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Sunday, September 30, 2007

New Changes

Was feeling really geeky today because I spent lots of time tweaking my website at

My ISP got maliciously destroyed, so I was really thankful that I had backups for most of the different parts of my websites. But I did lose all my webmail for my address, as well as my address books.

So, if you have written to me there, please write me again so I may have your email address that I do not have any more. One good thing is sending out bounce-backs got rid of some spam that I had been getting.

One thing my geekiness has gotten me: I found a really cool widget today that scrolls original artwork. Check it out; it's a little lower in the sidebar... I guess now that I have a specialized Alexander Technique blog, I'll be getting more personal and casual about what I post here. Here are some wisteria flowers that I drew on someone's window that I thought you might enjoy. More of my artwork is at

My new blog specializing in Alexander Technique is at
Come by and check it out and make a comment!

I'm also thinking of starting a blog about window painting, since so many people talk to me about it from my website. It would be an easy way to show off my more recent work also. Would anyone here enjoy that?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Friends of Mine...

I have some very interesting friends. This is Rick Ryan, who I've known since high school. Rick is an enthusiastic environmental educator. He loves to learn about how ecosystems are interdependent, and how they can be helped along when they get out of balance from the interference of humans.

The most amazing thing that Rick has put together turns out to have come right out of his own back yard where he used to live for the last forty years that has just been sold. That picture in the previous post of a flood is Adobe Creek that can only be seen from the backyard he terraced of the house he used to to have on the edge of Adobe Canyon. It is the urban runoff that feeds Mission Valley, running through the middle of San Diego, that only reaches flood stage once every five years or so, depending on rainfall. I'll have to call him up to ask him if I can talk about this idea on my blog that could be used anywhere in the greater southern Calif. area , because he may want to present it himself - it's completely unbelievable!
Rick is now traveling around looking for another ecosystem to get to know. If you'd like to extend an invite to him, let me know and I'll send him your way, heartily recommended as one of the most amazing and interesting people I've ever met.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Relationships Can Be Completely Unique

This dog used to pick up this kitten in her mouth to help the kitten jump up onto the bed so they could hang out together. Obviously, the kitten seemed to enjoy her attention. The arrangement seemed to also be acceptable to the kitten's real mom too.

I believe that as you change yourself, you will completely change the dynamic of the relationship for whoever is involved with you, because you are changing your part of it. Of course it's much trickier to be in charge of yourself when you are the only one is willing or able to experiment to determine criteria of what is valuable, making changes & improvements by yourself. Some believe relationships are shared responsibility; that each person must rely on the other if they are to accept that they are in relationship and both must agree to change. Some people believe in the equally valid idea of a percentage split, that each person is responsible for a certain part of the relationship. Whatever you believe, it will probably influence exactly how you will act to work it out to continue to be in relationship – so it is an interesting point to discuss.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

How To Define Alexander Technique?

Lately, I've had great success explaining that the Technique is about the behavior chains of building habits, which is how we adapt and learn. Building habits are what makes skill possible. Trouble comes when a person forgets the habit is there, or trains a short-sighted building block of habit, which is a "pitfall" built into adapting & learning. The building blocks of skills are usually designed to disappear and become innate. If things aren't working out as intended, people assume they need to train themselves to do another thing "opposite" to an already innate habit they forgot that they're already doing, instead of training themselves to stop. With repeating a nuisance, most people see how handy it would be to stop, but they don't know the first things about how to stop.

flooded2.jpgPeople also do not realize the problems that old conflicting habits can create over time. People know whatever a person practices, they'll get better and better at doing. In this case, a person can be practicing unintended habits that pull themselves apart. Their normally sensitive ability to sense what they are doing becomes flooded.

Alexander Technique shows a person how they can change the way they practice and learn, as opposed to having to give up any particular troublesome activity. How useful it can be to know how to subtract what is in the way, to prevent habitual conflicts from running the show!

So when beginners want to describe what they are studying, I have them describe it as something that teaches how to uncover and undo innate, out-of-date habits that have turned into self-imposed limitations. Most people who hear that immediately remark how useful that would be to know. There are many innocent situations where a need to unlearn habits becomes obvious:

1. The self-taught who get into doing counter-productive
foundation habits from learning without a proper teacher;

2. Those who learn skills or movement compensations with
built-in pain, fear or stress from a challenging teacher;

3. Someone with arm pain who has had to train
themselves to hold up a cast; they then hold onto
the compensation indefinitely.

4. A kid who never figured out their unique size and
shape, or how that shape changes during growth.

I'm sure you can think of more of these!

Franis Engel

> --- John Coffin wrote:
> > Unfortunately, trying to describe the Technique
> in language the non-student will find attractive is
> an immediate paradox. How do you interesting someone
> in changing something they don't know exists, and
> whose influence they cannot imagine?
> >
> > John Coffin

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Alexander Class Coming Sept. 24th- Oct 25th Soon

This old guy in the picture here is the guy who invented Alexander Technique. Mr. Frederick Matthias Alexander was his "Nicholas name." Merely the initials "F. M." was his nickname.

In these past few weeks, I managed to make it down to Hilo, (about an hour and a half drive) to trade work with the only other Alexander Technique teacher I have met on the Big Island named Michael Joeseph. His work with me was very much like Patrick MacDonald's work (MacDonald was one of the last students of Alexander's, he was nicknamed "the mechanic.") Michael Joeseph had never actually met either character, having been trained after the death of both of them, but one of Michael's other talents was in mechanical engineering. Because of this, it is very curious to me to experience how the quality of Alexander's work is being passed on so accurately.

I'm happy to announce that near the end of the month starting on Monday evening Sept. 24th at 6pm and continuing on Thurs at the same time and place, I am teaching ten twice weekly classes on Alexander's principles through The classes are a real deal if you have never studied Alexander Technique before for reasons of the cost of private lessons which cost from $65 - $100 each; these introductory classes are only $10. each! Because Alexander Technique takes some time to learn, required attendance is for at least three weeks of class, (six classes.) So for less of the cost of one private lesson, you can get six classes in Alexander Technique! What a deal!

If you have any questions about the classes and ended up here, please feel free to ask your questions in the comments section. I'll come up with some answers, we can put them together and we'll see if they work for you!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Receiving Insights About Yourself From Others

Bohm had called insanity "sticking with a point against evidence that it is incorrect." But can "evidence" be seen when one is blasted with it and when there are imperfections in it, and when delivered by someone that one doesn't particularly like (which seems to be a guaranteed aspect of this process), and when "evidence" is tinged with strong, insulting words? - Irene from Dialogue

Most people cannot receive new information about themselves, even if it is skillfully and tactfully delivered. Even then, most people cannot do much about changing their behavior to take the new information to heart. So often, changing yourself takes practice, no matter how much will-power or good intentions you might have.

What most often happens is the messenger's motive is questioned, and the assummed answer is negative, paranoid and defensive. Watching the cop shows on TV, I can't help but notice that the most upset person is usually arrested.

I can think of a situation where someone might get a clue: multiple unrelated people are making the same insistent, clumsy complaint about your behavior. Only in that situation might it be likely for you to realize that this pointing everyone is doing is important, because everyone is in agreement about you without knowing each other.

For instance, here David Bohm responded with the "generalized labeling" motive. I would imagine that this was an attempt on his part to distance himself from the phenomena in order to examine the pattern. This is constructive, because then the pattern of habit could be recognized at an earlier stage when it could be more easily redirected. It also communicates his lack of personal involvement, leaving it up to you to do whatever you want with what he is saying. Obviously, David Bohm valued personal freedom.

It gets even more interesting when you trust the people with whom you are in conflict. Makes me think of my own mother's admonition that when people bother to get upset with you enough to tell you about it, it's because they care. Why is it that people can't seem to assume a loving motive? Assumming trust, we came up with the idea to make a pact with each other to signal the other person when one of us saw "we are both doing it again." This implies we are both capable to "try something different" at that point, rather than doing what the pattern dictates what we "must" do. This is not always possible; in fact, it is rare. Fortunately, we had no idea how difficult this was when we tried doing it. We were able to practice enough at it that we eventually succeeded.

The more often people are willing to go together to this unknown state and "try something different" together means sooner or later they are going to stumble on workable solutions that make it possible to do - because it seems that changing oneself takes some practice. This is the basis of Dialogue and how great relationships are made and not found.

...It's also how many psychological answers to relationship issues get hatched, but then someone seems to have to hold conferences, write a book, etc. for the insight to reach beyond whatever agreement two people privately come to in their own relationship.

I'm not sure why, but somehow in our culture, people cannot just "share their experience" without setting themselves up to be some sort of authority which parades their "right" for it to be taken seriously. The motive to have things work out for both of them can become a contest of who is going to control the outcome of the situation.

That's why I am fascinated with how couples/family groups deal with prioritizing on the fly. How do those who are in relationships determine who's needs gets answered and how long does everyone else have to wait for their needs to be answered - and how does everyone get what they need at some point? The answer to this question is fascinating, not for its content of unfairness or fairness, but because it is a some sort of a workable solution that the members of the relationship are happy with or at least find acceptable.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


I've noticed that if you are going to be making a comment about what is going on in the moment, (especially when you have a personal investment in the outcome of the course of events that may follow,) it's very tricky to make your motive be understood when your motive is the intention for mutual insight. I find that it works best to prepare the ground to be received in the spirit of what you are about to say before you say it. So linguisticallly, the first skill is called "reframing." You must redefine the frame for the audience, because it is quite likely that they will misunderstand you if you assume they are on the same page as you are.

There is also a time of arrival factor that is also important. Once people are locked into repeating a vicious circle, it's very tricky to stop repeating what is the problem. Better to wait for another time when the vicious circle is about to happen, and make your attempt to interrupt the event that you can recognize is ABOUT to happen at that time...because this sort of thing will happen again and again if it really is a problem.

Often saying something will have no effect, because the action that is going on is that people are saying something - content is being ignored. So for the content of what is being said to have an effect, communication works better if you can figure out a creative way to "change the game" of HOW the content is being delivered. This is another form of reframing. Otherwise, whatever you say will just be reacted to as if it's merely a brand of violent defense or retort driven by the interpretation of some sort of paranoid motive - the sort which is left up to the negative imagination of the person on the defensive who doesn't have enough creative ability to imagine any possible positive constructive motives for your actions.

So this is another skill that I have learned to cultivate - the ability to imagine, under duress, multiple creative, reasonable explanation for the other person's actions when it "makes no sense" that they are in conflict, not becoming violent and getting upset. This is quite a challenge because anger and other emotions tend to block creativity.