In movement we shall find us

I have, I guess—my estimate—something like 200 videos with movement lessons on Youtube, all free to watch. Some are experiments in film making, some are experiments in teaching online through video, some I consider properly done proper lessons. Each video lesson has (let me guess) something in between – I cannot say for sure – but maybe ten, maybe one hundred mostly favourable comments, some most favourable.

Update: a total of 5613 comments, as of 9th October 2021

”Alfons, you were the subject of a conversation I had with a physical therapist yesterday. I was attending a class for senior citizens on enhancing balance, and I mentioned doing the Feldenkrais Method to heal and balance my body after having injured it doing excessive yoga. It turned out that she, too, does this practice. Your name came up. We both agreed that we loved your work and that we find your presentations to be concise and FUN! Just know that you are loved and appreciated by two people in Las Cruces, New Mexico in the U.S…” wrote Dee Davis on my Hip Joints video #5.

Now, usually I read all of them. The latest ones first thing in the morning. But I’ve not done anything much with them. There must be thousand and thousands of comments and short stories. Thousands of favourable, loving, thoughtfully written sharings.

”Thank you so much. A brilliant exercise. I’ve begun to follow your work on Youtube and it is changing my life. I worked with Moshe Feldenkrais at Esalen and Berkley for a couple of years and actually a bit in Israel… and your work is bringing me home to the gift of his genius in FRESH ways.. I’m deeply grateful.” wrote Christine King on my Neck and Shoulders video #1.

”Your lessons have helped me overcome many years of crippling pain – in about 2 weeks. Now, I can walk without pain. No Doctor ever got close to helping me. Thank you so much!” wrote Anthony Charles on my Pelvic Floor Priming And Improved Walking video.

And marcanello wrote, ”I loved this lesson, Alfons, it was great for my back, and it cheered me up!!! I used to do your lessons with my 92-year-old mom. She passed a month ago, and now I think of her whenever I am with you.”

At the end of her/his comment marcanello penned an emoji, 💟. And I took a day, more like two, to design a card… a container, a basket, a display to hold, to copy/paste, some of those miraculous, wonderful, some very touching, some very cheerful, all uplifting comments. Not sure what to do with them exactly, but I intend to create one card per day and upload it to Facebook [link], of all places. I should collect them. I put a number on each card. Maybe I should create a gallery page next to my blog, just for the cards, just for me, just for us.

I’m outside. Outside of the medical establishment, outside of the schooling system, outside of the draconian rule of politics in therapy. I’m a private teacher outside of the strangling grip of hierarchy, compulsion, oppression. I’m outside, come find me. Within your movement practice, within your thoughts, in your heart. Let’s move together. Let’s move our worlds, together, up. Up.

What’s cooking, Zeitgeist?

First and most importantly, I learned how to bake cakes in a rice cooker.

Also, Lindsay wrote: „Hi Alfons, how are you doing? Like really”. Good question, thank you Lindsay. I would like to share my answer, because what is happening to me might be so specific that it’s generic. Maybe this post is a document, an account of… the times. The Zeitgeist.

I think I slipped into something like a „passive mode”… I listen to interviews and speeches (mostly concerning Covid and politics) for hours on end, I read literature, I watch Netflix, I stick my head out of my living room’s window to catch some raindrops with my face… time passes by quickly and even though I feel distressed about the clock spinning I find myself feeling comfortable with it. 

In addition to that observation I’m spooked out and at the same time I’m indifferent to the fact that my idleness in producing content is damaging my business. I do work on interesting projects and pieces, I do have meaningful conversations with likeminded professionals and clients alike, but nevertheless it does happen that an entire week passes by without me completing a single shareable. 

The strict lockdown I’m in, here in Vietnam, has been ongoing for 118 days now. That’s almost 4 months of being indoors with curfew and police randomly patrolling outdoors. News has it—it is said that—many International companies (such as Nike) start to seriously consider relocation. And thus restrictions will start to be lifted by 1st of October, for the fully vaccinated. I myself though, as an „Unvaccinated”, I will be staying at home until further notice. So… no news there.

I stick my head out of the window. The air is lovely. The streets are quiet. Raindrops are falling. It’s raining season. I wonder: how will I get out of this strange mode of floating in between the lines… Strangely enough, I really do seem to enjoy it.

For a few brief moments I’ve been considering going back to Austria, Europe, which would be a one way trip. But going back to Austria doesn’t seem like a good option. There’s reasons why I left. I felt stagnant there, uninspired. On top of that, the Austrian government is separating people into vaccinated and the Unvaccinated, maybe even more diligently than the Vietnamese. In Austria, too, only vaccinated citizens do get some of their allowances back. As long as they keep vaccinating that is. My father already signed up for his 3rd shot, as he was proud to tell us just recently. Via Email. In writing. The vaccinated and the Unvaccinated don’t talk to each other anymore. Journals have Paywalls. Families have Vaccinewalls. Apart from „get vaccinated already” there seems nothing else to say. Luckily my mother and my brother have a broader view on the situation, and we support each other well in these times of distress.

I almost feel like I’m back in school. I’m moving along just fine, but without any perspective, without any clear objective. And after graduating from one school, I move up to the next higher school, without ever knowing what to really do next.

Could this be a blog post? 

It might just be. I will use this feeling of achievement, the energy I just got from completing a blog post, to download the screen recording of the short 3-hour-long pre-conference Zoom call I had yesterday. There’s conversations inside that excited me a great deal. Some people excel at telling stories, at asking questions, at being able to bring out the best in others. I remember I was brought to say things that sounded quite right to me. Maybe there’s a shareable right there.

I’m listening

I went from reading out loud to listening to people speak.

This year I read out loud 10 books, that’s something like 2,000 pages, and never finished two dozen others. I read out loud in German language, English language and beginner level Chinese.

Even though… I seriously start to question my interest in Chinese language. There’s already more than enough good stuff to read from the German and the English speaking. Dante’s Italian might be a language to go for, or Spanish, or French even. I start to forget why I should keep torturing myself with Chinese.

When I started to read out loud in November last year, it went completely without effort. I had this inner urge that pushed me forwards. But recently it became harder and harder for me to keep up with my practice. At first I needed to schedule time to read out loud, and then it started to be hard to focus while doing so, and then I needed to motivate myself to continue reading.

But interestingly something else started to present: a deep interest to listen to people. So now I listen to people telling their success stories on Youtube, or their life’s biggest stories, their worries, their discoveries, their stories they want to share with the world. I listen to scientists talking about nutrition, to bakers talking about baking bread, to architects talking about building homes, to lawyers talking about the United States Bill of Rights, to seasoned doctors discussing autopsies and tissue damage they have never seen prior to the new vaccines. I listen to people listening to each other, to people discussing, debating and arguing. I listen to people reading from teleprompters—squinting, stuttering, or powering through it— and I listen to the world’s greatest minds speak out freely, from their hearts.

It seems like that’s all I do these days… listening to people.

Our cardinal need to be understood

Day 107. The lockdown with strict 24h curfew for 35 million people or more, has just been extended for another two weeks, to be ended after the 30th of September 2021—for the two times vaccinated. Rumours has it that „the unvaccinated” might be allowed to participate in public life starting somewhen between January to June 2022. Even though the WHO would rather not have any unvaccinated in Vietnam, as I learn from Vietnamese news.

I watch an interview with Viktor Frankl, the holocaust survivor, doctor, author and teacher. He is asked, „How can a person find meaning in suffering?” Viktor Frankl responds with a formula, he spells out the letters and symbols, „Capital D equals s minus m”: 

  • Despair = suffering – meaning

I think of my fellow human beings: they believe in being threatened by a deadly virus and being saved by a mRNA vaccine. They can accept suffering because things are happening, the vaccine is being distributed and administered. They can endure any suffering for the time it takes to vaccinate any percentage of people 70%, 80%, 90%, 100% with 2, 3, or 4 shots, whatever it takes. Furthermore they have a mission: they can help spread the word, they can help to convince everyone to take the vaccines. For them the formula is 

  • Despair = suffering – (meaning * mission)

From a mathematical point of view,  those who believe in the vaccine might  have a negative amount of despair, which means they have a fair amount of hope. And maybe they haven’t felt hope for a long time. Maybe I’m not even leaning out of the window (too much) by saying: maybe they enjoy feeling hope. Hope for closure and salvation, hope for deliverance from harm, sickness and loss.

Maybe hope is better than despair. Hope helps people to stay home, hope helps people to wear masks, to take the shots, to endure whatever is necessary to beat the virus, to get on top of this crisis. Whatever has the potential to ramp up meaning and mission is perfectly reasonable.

Thinking of it, I wonder what is keeping me afloat? I’m certainly not on any kind of mission. I do accept that there are deadly viruses out there, but I refuse to believe that the China Virus (SARS-CoV-2) is anywhere nearly as deadly for humans as the African Swine Fever Virus is for pigs.

If Viktor Frankl’s formula is true at all, what is my meaning? I must have a meaning that—in size—is exactly equal to my suffering. Why do I neither feel hope nor despair? Why do I endure this lockdown so patiently?

I recall the words of John Taylor Gatto, from his book „Dumbing Us Down”: Children learn what they live. Put kids in a class and they will live out their lives in an invisible cage, isolated from their chance at community; interrupt kids with bells and horns all the time and they will learn that nothing is important; force them to plead for the natural right to the toilet and they will become liars and toadies; ridicule them and they will retreat from human association; shame them and they will find a hundred ways to get even.

Since having read that paragraph for the first time, months ago, I have been thinking of the „invisible cage” often. „Isolated from my chance at community.” Maybe I have been living in such an invisible cage all my life. Maybe my community is spiritual, not physical. Maybe that’s why this seemingly endless lockdown with curfew doesn’t feel upsetting, but merely evokes a faint bit of sadness. Sometimes. Sometimes I almost feel like crying. But only for a few brief moments.

So that’s not it. Instead, I noticed something far greater, more severe, far more meaningful. Something with the potential to give ME myself salvation, closure, deliverance from harm and loss. Professor of Psycholinguistics Stephen Krashen states that we write to solve problems. Professor of Psychology Jordan B. Peterson says the same thing. There’s something about writing that helps us access ourselves on a level that’s usually inaccessible to the conscious mind. While writing on this last paragraph I found a possible answer to my question,  „Why do I endure social distancing and this seemingly endless lockdown so patiently?” What I’ve found is this: Somewhere deep down, in the darkest of dark pits, in the abyss of my soul, I’m like speaking to the anonymous everyone… „See, this is how it feels like.”

And then I was able to cry properly.

Monkey business

Good news! Today I found a way to quickly get deeper into an Asian squat. It feels splendid! I think I’ll soon be able to wash my veggies in a washing-bowl on the floor. I wonder why I didn’t come up with this earlier. 

Also, I spent the good part of yesterday’s evening (and today’s morning) on my lastest Pecha Kucha slides. I will present as a virtual speaker at the 2021 Dance Studies Association Annual Conference in New York [link], looking forward to it.

Also: Today, exactly 20 years ago, I completed three days and three nights of solitary mediation in the deserts of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, USA.  My brother and me, we decided to do a so called „Vision Quest”, a ceremony to adulthood. Each on our own did a water fast and sat on a self chosen spot in the beautiful desert—for 3 days and 3 nights and became one with nature. It was magnificent, and turned out to be one of the most significant events in our lives. However, that day when we returned to civilisation the world had come down to pieces.

Oh, actually I wanted to write about another kind of news: Good news! After 104 days of hard lockdown, of which 2 months were spent in self-quarantine, beginning with 16th of September 2021, there will be a gradual opening. The rumours go like this:

The double vaccinated will be allowed to participate in all civil activities—with the mere exception of bars, night clubs, sport facilities, on-site catering services, amusement parks, spa treatments, cinemas, shopping malls etc. There will be more allowances for the once and double vaccinated after the 31st of October 2021, and god bless, there is a slight hint that even the unvaccinated might be granted some more liberties after 15th January 2022. But maybe I misinterpreted that last part.

Therefore it looks like I will spend 4 more months indoors, provided I can take the extreme heat of social pressure and stigmatisation (which isn’t cut-throat yet, but I know where we’re heading from other countries’ news). But nevertheless, IF I would like to stroll the isles of mankind’s achievements and pick pre-packaged beans and greens myself, unlike in other countries, I do have a real option here in Vietnam, China’s Sinopharm vaccine. China doesn’t use mRNA or virus vector-based technologies, they use a classic technology for their own: Aluminium Hydroxide with a 4 µg load of inactivated viruses that were grown in the kidney epithelial cells of African monkeys. It’s a real choice because risks and side-effects are known from other classic vaccines, such as the polio and tetanus vaccines. When push comes to shove I think I would be able to handle two shots (or jabs) of this concoction just fine.

Also: thank you for your support through your prayers, emails, messages and patronage, you help me stay on top of this crisis.

Pelvic Floor Video 2: Diastasis recti

Ok, I don’t want COVID-19 politics to eat into my blog, at least not too much. Therefore, today I will write out the opening speech for my next video. Usually I speak everything completely free from my heart, without teleprompter or script or anything like that. But I figure if I don’t pull myself together (literally) this video will just linger about and the month will pass, and how will I pay my rent then? So here is my writeup for the intro.

I noticed something quite extraordinary about the core and the core muscles:

As you can see a light press against the right side of the belly makes the skin on the same side right next to the belly button bulge up.

This means that even the slightest compression of the right side is pushing so much against the midline, that it causes the skin, the soft tissue, the superficial muscles, and probably even the deeper muscles to be pressed together and being bulged up against the midline.

This made me realise that we can use this to address conditions such as diastasis recti, lower back pain, pelvic alignment, and upright posture.

And even better, I know the perfect exercise just for that. In fact, I will show you an exercise sequence that is so nice, you will feel almost ecstatic.

We will start in side-lying on the left side, and

[On screen bullet points]

  1. Activate the right side
  2. Activate the left side
  3. Buttonhole stitch
  4. Upright posture and walking
  • first activate the right side in a way that uses the full body, including your breathing,
  • then secondly, we will activate the left side with an unusual, surprising, slightly different strategy,
  • then as a third step we will turn around to side-lying on the right side, and improve on what we already did, almost as with the extra loop in a buttonhole stitch to secure fabric more firmly,
  • and lastly we will observe how all this can be used in sitting, standing, and walking.

Alright, so we will start in side-lying, please come to lie on your right side.