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December, 2011

This year has been one of exceptional learning for me. We have had an on-going theme of self-development by cultivating awareness through movement.

Class terms one and two explored the idea of what it is to be Perfectly Human; first through recovering or improving running - although few of us run marathons, the idea of humans as capable of running led us all to consider how to stay with a quality of ease and let go of achievement. And we were surprised and delighted by what we could do.

This led us to Pay Attention to Quality in our lives. It was useful to really look at how we spend our time and attention; what is important in life, what we do well now and what we aspire to. And then of course the movement.

The only way we can do anything is by movement: movement is fundamental. It is our bodies that sooner or later let us know, by complaining, how we have not been using ourselves well, how that old injury didn’t fully heal. Our movement lessons have helped us investigate improve and recover movements that are not in our usual repertoire.

Many have commented on the development of my style and the character of the classes; progress has been informed by many interests, reading and areas of study, notably the AFG Competency Profile workshop facilitation, the on-going Feldenkrais Amherst Study Group and everyone who comes to my practice. Each drop in the pond sends out ripples and expands my ability and I thank all of you who have been in class or come for individual sessions – you continue to inspire and stimulate my growth.

"The body reflects the attitudes of the mind. Improve the function of the body and you must improve the state of the mind. The movements are nothing. They're an idiotic thing. What I'm after isn't flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I'm after is to restore each person to his human dignity."
Moshe Feldenkrais

Wishing you zest and joy in 2012.

July, 2011

An evening of mindful laughing and fun!

You'll get to appreciate that laughing really is 'inner jogging'. The results of laughter and exercise are very similar as in both instances endorphins are released and energy increases. When we laugh our inner organs are massaged; muscles are stretched in our face and body; we breathe faster; oxygen is sent to the body tissues and the brain. And, then, there are the other benefits which improve 'quality of life.'

In this Laughter Yoga workshop you will:

  • participate in a typical Laughter Yoga Club session including a laughter mediation
  • understand the physiological effects and range of benefits of laughing
  • discover how Laughter Yoga exercises work
  • consider how to increase your daily laughter quotient to improve your 'quality of life'

Come along to sample the Laughter Yoga formula developed by Dr Madan Kataria, founder of the Laughter Yoga Clubs movement. Rada Millwood who will be the workshop leader, trained with Dr Kataria. She has been the anchor person of the Newtown Laughter Club for over 7 years. Rada has presented workshops on the theme of laughter and Laughter Yoga in many organizations and at numerous conferences in Australia, and internationally in Sweden.

Place Maraylya Hall, Boundary Road Maraylya NSW 2765
Ample parking is available
Date 8 August, 2011
Time 5:45pm for 6:00pm start
to finish at 8:00pm
Cost $15 - pay on the night
Tea/coffee will be provided

Please bring a mat or blanket [to use for the Laughter Yoga meditation]

To register, please click here.

Sponsored by www.feldenkraissydney.com.au, with net proceeds to Cana Communities Celebrating Community

May, 2011

What came from last term's awareness through movement class? Is running a human ability? By bringing your attention to the act of running (one that, in the recent past, many of us used only in an emergency, running after grand children or warming up for other activities) were you able to recover some simple joy in running – even if for a short distance – or do you need more information?

How do you decide where to place your attention? What areas of your life merit more consideration? Where do you need more information? How could you guide and accept what happens in your life to enjoy the ride with more lightness and freshness?

The classic Feldenkrais lessons will engage us in refreshing body and mind for improving quality of life. In Awareness through Movement the accent is not on which movement you deal with but on how you direct yourself doing it.

I recently spent five days in Melbourne with other Feldenkrais Practitioners reflecting on what a Feldenkrais Practitioner does and how to chart a route which may lead to improved quality in that practice. We used a document which came out of a social research project that spanned eight years, created by practitioners for practitioners. And as I chart my own action plan, it occurs to me that there are many instances when this process can be useful to my students – that is you - as well.

In the references below you will find three very different Feldenkrais books of interest. Frank Wildman's Change Your Age contains a programme of actual movement lessons/exercises accompanyied by explanations of the theories and ideas which inform us. Elizabeth Beringer has edited a new collection of Feldenkrais' writings and interviews in Embodied Wisdom. And Carl Ginsburg has written The Intelligence of Moving Bodies: A somatic view of life and its consequences. Something for everoyone! All can be ordered from www.feldenkraiswa.com.au

References and background reading/research are listed below.

Romanov N 2008, Pose Method of Trialthon Techniques; Pose Tech Press
McDougall C 2009, Born to Run
Ginsburg C 2010, The Intelligence of Moving Bodies; AWAREing Press
Feldenkrais M ed Beringer E 2010, Embodied Wisdom
Wildman F 2010, Change your Age; Da Capo Press

January, 2011

Reflections on 2010 and plans for the future

The greater part of 2010 was taken up with the consideration of the Rhythms of Life and their expression by paying attention to walking and breathing. In recognising our individual rhythms, those currently enacted and those which span our lifetime, we became more aware of just how we live our lives. During a class exercise where we walked on our own and then with another classmate, it become obvious that our human interactions are complex and that our rhythms are affected in many different ways.

The simple picture of a stick figure as may be drawn by a child was our recurring image. The movement lessons gave us ways to expand our awareness of this image in action in our daily lives; giving us an anchor to review each week and at any time, whether in the supermarket queue, at the computer or out walking.

Rhythm and music

While considering in class the meaning of rhythm, music came to the foreground. Co-incidentally I was listening to a Canadian Radio programme called The Nerve being broadcast on Radio National. This provided some interesting thoughts and investigation of breath and expression of emotion in vocalisation.

We also contemplated the role of music in our lives. Each participant was asked to find a piece of music, a song, a poem which resonated with them. How each person would listen to particular music at different times in their lives and how we were affected by the feeling of the music. The results of this were shared in class or at our end of year get-together.

What musical term might you use to describe your walk in different circumstances and how could we use this idea as an aid to awareness? David Malouf described this in one of his short stories:

"It was an old trick, this recovery of the harmony between walking pace, our natural andante as he liked to call it, and the rhythms of the mind. 'I think best with my kneecaps' he would tell young reporters 'I recommend it'." 7

Body as inheritance

Our individual 'body shape is a powerful emotional symbol of our self; it is like a mythic image that helps us to understand our roles and the multiplicity of ways we identify with those roles ... The basic experience of the body is its pulses, which organise multiple realities in layers of expanding and gathering, of fullness and emptying.' 4

We thought about the three main body types of endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph and their relationship in myth and story to different characteristics. The type that we might predominantly embody currently and how the other types are part of each of us. Myth is a way of perceiving inner and outer worlds.

'Where you stumble, there lies your treasure'

Joseph Campbell’s words encourage us to observe how our difficulties in life are often important learning experiences leading to new vistas. I was interested to read in one of our weekend papers how Geoff Huegill (Olympic swimmer) also brought up this theme in an interview about optimism. 'Learning to deal with disappointment is actually more important than winning. It's how you dust yourself off and look at the next challenge.

Perfectly Human in 2011

Is running an activity you enjoy on a daily basis or is it something you would only do in an emergency? Can you imagine yourself running, running with lightness and agility?

There is discussion whether we, as humans, were born to run or born to walk. Certainly the upright posture has given us the freedom to use our hands for manipulative tasks. In his book 'Born to Run' Chris McDougall references a theory about early hunters being persistence hunters. Their upright posture gave hunters greater endurance ability as they were able to breathe freely on the hoof, so to speak. Quadrupeds such as horses, dogs or elands are limited in the speed of their breathing at full speed as their guts slosh forwards and backwards shaping the timing of the in and out breath. Humans profuse body sweating also allows us to stay cool by evaporative cooling. We see our dog, who is very fast, stay close to the path when walking in the bush during the summer as she seeks the shade to rest in. More of this in class.

This term's theme will encompass how our self- image may enhance or limit our activities. Using Feldenkrais movement lessons we will explore the possibility of feeling comfortable when running or even imagining running.

The dynamics of personal action
Each one of us speaks, moves, thinks, and feels in a different way, each according to the image of himself that he has built up over the years. In order to change our mode of action we must change the image of ourselves that we carry within us.

Instinct, feeling, and thought being linked with movement, their role in the creation of the self-image reveals itself together with that of movement. 2

This term will bring to the foreground the act of running. Upfront I must tell you that I am not a runner! However, wearing my Vibram 5 fingers I feel I could run! Join me and let's see what happens.

This series is suitable for running warriors and non-runners, and you will progress at your own pace. There is scope for you to bring your own questions too.

What is it to be human? Which activities are important to you? Do you love to run, swim, ride, dance or read? Which activities sink your spirit? How could you guide and accept what happens in your life to approach even the necessary chores with more lightness and freshness?

Class starts on 8th/ 9th February, 2011. Please check the Feldenkrais classes page for details.

Some of the references to the background reading and research are listed below.

  1. Campbell J 1979 – 1980, The Wisdom of Joseph Campbell, audiobook; collected Dimensions interviews
  2. Feldenkrais M 1972, Awareness Through Movement, Harper Row NY
  3. Feldenkrais M 1949, Body and Mature Behaviour
  4. Keleman S with Campbell J 1999, Myth and the body
  5. Keleman S Emotional Anatomy
  6. Levitin Daniel J 2006, This is your brain on music
  7. Malouf D 2007, Great Day, Complete Short Stories
  8. Siegel D 2010, Mindsight, Audible Edition
  9. The Nerve, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

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