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Not Yours. Not Mine.

Not in a place, not in a space,
Not a person, not a thing,
Not a ping or a pong,
Not the soundless sounding of a gong.
Not a word, surely not absurd.

Don’t look.
You’ll not come across it in a book.

Don’t seek,
And you will find,
It is not yours, not mine.

It has no foes, woes, or toes.
There – off it goes!

It hates to sit.
Does not come in a kit.
Some think it illegit.
About to quit?

It’s a zone…where you are not alone.
It’s a ball…floating through us all.
It’s a climate…of refinement.
It’s a breeze…full of ease.

It’s changeable as the weather.
Totally untethered, soft as a feather,
Like a field of heather.

Nowhere does it dwell.
It’s like a well, but without the well.
Well, well, well…impossible to tell.

It is…it is…it is.

Towards A Free Future

 

Photo: B. Fertman

 “Structure is the record of past function. Function is the source of future structures.” Ludwig von Bertalanffy.

Joyful Neutrality

It’s Wednesday afternoon. Every Wednesday at 3pm I pick up my son, Noah, at his school and, as we drive to soccer practice, I try to strike up a conversation with him, which is not easy. I then go to the co-op and pick up some food for dinner. After that I go to the barn and watch Eva, my daughter, ride. Eva spends most afternoons cleaning out stalls and caring for horses in exchange for riding lessons. Eva and I then drive to pick up Noah from practice, Eva talking non-stop, my not getting a word in edgewise. Noah and Eva both jump into the back seat and, depending on God knows what, either act as if they love each other or hate each other. We get home. I walk straight into the kitchen and start preparing dinner. That’s how it is, every Wednesday afternoon.

It’s 2:55pm. Prying myself away from my computer, I jump into my aging Suburu and, almost at Noah’s school, I remember that this morning, as I was packing lunch for the kids, my wife and I decided that today she would take Noah to soccer practice, get some food for dinner, go watch Eva ride, and then pick up Noah, because today I needed to pick up my Dad at 3pm, take him into center city to see his orthopedic surgeon in preparation for his second hip replacement.

There I was driving 180% in the wrong direction, driving to pick up my son when I needed to be driving to pick up my dad! Not only was my car on automatic, I was on automatic, doing what I always do on Wednesday afternoons. Actually, I was unaware of driving at all. I had, for all practical purposes, become an automaton.

That’s how it is for so many of us, so much of the time, when making the bed, when taking a shower, brushing our teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast, driving to work. We do the same things in exactly the same ways, over and over again, not only inside of our everyday activities, but within our relationships as well. The same buttons get pushed, the same reactions triggered.

The eternal recurrence of the same.

Instead of going “Back To The Future”, we’re going “Forward To The Past”. Is it possible to go forward into a free future, a future not utterly determined by the past? How do we become conscious of our unconsciousness, of when we are living on automatic, which, in essence, amounts to life unlived?

Returning to our car metaphor, it’s as if our car were stuck in second gear. We cannot slow down and we can’t speed up. We’re not adapting well to varying conditions. Too few options. To make matters worse, unbeknownst to us, we’ve got our emergency break half way on. We’re trying to go forward but it feels like something is holding us back. How can we release the emergency break when we don’t know it is on? How can we learn to slide out of second and slip into neutral? Into joyful neutrality.

That’s what I call it because after spending years unknowingly driving around with our emergency break half engaged while stuck in second gear, and then, suddenly experiencing what it feels like when our emergency break is released and we slide into neutral is joyful. We feel loose, free. We’re moving effortlessly.  (Alexander realized that, physiologically, the emergency brake is located primarily in the neck.)

Now to get anywhere, we are going to have to shift back into gear, but now we’ve got four or five gears available to us and we know how to slide back and forth into neutral whenever we want. And we know how to check and see if our emergency break is on, and if it is, we know how to release it.

The Diamond

F.M. Alexander used a different metaphor. Imagine a turntable and on it a record. Around and around the record goes, and on it, in one groove, a diamond needle sits always and forever in the same groove.

The eternal recurrence of the same.

Alexander discovered how to, ever so gently, suspend the diamond needle above the record. This moment of suspension, of disengagement, is a profound relief. Silence. Stillness. Space. Perspective.

And within this moment there is choice, free will. It’s what I call the moment of opportunity. Alexander referred to it as the critical moment. It’s the moment when we are free to decide. Where do we want to place the diamond needle, back into the groove from where it came or into a different groove, one where we have been, or one where we have yet to be? Or do we want to replace it back at all? In that moment of suspension we are free to choose.

When the diamond needle returns there’s a new lightness to it all. We’re in contact, yet afloat. We’re no longer digging in.

What if we were to follow this metaphor and see where it leads us?

The stereo and the turntable is our body, our life force going round and round. The record is our genetic make up, where we were born, when, and to whom, factors beyond our control.

We are the masters making our master recording. Each of us gets one chance to compose and record one simple melody.

The diamond needle is the conductor between free will and determinism, between what was given and what we will choose to give.

Are we listening?

Can we hear when the diamond needle gets stuck? Or skips? Can we hear when it’s time to wipe the dust from the record, or from the diamond needle? Is the volume too loud, or too soft? Is there balance between treble and bass?

Are we listening?

At some point the diamond needle reaches the end of the record. On its own, it lifts itself off the record, returning from whence it came. The arm silently settles and rests in the armrest. The turntable stops turning. All is quiet, and still.

Are we listening?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Not?

 

Gate House at Gaunts House, Dorset, England

Why not? Why not allow Alexander Alliance Post Graduate teachers in England to study for free inside of our Alexander Alliance Post Graduate Program in Switzerland? Why not? And why not allow Alexander Alliance Post Graduate teachers in Switzerland to study for free inside of our program in England?

After all, all of them are Alexander teachers sincerely interested in expanding and honing their teaching skills. It’s fun to travel. It’s enriching to meet, work, and make friends with Alexander teachers from other countries.

The Alexander Alliance International is founded upon a vision of an intergenerational, multicultural community/school centered around the work of F.M. Alexander, a vision I had 45 years ago. That vision has become a reality.

Home of the Alexander Alliance Germany

Some Alexander Alliance Post Graduates have also begun participating in retreat trainings at the Alexander Alliance Germany. They get to do that at half the cost because having the post graduates contributes to the training of our trainees. So everyone wins. That’s what we want.

So, if you are considering joining either our Post Graduate Program in England or Switzerland, know that all of this is also available to you.

Email me at bf@brucefertman is you have any questions.

If you are interested in our England program email Ruth Davis at  ruth.a.davis@me.com.

If you are interested in our Swiss program email Magdalena Gassner at alexander.technik@gmx.ch

 

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Downtown, Zurich.

Hopefully I will see you in October in Dorset, or in November in Zurich.

Yours,

Bruce Fertman, for the Alexander Alliance International

 

A Workshop For Alexander Teachers and Trainees – From Here To Really Here – November 11, 2017 – Zurich, Switzerland

Inhibition and Direction go together like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, like Abbott and Costello, like Batman and Robin, like Tonto and the Lone Ranger.

Like Yin and Yang. Actually a lot like yin and yang. First there is nothing and then there is something. First there was evening and then morning. Inhibition and Direction.

On November 11th we will spend a whole day together playing with a number of directional systems, all variations on a theme, that theme being Alexander’s classical directions.

According to F.M., as we all know, direction is…the process involved in projecting messages from the brain to the mechanisms and in conducting the energy necessary to the use of those mechanism.

My imagistic mind sees a bottle floating up on the shore and in the bottle hides a message. Imagine the message as a map, directions, or instructions giving us a hint as to how to get from here to really here. The message may be communicated via words, but may be communicated non-verbally as well, geometrically or graphically. The message, in whatever form, excites us, energizes us and off we go in some direction toward our destination, from here to really here.

Join me for a day of improvising with helical, spherical, anatomical, verbal, imagistic, and spatial expressions of Alexander’s classical directions.

Bruce Fertman

About Bruce Fertman

Bruce Fertman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He is the embodiment of his work. His touch is like a butterfly settling down on the very turning point of your soul. And then you know, “That’s who I am, that is who I could be.”

M. Tueshaus, Alexander Teacher / Tango Teacher/ Equestrian

Bruce has been using his hands, helping people to move well, for fifty-five years. He trained with five first generation Alexander teachers: Catherine Merrick Wielopolska, Marjorie L. Barstow, Richard M. Gummere Jr., Elisabeth Walker, and Erika Whittaker. Bruce brings a lifetime of training as a movement artist and educator to his work as an Alexander teacher, having trained in Gymnastics, Modern Dance, Ballet, Contact Improvisation, Tai Chi Chu’an, Aikido, Chanoyu, Argentine Tango, and Kyudo. In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school. Currently director of the Alexander Alliance Germany, Bruce also teaches annually for Alexander Alliance training programs in Japan, Korea, and America. He conducts post graduate training programs in Dorset and Zurich. Currently, Bruce is near completion of Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart – Delving Into The Work Of F.M. Alexander, which will soon be published by Mouritz press.

Gone is the straight-lined striving, the stopping and oughting. Instead curiosity, inquisitiveness, and permission to experiment, to play, to open boxes and to climb out of them into a world of possibility – a world both soft and strong. And all this through a quiet power, an exquisite touch, a clarity of speech, and a wealth of wisdom. For me, Bruce’s work is more than exciting; it is important, both to the world and to anyone involved in any way with Alexander’s Technique.

A. Turner – Alexander Technique Teacher
Cornwall, England

One of the foremost representatives of Marjorie Barstow’s lineage, Bruce’s work is unique and innovative. Bruce is especially gifted when it comes to teaching in groups. He’s a philosopher, poet and writer who gives voice to what is wonderful about the Alexander Technique.

Michael Frederick – Founding Director of the International Congresses for the Alexander Technique

For information and to register contact

Magdalena Gassner

at

alexander.technik@gmx.ch 

Alexander Work in Everyday Life Situations – Led by Robyn Avalon – Saturday, September 23, 2017 in Zurich  

It is one thing to notice yourself and the quality of your ease when you are meditating, having an Alexander lesson, enjoying a sunset, or when taking ‘time out’ to slow down and pay attention to your patterns and choices. But life rarely moves that slowly.

Life happens in real time and in real situations. Every interaction and activity happens in it’s own context, containing the full range of personal history and emotional complexity. There are deadlines and expectations, challenging negotiations and logistical elements beyond your control. Wouldn’t it be useful to have the tools to come back to your center when right in the midst of the storm?

In this experiential workshop you will learn how to use the seeming chaos of the moment to bring yourself back to a state of ease and alertness, ultimately allowing yourself to make clear and conscious choices in any situation. Please think of life situations which you find challenging before attending this workshop and we will work with your material directly during class time.

Who Is This Workshop For?

This class is open to everyone.

If you are new to Alexander Work, this workshop will offer you tools for finding support, both physical and emotional, in trigger situations in your life.

If you are an Alexander Teacher, Trainee, or Student, you will learn how to apply the Work beyond the conscious biomechanics of activities into the complexities of real life.

About Robyn

Robyn is by far the most down to earth visionary I know. Fearlessly and lovingly she constantly pushes borders within herself and others. Her teaching is based on seemingly infinite knowledge and driven by sharp instincts. She creates exceptionally safe playgrounds in which limiting belief systems drop away like worn out clothes. With her everything becomes easy, exciting, meaningful, and definitely more fun. Magically, the impossible becomes possible.

Margarete Tueshaus – Alexander Teacher, ATVD, Tango Teacher, Equestrian

Robyn has been a student of FM Alexander’s Work for over 40 years. She is the Founding Director of the Contemporary Alexander School, the USA branch of Alexander Alliance International, offering Alexander Technique Teacher Training in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Portland, Oregon, as well as being on the Core Faculty of the AAI German and Japan schools since their inception. In the summers she is on the faculty of the renowned Meadowmount School of Music. In addition to training teachers, Robyn travels the world offering beginner through post-graduate workshops in a contemporary presentation of Alexander’s Principles.

In addition to Alexander Workshops, Robyn offers workshops and trainings that support educators in all fields. She is the creator of Living in a Body™: The Quintessential Owner’s Guide to Natural Movement. This body mapping professional certification course is offered worldwide, with translations available in English, Japanese, German and French. She also offers an ongoing series of post-graduate workshops, Ways of Knowing, which provide tools for accessing and incorporating intuition and imagination in the educational process.

Robyn especially enjoys bringing Alexander’s Work to a wide range of people. With her own extensive background in professional theater and dance, Robyn is most at home when offering the Work to many of the world’s leading orchestras, chamber ensembles, dance, theater, and opera companies, and circuses. But she is equally comfortable teaching in an Olympic equestrian arena, for the Ladies PGA, or at a meeting of the world’s top cardiac surgeons. Her private practice incorporates a unique blend of Contemporary Alexander, Cranial Sacral, Visceral Unwinding, Deep Imagery, Matrix Energetics®, and a life-long study of varied intuitive skills, to create a unique somatic experience. She enjoys teaching the very young and the very old, the absolute beginners and the masters, and everyone in between.

Workshop Details

No prior experience necessary.
People of all ages welcome.
Limited number of participants.

Date: 23.09.2017, 10am – 6pm

Location: Technopark Zurich (close to train stop Hardbrücke)

Course fee: CHF 160.- (Students CHF 125.-)

Workshop language: English (translation to German)

Individual lessons (CHF 110.-/45ˈ) can be arranged on Thursday 21.09., Friday 22.09. and Monday 25.09.2017.
Additionally, Robyn will give a workshop entitled „Alexander Games“ on Sunday, 24.09.2017. If you are curious, ask for more information!

Organizers and assistant teachers: Magdalena and Johannes Gassner

For more information and to register call +41 (0)77 475 50 27 or write to alexander.technik@gmx.ch.

To learn more about Robyn and the Alexander Alliance:

http://www.contemporaryalexander.com
robyn@contemporaryalexander.com
http://www.peacefulbodyschool.com

Alexander Games – Led by Robyn Avalon – Sunday, September 24, 2017 in Zurich

What do these experiences have in common?

Being a dinosaur with a ponytail and long wings walking on the beach.

Finding support on a crowded Tokyo subway.

Asking a chauffeur to drive you to a new place.

Being a neck, negotiating between a heavy head and a sleepy body.

They are all part of group games designed to teach Alexander’s principles.

How do these playful moments help introduce Alexander’s Work?

Students have the opportunity to notice their habitual patterns, as well as ways to return to their innate coordination and grace; they gain both an understanding and experience of AT basics such as primary movement and inhibition; and they can directly feel how Alexander’s Work can offer them grace and ease in their life.

In this lively and experiential workshop, you will learn group and partner games which effectively offer people a direct, clear, and meaningful experience of Alexander’s Principles. You will also learn the essential tools for teaching in groups settings. Group teaching is fundamentally different than teaching individuals, and, as such, it requires it’s own skills.

You will learn how to get people moving, seeing, sensing, and thinking; how to create profound private moments in a group setting; how to keep the momentum and balance needed for group learning; and how to offer a clear, lively, meaningful experience of the Principles and tools with which we study them to a group.

We will both play and analyze these games, offering you the opportunity to experience them as a student, as well as learn how they are crafted and why they work! These Alexander Games have been crafted and taught for over 30 years in hundreds of workshops worldwide. Why not add them to your teaching toolbox!

Who Is This Workshop For?

This workshop is ideal for Alexander Teachers and Trainees as well as everyone else. It is a fun and informative way to experience the power of Alexander Work.

About Robyn

Robyn has been a student of FM Alexander’s Work for over 40 years. She is the Founding Director of the Contemporary Alexander School, the USA branch of Alexander Alliance International, offering Alexander Technique Teacher Training in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Portland, Oregon, as well as being on the Core Faculty of the AAI German and Japan schools since their inception. In the summers she is on the faculty of the renowned Meadowmount School of Music. In addition to training teachers, Robyn travels the world offering beginner through post-graduate workshops in a contemporary presentation of Alexander’s Principles.

In addition to Alexander Workshops, Robyn offers workshops and trainings that support educators in all fields. She is the creator of Living in a Body™: The Quintessential Owner’s Guide to Natural Movement. This body mapping professional certification course is offered worldwide, with translations available in English, Japanese, German and French. She also offers an ongoing series of post-graduate workshops, Ways of Knowing, which provide tools for accessing and incorporating intuition and imagination in the educational process.

Robyn especially enjoys bringing Alexander’s Work to a wide range of people. With her own extensive background in professional theater and dance, Robyn is most at home when offering the Work to many of the world’s leading orchestras, chamber ensembles, dance, theater, and opera companies, and circuses. But she is equally comfortable teaching in an Olympic equestrian arena, for the Ladies PGA, or at a meeting of the world’s top cardiac surgeons. Her private practice incorporates a unique blend of Contemporary Alexander, Cranial Sacral, Visceral Unwinding, Deep Imagery, Matrix Energetics®, and a life-long study of varied intuitive skills, to create a unique somatic experience. She enjoys teaching the very young and the very old, the absolute beginners and the masters, and everyone in between.

Incredibly broad knowledge, clear, to the point and exact, incredible energy, incredibly kind and loving,  profound and playful – that´s Robyn. 

Knowing Robyn has changed my life, given me more freedom and joy. Robyn has opened a whole new world of possibilities for me. She´s the Queen of Group teaching. If you want to learn to enjoy what you do, she is the one you want to meet. Robyn teaches ease, grace, high performance, curiosity and freedom. Her enthusiasm is contagious.

Marieke Klemm, MD, Alexander Technique Teacher

Workshop Details

 No prior experience necessary.

People of all ages welcome.

Limited number of participants.

Date: 24.09.2017, 10am – 6pm

Location: Technopark Zurich (close to train stop Hardbrücke)

Course fee: CHF 160.- (Students CHF 125.-)

Workshop language: English (translation to German)

Individual lessons (CHF 110.-/45ˈ) can be arranged on Thursday 21.09., Friday 22.09. & Monday 25.09.2017.

Additionally, Robyn will give a workshop entitled „Alexander Work in Everyday Life Situations“ on Saturday, 23.09.2017.

Organizers and assistant teachers: Magdalena and Johannes Gassner

For more information and to register call +41 (0)77 475 50 27 or write to alexander.technik@gmx.ch.

To learn more about Robyn and the Alexander Alliance:

http://www.contemporaryalexander.com

robyn@contemporaryalexander.com

http://www.peacefulbodyschool.com

A Place Where Any Alexander Teacher Can…

 

Photo: B. Fertman – Wheeler Peak, NM.

A place where any alexander teacher can post an announcement or flyer promoting themselves as an AT teacher, their work, their website, their blog, their studio, upcoming classes, workshops, retreats, or trainings.

That’s the first goal.

Here is why it’s important that we have a place for this.

Most of us want to succeed at what we want to do, which is teaching AT. The only way to get really good at something is to practice it a lot. So, if we want to become good at teaching AT, we have to have students with whom to practice. Without students we can’t practice, and without practice we can’t get good, and if we are not good…well, you see where I am going. Without students, becoming the AT teacher we always wanted to be never gets off the ground.

Okay. We need to get students with whom we can practice. How do we do that? How can this group be of help to us, that is, how can we be of help to one another? That is really the question at hand.

Here’s how.

One. A person places an announcement or flyer onto the site.

Two. We read it.

Three. We decide, for whatever reasons, that we would like to support this person in their effort, or not.

Four. If we want to help this person, we share her/his announcement on our timeline and write some words of support. Perhaps we send it directly to a few people whom we think may be especially interested in this person and what they have to offer.

By doing so we may have just helped a fellow Alexander teacher, whose work we value, get a student, which means getting a chance to practice, which means getting closer to becoming the AT teacher they always wanted to be.

Now For The Second Goal

If we would like to help this person further, we can decide to give this aspiring AT teacher some constructive feedback. Tell them what we liked about their presentation of themselves and their work. We can tell them what didn’t work for us and why. Perhaps we can offer one or two suggestions, keeping in our hearts that the goal is to foster growth and success in each and every AT teacher.

Goal Three

To receive everything, one must open one’s hands and give.  – Taisen Deshimaru

Why not collectively gather actual material that we are comfortable giving away, material any AT teacher could use to help them get students?

For example, someone’s written a definition of the technique they really like and think may be helpful to other teachers. Why not let others use it?  Or someone finds an incredible photo of a beautiful athlete or artist. Or an essay that someone’s just written that is geared toward musicians or psychologists or runners. Or a testimonial from some famous person. Or a quote from a poet, philosopher, or theologian that speaks to Alexander principles like inhibition, or end-gaining, or unlearning, or non-doing, or sensory appreciation. Or some new software or program that might help us reach more people.

Practical, usable material. Free for the taking, always with one eye on the prize, and that is….getting more students, so that we can practice, so that we can get good at what we want to get good at, so that we can become the AT teacher we always wanted to be.

My First Official Offering

Writing a sound definition of the Alexander Technique has been, for me, like Jacob wrestling with the Angel. A holy ordeal. Every year I would go back to the drawing board, some years tweaking this word or that word, other years throwing everything out and starting from scratch.

Here are two attempts I found dating back over 30 years. Yep, I’ve been at this for a while.

I offer these up to our Alexander Community At Large with a deep sense of fellowship. Use them. Don’t use them. Change them, improve on them. Share your definitions with us.

Attempt One

MOVING NATURALLY – COMING TO OUR SENSES – PERCEIVING CHOICE

We are designed for movement. Whether we are dancing, hammering a nail, riding a horse, working at a computer, or singing an aria, we possess an inherent capacity to move naturally. Naturalness encourages ease, flexibility, power, and expressiveness. Unwittingly, we often interfere with our natural design. Energy, delight, and grace give way to effort, tension, and fatigue.

The Alexander Technique offers us a working knowledge of the underlying principles governing human coordination. Through study we learn how to redirect excessive tension into useful energy. We learn how to be at once relaxed and ready, soft and strong, light and substantial, firm and flexible, awake to ourselves and to the world around us.

Attempt Two

THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE 

A STUDY IN THE RESTORATION OF

EASE

…to relieve, lighten, set free

FLEXIBILITY

…freedom from stiffness and rigidity

…pliancy of mind and disposition

TONE

…the degree of firmness proper to the tissues of the body

in a strong and healthy condition

PROPORTION

…such relation between the parts of a thing

as renders the whole harmonious

RESPIRATION

…the opportunity for breathing again

SENSIBILITY

…quickness and acuteness of apprehension and feeling

FREEDOM

…the capacity for motion

…boldness and vigor of conception and execution