Setting intention. Waiting for movement. Action. 

“When we ask the time, we don’t want to know how watches are constructed.” – Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799)

It’s been 20 days since my last video upload. Even I, Mr. Patience, start to be nervous by now. I had a couple of good ideas, but didn’t work them into a video. However, I did film a few ideas for my own viewing – but since I was in nothing but a T-Shirt and boxer shorts at the time of filming that’s hardly something I could share… not even as Youtube Shorts.

I’m still thinking about re-filming older videos, update them with new ideas and insights I’ve had over the years. I’m also thinking about skipping most of the talking, and keep them brief and concise. Maybe I could replace my comments with pauses, so that viewers may have a chance to observe their own comments arising (from the deep of their souls maybe).

Intention and action, that’s the most curious thing. I loved to study that in a phenomenological sense when I first studied the works of Moshé Feldenkrais. For example, I would lie down on my back, and INTENT to move something, and arm for example. And then wait (I guess Carlos Castaneda called this, “The Art Of Stalking”). I fell asleep countless times. But then the movement, the action, came to me. It was astonishing, surprising, very gratifying. I was being moved. I observed myself being moved, or maybe “I witnessed myself moving”. I was moved. Not sure if I can ever replicate that as teaching, and in a Youtube video.

Ok. My intention is clear. I need to produce a new Youtube video. But instead of a single video I want to create a new series. I’m stepping on my own toes. My workflow just does not support this kind of project. I am used to a “one, then another one, then another one, oh! It’s a series!” kind of workflow. Planing a series beforehand, it’s as if I’m standing in front of a mountain and there seems to be no path up.

Now back to Jon Snow. He just met Ygritte at the watchfire up there on The Skirling Pass, in the mountains called The Frostfangs. I hope she won’t bite off her tongue.

Pain is a joker

Years ago, in another life it almost seems, I’ve attended a workshop by an Orthopaedic specialist, in Shanghai, China. I think the presenter was from Australia, and was living in Hong Kong at that time. Unfortunately I haven’t heard from him again; and forgot his name, too (maybe it was Marshall “Snow”, or something). During the one day workshop he kept repeating the phrase, Pain is a joker. What he meant is – in prevention and rehab – you should not try to chase down and fix pain at a certain location, but instead look at the client systemically, and fix the client’s overall posture (there was no talk about movement patterns, yet… also, fixing “everything” probably makes for more items on the invoice as well, I guess).

Let me break a paragraph here, because short paragraphs seem to be all the rage right now.

For example, if you try to fix something at location a (for example the neck), then pain might come forth at location b (for example your back)… you jump to fix location b, next thing you know pain’s at location c (for example your knees). The moment you think you’ve fixed the pain at a certain location it just keeps coming back again at another. That’s why the Orthopedician said, Pain is a joker.

That was in 2009. I found it interesting, because to me it was some sort of indication that the medical professions are starting to catch up with the status quo in alternative therapy. Moshé Feldenkrais found out the same, but somewhen in the 1920ies – AND created hundreds of elaborate lessons to address a person as a whole. Instead of trying to fix, for example, a knee, by strengthening and lengthening the muscles directly in charge of the faulty knee, Moshé Feldenkrais developed movement based lessons that help integrate the knee into the movements, thinking, sensing and feeling of the person as a whole, and thus give the knee a chance to heal up, function properly, and contribute well to that person as a whole.

You still with me? How long’s a piece of string? How long’s a piece of blog post ought to be? What’s too short, what’s too long, what’s just right?

Don’t ask ask

Don’t ask,
How can I teach this lesson?

What excites your kinaesthetic senses?
What words and movements create comfort?
What makes you fill with wonder?
In which movements can you find meaning?
What sparks your creativity?
When do you need stimulation and when do you need rest?

I’m two posts behind

life insight as well as professional insight happen in episodes, to me at least. two days ago I was walking at the beach, pondering on the work of Moshe Feldenkrais, but had no time to write down my insight. merely jotted down a draft. had no time to flesh it out today.

now I just had a conversation, and found insight(s) that build on the last post, the one that did not happen. i’m one post behind, life goes on, life happens. all is well, but I need to write it down.

well at least, here’s the draft, for later.

what is Feldenkrais

for example bikram yoga has one movement sequence
progressive relaxation jacobbsen
triebtheorie freud
thomas hanna somatics more accessible because of pandiculation or red/green light syndrome

most famous people are famous for one (or a small few) methods or inventions

moshe feldenkrais each week made a new invention, one that could be turned into a distinctive iconic method, or big business even

small wonder people are so confused at what they’re looking at.

the last stage as described in Moshe Feldenkrais’s atm book, chapter strata of development

we need to look at each lesson one by one, maybe even choose just one as our professional path, instead of trying to behold all his lessons and trying to see what they all have in common

wasn’t there a story? a story about a guy who tried to catch all the bisons/sheep/rabbits on a field and finally he did not catch one, not even one? had he focused on just a specific one he would have caught that one, so the story goes

oh no, this last sentence, the core of this post, it’s based on a previous insight that I haven’t written down either … a thought a novel way to categorise the lessons of Moshe Feldenkrais, or so I think.

and I missed one more post, which I at least made a draft of. actually i’m three posts behind.

now back to Tyrion Lannister, Hand of the King.

Choosing the home position

Many Feldenkrais classes start with lying on the back. This position is  not only for resting, but a reference we can come back to during and after class. In this position we compare how our perception has changed, or notice areas with more or less tension… maybe the shoulders are feeling more flat and relaxed, or one leg feels longer and that side of the pelvis warm and soft… maybe that’s because there’s less tension, or maybe that’s because of a better circulation of blood, improved microcirculation, or maybe something else. And of course we’re always open to make unexpected discoveries, in a good sense.

So, yesterday, when I was lying down to do some moving around, I came to lie down on my front side and was wondering, “Why on the back?” Maybe I should start a class with lying on the front side, chose the front side as home position and reference, and then do movements while lying on the back. Do all the movements on the back, and return to the front side during and after class for rest and reference. What would that teach us? What would be the benefits?

They were supposed to be all knowing

Interesting comment on Youtube, from Fred F. on a video about squatting down to sit on a chair. “It is amazing that, when one is young, these movements are so natural and one would not give it a second thought how they are done. It is only when one is old and have mobility issues, or when recovered from injuries, that one has to re-train the brain about how they are done.”

Two things come to mind. First of all, heaven forbid, but if you happen to see some children, observe (oh noes!) how they sit down and get up from chairs, and how they are sitting. You will probably soon realise that sitting down and getting back up and sitting itself is not a problem of old age alone.

Yet, I agree, probably none of these children is questioning authority and the dynamics of chairs and sitting, too much. I have as a child, and it worried me down to my core to have been left alone with these questions. But then, I was not your regular child. I did second guess my teachers, every single one of them, and despised every minute that I had been (sort of) locked up in these classrooms and had to sit on their despicable chairs and their ugly benches. Nevertheless I served 18 years of schooling. Not the smartest kid on the block, am I.

Secondly: culture. It is the role of culture to teach us. Children should learn the basics of movement from their parents and chosen role models. Just like the asian squat is performed perfectly, each and every time stunningly beautiful by the adult Vietnamese living in Vietnam, and learned by their children just as well. It should be the same for standing, walking, running, sitting down, and getting up, and all the other things we can and must do in a certain culture (Swimming maybe? Diving? Climbing on rocks? Whistling?) We shouldn’t have to think about how to do it. It should just happen on its own, it should be perfect as it is, and we should be free to focus on the content of life, on the things we do, rather than how to hold ourselves up without wrecking our biomechanical properties to pieces.

Yet, our culture is broken. How many percent of adults suffer from back pain, knee pain, have less than ideal dynamics? And the children of our culture now learn just that, as members of our culture they grow up to face the exact same challenges.

Unless, and here’s the beauty of it, we question, we second guess, we experiment, we try, study and learn. We become aware, create options, and thus overcome, evolve, improve, knowingly.

Chocolate croissants and movement categories

Just to illustrate my point and zoom into the topic quickly: I’m sitting in one of my favourite coffee shops, I just finished two long emails, and I’m now watching chocolate croissants being made, right in front of me:

The very well trained and skilled worker has been preparing the dough and is now cutting and rolling the pastry, he’s lining the finished rolls up on a big plate.

I want to sort our movements into categories and then assign them percentages. But what categories are there? And how much is of what?

How many of our movements are to achieve a task? Movements for work (like rolling chocolate croissants), cardio, hygiene, commute, communication (pointing, gesturing, facial expressions etc), …

How many of our movements are about fidgeting? Small, involuntary movements to keep the nervous system running in good condition, and to burn extra calories directly from glycogen. Movements like playing with the fingers, swinging an arm or a leg for no apparent reason, to scratch ourselves, play with an item in our hands, movements to push fluids in passive systems around, like the lymphatic system or macrophages beneath the skin. Wiggling, swinging, swaying, all the involuntary, automatic movements we do to keep joints well hydrated and to maintain a basic range of motion for each of them.

How much of a percentage are movements of life support, like breathing and the heart beat?

And then the category I want to get at, how much is movement learning?  Actually, what is it, what is movement learning?

How much of our time are we dedicating to what? How could we identify and measure that somewhat comprehensively? And does it matter?

Did I draw this correctly? Is the part of movement learning the smallest? Is it really? And if it is, would that be a good or a bad thing?