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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Alexander Points the Way

Many people's creative drive might be considered compulsory - but because it's creative rather than destructive, it's not considered a disorder, but an inspiration.

I see the assumption that "the solution must be comparably intense so as to combat the problem's intensity" to be an expression of the mistake of bouncing from extreme to extreme. I think the reason it's so common of an assumption is from a cultural history of implied opposites and that using will must be a battle. The opposite of a hateful problem is to first just stop repeating the problem.

That assumption is wrong, as F.M. Alexander discovered, among others. If you assume those extremes, you'll miss information that your twisted senses have learned to ignore as being of no consequence. To find something you love to do, it works better to notice what comes easily & naturally to you and what you find yourself doing most effortlessly. Passion is more of an absorbing patience that allows openings, rather than a desperate compulsion, as the historical root of the word implies.

For Alexander to find that out for himself involved going through a paradoxical process he taught himself that involved building new assumptions. Fortunately, his solutions of how to go from "repair to effortlessness" turned out to work for others who might be in his situation. I imagine that any additional means of expressing these principles us teachers of AT come up with from our own experience can only add to Alexander's. Those who learn from us cannot help but benefit from them.

Marj Barstow's (Alexander's first graduate) opinion on this was, "However much you can move in the direction you want to go, what you wanted to prevent will be left behind. You can't go both ways at the same time." Marj also said that, "Prevention works with less effort than repair - just like with maintaining cars."

From that conversation and those since, I have since regarded many of Alexander's techniques, (such as his specialized way of using his concept of Inhibition,) to be on the order of "repair." Sometimes people's problems need these repairs. I did. I became injured and couldn't help but train myself to cope with pain by limiting movement during recovery that I later wanted to stop. Alexander's repair methods worked well. That usage alone proved to me Alexander's work is useful for anyone from any starting point. You don't need to use all the tools if the problem will respond to some of the tools.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Past Conditioning Toward Creativity

Can we only regurgitate our previous conditioning? Some people even proud of their conditioning, as people are proud to be a product of their family heritage.

I guess if you believe that you have no creativity, (or that most people have none too,) you can say your belief that people cannot get past their conditioning is generally true. I have noticed that deciding you're not creative is a self-limiting idea to that takes extra effort to hold. At one point in my life I began to wonder why I was basing my generalties about people to only include those points of human nature which are negative? Repeating and remembering and establishing habits does seem to support being conditioned.

Fighting Where does creativity and insight come from that is not a product of what has come before?

I find creativity in people constantly - people want to play with me if they are invited. But perhaps you could say that's because my creativity wasn't squished by my childhood conditioning. At times I have squished and abandoned my creativity myself though, and I recovered.

What does holding on to such a belief that people can only be a product of their conditioning do for you? I guess the question would be, "What in it for you?"

Why do people sometimes abandon their creativity?

I'm not asking these questions rhetorically, but I'm asking you. You don't need to write an answer here. It doesn't matter what you consider creativity to be - but that would be nice to know. Just something for you to think about and get back to me later perhaps?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Is Awareness Remembering What You Forgot?

I'm really curious how people figure out they are inappropriately reacting rather than using their creative potential. It seems a person more commonly can get used to their own habits so completely that the sensation of doing these habits completely disappears into identity. There is more of a reason to have no reason to change, so how do some people do it?

There's a survival likelihood to choose what is certain in preserving the status quo. If you try to do things differently, it will feel so unfamiliar that it will feel as if it's "not you." So it's more likely that you won't allow yourself to continue doing what is new, but only what feels familiar.

On the other hand, there is also a survival drive towards the desire for doing something new, but it's not as strong. If the daring think less of consequences or guess wrong, they probably died more often and perhaps didn't pass on their genes.

When we design a habit, we're adapting to circumstances or learning. When learning, we make a habit so abilities we want to have become innate and later can be used as if they were second-nature. When compensating, we're designing a habit to avoid pain. Adapting allows skill, learning and compensation to mitigate circumstances and is mainly regarded as a human advantage.

However this blessing of being able to adapt seems to have a built-in design flaw. The flaw is that performing a habit dulls sensation so we don't know how or what we are doing - a habit is automatic. We often train ourselves to perform a new habit without being able to sense what "standing orders" our habits are already doing. It can get confusing - even painful, if we add habit onto habit, without undoing the previous inappropriate habits. As people get older, it's all too common to pull our own body in opposite directions without knowing how we're contributing to our own limitations.

The ways around it that I know work best involve deliberately disassembling the habits. In fact, it seems to work best to not have a new habit in mind to replace what you are intentionally taking apart. If you just remove what seems to be in the way that is outdated, your natural ability to respond more appropriately will resume. The way you balance and move seems to be self-correcting.

To do this takes a willingness to experiment and to feel a little strange. The reason you feel so weird is because your old habits seem to try to protect you by insisting that they already have programming to deal just fine with this situation.

Turns out, rather than an 'awareness' challenge, getting past this pitfall of self-preservation involves more of a timing challenge. If you use your observation or awareness BEFORE you have made any changes to actually stop the habit, you will probably only notice what is wrong, but not the habit that is making it happen. (Or you'll notice nothing special because your sensitivity to self-orientation has disappeared from indiscriminate repetition.) If you want an example of this, trying walking and asking yourself if you notice anything about the way you walk. Usually there is no comment, or you only notice something wrong that 'sticks out' that's objectionable.

Please resist trying to directly remedy your objection. Most people only notice their how they look in a mirror. We're going to find out what people are doing with themselves to make themselves appear that way. Usually people offer themselves no consideration of their means and what they are doing, only their intention. We're going to close the gap between intention and action.

We need some criteria, and some comparisons to watch when we're looking for changes. Efficiency, education & effortlessness are good. Pain, stiffness & limitations are bad.

You can use the sensual world to give you feedback to tell you if there is a change. For instance, if you notice your feet are hitting the floor hard when you walk, then you have a way to see how changing the way you walk affects this feature. The sensual world also can show you when you are doing the old same thing so you can remember that you wanted to respond differently. I guess that's where the awareness comes in, remembering to notice.

Stopping the habit works best if you can interrupt the habit before it gets going full strength. Sometimes that's just before you go into action.

To notice something new about yourself or your objectives, here's the sequence that I've found that works best to get insights.

1. First, you're willing to experiment.
2. You already know what you don't want to do and what your habits are that contribute to going wrong.
3. Say you've figured out a strategy to stop or go in a direction deliberately away from those habits.
4. If you THEN if you use your observation/awareness after you've stopped, you're more likely to notice something new at that point about your suspended objective.

Descriptive ability is a skill factor. After you have stopped doing a habit, you will usually sense differences in comparison to whatever you have been doing. For instance, if you have been habitually leaning forward, you will feel as if you are leaning back when you have factually stopped leaning forward. Being able to describe these differences is how you can know what is, in fact, really happening. Sometimes these differences will feel really paradoxical and positively strange, because you will see that you are both leaning backward and also standing up more vertically. Because of these paradoxes, it's tricky to stop the habit resuming control. It takes practice to sustain doing any activity without the old habits.

It seems to take a sort of wisdom and perspective of how to intepret the results of your experimenting when you feel wierd and unfamiliar after making a significant change. Interpretation and validation of what is happening is why you need other points of view and the sensual world. it's really fun to experiment by trying a video camera or a mirror.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


I've thought that, because of naming conventions, that our culture has some of the intepretations of feelings quite misdefined. This lack of correspondence of names to what is actually happening with feelings contributes to the confusion of what is going on in the experience. There are probably feelings that you cannot access because you haven't gotten past some of the inherent misunderstandings about emotions that our culture seems to have. These misunderstandings are present within the names of the emotions of our language, jealousy among them.

I believe writing about emotions are a great contribution to the hidden mysteries of what they are, how they operate, etc. It's stuff such as this that I wish was more public. Don't more people think about this stuff and try to figure out how it works?

First off, people often use the word Jealousy when they really mean Envy.

I say these things about emotion and language for a reason. I've discovered that it's more useful to think of jealousy, (of another rival taking a beloved away)in another way. For me, feelings of jealousy were actually a composite of three other emotions. Two of them are "Catch-22," meaning they cannot be unraveled because they are two ends of the same continuum.

I prefer to describe these emotions in categories because there are so many names for emotions. Loneliness, connection, belonging is one category of these three. The second category is a desire for privacy, self control, autonomy. In jealousy, these two categories of feelings are the "Catch-22" emotions. If you choose to answer one desire from either of these two categories, you reject and also crave the other category.

The third emotion that keeps jealousy active in me was an irresistable drive to compete. I was driven to incessantly compare myself to the other woman. It seemed to come from a fear and uncertainty about why the lover was attracted to me or her. I found that when I stopped my internal dialogue as I found myself competing with her, it unraveled the other "Catch-22" paradoxes.
alpine lake, Marin, CA Fortunately, this strategy has worked with every other experience of jealousy that I've had since. What have you thought about jealousy?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Drawbacks of Sensitivity

It's a little embarrassing, but it's been such a source of happiness for me that I'm entertained by so little. It comes from my high sensitivity that I have had all my life. On the other hand, it means I'm much less motivated to work towards something that will hopefully occur some time in the future. This is directly opposite what most people consider to be reasonable adult life.

I think that sensitivity to optional choices expands the more one's sensitivity and awareness expands. Prioritizing has often been agonizing for many because I'm not aware enough of all my own assumptions and how to balance my many conflicting needs. I wonder if that's not what "wisemen" had in mind by keeping their knowledge deliberately obscure - although I admit that it sounds like one good justification for not flaunting what you know. More likely the secretiveness had to do with "rarifying" the information, so that people appreciated it rather than taking the simplicity of wisdom for granted. I imagine that many of the historic "wise men" were lousy teachers, not knowing what to tell people about this problem, so they used this dismissal of a way to ignore questions. Sometimes what is wise is so simple you miss it.

Once you open the pandora's box of the awareness of oneself, there is no going back. So sometimes, it is a relevant question of whether it is better in the longrun to know more, or not. It is often worse in the short run to have gained a little awareness of oneself without any knowledge or example of what to do with the new information.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Take Five

Today Chris and I jumped up and decided to go for a swim at Ho'okena Beach, which is only eight miles away from where we've been staying while he's doing some sheetrocking work in exchange for where we're staying. This beach has a really short break, but the snorkling is superb.

It's still surprising that going into the waves there is a cold shock, despite the heat! The sand is a lava and coral mixture, so it's very hot on bare feet. The water is warm enough to stay in indefinitely, as long as you keep moving.

Chris gets cold and finds that wearing a thin wetsuit helps his knee pain because it allows him to stay in longer, but I just swim around to stay warm enough.

I feel like I'm a fish in water here. I make sounds and the wild dolphins come closer to me to check me out. They're really amusing, the sounds they make. They probably think the same about me. At first when I would go swimming, I would come home and sleep for three hours each time. I must have been into really bad physical condition with my allergies and everything. My ankles were all swollen up, and as soon as I got into the ocean somehow the swelling disappeared. I think the swelling was from my lack of exercise, which is really scary to have gotten that way.

Even though I can't see much without having a prescription mask, I can still see alot by just looking down while I'm swimming because the water is so clear. We just did a little barbeque and I met a wonderful woman in the ocean who writes kid's books.

We meet lots of people in life, or at least I do. Most of them don't turn into friends for whatever reason. I'm not sure why that is. I have plenty of time to make friends, so it's not time constaints on my end.

I think part of it is that people have different bonding languages. Meaning, people differ in what must happen for bonding to be attempted. Such as sharing or being able to do for each other are essential ingredients for some friendships for some, and for others they're not. Some people don't act on their feelings or intuitions, and some people fill up their lives with things to do so much that there is no time to get to know someone new. Some people can't experience friendship unless they went to school together, and for some people you must work together, or have kids together, etc. Some people will never feel bonded to you unless you see them at their worst and forgive them, and others are deleriously competitive.

I went to a party when I got here and saw the most amazing video of this guy swimming with the dolphins. Underwater he made hula-hoop sized bubbles that he could swim through. With a snorkel he seemed to be able to swim what looked like fifty feet down and he could lay on the bottom, it was amazing. The dolphins thought he was cool because he didn't stay up on the surface of the water as most people would. It's amazing how the dolphins swim in formation to show sympathy, attention.

At the party he later played the guitar and sang in the goofiest little kid voice that probably belongs in a cartoon. I forgot his name, but I'm sure I'll run into him again. At that party there was someone with a cool light toy also that I'd like to talk with again. All that happened because I ran into an old friend at Ho'okena!

It also must be a sense of rapport for friendship to happen, and also a sense of something to do together, some gesture or reason to be together. I made friends with a woman named Ramona who loaned me her flippers because we have the same sized feet. She's Hawaiian and just always seems to be swimming around at the same time I would go swimming, so we would meet in the water and talk while kicking and floating around. I really enjoyed her. But we couldn't think of anything else to do together except hang out on the beach together, but I guess that's enough. We thought about taking the car and driving to a hula class together, but the timing wasn't right for either of us to have a car.

I'm sure that I'll see these people again.