivity and consciousness of subtle cues that the body provides when something is amiss.

The less conscious we are, the more likely we are to compromise our posture as a result of unexamined, uncleared life circumstances. Emotions, too, are powerful indicators of something out of whack. When they are left to increase over decades, because we pay no attention, illness is another problem which can easily result because the structure of the cells is physically blocked. Circulation is impaired. This blockage compromises immunity, as well as often being a source of pain due to an imbalance in length between the flexors and the extensors.

The head weighs an average of 15 pounds...what happens when it is chronically held in a position in front of the skeleton because there is a holding or bracing in the chest just below the throat due to shame? Functional movement means integration of emotions that are calling out like a banner trying to get noticed. Don't let your body's call for alignment go unheeded! Awareness Through Movement is an answer to emotional disturbance that does not require endlessly talking about the past. It allows you to release unconscious patterns by providing the nervous system with vital time to process a more functional way of standing or moving and walking.

For me, the magic moment happens when I stand up off the floor after a lesson to find that somehow, I have become free of an old pattern that made me feel like I was being shut down. The process of ATM itself allows for a state change, such that what no longer serves is spontaneously released through a reorganization of the nervous system and how it governs posture and mobility in space. Sometimes, a latent pattern that only shows up in times of stress becomes conscious because the lessons allow the brain time to process what cannot be processed in the fast pace of daily life. This is possible because every lesson allows time for learning to listen to the body, learning to witness one's own experience and the history of the self that lies written in the everyday aches and pains we live with.

If you don't like how you feel, it's time to reorganize how you move.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Take Care of Your Shoulder!

Today, I thought I would change it up a bit and get with the modern world, which seems to be all about video! So, to that end, here is a brief video that explains what you need to know for optimal shoulder function.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

An Amazing Method: How It Works!

An Amazing Method: How It Works!

The man behind the Feldenkrais Method® was way ahead of his time. This powerful practice for improving your life was brought to the States when Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais was invited by the Human Potential Movement.
A physicist who applied those principles to the human structure to promote ease, in the process, Feldenkrais discovered that it improves cognition and helps people change self-limiting habits.


1) It's an easy process to learn that distracts you from whatever you are stressed or impatient about, while at the same time teaching you to focus on EASE, and COMFORT and WHAT WORKS in your movement. Movement is a concrete metaphor for discovery of these capacities in every area of life.

2.) It releases tension and gives you the opportunity to practice expansion of awareness which allows you to navigate space and solve problems systematically. In this way, each lesson is an exercise in applying the scientific method to human experience, so that you regain a sense of power because you now have MORE OPTIONS, and more FREEDOM.

3.) It creates a state change which is measurable as a change in brain wave frequency. When you learn how to do it, it takes you out of the chaos of alpha and into beta and theta frequencies. This has been shown to interrupt the kind of knee-jerk reaction that wrecks havoc on relationships, helping you find your natural STILL POINT of CALM.

Ultimately, a serene mind equates to a state of being open to new possibilities that you could not even see before. Thus, you learn to put yourself into the optimal state for decision-making, cognition, spontaneity, creativity and new insights into the very nature of that which most intrigues you, whatever that might be. It helps you follow your bliss!

Image of Dr. Feldenkrais teaching at the Amherst Training curtesy of the IFF.

Monday, January 27, 2020

3 Steps to Unlimited Learning

Make 2020 the Year of Reaching for An Excellent Life!

3 Steps to Unlimited Learning

A Simple, Do It Yourself Process to improve the Quality of your life!

What’s the most rewarding work you can do? Attain mastery and skill:  when you learn to master the process of learning easily, so that you can apply it to whatever you want. Reach for the stars!

Time to reset your thermostat! You’ve already become aware Step One, which is to notice that limitations seem to be creeping in as the years go by. But what can you do about it?

The range of what you do every day over years sets your unconscious thermostat, meaning it creates a set-point for what is “normal” for you. But when you consider the difference between the range of moves that children make, and the range of moves that adults make, it becomes clear that the sheer diversity of things we do in a day diminishes as we move into adulthood. From childhood to young adulthood, you are expected to expose yourself to new situations which always promote new learning. As an adult, however, most people contract in terms of what they expose themselves to, if only because most work environments are repetitive.

What happens when we stick to a routine? Some things get easier, it’s true. Those are the kinds of things that we need to be able to do without thinking. But just like it’s good to do the dishes and clear out the cupboard once in a while to inventory what’s useful and what’s not, you need to do the same thing with yourself at least once a year. This allows you to make sure you are doing what you intend, what is most fun, and what feeds your soul as well as your wallet.

For example, in the hurry and scurry of life, it’s easy to forget that we work to live well, not the other way around…How can a movement class such as Awareness Through Movement (ATM) improve Quality of Life (QOL)? It’s an opportunity to check inside, to assess if you are living with as much freedom as you would like. Movement is just the canvass for learning. It’s just a very concrete way to learn the process of ATM which allows you to assess, improve and refine anything you wish to learn.

Some might say that it’s better to focus on helping others than on yourself, but if you allow yourself to get depleted, it becomes a catch 22 situation. When your life has become a series of choices that diminish your options out of habit, rather than expanding your range of options, you become more and more stiff, sore and irritable over time. This is a sure-fire way to land in a state of burnout. In that state, no one has anything much to offer when it comes to being of service to others…

When you don’t take time out periodically to renew, to refresh, to assess, it leads to a life lived on autopilot. This is like making NO decision to take care of your own wellbeing. The consequences of making no decision to alter things or to look at what and how you do things is that your self-image of what is possible for you either remains static or diminishes over the years. Because whether you are conscious of doing so or not, you HAVE made a decision about what you can and cannot do, about what’s possible for you. Think about some of the things you used to do that you miss, but somehow don't even consider doing now! When you take the time to reassess, you don't loose so much of yourself along the way.

To enter into this process of resetting your internal Thermostat of what you assume is possible for you, take a brief trip back to beginner’s mind.To enter into the process, have the humility to get comfortable with being uncomfortable for a short period of time while you are exposing yourself to new understandings. This is a pre-requisite for any kind of learning.

If you want to expand your limitations, it’s as simple as being willing to do what you ask any high school student, or any student to do, for that matter: be willing to sit in the momentary discomfort of not-knowing, trusting that the discomfort will go away quickly as the learning is initiated, as understanding dawns.

Understanding is actually a very rewarding feeling and satisfying in its own right. But what’s really rewarding is mastery and skill: learning to master the process of learning easily, so that you can apply it to whatever you want.

The Steps of Unlimited Learning:

  1. Awareness - of a limit to understanding (be it how to move more freely after injury - or in any other realm – as mentioned earlier, movement is used in ATM because it is more concrete than ideas. Movement offers a topic to practice with that yields concrete results: you feel the improvement in your body. You feel lighter, more grounded, more secure. Your mind also participates. It calms itself through focus on movement, which is much easier than focusing on not thinking the way mindfulness meditation stipulates! You slip easily into a state of receptivity: which makes fun, love, inspiration and spontaneity much more openly accessible.
  2. Differentiation - is the act of noticing a difference between what works, and what does not work, instead of mindlessly doing things one way because that's what you always do...This is done by exploring different ways of completing the task, whatever it might be. The best learning happens in an environment that is safe, comfortable and without pressure. Then, when you do the task under pressure, it’s easy, because you have allowed some time for it to become habitual on some level, requiring much less thought to accomplish than ever before.
  3. Processing Time: is the key element that allows the brain to make sense of the data, or the experience you present it with, so that it can assimilate the new into the already known. This is where the neuro-plasticity of the brain takes over, but it must be given that time and quiet to work quickly and easily. The biggest mistake people make when teaching or learning is to just cram in as much information as possible as if the goal was to just get it over with. This actually impedes learning because it kills the requisite time-out for assimilation. 
Thus, the process of Unlimited Learning is superior to random learning that is done without understanding how the brain works. Unlimited learning evolves from an awareness of a need, to a curiosity about how something could be done differently, to a willingness to sit temporarily with not-knowing, while trusting the process. From this place of opening, the mind will run over options automatically, because the mind runs through open questions until it finds some explanation or solution. When you add awareness to the mix as you try new options and new possible ways to do something, an easier way is found more quickly. It is assimilated more easily and with fewer repetitions. It quickly becomes part of the unconscious repertoire of known skills or understandings.

Find a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement Class near Medford, Oregon:

ATM classes meet on Tuesdays in Jacksonville. Classes resume on January 7th, 2020.

In only a few lessons, you can discover a whole new world of enjoyment: a process that allows you to learn from your own experience. You can learn to tune in, to refine, to hone the perfection of your own pitch-perfect ability to discover new ways to access ease, comfort, freedom and joy!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Cheap, 5 Minute Fix for PLANTAR Fascitis!

    Here's a free 5-Minute TIP for HAPPY FEET even if you don't have problems with your feet! Improves balance, too...

       Get a foam swimming noodle from the $1 store. Myofascial release takes at least 90 seconds, so as you stand on the soft roller, shift to put the balls of your feet on the ground, then your heels as in the second photo. Then lower your center of gravity by bending your knees as you shift your weight forwards and backwards over the roller. Then stand on flat ground for minute or two to enjoy the sensation of happy feet! Balance yourself with a hand on the wall as you go up on your toes 10-15 times and you will find your relationship with cramping is no longer intimate and your feet have regained something much closer to a healthy resting length of the fascia and muscles.

       The swimming noodle solution is both much cheaper than physical therapy rollers AND the foam is much softer, hence more comfortable for sore feet. Do this at least 3-5X week. It takes five minutes! Can you be kind to yourself for just five minutes a day! If you need support with that, I'm there for ya! Come to class for more about happy feet! Feldenkrais ATM Class: Small Changes Make a BIG Difference Every TUES 6:30 at yoga studio in Jefferson Farm Kitchen 135 S Oregon St Jacksonville, OR Heres the event link on Facebook:


Discover New Options for Feeling Better All Over at
Please join us for another great Awareness Through Movement (ATM) Class this Tuesday, 6:30-8 pm at Jefferson Farm Kitchen Yoga Studio, 135 S. Oregon St. in Jacksonville.

Text me to RSVP! 541 777-0124 I look forward to it…This week, free the hidden potential of your feet to experience the incredible lightness of being!

Hope to see you soon!
Moshe Feldenkrais, who developed the method, was ahead of his time. People used to believe that after a certain age the brain did not make new neural connections. But new research confirms that our brains evolve, grow new synapses and adapt, given the right conditions. ATM offers exactly the right conditions!

Come experience happy feet!

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