Sunday, January 30, 2011

Just Do It (but be aware of what you are doing)

This slogan may be the reason for Nike’s great success. It has encouraged millions of people to go out and create their own adventures (while suggesting the right Nike shoe makes anything is possible). Can a marketing slogan really make our lives better? I believe it can.

What is it that gets one person in the game while the other sits on the sideline? The answer may be in the self-image. The self-image is how we see and think about ourselves. This (as Sheldon soon learns) will have a major influence how we act.

The Lost Big Bang Episode: Sheldon On the Run

Act 1
(Fade in to the kitchen where we see Leonard eating Space Balls cereal. Sheldon enters).

This is unauthorized laboratory material.


The Born to Run Book in the bathroom.

Oh, that. I though it was a critical work of a Modern American Composer and the traditional American themes found in his music. But it’s only about running.

Well it is preposterous. The author has the nerve to suggest that modern man did not out think but out ran Neanderthal man for survival. Do you believe that?

It worked for me in high school.

(The doorbell rings, Sheldon leaves the kitchen to answer the door. It is Leonard’s former girlfriend, Penny).

Greetings Penny, surely you could have outrun the Neanderthals.

What this about?

(Leonard enters the living room)

Sheldon is trying to calculate how running is involved in the evolution equation.

This does call for an experiment. I will need a control group, people willing to subject themselves to the torture of running and a few jocks for the athletic department.

Why don’t you just run?

It’s so simple, yet such an elegant solution.

Just Do It.

(Picture fades to black)

Stay turned to part two.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Incompatibility Issues in the Information Age

Millions of years of evolution has created and shaped our bodies. While our bodies have changed little in the last 200,000 year, our lifestyle is dramatically different. For 95% of our existence we lived as hunters and gathers. At this time technology consisted of only the control use of fire and crude tools. It was a harsh life that did not last much more than 30 years.

As our technology improved so did our lifespan. The Bronze Age (about 5000 years ago) showed great improvement in man's progress. Now man could grow his own food and domesticate animals. Tools were becoming more sophisticated and made from more durable metals. These advances increase the average life by ten to 30 years.

In the early part of the Information Age (30 years ago), the average American lifespan was almost two and half times more than our early ancestors. It was not uncommon for people to live 90 or more years. It would not be unreasonable to think the average lifespan would soon each 100 years. Yet in recent years a new phenomenon is occurring, the American lifespan is decreasing.

For the first time in more than 200 years, children are not expected to live as long as their parents. The rapid rise of childhood obesity is expected to shorten lives. Diseases (type II diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure and cancer) associated with obesity are likely to strike younger ages leading to earlier deaths.

Why are our lives so radically different from 30 to 40 years ago? What can we do about it? In the next few blogs we will explore incompatibility issues of eating, moving and plugging into the virtual world.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Easy Turning Lesson

Here is a easy lesson that will help you experience the feeling of a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lesson.

1. Sit on the forward part of the chair and rest your hands on your thighs. Your feet are flat on the floor and are directly under your knees.

1a. Slowly turn your upper body to look a little toward the rest.
• Just do what is small, comfortable and easy.
• Keep the feet flat on the floor.
• Make a mental note of how far you can see without feeling any strain.
Later you will use this reference point to measure your improvement.

1b. Focus on a spot that is straight in front of you. Keep the eyes looking straight
as you turn to the right. Then return forward and pause for a moment before
turning again. Do this several times.
• Do not use any force. Just do what is easy.
• Let the neck, shoulders, chest and legs stay soft and light.
• Notice how your upper body does not turn as much as before.

1c. This time look to the right as you turn to the right.
• Are you able to see a little further to the right?

1d. Keep your head and eyes in the middle, facing forward and slowly turn the
shoulders and upper body to the right. Do this many times.
• Move slowly and exhale as you turn to the right.
• Notice how the right shoulder is moving back and the left shoulder is moving forward.

1e. Let your eyes and head move to the right as you turn to the right. Then return
to the starting position, pause and do a few more.
• Notice how it is becoming easier and more comfortable to move to the right.

1f. Rest for a moment. You may sit back, if that is more comfortable.
• Feel the difference between the left and right shoulder.
• Does one side feel softer and lighter than the other?

2. Move to the front part of the chair. Sit tall with your feet under your knees and flat on the floor.

2a. While keeping your foot still and flat, gently move your left knee slightly
• Keep the movement small and light.
• Keep your leg and foot soft and light.
• Notice how your lower back, head and shoulders move to the right as your
left knee moves forward.

2b. Simultaneously, move your left knee forward while turning your entire upper
upper body to the right.
• Does moving the left knee forward make turning easier.
• Notice how you get a little taller as you turn.
• Exhale as your turn so your chest becomes more flexible and you may turn

2c. Sit back and rest.
• Does one side feel light, softer or different than the other.

3. Sit towards the front of your chair.

3a. Slowly turn to look toward your left.
• Keep your feet flat on the floor.
• Only go as far that is easy and comfortable.
• Make a mental note of how far you can see to the left without any strain.

3b. Keep your eyes focused on a spot straight ahead. Keep the eyes centered on
this spot as you turn your head and upper body to the left.
• Release any strain in your face, neck and shoulders.
• Notice how keeping the eyes still reduces your ability to turn.

3c. Let your eyes lead the movement as you turn your head and torso to the left.
• Just do what is easy.
• Are you able to see a little further to the left.

3d. Keep your head and eyes in the middle, facing forward, while you slowly turn
your shoulders and torso to the left.
• Remember to breathe naturally.
• Feel how your left shoulder moves back and how your right shoulder moves forward.

3e. Again, look to the left as you turn the head and torso to the left.
• Is it easier to turn?
• Are you able to see a little further?

3f. While keeping your feet flat on the floor, move your right knee a little forward.
• After each movement, let your knee move back to the starting position.
• Do not push the knee forward with the right foot.
• Feel how the knee moves the pelvis forward.
• Let the right leg stay soft and at ease as the knee moves forward.
• Notice how your lower back, head and shoulders turn to slightly to the left as the right knee moves forward.

3g. While moving the right knee forward turn your head and torso to the left.
• Notice how you get a little taller as you turn left.
• Feel how the knee moves the pelvis, the pelvis turns the spine and the spine turns the head.
• Notice how easy it is to turn and how much further you can go.

3h. Sit back on your chair and rest.
• Does your right side feel different than before.

4. Move towards the front of your chair.

4a. Move your left knee slightly forward while slowly turning your entire upper
to the right. Then while returning, move through the starting position while you
move your right knee a little forward and turn towards your left. Do this several
• Make this movement smooth and continuous.
• Let your hands slide on your thighs as you turn from side to side.
• Let the legs stay soft and at ease.

4b. Keep your head and eyes centered and still, as you turn your torso from side to
• Breathe freely.
• Keep your feet flat on the floor.
• Use as little effort as possible.

4c. Now let your head and eyes lead the movement of turning side to side.
• As you turn right, notice how the left should moves forward and the right shoulder moves back.
• As you turn left, feel how the right shoulder moves forward the left shoulder moves back.
• Feel how you can easily turn more to each side.

4d. Alternately, turn your pelvis and upper body to the right while turning your head
and eyes to the left. Then as you turn your pelvis and torso to the left, turn the
head and eyes to the right.
• Your head and torso are moving in opposition.
• Feel how your chin moves to your left shoulder as you turn right and how the chin moves to the right shoulder as you turn left.
• Do this very slowly and easily.
• Less strain or stress will create greater improvement.
• Release any tension in the eyes, jaw, neck or shoulders.

4e. Now let’s see how much you have improved. Move the left knee forward as you
Turn your whole body to the right as far as possible without strain. Then return
Go through the middle as you move the right knee a bit forward and turn to the
• Notice how much further you can see without making any additional effort.
• Feel how much easier it is to turn.

5. Notice if the sensation of sitting is any different.
• Is your weight more balanced on your sitting bones?
• Do you feel a little taller?
• Does you back feel a little more arched?

6. Take a moment to stand. Do you feel taller?

6a. Turn to the right, then go back to the middle, pause, and turn left.
• Does this feel different?
6b. Walk around the room.
• Do you feel lighter?
• Is it easier to do?

Friday, January 1, 2010


“All descriptions of reality are limited expressions of the world of emptiness. Yet we attach to the descriptions and think they are reality. That is a mistake.” Shunryu Suzuki

“What do you do?”

“I am a Feldenkrais Practitioner”


During my training, we were told there would be some Feldenkrais confusion. One Trainer told a humorous story to help prepare us for such moments. He was walking in Berkeley when he saw an interesting sign. He asked someone on the street what the sign was advertising? The answer was a gay bathhouse. He told us as future practitioners, we needed to be able to explain the Feldenkrais Method with the same type of simplicity and clarity.

In truth, I am still searching for an enlightened yet concise response to Feldenwhat. At first I used, Feldenkrais is a method that uses movement to teach self-improvement, which creates an image of Richard Simmons crossed with Dr. Phil. While it is somewhat entertaining to think about, it is more than a little confusing. It generates more questions than it answers.

Perhaps the best definition of Feldenkrais is one that is empty. We tend to think of empty as nothing, because it is undefined. But emptiness is free from one’s preconceived ideas and concepts. Think of the Feldenkrais Method as an empty cup. If we fill the cup with orange juice, we think Feldenkrais is orange juice. If the cup remains empty, it has numberless possibilities (oj, apple juice, milk, water, gas, tea, etc.). By not defining Feldenkrais, one’s experience is more open. That way it is not put into a box with movement therapy or bodywork.

It is interesting to hear people’s experience with the Feldenkrais Method. I often hear ideas and comments that are new to me. While the Feldenkrais themes are common, we all respond to it in unique and individual ways.

Now when I hear Feldenwhat, I ask the person what they enjoy doing. Then I tell them how Feldenkrais will teach them to do it better. Hopefully, I am able to intrigue them enough to visit an ATM class or make an FI appointment. As an old Chinese saying goes:
“I hear and forget.
I see and remember.
I do and understand.”

For more information about the Feldenkrais Method visit:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Zen Master Peaches

Almost every Zendo has a stick. Although it is mostly ceremonial, there are still plenty of old school teachers who use it. Unlike Catholic nuns, the stick is not meant to strike the fear of God or Buddha into you. The stereotypical nun, with sadistic pleasure, will make you wait and squirm before administering the wrath of God. In the Zendo, you never see it coming.

The stick in Zen is more of a rude awakening than punishment. It is not painful (when done properly). A couple of good taps and the meditating daydreamer is shocked back into the reality of moment. To keep still and present, one needs all the help they can get.

The goal is to take the practice zazen (sitting meditation) into life. This, of course is much easier said than done. As a beginning student, I had no idea how to start. Then I realized that a Zen Master lives in my home.

Peaches has lived with us for 12 ½ years. He is a Goffins Cockatoo parrot. Like most children and animals, Peaches lives purely in the moment and has no need for koans, chants, or incense. Nature has give Peaches all the tools of a good teacher, intelligence (parrots are as smart as 5 year old children) and perseverance. Peaches believes if you squawk loud enough there is no need for a stick.

Whenever I drift away, (I prefer to think of it as being deep in thought) Peaches will let out a monster squawk that instantly brings me back to the present moment. Try to avoid or humor him and he turns up the volume. He is fully present and expects you to be the same. When you are fully engaged with Peaches, he rewards you with songs and games.

It is easy to be blissful when the conditions are perfect. The true Zen Master is blissful even when things have done to hell. Getting angry at traffic jams or endless meetings is non-acceptance of a current reality. These are the opportunities to let go of wants and be with what is. SQUAWK! Got to go, time for another lesson.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Little Bit of Something Is Better Than A Lot of Nothing

We all know diet and exercise are essential for good health. Yet, two out of three Americans are overweight. You don't have to be Einstein to figure out that most people have problems starting or staying on their fitness program. Research exercise and you will find these common recommendations: 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise for four to five days a week, 20 to 30 minutes of strength training and 10 to 15 minutes of stretching. That is more exercise than some people have done in the last decade. No wonder more than half of those new to exercise drop out after a few weeks of training.

Instead of trying to do everything, how about doing a little bit of exercising (something). You will still have plenty of time for watching a lot TV or surfing the net (nothing- at least in terms of movement). Really, start by doing less than you can. If walking is too hard; use an exercise bike. If the upright bike is uncomfortable, use the recumbent one. If it's too hard to ride at level 1, then pedal it without turning it on. If ten minutes is too much, only do five. It really doesn't matter how much you do, just that you start. For the first few weeks, leave the gym with the feeling that you could have done more.

To be successful you have to survive the first month of training. In the beginning, your subconscious will try to sabotage your efforts. You will create a million excuses for skipping workouts. Making workouts easy and enjoyable will help you get through them. When you start a program, consistency is more important than effort. After 30 days your subconscious gets into the program and becomes your ally. You actually look forward to workouts and feel guilty if you miss one.

One of the simplest exercise programs is 10,000 steps per day. All you need is a pedometer to track your steps. 10,000 steps are about 5 miles of walking, which may be unrealistic for most beginners. So instead of scrapping the whole idea and doing nothing, begin with a little bit of walking. Here is how to do it:

1. Use your pedometer to track your total number of daily steps for 3 consecutive days (most people tend to walk between 900 and 3000 in normal daily activities). Add them together and divide by 3 to get your average steps per day. For example:

950 + 1050 + 1000 = 3000/3 = 1000

2. Add 10% of your average steps to your daily walking.

1000 + 100 = 1100

For the next two to three days, walk for 1100 steps.

3. If this feels easy add another hundred steps and do that for few days.

4. If you can walk without strain or discomfort, keep adding 100 steps every day or two.

5. In two to three weeks, you will have doubled the amount of steps on your daily walk. That is great improvement.

6. By taking your time and doing just a little bit more every few days, you will ultimately reach your goal. After the first month, you will be close to 5000 steps. After two months, you will be closing in on 10,000 steps.

The journey to better health can start with just a single step. Use this moment to take that first step. Be consistent and build on it. All those little somethings will add up to a better you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What's In the Name

Moving into the moment. This name came immediately after I decided to write a blog. It is more of words to live by than a philosophy. Each word has special significance on its own and together they offer endless possibilities.

Moving is, of course, the process of movement. Movement is important to this blog because of its value for self improvement. Moshe Feldenkrais believed movement to be the most simple and direct method of enriching ourselves. His reasons were:

1. The nervous system is occupied mainly with movement- Movement occupies the nervous system more than anything else because we cannot sense, feel, or think without a many-sided and elaborate series of actions to maintain [our self against the pull of gravity]
2. It is easier to distinguish the quality of movement- We know more clearly and certainly about the organization of the body against the pull of gravity than we do about the other components [feelings, thoughts and sensations].
3. We have a richer experience of movement- We all have more experience with movement and more capacity for it, than of feelings and thoughts.
4. The ability to move is important to self-value- A person’s physical build and his ability to move are probably more important to his self-image than anything else.
5. All muscular activity is movement- Every action [seeing, talking hearing] originates in muscular activity.
6. Movements reflect the state of the nervous system- The muscles contract as a result of an unending series of impulses from the nervous system; for this reason the muscular pattern of the upright position, facial expression and voice reflect the condition of the nervous system.
7. Movement is the basis of awareness- We know what is happening with us as soon as the muscles of our face, heart or breathing apparatus organize themselves into patterns, known to us as fear, anxiety, laughter, or any other feeling.
8. Breathing is movement- Our breathing reflects every emotional or physical effort and every disturbance.
9. Hinges of habit- [When] habit has lost its chief support, that of the muscles; [it] becomes more amenable to change.”
Edited from Moshe Feldenkrais book, Awareness Through Movement pages 33-39

Movement is integrated into everything we do. As it says on my business cards, "Improve movement, improve life".

My use of "into" is important. Into implies awareness where in does not. I could move in this moment and have no idea what am doing (particularly if I am asleep). Therefore, into is being aware of one's actions in the moment. A Zen Master knows this as "being present" and athletes refer to it as "being in the zone".

According to the Soto Zen Buddhism tradition, there are 6,400,099,180 moments in a day. I don't know how they came up with the number, but it does give you a lot of time to get things done. I prefer to think of a moment as the here and now. Our power is in the moment; it is the only time in which we can act.

Moving into the moment is the process of being aware of how you live in each instant or more simply, "what's up". It is how we improve. It is where we find joy and happiness.