Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Review of Teaching by Hand/Learning by Heart by Galen Cranz

Galen Cranz

It is an honor having Dr. Galen Cranz as a member of our worldwide Alexander Community. Professor of the Graduate School in Architecture at UC Berkeley she is a sociologist and designer, as well as a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique.  She studied in San Francisco, but was certified in Thom Lemens’ four-year training course in New York City. Having specialized in how the body meets the environment, she advocates Body Conscious Design.  She is the author of The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body and Design.

Teaching By Hand, Learning By Heart: Delving into the Work of F.M. Alexander

By Bruce Fertman

Reviewed by Galen Cranz

Bruce Fertman was many things before becoming an Alexander teacher: gymnast, swim coach, martial artist (tai chi and aikido), tango dancer, movement educator, and movement artist. He brings those skills to his Alexander teaching, but he himself writes that he has transcended movement teaching to something else. In Teaching By Hand, Learning by Heart, he calls himself a metaphysician who “attends to people’s subjective sense of time and space, to their felt experience of being and becoming.”  He introduces the concept of “movement metaphor” to show that people learn more deeply if they can physically experience a principle. To demonstrate the principle that we make ourselves tense rather than a situation makes us tense, he crowds students into a subway-like space to get them to experience that they tighten their own feet, legs, pelvis, shoulders arms, throat and jaws –and that they have choice about whether or not to continue the tension.

Bruce is a skillful writer, who shows the same poetic artistry throughout his book that I have enjoyed in his blog/facebook essays. This book is not an introduction to the Alexander Technique and its 5 –or 10– basic tenets. Instead, in Part I, “The Work at Hand,” he describes how he uses paintings and the arts in his group classes to show how specific physical traits express emotion. In each short chapter he shows how he creates psychological insight regarding sport, nature, anatomy, sensory life, social biology, theology, mysticism, pottery.

Bruce believes in the importance of emotions in changing one’s physical patterns. He focuses on establishing emotional rapport, or creating emotional well-being in this clients/students before seeking to create structural alignment.

Like other skilled somatic therapists, Bruce emphasizes listening –with hands– and receiving rather than fixing a problem.  Once witnessed, a problem has a way of solving itself. Open, listening hands witness and receive information, and solutions present themselves—in new feelings, images, movements, words, and concepts.

The second half of the book, “Student-Centered Teaching,” offers stories about profound and poignant moments of transformation in his teaching practice. Examples include a frustrated math teacher, a blind singer, a man with ankylosing spondylitis, a woman suffering for her sister, tango partners, a yoga teacher, a 70 year old caretaker learning to ask for help, a child custody hearing in front of a judge, and more.

Bruce has offered story after story of insight, transcendence, hope, and healing that might inspire other teachers.  That is the ultimate measure of the success of this book: does it stimulate and educate other teachers —or is each instance too particular to Bruce or his students, or too local to Japan or Germany or Santa Fe to bring out the best in us? Thanks to one of the teachings in this book, I personally learned to think of freeing not only the top of the neck where it meets the head, but also the bottom of the neck where its muscles connect to the torso, the way a tree trunk has roots. Thus, while his synthesis of philosophy, psychology, the arts, and motor skill is unique, I choose to believe that this book encourages us to develop our own personal signatures in the way we work.

If you would like to purchase, Teaching by Hand/Learning by Heart, and you live in America, write to Jessica Rath. If you live elsewhere, write to Jean Fischer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Peek into My Next Book – The Dismantling of the Ego -Somatic Musings Inspired by and in Honor of the Work of Claudio Naranjo

 

“Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self: in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which one’s nakedness can always be felt, and, sometimes, discerned.”

 Baldwin

 

 

 

 

The Dismantling of the Ego

 Mantle derives from the Latin, mantellum, to “cloak”. So, to mantle the ego is to cover it. Once covered, we do not see it. Our own egos are somehow veiled, enshrouded, hidden from our view. To dismantle the ego is to uncover it, unveil it, to make it visible to us. This is the first step. I use the word ego colloquially. When we say someone has a big ego, or is egotistical, or egocentric we just mean that they are a bit full of themselves, preoccupied with themselves, overly centered around themselves. Once our egos are visible to us, we can take the second step of dismantling the ego. We can begin the process of deconstructing the ego, dissembling it, analyzing it, until we come to a deep understanding of what our ego is and how our particular ego operates.

As we take it apart, and begin to understand it, we find ourselves feeling better. We come to realize, sometimes suddenly, sometimes gradually, that our egos themselves have been serving as a kind of mantle, covering who we really are.

We realize that it is our ego with which we have been identifying and showing to others. It would be as if we thoroughly identified with our clothes and make up and jewelry, that we began to believe that this is who I am, this is me. We make our own “coat of many colors”, and we show this coat to the world. And then we realize that this cloak, this coat, and all these accoutrements are not us, that who we really are lives underneath this attire, in a place that we cannot see, but only sense.

This brings me back to Baldwins’ quote, which I will quote again here.

“Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self: in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which one’s nakedness can always be felt, and, sometimes, discerned.”

It is best that the garment be loose. But how do we actually do that? How do we loosen the grip our egos have over us? To be able to loosen the garment, the ego, we first must know we are wearing a garment. We must know that we have come to identify who we are with our garment. Without this recognition, we are living a life of mistaken identity. We are not who we think we are. Once we know we are wearing a garment, we can examine it, get to know it in great detail. Only then, can we figure out how to loosen it. Once loosened, we can breathe. Feeling comes back into our bodies.

There is nothing more we really have to do. Everything we need is there, under the garment. Nothing is missing.

All the work involved, and there is a great deal of work to be done, is in learning how to dismantle the ego, learning how to uncover it, learning how to deconstruct it, analyze it, and understand it, physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually, with the goal of loosening it.

Once loosened the rest, mysteriously, seems to happen by itself. Grace enters into the process.

In no way have I finished my work. There seems to be layers upon layers to the ego, but I can say that some progress has been made. As a teacher, I find myself teaching what I do not know and most need to learn. I am my slowest students. Even when progress has been made, vigilance is required. Best not to rest on one laurels.

Of course, philosophers, psychologists, theologians, and healers have a great deal to say on this subject, but no one I have encountered understood the array of “garments” we wear, the various fabrics, cuts, patterns, weavings, layers, and fashion statements made, more than Claudio Naranjo, hence my dedicating this book to him.

How do we know when we are making progress, when we are living non-egocentrically?

We know when loving becomes more important than being loved, when seeing becomes more important than being seen, when hearing becomes more important than being heard, when appreciating becomes more important than being appreciated, when understanding becomes more important than being understood, when serving becomes more important than being served, when thanking becomes more important than being thanked, when forgiving becomes more important than being forgiven, when blessing becomes more important than being blessed.

But before embarking on this journey toward non-egocentric living, I would like to introduce myself, to tell you how I came to perceive people, first physically, then psychology, and finally, spiritually.

to be continued… 

Kevin

Kevin Saunders

It’s difficult for me to grasp that Kevin has died. He was such a careful person who took such good care of himself. No matter how much we try to take control of our lives, there is only so much control that we actually have. When our friends die in what feels to us, before their time, this truth hits home.

Anyone who knew Kevin knows that he was a quiet, solitary man. But, for some reason, he reached out to me and I, in turn, reached out to him. Being a director of a school, I thought Kevin would be good for our school, particularly good for the other students, and I was right. He was. I thought this because he was well read in Alexanders’ work and articulate about Alexanders’ ideas. Clearly, he had already studied a great deal, on his own, and had made Alexanders’ work part of his life. I wanted my other students to have the benefit of knowing a person who was so self-motivated and self-sufficient, who could figure things out by himself, and who was disciplined in applying what he figured out to his life. We all learned from him.

But for being the solitary person that Kevin was, he did reach out to us. In his measured way, he was very generous. I think he loved feeling himself as part of a community who welcomed him. He always offered teaching his yoga classes during our retreats. We enjoyed these classes and learned from the way in which he taught. He was keenly observant, and though he used his hands sparingly, when he did, they were remarkably accurate and effective. He reminded me of that story about the plumber who taps a water pipe twice in one spot, gets the entire system working perfectly, and then charges his customer $600. When the customer asked why so much, the plumber says, “I am only charging you $1.00 for the tap, but $599.00 for knowing where and how to tap. Kevin was precise, like this.

Kevin would have also liked the joke. That was another way he enjoyed reaching out. In performances and at graduations he would allow himself to be quite goofy, in his very British way, which we all loved. There were times when he was truly funny. Sometimes there was a playful bite to his humor, but always it was done with consideration.

I respected Kevin. He had integrity. He was true to himself. He was who he was. He was a friend, and I will miss him.

 

 

A Reading By Jenny Quick – The End of the Road – Written by Bruce Fertman

Photo: B. Fertman

We teach what we most need to learn. At least that is how it is with me.

Have you noticed it’s relatively easy to make good use of Alexander’s work when we are doing well, but nearly impossible when confronted with something truly challenging or threatening? How can we practice sticking to principle under emotionally charged circumstances, when relating to family members, when encountering problems at work, while coping with physical injury and pain, when overwhelmed by stressful thoughts and emotions? LifeWork is a procedure I developed, slowly, over the past 40 years. That is to say LifeWork is a “way of proceeding,” to teach people how to employ Alexander’s teachings when under trying conditions and when faced with harsh realities.

Enjoy listening to Jenny Quick. I do.

A Reading by Jenny Quick – The End of the Road

Text

LifeWork – Taking the Principles beyond the Procedures – Post Graduate Workshop For Alexander Teachers – Led by Robyn Avalon – Sunday, October 14, 2018 – Zurich

This Post Graduate Alexander Workshop offers tools for teaching Alexander’s Principles inside the reality of people’s everyday lives. It is open to Teacher’s from all styles.

Make the Work more accessible and valuable in people’s lives. Students come with real life, complicated situations – deadlines to meet, non-optimal work or home environments, physical and emotional challenges, and more. You come with the ‘means whereby’ through which they can make a change in their use, their thinking, their lives.

Meet your students halfway. Help your students transition from ‘chair work’ to a pressing situation, like working on a deadline with an overbearing boss. Help them access their ease and artistry, not only within an Alexandrian procedure, but also while playing their instrument in an audition.

 

Take the Principles beyond the Procedures.

This is its own sophisticated and unique study. It requires new and different skills, in addition to drawing upon your deep understanding, clear observations and skillful hands.

In this workshop we will:

  • Learn skills for re-creating their actual environment and teaching within that structure.
  • Learn how to use your hands through all areas of the body to access their fundamental ease and coordination.
  • Learn varied styles of teaching in activities.
  • Learn how to realize the ‘critical moment’ where they know they can access a new choice.

Being able to offer a student the tools to make a conscious new choice inside of their personal and professional life situations literally and figuratively brings the Work to life! Students experience the Work as timely and important. It energizes them and fills them with a desire to study.

We know what we have is priceless, and life-altering. Learn how to let them experience this directly.

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 (AAI), 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 addition to training teachers, Robyn travels the world offering beginner through post-graduate workshops in a contemporary presentation of Alexander’s Principles. Robyn enjoys the direct application of the Principles of the Work into people’s real lives, working with people while they do whatever they do. Whenever possible, she likes to travel to where people work and play, which has provided decades of rich and colorful teaching experiences: on a snowy mountain top with skiers, at a symphony rehearsal, at a dentist’s side, in a potter’s studio, on a football field, in a professional kitchen, at a horse arena, in a meditation retreat, on the Pilates Reformer, in a training for cardiac surgeons, rock climbing in the NM mountains, at the circus, and more.

Robyn is the creator of Living in a Body™: The Quintessential Owner’s Guide to Natural Movement, a body mapping professional certification course offered worldwide as well as a series of post-graduate workshops called Ways of Knowing, which provide tools for accessing and incorporating intuition and imagination in the educational process.

Robyn has an extensive background in professional theater and dance, which she brings to her teaching. 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

Open to Alexander Teachers from all styles. Limited number of participants.

Date: 14.10.2018, 10am – 6pm

Location: Zurich (close to stop «Zürich,Kalkbreite/Bhf.Wiedikon»)

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

Workshop language: English (translation to German possible)

 Individual lessons (CHF 110,-/45ˈ) can be arranged on Thursday, 27.09., Friday 28.09. and Monday 15.10.

Organizer and assistant teacher: Magdalena Gassner

For more information and to register call +41 (0)77 475 50 27 or write to m.gassner@alexanderalliance.de

To learn more about Robyn Avalon and the Alexander Alliance Europe:

www.contemporaryalexander.com

robyn@contemporaryalexander.com

www.alexanderalliance.org

ballet barre1

 

 

The First Alexander Alliance Post Graduate Training Program in the Alexander Technique – Sydney, Australia – 2019/2020

Read more

Thinking Body, Moving Mind – An Introduction to the Work of FM Alexander – Led by Robyn Avalon -Saturday, October 13, 2018 – Zurich

Alexander Work is the study of the quality of your life.

It teaches you how to make profound, conscious, life-altering choices – beyond rules or expectations, beyond both habit and knowledge.

Imagine being able to access both your body’s innate intelligence and your mind’s ability to make new choices, to form a personal tool for creating the quality of life you choose.

Part consciousness & part innate coordination.

Whether you consider yourself a ‘thinker’ or a ‘mover’, or both, Alexander Work provides simple, effective tools for noticing and changing your habitual ways of being in the world – in your job, your family, and your Self.

• Learn to transform excess tension into useful energy.

• Learn to recognize the beliefs that you are literally ‘wearing’ from your past and replace them to fit who you choose to be now.

• Learn to alter habitual responses and behaviors into appropriate reactions.

Alexander Technique, the ‘Work’ based on the principles of F.M. Alexander, is a practical, hands-on study of the principles of coordination, movement, habit, and awareness, which teaches you how to release pain and tension, rediscover excellence, ease, strength, flexibility, grace, and joy, and realize conscious choice in every activity of life.

It is a quintessential tool for living with conscious vitality in today’s world.

This one day workshop is open to all – every body and every mind. You will find something for yourself, whether you are completely new to the Work or a lifelong student of it.

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 (AAI), 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 participants.

Date: 13.10.2018, 10am – 6pm

Location: Zurich (close to stop «Zürich,Kalkbreite/Bhf.Wiedikon»)

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

Workshop language: English (translation to German possible)

Individual lessons (CHF 110.-/45ˈ) can be arranged on Thursday, 27.09., Friday 28.09. and Monday 15.10.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Organizer and assistant teacher: Magdalena Gassner

For more information and to register call +41 (0)77 475 50 27 or write to m.gassner@alexanderalliance.de

To learn more about Robyn and the Alexander Alliance Europe:

www.contemporaryalexander.com

robyn@contemporaryalexander.com

www.alexanderalliance.org