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Posts tagged ‘bruce fertman’

The Working World – Knowing How we are Being as we Do What we are Doing – 29.04.2018, 10am – 5:30pm – Zurich

AS we do what we are doing. That little work as is the challenge. We usually notice how we were being after we did what we did.

“I was so afraid of being late to work this morning that I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off, got to work and was already exhausted.”

“God, I was really killing myself when I was at my computer trying to finish that project on time. My neck is aching and so are my wrists.”

“You know, I was impatient, snobby, and not as helpful as I could have been in that meeting. I feel terrible about it.”

Of course, we also have good days when we are not late, when we don’t kill ourselves working, when we enjoy our work and the people around us. But what can we do for ourselves when we feel out of balance, off our game, out of sync?

Not only possessing psychological and communication skills, but somatic skills as well can help a great deal. This workshop is dedicated to acquiring the somatic skills needed to better handle ourselves in trying situations in the workplace.

Applying the principles found within the Alexander Technique and applying them in our work life, whatever that life is, be it office work, manual work, house work, or looking for work, bring yourself and your stories about your working world to me and get ready to have a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening time.

Whether you are new to Alexander’s work or currently studying, whether you are training or even if you are a teacher of the technique, I hope you will consider joining me for a day of playing seriously, and seriously play-ing, with the principles underlying Alexander’s remarkable work.

DETAILS

Date: 29.04.2018, 10am – 5:30pm

Location: Technopark Zürich (close to train stop Hardbrücke)

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

Workshop language: English (translation to German possible)

Individual lessons: (CHF 100.–/45 min.) can be arranged on Monday, 30.04.2018 and Tuesday, 01.05.2018.

Additionally Bruce will give an Alexander Technique workshop entitled «Eradicating Blocks – A Workshop For Performing Artists» on Saturday, 28.04. 2018.

Organizers and assistant teachers: Magdalena and Johannes Gassner

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

To learn more about Bruce Fertman, the Alexander Technique or the Alexander Alliance:

http://brucefertman.com

http://www.alexanderalliance.org/

About Bruce Fertman

In Bruce’s class you feel as if you are sitting by a deep, soft lake. 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.

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

With 55 years experience as a movement artist and educator, Bruce brings a lifetime of training to his work as an Alexander teacher. For the past 30 years Bruce has traveled annually throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States coaching performing artists and helping people from all walks of life.

Bruce has worked with members of the Berlin Philharmonic, Radio France, The National Symphony in Washington DC, the Honolulu Symphony and for the Curtis Institute of Music. He taught for the Five College Dance Program in Amherst, Massachusetts for 13 years, and for the Tango community in Buenos Aires. For 6 years, he taught movement for actors at Temple and Rutgers University.

In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, the first Alexander teacher training program inspired by the work of Marjorie Barstow.

For ten years Bruce trained as a gymnast with Olympic coaches, and with Dan Millman, receiving a full scholarship to Penn State University. A professional modern dancer for 12 years, he holds a Master’s degree in Modern Dance and Movement Re-education at Temple University. For 16 years Bruce apprenticed with and assisted Marjorie L. Barstow, the first person formally certified by F.M. Alexander to teach his work.

Bruce studied in New York City at the Shr Jung Institute and in Philadelphia with Cheng man Ching’s six senior American students for 8 years, and also for 8 years with Shuji Maruyama who, as a boy, lived and trained with Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. Bruce was awarded a scholarship to study at the Uresenke School of Tea in Kyoto, Japan, with Iemoto Soshitsu Sen, the 15th generation grand tea master. He studied Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires, Berlin, and Rome. Bruce trained in Kyudo, Zen Archery, in Osaka, Japan where he lives four months a year. Four months a year he is on the road teaching in Europe and Asia, and four months a year Bruce lives in Northern, New Mexico and writes.

He is the author of  Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart.

 

Eradicating Blocks – A Workshop In The Alexander Technique For Performing Artists – 28.04.2018, 10am – 5:30pm – Zurich

You are not here to acquire skills but to eradicate blocks. – Jerzy Grotowski 

It is your music, dance, or theatre teacher’s job to help you acquire the skills you need to be a fine artist. My job is to help you become aware of how you interfere with yourself as you work toward acquiring those skills, and to show you how you can release that  interference. In other words, my job is to teach you how not to work against yourself and against what you are working to achieve.

Often the problem is not that we are doing to little, but that we are doing too much, working too hard, over trying, over efforting, muscling our way through.

“Fluid as melting ice.

Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? 

Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?

Less and less will you need to force things.”

 -Lao Tzu/Stephen Mitchell

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In this workshop we will learn how to become less stiff and more fluid. We will learn how not to push, not to force. Through Alexander’s work we will begin learning how to be at once, relaxed and ready, soft and strong, light and substantial, stable and flexible, peaceful and lively when we are practicing and when we are performing.

This workshop is open to amateur and professional artists alike. Bring what you need in order to do your work, your instruments, your dancing shoes, your monologues. Also, those who do not consider themselves artists but whose jobs entail an element of performance, such as public speaking, lecturing, leading meetings are also welcome to participate.

No prior experience necessary. People of all ages welcome. Workshop size limited.

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DETAILS

Date: 28.04.2018, 10am – 5:30pm

Location: Technopark Zürich (close to train stop Hardbrücke)

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

Workshop language: English (translation to German possible)

Individual lessons: (CHF 100.–/45 min.) can be arranged on Monday, 30.04.2018 and Tuesday, 01.05.2018.

Additionally, Bruce will give an Alexander Technique workshop entitled «The Working World – Knowing How We are Being as we Do What We are Doing» on Sunday, 29.04.2018.

Organizers and assistant teachers: Magdalena and Johannes Gassner

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

To learn more about Bruce Fertman, the Alexander Technique or the Alexander Alliance:

http://brucefertman.com

http://www.alexanderalliance.org/

About Bruce Fertman

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In Bruce’s class you feel as if you are sitting by a deep, soft lake. 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.

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

With 55 years experience as a movement artist and educator, Bruce brings a lifetime of training to his work as an Alexander teacher. For the past 30 years Bruce has traveled annually throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States coaching performing artists and helping people from all walks of life.

Bruce has worked with members of the Berlin Philharmonic, Radio France, The National Symphony in Washington DC, the Honolulu Symphony and for the Curtis Institute of Music. He taught for the Five College Dance Program in Amherst, Massachusetts for 13 years, and for the Tango community in Buenos Aires. For 6 years, he taught movement for actors at Temple and Rutgers University.

In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, the first Alexander teacher training program inspired by the work of Marjorie Barstow.

For ten years Bruce trained as a gymnast with Olympic coaches, and with Dan Millman, receiving a full scholarship to Penn State University. A professional modern dancer for 12 years, he holds a Master’s degree in Modern Dance and Movement Re-education at Temple University. For 16 years Bruce apprenticed with and assisted Marjorie L. Barstow, the first person formally certified by F.M. Alexander to teach his work.

Bruce studied in New York City at the Shr Jung Institute and in Philadelphia with Cheng man Ching’s six senior American students for 8 years, and also for 8 years with Shuji Maruyama who, as a boy, lived and trained with Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. Bruce was awarded a scholarship to study at the Uresenke School of Tea in Kyoto, Japan, with Iemoto Soshitsu Sen, the 15th generation grand tea master. He studied Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires, Berlin, and Rome. Bruce trained in Kyudo, Zen Archery, in Osaka, Japan where he lives four months a year. Four months a year he is on the road teaching in Europe and Asia, and four months a year Bruce lives in Northern, New Mexico and writes.

He is the author of  Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart.

May Nothing Stand Between Us

 

In the first half of my life I built walls; in the second half of my life I am doing my best to take those walls down.

By believing that the teachers I had chosen to study under were the most gifted, the most astute, the most skilled, by association, made me feel special and superior to others. By believing the disciplines I had chosen to study were the most profound, by association, made me feel special and superior to others.

Others had missed the boat, were not on the bus. They had made the wrong choices, and I the right ones.

I remember with embarrassment, some 40 years ago, defining Alexander’s work in opposition to Ida Rolf’s work, how Alexander’s work was educational, non-manipulative, and wholistic, while Rolf’s work was mechanical, intrusive, and reductionist. I remember hating the Rolfing logo of a man stacked up like building blocks.

T’ai Chi Chu’an and Aikido were superior to other martial art forms. Zen Buddhism and Taoism were more sophisticated than monotheistic religions. Democrats were enlightened and Republicans were greedy. And so it went. Bricks made from hardened beliefs. Mortar made from a muddy mind.

Between the first half of my life and the second half of my life, like a Murakami anti-hero, I fell into a deep, dark well. When finally I dug my way out I was psychologically emaciated. During that time I had gone through a divorce, my kids had left home, the house I lived in and loved for 20 years was sold, I gave up my business, my mother died, and then a year later, my father, who I loved dearly, also died.

The day my father died we were alone. Sitting next to him in an old worn out, saggy leather chair, legs crossed under me, tallis over my shoulders, quietly, I read out loud from my copy of Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the psalms;

Even in the midst of great pain, Lord,
     I praise you for that which is.
I will not refuse this grief
     or close myself to this anguish.
Let shallow men pray for ease:
     “Comfort us; shield us from sorrow.”
I pray for whatever you send me,
     and I ask to receive it as your gift.
You have put a joy in my heart
     greater than all the world’s riches.
I lie down trusting the darkness,
     for I know that even now you are here.

I begin feeling cold and decide to get up and put an extra blanket over my Dad who now lay unconscious for three days. Getting up I hear a loud crunching sound. It’s my knee. On the metal guardrail, along side my father’s bed, hangs his old wooden cane. I reach out, take it, and for the next month limp exactly as my father had in the last month of his life.

Emotionally depleted, it was nigh impossible to find my inner structural support. With each passing month my body aged a year. My weakened, painful knee set my body askew and it was not long before my hip and lower back followed suit. I was a mess.

I decided I needed to get help. I made an appointment to have ten Structural Integration sessions, treatments based on the work of Ida Rolf. And wouldn’t you know it, it was just what I needed! It was as if old injuries from gymnastic falls and car accidents were letting me go. I was regaining my inner structural support and becoming comfortable again.

My knee was still unstable. After having practiced Tai Chi every day for 40 years, I woke up one morning and knew I had to see what would happen if I simply stopped doing Tai Chi. And wouldn’t you know it, my knee got better and better with each passing week!

The walls just keep coming down for me. Maybe that is why the second half of my life feels so light, so free. I don’t have any need for walls these days. If I don’t know what is right how can I be wrong? If I don’t have anything to prove who can argue with me? If I have nothing to defend what can I lose? And if I am for everyone where is my enemy?

John Tuite, a dear friend of mine, sent me a photo. It’s a photo of an art installation by Jorge Mendez Blake entitled, A Single Book Disrupts the Foundation of a Brick Wall.

This is my hope. May my little book do its little bit to help bring down walls between the various Alexander lineages. May it make a small contribution to bringing down walls between somatic disciplines. May assumptions, prejudices and false notions become dislodged. May grudges and gossip fall by the wayside. May nothing stand between us.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.”

 Robert Frost

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 Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart

by Bruce Fertman

BERLIN – Eradicating Blocks – A Workshop for Performing Artists – Bruce Fertman May 8, 2018

You are not here to acquire skills but to eradicate blocks. – Jerzy Grotowski  

It is your music, dance, or theatre teacher’s job to help you acquire the skills you need to be a fine artist. My job is to help you become aware of how you interfere with yourself as you work toward acquiring those skills, and to show you how you can release that interference. In other words, my job is to teach you how not to work against yourself and against what you are working to achieve.

Often the problem is not that we doing to little, but that we are doing too much, working too hard, over trying, muscling our way through.

“Fluid as melting ice. Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself? Less and less will you need to force things.”

 -Lao Tzu/Stephen Mitchell

In this workshop we will learn how to become less stiff and more fluid. We will learn how not to push, not to force. Through Alexander’s work we will begin learning how to be at once, relaxed and ready, soft and strong, light and substantial, stable and flexible, peaceful and lively when we are practicing and when we are performing.

This workshop is open to amateur and professional artists alike. Bring what you need in order to do your work, your instruments, your dancing shoes, your monologues. Also, those who do not consider themselves artists but whose jobs entail an element of performance, such as public speaking, lecturing, leading meetings are also welcome to attend.

 

Details:

When:

May 8, 10-13h/14-17h
(May 7 – private lessons)

Where:

LaLuz
Carreé Seestraße 
Oudenarder Str. 16
Im Backstage Studio

Parklatze im Hof

Cost:

150€ for workshop
100€ for 45min. private lesson

To Register:
arilachispa@gmail.com
www.laluz.de

About Bruce Fertman

In Bruce’s class you feel as if you are sitting by a deep, soft lake. 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.

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

With 55 years experience as a movement artist and educator, Bruce brings a lifetime of training to his work as an Alexander teacher. For the past 30 years Bruce has traveled annually throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States coaching performing artists and helping people from all walks of life.

Bruce has worked with members of the Berlin Philharmonic, Radio France, The National Symphony in Washington DC, the Honolulu Symphony and for the Curtis Institute of Music. He taught for the Five College Dance Program in Amherst, Massachusetts for 13 years, and for the Tango community in Buenos Aires. For 6 years, he taught movement for actors at Temple and Rutgers University.

In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, the first Alexander teacher training program inspired by the work of Marjorie Barstow.

For ten years Bruce trained as a gymnast with Olympic coaches, and with Dan Millman, receiving a full scholarship to Penn State University. A professional modern dancer for 12 years, he holds a Master’s degree in Modern Dance and Movement Re-education at Temple University. For 16 years Bruce apprenticed with and assisted Marjorie L. Barstow, the first person formally certified by F.M. Alexander to teach his work.

Bruce studied in New York City at the Shr Jung Institute and in Philadelphia with Cheng man Ching’s six senior American students for 8 years, and also for 8 years with Shuji Maruyama who, as a boy, lived and trained with Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. Bruce was awarded a scholarship to study at the Uresenke School of Tea in Kyoto, Japan, with Iemoto Soshitsu Sen, the 15th generation grand tea master. He studied Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires, Berlin, and Rome. Bruce trained in Kyudo, Zen Archery, in Osaka, Japan where he lives four months a year. Four months a year he is on the road teaching in Europe and Asia, and four months a year Bruce lives in Northern, New Mexico and writes.

He is the author of  Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart.

AUSTRIA – High Touch – hohe Berührungskompetenz –  eine zertifizierte Weiterbildung in Alexandertechnik für alle, die mit Berührung arbeiten – Nov. 2018 – Juli 2019 in Villach, Österreich

HIGH TOUCH – hohe Berührungskompetenz

Zum Glück gibt es auf der Welt viele Menschen, die anderen Sorge tragen. Viele von uns unterstützen, bewegen, nähren, unterrich­ten oder rehabilitieren andere direkt durch Berührung.

Diese von der Alexander Alliance International zertifizierte berufliche Weiter­bildung in Alexander­technik ist für all diejenigen konzipiert, die in ihrer Arbeit ihre Hände benutzen, um anderen zu  helfen. Dies umfasst z.B. Physio-/Ergotherapeu­tInnen, LogopädInnen, Alten-/ Kranken­­­pflegerInnen, Masseure, ÄrztInnen, Tanz-, Bewegungs- und Körper­thera­­peutInnen, Yoga-/ Qigong-/ KampfkunstlehrerInnen.

F.M. Alexander entwickelte eine ganz besondere Art der Berührung, die es ihm ermöglichte, anderen zu vermitteln, wie man Richtung und Unter­stützung in sich selber finden kann. Mit Hilfe seiner Hände brachte er seinen SchülerInnen bei, wieder in Kontakt zu kommen mit der uns allen angeborenen Fähig­keit, uns angenehm und frei zu bewe­gen. Und dies ohne den Einsatz von Druck oder Kraft. Für die meisten fühlte sich das an wie Magie. Aber das war es nicht. Es war Kompe­tenz. Es war Technik. Es war “high touch“ – hohe Berührungs­kompetenz.

In dieser Weiterbildung werden Bruce Fertman und Robyn Avalon 90 Jahre gemeinsamer Erfahrung in Alexandertechnik mit uns teilen. Sie werden uns vermitteln, wie wir unsere Hände so einsetzen können, dass wir anderen helfen, freier, kraftvoller und auch anmutiger zu werden.

Du wirst von dieser Weiterbildung das Wissen mitnehmen, wie du dir bei der Arbeit besser selber Sorge tragen kannst. Wir können mit unseren Händen keine Unterstützung, Fürsorge, Beschwer­de­­­freiheit, Kraft und Gelassenheit vermitteln, wenn wir nicht selbst unterstützt, gut versorgt, beschwerdefrei, kraftvoll und gelassen sind. Wir werden dir helfen, zu lernen, wie du dies für dich selber findest.

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Du wirst diese Weiterbildung mit mehr Selbstvertrauen, mehr Fähigkeiten und einem tieferen Verständnis von Berührung abschließen. Deine Hände werden präziser, empfänglicher, neugieriger, kommunikativer und effektiver sein.

Weiterbildungs-Details

Die Weiterbildung umfasst 100 Stunden.

Termine:

  1. Block: 01.-04. November 2018
  2. Block: 04.-07. April 2019
  3. Block: 05.-08. September 2019
  4. Block: 31.10.-03. November 2019

LehrerInnen:

Bruce Fertman (1.+4. Block)

Robyn Avalon (2.+3. Block)

Kosten:         1.600 EUR (Frühbucher bis 30.06.2018)

1.800 EUR (regulärer Preis)

Ort:              Seminarhaus IN bewegung

Ossiacherstr. 93, 9523 Villach, Österreich

Informationen/Anmeldung:

Andrea Stitzel, tel. +43-699-18192954

E-Mail: andreastitzel@a1.net

Übernachtung im Seminarraum möglich (€10/Nacht)

Über Robyn Avalon

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Robyn studiert die Arbeit von F.M. Alexander seit mehr als 40 Jahren. Sie ist Gründungs­direktorin der Contemporary Alexander School, der US-amerikanischen Zweigstelle der Alexander Alliance International. Zusätz­lich ist sie zentrale Lehrkraft der Alexander Alliance Schulen in Deutschland und Japan. Im Sommer gehört sie zum Lehrkörper der renommierten Meadowmount School of Music.

Ihre private Praxis beinhaltet eine ganz eigene Mischung aus zeitgenössischer Alexander­technik, Craniosacral Arbeit, Visceral Unwinding, Deep Imagery, Matrix Energetics®, und ein lebenslanges Studium verschiedenster intuitiver Fähigkeiten. Und hat so eigene Workshops entwickelt, die sie weltweit unterrichtet, wie z.B. Living in a Body™, einen Zertifizierungskurs in Bodymapping, und die postgraduierten Workshop-Serie Ways of Knowing, in der Intuition und Imagination zugänglich gemacht und in den eigenen Entwicklungsprozess integriert werden.

Über Bruce Fertman

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Bruce ist Gründer der Alexander Alliance International. Er hatte das Privileg mit einer Reihe von Alexander-LehrerInnen der ersten Generation zu lernen: als langjähriger Schüler von Marjorie Barstow, der ersten von F. M. Alexander zertifi­zierten Lehrerin sowie mit Richard M. Gummere jr., Elisa­beth Walker, Erika Whittaker und Catherine Merrick. In seinen Unterricht lässt Bruce seine Erfahrun­gen aus mehr als 50-jähriger Beschäftigung mit verschiedenen Bewegungs­künsten ein­fließen, u.a. Turnen, Modern Dance, Tai Chi, Aikido, Kyudo (Bogenschießen) und Tango.

In seinen Workshops in Europa, Asien und den USA arbeitete er mit Tänzern, Sängern, Instrumentalisten (u.a. Berliner Philhar­moniker, Radio France, The National Symphony Orchestra) sowie Menschen aus vielen anderen Berufsgruppen.

 

 

The Voice Of The World (A revision of Singing In the Rain)

I remember a class I took with Marjory Barlow in 1988. She was explaining how at first you give these words, these phrases to your student knowing they will have little or no idea of what you are talking about. But then, gradually, through the subtle and clear use of your hands you give your student an experience of what those words and phrases actually mean. The student mentally and physically couples them together and voilà, when she or he thinks the words, without having to really do anything, the words themselves trigger an effortless response, a response that comes to feel almost reflex-like, a response that is at once supportive, organizing and liberating. It just happens, like typing in a domain name of where you want to go, clicking on search and, presto, there it is, and there you are.

It’s ingenious really, and effective. As one continues to study with teachers, and on one’s own, which is essential, this kinesthetic coupling of the words with this effortlessly revitalizing reflex-like response becomes ever more wedded, ever more precise and powerful, which is why having hands on work through one’s whole life is a good idea, which is why being part of an Alexander community is such a good idea, which is what I have chosen to do, which has been a blessing beyond words.

Alexander referred to these words, these phrases, as directions. He writes, 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.”  By mechanisms I assume Alexander is referring to this ever so delicate but dynamic reorganization of the head in relation to the neck, and of the head and neck’s relationship to the entire torso, and of the head, neck, and torso’s relationship, as a flexibly working unit, to the arms and legs.

If you are an Alexander teacher or a long term student of Alexander’s work all of this is old hat. Sorry, but I am going somewhere and need to begin at the beginning.

Now these words are a shorthand, an abbreviation for a complex psychophysical happening within us, and yet they they still strike me as a bit long and cumbersome. Let the neck be free so that the head can go forward and up so that the back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other. And then there are secondary directions that speak to the limbs as well, to the heels, knees and hips and to the elbows, wrists, and fingers, and to the tongue, (which I see as limb-like; think of a frog.)

It takes a bit of time to stream through these directions, especially at first. When we get proficient, perhaps just a few seconds. Marj Barstow, one of my mentors, once said to a student who was belaboring the process, “I wish I could say all these words to you at the same time, instead of one after the other.” Marj understood that this sequence of instructions had to be played more like a fluid arpeggio on a guitar rather than a separate collection of notes.

The very same day I had a class with Marjory Barlow I also had a class with Wilford Barlow. I loved watching and listening to them both. Wilford deferred to his wife saying, “Now this is just my idea. If you want to know how it really works, ask Marjory.” But I loved Wilford’s ideas, and his hands too. He said something like, (it was long ago), “After a time the words are not always necessary. The change we want can come about without them.” I wasn’t sure but my guess was that after we had for many years used our conscious mind, and with it language to reeducate our kinesthesia we could come to trust it more and more and simply let it work for us. Perhaps our kinesthesia is like a child who for many years needs guidance, but then gradually grows up into a capable and responsible adult who no longer needs looking after all the time.

Years have flown by since then, 30 years to be exact. I’ve had some time to think about this on my own, and so now I will share with you my thoughts on the matter.

Let’s imagine you are on the road, traveling in some foreign country. A cold snap blows in unexpectedly. You decide to buy a scarf and a pair of gloves. You find something you like, a bit expensive and so decide to charge it on your credit card. You open your wallet and notice your Discover card is missing. You pick up your phone and know their phone number because their phone number happens to spell DISCOVER. So instead of having to remember 8 numbers in sequence, you only have to remember one word.

What if I could find one word that could contain for me the full sequence of directions. I decided on the word ‘One’. ‘One’ would now mean for me Let the neck be free so that the head can go forward and up so that the back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other. The word ‘One’ would now be the verbal trigger for my entire Primary Pattern. After all, the word ‘One’ is in essence just a sound, a sound English speaking people decide means the number between 0 and 2. It is just a sound. The meaning is not inherent to the sound. English speaking people collectively agree on what that sound means. A person for whom English is a second language at some point had to learn what that sound meant. At first, in their mind, they may have said to themselves what it meant in their own language, but over time they no longer had to do that. At some point the word One, the sound One immediately meant to them the number between 0 and 2.

So, I thought, why could I not change the meaning of the sound ‘One’ and have it mean what I wanted it to mean? If for me the sound ‘One’ was coupled with Let the neck be free so that the head can go forward and up so that the back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other, and if that phrase was kinesthetically coupled with this effortlessly revitalizing reflex-like response, then all three of them were now coupled, like links of a fence.

I played with using the word ‘One’ as my condensed Alexander direction. I liked how fast it was. I liked that it was less wordy. Yes it lacked a bit of the specificity that Alexander’s words had for me. But with practice I got pretty good at it.

Then the thought occurred to me that I didn’t have to use a word at all. That I could just use a sound, given that, in essence, a word is just a sound. I came up with the sound, Paaaah. This worked much better than the word ‘One’. It had something to do with the fact that it had no meaning to begin with and so I had not to de-couple any meaning from the sound. The sound was soft and expansive and seemed never ending. I also had associations with the sound, one being Alexander’s whispered Ah, and the other being the sound Kyudoists, (Zen Archers) use to refer to the moment when the arrow is released from the bow. Paaaah. I didn’t lose much specificity when using the sound Paaaah. It was indeed a better container for Alexander’s directions, at least for me.

I will, however, never throw out Alexander’s directions. They are for me like some song from another era that I still love singing. Those words still move me.

More years went by. I was in Tokyo standing at one of these interminably long red lights. I was end-gaining. I wanted to go but the red light was telling me to stay put. “That’s its collective meaning virtually all over the world, even though it’s a color, not a word, and not a sound. It’s also an object. Gee, I thought, we can pretty much make anything mean anything. It is totally up to us!”

I decided it would probably be a good idea to continue letting the red stop signal mean stop. But I decided that instead of it meaning stop on a superficial level, I decided that it meant stop on a deep level, that it meant to stop everything within myself, to completely stop any unnecessary holding within myself, to completely stop waiting, to enter into a condition of profound Alexandrian inhibition.

There I was at this infinitely long red light in a state of radical non-end-gaining, wide awake, vividly aware of everything around me. When the light turned green and everyone began walking across the street, I didn’t want to go. I was so happy exactly where I was, but then I thought, “better to follow the simple directions”, and so I crossed the street as I had never crossed a street before, as if I were singing in the rain, without the rain.

And then the revelation came. What if instead of using an internal trigger, i.e., Alexander’s words, words that were being produced from inside my mind, what if I projected my mind onto the world around me? What if I had the world speak to me from the outside in, instead of me speaking to me from the inside out? Instead of my mind being inside my body, what if my body was inside of a big, benevolent mind? It was entirely up to me to decide what any word, sound, object or creature meant to me, so what would happen if suddenly everything, absolutely everything  was saying to me, directly, wordlessly, Let the neck be free so that the head can go forward and up so that the back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other?

Ah, so that was what Gary Snyder meant when he wrote, “The world is our consciousness, and it surrounds us.” I got it!

Could it be this simple? Could anyone do it? Not really. First it would be necessary to have learned how to couple Alexander’s Primary Movement to some trigger, and perhaps Alexander’s words were the perfect first trigger because they are so specific and clear.

Again, I returned to my new insight.

What if I decided that everything, utterly everything in the world said to me, “Bruce, free yourself in relation to me. Free yourself in relation to me. Let your neck be free so that your head can go forward and up so that your back can lengthen and widen, all together, one after the other.” 

The Voice of the World. The silent, wordless voice of the world saying to me, “Bruce, free yourself in relation to me. Free yourself in relation to me.” 

Suddenly no words were needed at all. It was as if every object, my coffee cup, my keyboard, my computer screen, the flowers by the chair, the sound of the heater were all saying to me, directly, immediately, wordlessly, just through their sheer existence, “Bruce, free yourself in relation to me. Free yourself in relation to me. Everything was somehow kinesthetically coupled to my Primary Movement.

What if every person, especially people I struggled with meant “Bruce, free yourself in relation to me. Free yourself in relation to me.

No longer was there me trying to speak to me from somewhere inside of my body. The entire world and everything and everyone in it was now freeing me, directing me, opening me, awakening me. The Voice of the World was speaking to me and I was listening. Not only was I listening, I was following its direction, taking its good and loving advice.

Why not free myself in relation to everything and everyone?

That must of been it, the meaning of the Flower Sermon given by the Buddha. Sakyamuni gives a wordless sermon to his sangha. He holds up a white flower. No one understands it’s meaning except Mahakasyapa, who smiles.

That simple flower, and the meaning we bestow upon it speaks to us, in silence, inviting us back to who we are.

 

Bruce Fertman

Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart

 

 

 

 

The Field

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“Alright. What do you view as your strengths inside of Alexander’s work at this point?”, I ask my trainees.

My body is beginning to spread out more.

I’m becoming livelier somehow.

My hands are becoming softer.

“What are the positive qualities your friends see in you as a person?”

My mom always told me I was determined.

Friends like my sense of humor. They think I’m funny.

My husband admires how organized I am because I can find everything he loses.

“Okay. Let’s look at these statements.”

My body is beginning to spread out more. What would be the negative opposite of spread out?”, I ask the man who made this observation about himself.

“Contained,” he says. “Good. Now what would be a positive opposite, something that is the opposite of spreading out but is also positive?” It takes about 10 seconds, but then he says, “Gathered.” Good.

I’m becoming livelier. What is the negative opposite for you?” I ask a women. Quickly, she says “Depressed.” “Good,” I say. “How many other people thought of words that were the negative opposite of livelier? What were they?”

Heavy. Sluggish. Mopey. Listless.

“Good. Note how each answer is particular to each person. You must find your own answers. Your own answer is the right answer for you. ‘What would the complementary opposite of lively be for you?’, I ask the woman. This takes a while, but then the answer comes and with it some excitement. “Calm.”

“I love the definition of complementary: combining in such a way as to enhance the qualities of each other.” Complementary opposites complete one another. They exist as one system. Inhaling is good and exhaling is good. Each opposite is necessary and indispensable to the other.

My hands are becoming softer. Okay. The negative opposite?”

Stiff.

“Good. And the complementary opposite of softer?”

Defined.

“You guys are getting good at this. Let’s keep going.”

Determined. Negative opposite?”

Lazy. “Complementary opposite?”

Easy going.

“Funny. Negative opposite?”

Boring. “Complementary opposite?”

Serious.

“Organized. Negative opposite?”

Scattered.

“Complementary opposite?”

Loose.

“By jove, you’ve got it! Why are we doing this? What might this have to do with Alexander’s work?”

Not thinking in terms of right and wrong?

“Good answer. Anything else?”

Not thinking in terms of good and bad.

“Another good answer.”

“When we think in terms of negative opposites we live in the world of right and wrong, good and bad. But what if we were to construct continuums between complementary opposites, for example: Spread out and gathered. Lively and calm. Soft and defined. Determined and easy going. Funny and serious. Organized and loose.”

“And what if we were able to integrate these complementary opposites, one into the other?”

“For example: Loosely organized. Lively calmness. Does this begin to sound like AT?”

“Alexander’s work, as I have come to understand it, is about unifying ourselves, about incorporating all of our parts into a working whole, in a word, Alexander’s work is about integration, the integration of seemingly opposite qualities.”

“When, under my hands, people become integrated and I ask them what is happening, it is not unusual for people to be surprised and say things like, I feel relaxed and ready, or soft and strong, or light and substantial, or stable and flexible, or peaceful and energetic, or aware of myself and of the world.”

“So when I work with someone I do my best first to see a positive quality, not what is wrong, but what is working, what is beautiful. I see this person is very still, or very cheerful, or very alert, or very thoughtful, or very neat. Then I think, what might their complimentary opposite be, and I begin to construct a continuum.”

“I notice a beautiful stillness about you. I wonder if there is a way of allowing subtle motion to enter into that lovely stillness.” Or, “I love how alert you are. I wonder how little effort we can use in our muscles and still be alert?” I then, somatically, help shift a person more to the center of the continuum we have now constructed. When this happens any overdoing falls away. The person who, perhaps was too still, becomes simply still.  The person, who may have been hyper alert, becomes simply alert.”

“Identifying positive qualities, seeing what is working, appreciating what is beautiful, and then finding complementary opposites within our students, and helping them to shift into the center of their continuums prevents them from entering the world of right and wrong, good and bad. In the environment we create for them, our students can no longer make a mistake, do something wrong, or be bad. They find themselves in a field, a field of safety and nurturance, a field where they can let go of what they don’t need.

As Rumi so beautifully writes:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.

 

Bruce Fertman – Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart