Feldenkrais — The Ultimate “Life Hack”

D Sharon Pruitt via Flickr
Image by D Sharon Pruitt via Flickr

Seems like people are always seeking the advice of “life hackers.”  You know, the ones who always have great tips, techniques, or “work arounds” — “Hacks” — for doing life better.  That got me thinking about Moshe Feldenkrais, and the Feldenkrais Method, and that if he were alive today, perhaps we’d have a more direct and contemporary way to talk about him and his work.  My idea:  that the Feldenkrais Method is the ultimate “life hack,” providing a means of discovering how, in any aspect of one’s life, to create an experience of the highest possible quality.

So I wrote this little promotion as part of a party invitation.  You’re invited, too — since May 6 is the 106th anniversary of Moshe’s birth.  I was inspired by the venue:  my regular Thursday evening class meets at the much-loved Caroline Collective in the Museum District of Houston, Texas.  It is  simultaneously a co-working space, art gallery, office building, party venue, community center, and the coolest gathering space for geeks, hipsters, music lovers, technology buffs, entrepreneurs, and young mover/shakers in town.  Seemed like a good fit for a Feldenkrais class, since the target audience of the Caroline Collective is anyone on the leading edge of culture, business, or innovation.  If you’re looking for a “life hack,” it’s a pretty good place to find one.

Here’s the invitation:

Join us at 6:30 p.m. SHARP on Thursday, May 6 to celebrate the birth of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais.

“Do I know him?”

“Was he at that SxSW thing?”

“Is he that celebrity chef with the new place in the warehouse district?”

Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) was arguably the most brilliant thinker of the 20th century that you’ve never heard of.

If he were alive today, he would totally be speaking at the TED Conference. He would be on the cover of Wired Magazine.  He would be interviewed by Stephen Colbert, definitely. Why?  Because he was our kind of guy.  An uber-geek, polyglot, engineer, physicist, athlete, music-lover, judo black belt, and advisor to celebrities of his day. Oh yeah — he worked in the famous Curie lab that won the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry! He was interested in freakin’ EVERYTHING: anatomy, physiology, psychology, technology, neuroscience, yoga, martial arts, esoteric practices, altered states, literature, science, performance — and that’s just the beginning.  What made him such a badass?

He devised the best, coolest, most amazing “life hack,” EVER.

It’s called the Feldenkrais Method(R), appropriately enough.

It uses gentle, small body movements to improve awareness and every aspect of your being — thinking, sensing, moving, and feeling.

You gotta try it.  I’m just sayin’.

At the birthday party, you’ll experience one of his “signature works:” an Awareness Through Movement(R) lesson that will leave you amazed — as well as feeling  strong, vital, graceful, flexible, coordinated, balanced, oxygenated, pain-free, relaxed,  and REFRESHED.  Ready to go.

SO come and try it.  Wear comfortable street clothes or workout gear.  There will be NO PERSPIRING, we promise (unless the A/C isn’t working), so you’ll be able to go to your next “thing” fresh as a daisy.  But you’ll feel DIFFERENT.

Have a little cake.  Drink a little punch (or brew).  Get down tonight.


Events are planned in various locations around the US and Canada for that week, in observance of the occasion.  Throughout the month of May,  international organizations also launch “Feldenrkais Awareness” day, week, and month.  The Feldenkrais Center of Houston will be involved in ALL of it, in person, through social media, and wherever we can be, do, and have some fun with movement and people.

To attend our party (or have a look at the invitation), click here.

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A Fine Spring Weekend

Wildflowers near Industry, TX

Spring, and wildflowers, are the best thing about Texas.

For now, let’s not debate the relative merits of BBQ, SxSW, our beaches, monuments, fine universities, or major cities.  While each of those topics can get an argument started, the Texas wildflowers seem to bring out the best in everyone.

Every year, Chris and I go for a drive out from Houston on a sunny Saturday.  This past weekend, the flowers were at peak.  Guided by a fabulous map from www.lone-star.net/wildflowers, we set out from Houston.  Our route took us out US290 to Chappell Hill, Brenham, and Burton; down through Round Top and over to LaGrange; and then back via Lafayette, Industry, and  Bellville. Most of the day was spent on the back roads, or “Farm-to-Market” roads as they are known here, between little ol’ Texas towns.

We witnessed a springtime ritual that goes back to the dawn of photography, certainly — perhaps even to the dawn of painting.  Parents dress up their adorable toddlers in their Easter finery, take them for a long, exhausting drive to find the perfect patch of bluebonnets, and then plop them down for the quintessential Texas photo-op.  Everybody who has ever had a camera and a kid has done this.  The children dressed in bright blue, or even better, a blue floral print, are effectively camouflaged in the billowing sea of blue flowers.

Bluebonnet traffic
Bluebonnet traffic

In fact, these photo-seeking families cause huge traffic hazards where ordinarily you could probably sit in the middle of the road and have a cold drink between cars that pass by. Brakes slam on, the car abruptly veers onto the shoulder.  No emergency here, just a family capturing their annual bluebonnet portraits.   The fields are full of parents, grandparents, toddling children, and couples young and old.  The appeal of this ritual is universal.  We saw all ages, colors, sizes, shapes, united in the quest of wildflower photos.

It’s also completely appropriate to wax and gush about the beauty of nature.  Hungry urbanites will go looking for flowers in the spring, even if they have nothing else to do with nature the rest of the year.  The flowers are EVERYWHERE — in meadows, in highway medians, along the roadsides.  It has to be good for you to be surrounded with beauty for a day, in the presence of happy people having a good time, doing what they enjoy, with people they love.  A field full of flowers is a wonderful reminder of peace and abundance.  The sight changes you.

This year, I shared my wildflower quest with the world, via social media. I hadn’t really planned to — it just happened. I posted a link to the lone-star.net map on Twitter, and got picked up by USWildflowers.com. Although Chris has a wonderful Nikon digital camera, we took most of our photos with our smartphones.  I was able to chronicle our trip in real time by sending the photos and captions via text message, and posting them on Tweetphoto, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. (You can view the entire album of 20 photos here.) Snapping, texting, tweeting: I felt like a travel writer!

My updates from the road are only interesting to — well, people who are interested.  However, via social media, you can find people who are interested  in anything you are.  As of this morning, almost 26,000 photos with the tag “Texas Wildflowers” have been uploaded to Flickr!  I found out (too late) that a friend of ours was in Industry as we passed through; and we received several suggestions of good BBQ places when I tweeted that our favorite roadhouse in LaGrange had closed.  Being connected to the larger world helped to enhance our experience.  Connecting in the digital world did not take us out of the present, embodied experience.  Strangers snapped photos of other strangers, swapping cameras and smiles, under the influence of intoxicating floral scents and dazzling colors. People come together around shared interests.

Shared interests brings us back to the Feldenkrais Method.  Devotees of this form of movement education, which gently and effectively improves “body intelligence” to reduce pain and improve skills, are every bit as rabid as wildflower hunters.  Some are there with a specific goal in mind (“make sure she keeps her hat on in the picture” for the flower children, or “get my shoulder to stop hurting” for the movers).  Some are there for pure pleasure, and some can’t help but share their experience with you.  Both groups are known for being curious, for “pulling off the road” to stop and notice the fascinating and precious details that add wonder, meaning, and joy to life.  Watch out for the traffic whizzing by.  Some folks don’t slow down, and they don’t know what they miss.

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When Everything Is New

2001-2002 Mitsubishi Montero photographed in USA.
Image via Wikipedia

It has been a week of many changes.

My first blog, in 2005, was called “Embracing Change.”  The past week has been so full, I wonder if my arms can encircle all of it!

Three weeks after a wreck which totaled my car (but thankfully resulted in no serious injuries), I purchased a new vehicle.  My Mitsubishi Montero captures the essence of what I wanted — to have good visibility, safety, reasonable fuel economy, plenty of cargo space, lower mileage, and a little something unexpected.  The unexpected is that I came in “on time and under budget,” with four-wheel drive and a sun roof!  The Feldenkrais bumper sticker (purple and white, “movement is life”) looks good, and “Mitsi” already knows the way home.  A new car marks the beginning of a new era.

Some of my most powerful and transformational dreams have featured transportation.  As I type, it seems obvious:  the prefix “trans,” meaning “across,” coupled with “Formation;”  that which is the essence of a building character; and “Portation,”  the way one carries oneself from Point A to Point B.  Dreams of travel on a train, chugging down the track with countless faceless others, brought to awareness my desire to be an individual and go my own way.  Dreams of cars, or an “auto-mobile” or “Self- mover,” always focused my attention on where I was going in life, and how I was going about getting there.  When dreams and reality converge, new possibilities emerge.

Our cats have been different this week.  Perhaps it has been the unpredictable weather and big temperature swings:  the cats have wanted full-body contact and companionship.  Most cats are “cool,” aloof, and disinterested.  Not ours! Serving cheerfully as our courteous and professional staff, they thrive on attention, just as humans do.  Companion animals are so delightful, and time spent with them can lower your blood pressure and stress levels.  There’s a special sweetness and resonance to inter-species bonding.  Bean and Yoda’s behaviors are an endless source of amusement and novelty, not to mention sheer silliness.  Silliness is the great equalizer, and adjuster of perspective.  It’s hard to be self-absorbed, serious, and self important when a pet is trying to sit on your head.  Deal with it.  It will make you a better person.

Spring comes to Houston.  New ideas and new energy abound.  From community initiatives like the “#SLGT Support Local, Grow Together” movement, to the SXSW conference in Austin, to the new Feldenkrais training which will begin here in May, there is much that is new.  New ideas come from imagination.  Your imagination is your greatest asset.  It’s working all the time, so put it to use!  Focus your energies and attention on imagining what you want, rather than what you don’t want.  YOU control your imagination, so it can function as a compass to point you in the direction of accomplishment and achievement.

Unfortunately, many people don’t define themselves as “imaginative.”  What they don’t know is that imagination always has roots in reality.  Feldenkrais lessons help you to develop this resource by re-connecting you to your innate abilities to move, sense, think, and feel.  You’ll be surprised at how much feels brand new.  Seems appropriate for Spring, doesn’t it?

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