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Book Review – Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart by James Doty

Just finished reading “Into the Magic Shop – A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart” by James Doty, founder of Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research. The book is a beautiful parable about overcoming adversity and the power of ancient meditation techniques to relax the body, tame the mind, open the heart and clarify intent. As cutting edge research is …Read More

A reliable reference for the body moving in space

Took my first Ballet class in 25 years (with the encouragement of my friend David Cho). From the deep unconscious, I obeyed the piano and Piqué’d, Frappéd, and Dégagé’d en Cloche…steps I haven’t practiced in decades. If I paused to give it a moment’s thought, the choreography fell apart. But if I listened to the music and remembered to breathe, flow.   I felt grateful for all those years I …Read More

Stiff Lower back?

Tension between your shoulder blades? Landing heavily on your heels when walking? Make sure your rib cage is not lifted up! The cue I use in Alexander Technique lesson is to drop the xiphoid process, which is the little bony point at the end of the sternum. If you look at the image to the left, the xiphoid process is highlighted in gold. You can imagine it like a pendant …Read More

Facebook is Selfing. Zen is No Self.

Some thoughts on my return from Tassajara Zen Mountain Retreat. I was only at Tassajara for 3 days, but I stayed off Facebook from May 29th through today – June 24, a record for me who has posted daily updates since 2008.’ Without Facebook I felt the portals of my mind close. Remember Being John Malkovich? I was no longer leaping into other people’s heads, and even better, no one …Read More

Some notes on breathing

The Three Breathing Spaces exercise encourages calm: Breath into your Lower Space (Pelvic floor and lower belly), make a Shhhh sound on exhale, 5 – 10 times. Breathe into your Middle Space (Solar plexus, lower ribs front and back), make a Sssss sound on exhale, 5 – 10 times. Breathe into your Upper Space (Upper chest, including armpits and above collar bone), make a Hu sound on exhale, 5 – …Read More

Free to act, Free to Be, Free to take the ‘road not taken’ – Workshop 5/14 ~ Berkeley

Notice the moment before you engage in action (or speech). See if you can sense how your body prepares. What are the habitual gripping spots? Then pause. In the pause, tell yourself that you are: Free to act, Free to just be, Or free to do something different.   Observe how you (whole self, body and mind unified), reorganize when there is no pressure. Then make a fresh decision. The …Read More

Pillow Talk

Re: “I enjoyed reading your website and was wondering if you have any specific pillow recommendations for side and back sleeping?” Yes, I do, although my suggestion is on the, “It depends…” side, remembering that the Alexander Technique does not advocate perfect positions, it advocates helpful “Directions” to coordinate our movement. There are a lot of schools of thought about sleeping positions, some erring on the side of really heavy …Read More

Motor Imagery, Direction & Being

Interesting day teaching playing with the difference between direction as motor imagery (i.e. imaging yourself riding a bike) versus visual imagery (imaging a tree). Re-reading the very pop science, “The Body has a Mind of its Own,” and was reminded that it’s only motor imagery that seems to modify the brain’s body schema. It’s motor imagery that is the key to all those famous leaps in performance due to imaging …Read More

We all live in a body. It pays to be aware of this.

Reading the first round of student homework from the University Somatics Course I am co-teaching, was a great example of the multiple positive results from simply being aware of living in a body. Students chose to practice a body scan meditation, a walking meditation, or a Feldenkrais exercise five days in a row. After a week, student comments included feeling as if they had given their whole body a massage …Read More

Transform anger and powerlessness into the positive energy of participation

Ordinarily I don’t share my political views on my professional page. The healing touch of Alexander Technique is for everyone regardless of political affiliations. That said, many of my clients are traumatized, angry and fearful months after the elections. A recent article on PBS’s news hour attests that these anxious emotions are so widespread they’ve been dubbed “Post Election Stress Disorder.” I have two remedies to suggest. The first is …Read More