Day Five: Super-Power Happiness and Liberation Pathway #5:
Real Learning = Trying out and Noticing Differences;
Brain Plasticity at almost any moment
Try this: interlace your fingers.
Do it slowly.
Then fast several times.
Notice that you’ll always put the same set of fingers on top, the same thumb on top, same index finger, all the way down to the same pinkie on top. It’s either a right over left thing, or a left over right.
This may seem like a right / left hand thing, but it isn’t. I’ve met enough people of both the left and right hand persuasions who did it one way or the other to realize: somewhere along the line we pick a grove, and we just stick with it.
This is one function of the brain: to find a habit, and keep it up.
Whatever grove you’ve created in your brain with this movement has become so well worn, that it takes some doing/ thinking/ awareness/ slowing down to create the opposite and non-habitual interlocking.
This seems like perhaps a “waste” of our time, except that it’s such a simple way to physically and directly realize an obvious truth: if we want to get out of SOS (same old stuff; same old sh..), it might take some awareness and slowly down and actual discovery mentality to find a new path.
So, let’s try with the hand interlacing thing….
Change Your Life by Changing your Movement Game #1
Interlace your fingers the habitual way.
Look at and feel how this is.
Now, take your hands apart and come together SLOWLY, and
Interlace your fingers the non-habitual way. If the left thumb and forefinger are usually on top, do the right set.
If the right thumb and forefinger are usually on top, do the left set.
When you have your hands in the non-habitual mode, wiggle them around together and feel how “odd” and “unusual” this feels.
Even though this feels “off” your brain is learning by noticing the difference of this “off.”
Real learning doesn’t need you to be able to describe this difference.
Most physical learning is deeper and more subtle than words can ever express.
Let’s play a game that helps make this more clear and more fun, and then I’ll share with you my good fortune at having learned the Feldenkrais Method®, from which this clarity about “learning to learn” derived.
Here’s the game:
Learning to Learn by noticing differences (in movement ) game #2: Skip newly
First, experience the habitual: skip in the usual way, right/right and then left/ left.
Do that for awhile.
Smile while you do it, because most likely you haven’t skipped for awhile.
New pattern #1: Skip twice on your right foot and three times on your left.
Then go back to “normal.”
Then back to twice right/ three times left.
New pattern #2: Skip twice left and three times right.
Back to normal.
Back to the twice left/ three right.
New Pattern #3: Skip three times each side
Back to normal
Back to three times each side
New pattern #4: Skip 4 left and 3 right
Back to normal
Now, 4 right and 3 left
And you can now play with just about any pattern that comes to you.
Notice how each “wakes you up”
Notice how fun this is.
Not to notice, but to realize: this is real learning.
Not to notice, but to realize: you now have many neurological pathways you didn’t have before you started this game.
Smile and sense your whole body and your emotional and spiritual being as well.
What difference do you notice?
And what does this tell us about being human?
And what does this tell us about life?
We can change.
And we need to change to change.
That’s what all these games are about.
And, let’s go back to the baby stage.
They have no crawling or walking or talking program.
That’s all learned.
Trying out things.
Ba ba ba ma ma ma
Right hand pushes. Left hand pushes.
Hands touch face, hands touch feet.
Rolling to belly, rolling back to the back.
This is a simple game, and a huge game and many will be reluctant because you have to get off your chair, but so be it….
Moving in new ways to explore our brain / body/ movement game #3:
Lay on the floor on your back.
Roll to your belly.
Do this slower and notice what you can notice about how you do this.
Now, with awareness, try these three ways:
Rolling from back to belly leading with your head and eyes.
Two: Rolling from back to belly and back again leading with your ribs and shoulders.
Three: Rolling from back to belly and back again leading with your pelvis and legs.
They all work.
They are all very different.
Do this a couple of times a day and guess what else will improve?
And what is the Feldenkrais Method®
When I was about 55, I was in “pretty good” shape for my age. I had not lived a sedentary life. I’d been inspirited to get involved in daily action of carpentry and garden design and garden making (no maintenance of other people’s gardens, thanks) as part of the Gurdjieff work.
The work, as I’ve said, of sensing arms and legs full time as an ongoing meditation.
That had been a great way to wake up to the fullness of life.
Also a way to experience various aches and pains.
And, that work taking place in the Bay Area, and my always having an amazing set of luck in finding the most amazing pathways to healing and awakening, I’d come across the Feldenkrais Method®, a method of slow movement that re-taught the body how to move and by discovering new and easier and more fun and less stuck pathways, almost always helped with neck, back or shoulder pain.
For years I’d been telling anyone with a neck, back or shoulder (or hip, or knee, almost any body issue) to “go see a Feldenkrais person.”
At fifty five my girlfriend at the time, the above mentioned yoga teacher Celeste, was handed a postcard a friend of hers had received about a weekend workshop in the Feldenkrais Method®. (The luck thing: a card, second hand).
I was expecting some nice body relaxation.
I came home feeling as if I was twelve years old.
The workshop had been a “teaser” for a four year training.
What better could I do at that stage of my life? Sign me up.
This work was far more fun and profound than I could ever have imagined. Over and over we started movements that seemed more or less impossible, and then slowly, not by effort, but by variation and slowing down and resting between and using awareness and learning instead of effort, again and again, we all of us, no matter what level, made huge and fun progress.
Four years of eight weeks worth. Three weeks in the winter. Five in the summer.
Then I was a practitioner. Want to move, think and feel younger and smarter? Try this work!!
And who was Moshe Feldenkrais?
An amazing man, who’d started out determined to discover life on his/ its own terms. Sick of rigid Jewish life in Poland, he’d walked to Palestine when he was fourteen, in 1918. At first alone and then more and more joined.
He made a life there as a day laborer, going to night school, and quickly discovering his ability to tutor others in any subject.
But this was Jews vs Arabs, and the British like to stir up the conflict.
Arabs, as part of their traditional dress, included knives in their attire. Jews didn’t.
This made the street conflicts rough for the Jews.
Moshe witnessed himself and his friends getting their asses kicked when they tried the level of jujitsu they had taught themselves.
He invented a move to take advantage of the natural startle hands to the face reaction when I knife is coming toward your head. Turned this reaction into a judo-like move to disarm and better the knife welder.
Included this in a book, written in Hebrew for self-defense.
Had to leave Palestine because the British weren’t fond of such books.
Went to the Sorbonne in Paris, toward a PhD in science and physics.
Met the founder of judo in Paris, showed him the book, got set up at the first European teacher of judo.
So here is Moshe, smart and studying physics with Madam Cure among others.
Physically brilliant as a judo teacher.
And… he wrecks his knees being an over vigorous soccer player.
Goes to a doc.
Who says, “We can operate, but there’s a fifty-fifty chance of you being crippled.”
Moshe: “I’m a scientist. I can flip a coin for fifty-fifty.”
He lays down on the floor and re-discovers how someone with almost worthless knees could function well in the physical world.
Discovered in his re-discovery : ribs, toes, spine, neck, breathing, learning how to learn.
On and on.
His discoveries cure him, and become obvious as highly valuable to musicians and injured folk and special needs children and anyone with brain injury, and anyone high level who wants to go to higher.
(Our website? http://BecomeMoreAmazing.com . This Feldenkrais® work is one way. Our coaching is another. Getting present to the enlightened moment of now, is another. Sex every day is another. In fact: every pathways of this book: your ticket to become more amazing.)
In his seventies, Moshe had worthless knees, the kneecaps of which could rotate almost directly to the side. And, with careful awareness he could not only walk and dance and teach, but throw far younger men in judo. Oh, well. That’s Moshe.
His gift to us all: understanding what real learning is.
Create little differences.
Go about them with less speed and less force and vastly more awareness.
Re-learn how to learn.
If this is getting to sound theoretical: go skip again in new patterns.
Roll over noticing how different it is when you lead with your hips/ pelvis and legs.
Feel the difference that just that makes.
Stand, smile, take a deep breath and wiggle your hands somewhere above your head.
See what difference that makes.
This is an amazing tool. Whether you are an athlete who wants to get even better, or a “normal” person with a back, neck or shoulder pain, or a musician who would delight to go to the next level, this sort of brain/ body/ learning by trying the non-habitual and noticing the differences is a wonderful tool.
And, as we’ve already seen before, when we want to improve our love life.
Try the habitual grumpy response: the usual / “normal” human way to relationship misery, this story: “you are to blame for my feeling bad”.
Jump to another spot and try this perspective: gratitude.
What is the difference?
Go back to the grumpy, “my partner is all the problem” spot.
How does that feel, again? What is the difference from being in gratitude.
Now jump to a new spot, the just now, just present spot.
How does that feel different?
So much of life and love and enlightenment comes from being in reality vs in some set of words in our head about how the other person “should” or “shouldn’t” be.
When we go from spot to spot and feel and perceive deeply how our different attitudes and perspectives color and shape our reality, we can begin to see what an open and delightful game life could be.
How can sex be improved with another perspective?
Try these two perspectives out for now:
One: touch is great. Let me touch my partner for 3 to 5 minutes on the hand, face, or chest, just as a one way gift.
Two: sex is about being present to sensations in the moment. Don’t try for anything more. Breathe deeply and if at all possible, slow down.