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Deep

Photo: B. Fertman

 

There are two kinds of people.
Foxes and Hedgehogs.

Foxes dig lots of shallow holes, spreading out all over the place.
Their coats are silky, shiny, and colorful. They’re debonair.
They’re sly. They’re quick. They’re here, there, and everywhere.

Hedgehogs are a bit pudgy.
They’re not real handsome or pretty. They’re drab.
They’re either still, like a rock, or busy digging away, usually the latter.
They start digging one hole, and once they start you can’t get them sidetracked.

They just keep digging one big hole. The hole gets wider and deeper.
And deeper. And deeper.
It seems like they are working their way down to the center of the earth.

It’s safe in that deep hole.
Some un-welcomed guests enter and start poking around.
The further in they go, the quieter it gets. Unnerved, they turnaround and leave.

The hedgehog keeps digging. Other creatures talk down about them,
Saying how they are just running away from the world.

Very few creatures understand hedgehogs.
They’re not digging away from anything, they’re digging toward something.
The closer they get, the better they feel.

They never reach the end, which they find rather mysterious.
Perhaps there is no end. Perhaps there is only the way.
No matter.

There are a few foxes, usually older foxes, who realize
That they’ve been running around getting nowhere.
Just how some foxes turn into hedgehogs, no one knows.
Legends abound.

It hurts. It’s harrowing. It’s humbling.

It is, however, widely known that the few foxes that do turn into hedgehogs,
Become some of the finest hedgehogs hedgehogs have ever had the privilege to meet.

A Letter to My Children

Kids,

You both know how politically oriented I am as a person.

That is because I have watched our country go down the tubes, slowly but surely, from the time Ronald Reagan became president.

Why that is, I don’t want to go into here.

What I want to say is that there is a reason why you guys graduated college in debt.

There is a reason why the job market for your generation was and is not what it was for mine.

These are not accidents.

There is a reason why the climate crisis is so dire right now.

There is a reason why 204,000 people have died from Covid-19, and 2 million people are mourning the loss of immediate family members, children, parents, siblings, and grandparents to Covid.

These are not accidents.

Democracies fall.

It has happened all through history, all over the world, and there is a good chance that it is about to happen in America.

Noah, Pennsylvania is particularly critical.

If America falls, the rest of your lives and that of your children’s lives, if you choose to have kids, will be degraded, and placed in jeopardy.

I encourage you to do all you can to make sure that Biden and Harris win this election and that we take back the Senate.

If you want me to, I would be happy to direct $50 for each of you and direct it either to the Senate Race, perhaps to a particular race you feel is especially important, and/or to the race for the White House. Let me know right away.

We will need young people helping with polling, with helping people to vote. I did this for Obama, and it made a difference. I would be doing this, but I can’t this time around. Do it for me.

Get your friends to vote who want 45 out. Do what you must to make sure they vote. Just like I am doing with you.

Here are some links to alert you as to what we are up against.

https://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/how-legislatures-in-swing-states-could-impact-outcome-92444229833?fbclid=IwAR2YtiYA8OmIS8fFK1MvrYprw3UcxixTyIw9Jq1d-n9BeUQ_3eI2fOdHiuU

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/?fbclid=IwAR0WAr9RGALdwQwE8xsOfWUoXPDCBJIbwEUQ54sJTDxp7pjEodYn9AxsaR0

https://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/this-is-a-democratic-emergency-says-professor-92444741592?fbclid=IwAR2WjmG0OIEwOZk6E8ABJJrCmk7YF046LZX68PsDIuDY_vX65FEMjHJcHE8

Should America fall, I have the option of living in Japan. You may not have the opportunity to migrate to another country. Many people are forced to flee their countries due to racial and religious persecution or economic hardship. Jews have experienced this. Asians have experienced this. You guys are not immune from irrational hatred and political oppression.

And most importantly, think of all the people in this country who are so much less fortunate than you, who are dying from Covid, who are losing their jobs, their homes, their health, who are more discriminated against than both of you.

Vote for them. Do all you can for them.

Love you both,

Dad

New Thought Vermont Presents an Online Workshop with Bruce Fertman

Sensing Space/Sensing Time

Physical Contemplations on the Experience of Space and Time

September 10,11,12

8-9:15pm Eastern via Zoom

 

Photo: Bruce Fertman

Sensing Space

We all possess a sense of space within, or a lack thereof. Sometimes, we feel trapped, or cramped, that we have no room to move or breathe or think. Sometimes, we feel free, that the future is open to us, that the horizon widens forever, that the sky is the limit, that life is deep and vast, like the ocean. Unwittingly, we impinge upon this omnidirectional sense of space. Some of us puff out, some of us squeeze in, hold back, thrust forward, press down, pull up. Sometimes, unmeaningly, we intrude upon the space of others. We want to live our lives with a peaceful, invigorating sense of space within us. We want to feel spatially unconfined, unfettered.

Space also exists between us and the animate and inanimate world, between us and our smartphones, our computers, our steering wheels, our soup bowls, between people toward whom we find ourselves drawn to, or repelled by.

There is space around, above us, below us, before us, behind us, beside us. Often, unbeknownst to us, we live with blinders on, zooming in on what is in front of us, living our lives running along tracks, down invisible corridors, through high hedged mazes, unable to see and sense the immensity of space around us. Space exists. A lot of it.

Sensing Time

Time feels very real to us. A second is a second, a minute a minute, an hour an hour, a day a day, a year a year, a decade a decade, and yet our subjective sense of time varies. An hour can fly by in a second, an hour can feel like an eternity, for better or worse. An entire life can fly by in a blink of the eye. Ask almost any person nearing the end of their life.

The ancient Greeks had two words for time. Chronos, (as in chronological), would be clock time. Clock time is sequential, moving horizontally through time, from A to B to C. From past, through present, into the future. Chronos is quantitative, measurable time.

Kairos, on the other hand, is closer to biological time. It moves not horizontally but vertically. It goes nowhere. It is the eternal moment, a fraction of an infinity. Think of someone striking a bell, one single note, rising at once up to the stars and down to the ocean’s floor, spreading out omnidirectionally. Kairos is non-sequential, singular. It is time standing still, not flying by.

Kairos is about knowing, moment by moment, what it is time for. Now.

“A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

How profoundly physical these actions are of which Solomon speaks – being born, dying, planting, reaping, killing, healing, breaking down, building up, weeping, laughing, mourning, dancing, embracing, not embracing, (like during a pandemic), speaking, not speaking, loving, hating, fighting, forgiving. The biology of time.

By reading my words, already we have begun physically contemplating our experience of space and time. If you would like to delve more deeply into these themes, consider joining me for what will feel like a three-day retreat.

Yours,

Bruce Fertman

Details:

Cost: $75 for all three classes. Fee nonrefundable. Class size very limited.

Register

Pay

If you prefer to write a check, please make it out to New Thought Vermont (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization) and mail it to New Thought Vermont, PO Box 185, Weston, VT 05161 EIN: 201301789

Questions: call (802) 824-3810.

About Bruce Fertman

Photo: Soomin Park

“In Bruce’s class you feel as if you are sitting by a deep, soft lake. He is the embodiment of his work. His pace and patience, his quiet confidence, allows people to unfold and open layer by layer. The superfluous falls away, leaving only life’s inner vitality effortlessly expressing itself through you. And then you know, ‘That’s who I am, that is who I could be.’”

Margarete Tueshaus – Alexander Teacher, Equestrian, Germany

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, 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.

Annie Turner – Alexander Technique Teacher, England

Having done so for 30 years, Bruce continues to teach annually in Europe, Asia, and the United States helping people to understand and experience the interconnectedness between physical and spiritual grace.

In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, now with programs in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and America.

Author of  Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart, Delving into the Work of F.M. Alexander, Bruce currently lives and works in Osaka, Japan and Coyote, New Mexico.

To Receive the Early, Early Bird Rate, Register By August 15th!

Just to remind you that our Early, Early Bird rate ends on August 15th. If you know you would like to take this course, now is the time to register.

If you do not know about this course offering, take the time to read this material slowly and let it sink in, then you will know if this course if for you. If my words speak to you, if they move you, consider studying with me. If you have any questions, write to me. I am not going anywhere!

 

A Grace of Sense – Europe

 

Photo: B. Fertman

 

A Grace of Sense – Asian Pacific

 

Photo: B. Fertman

 

A Grace of Sense – Americas

 

Navajo Woman – Photo: B. Fertman

About Bruce Fertman

“In Bruce’s class you feel as if you are sitting by a deep, soft lake. He is the embodiment of his work. His pace and patience, his quiet confidence, allows people to unfold and open layer by layer. The superfluous falls away, leaving only life’s inner vitality effortlessly expressing itself through you. And then you know, ‘That’s who I am, that is who I could be.’”

Margarete Tueshaus – Alexander Teacher, Equestrian, Germany

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, 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.

Annie Turner – Alexander Technique Teacher, England

Having done so for 30 years, Bruce continues to teach annually in Europe, Asia, and the United States helping people to understand and experience the interconnectedness between physical and spiritual grace.

In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, now with programs in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and America.

Author of  Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart, Delving into the Work of F.M. Alexander, Bruce currently lives and works in Osaka, Japan and Coyote, New Mexico.

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Photo: B. Fertman

 

A Learning Opportunity – Free – April 27-May 1, 2020 – The Somatic Summit

To my friends, students, and trainees, as well as to my faculty and co-directors,

Here is an opportunity to listen and learn from very experienced people in the field of Somatic Education. I was honored to be invited to participate. Read all the bios and listen to the folks you are interested in. Out of this delicious menu, I am personally drawn to – Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Mia Segal, Martha Eddy, and Judith Aston. It is entirely free. You just have to register. If you want to purchase all the videos and podcasts and transcripts and get all kinds of extra goodies, you can Upgrade for under $100. Take a look.

Free Online Event
Somatic Movement Summit
April 27 – May 1, 2020

Register Here!

Please Share This With Your Friends, Students, and Colleagues.

Thanks.

Bruce

Translated into 20 Languages by Alexander Technique Teachers – The Top Ten Myths about the Alexander Technique – by Bruce Fertman

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Photo: B. Fertman

The Top Ten Myths about the Alexander Technique

Currently this post is available in 13 languages.

We are waiting for six more.

Scroll Down.

Hopefully you will find your native language.

 

ENGLISH

BRUCE FERTMAN

*

SPANISH

VERO CABRAL

*

PORTUGUESE

LIGIA CATARINA TEIXERIA

*

ITALIAN

DANIELA SANGIORGIO

*

FRENCH

CORINNE CASSINI

*

FINNISH

RIIKKA ALAKARPPA

*

SWEDISH

MARJA BENNETT

*

NORWEGIAN

THOR HAUKNES

*

GERMAN

CLAUDIA KOHL

*

GERMAN

MATTHIAS LIESENHOFF

*

TURKISH

YASEMIN CELIKKAN

(pending)

*

POLISH

KAROLINA GLAB

*

HUNGARIAN

FULOP VIKTORIA

*

ROMANIAN

CHRISTINA BUBURUZ

*

CZECH

JANA BORONOVA

*

GREEK

APOLLON DELLIOS

*

FARCI

ELAHEH EBRAHIMI

(pending)

*

KOREAN

SEONGEUN KIM

*

CHINESE

THERESA LEI

WALLIS YU

YU-TING JUSTINE CHANG

*

JAPANESE 

MIDORI SHINKAI

*

RUSSIAN

ANNA TOLSTOY

*

LATVIAN

MARGITA LINDE

*

Note:

Matthias Liesenhoff, Christina Buburuz, and Elaheh Ebrahimi are Alexander students. 

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

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