Friday, June 26, 2009

Clarity

Finished two days of Brendan Nichols at the Vasace Hotel in Surfer's Paradise. It was his "Marketing Boot Camp" where he takes us through the ABC of marketing your business to make money. "Marketing is getting them to the door, sales is getting them to walk through it." Greg and Michael were there the first day, but both of them could not stop themselves tracking all his NLP gymnastics, probably seeing him do stuff that was subconscious for him. They spent the breaks swapping stories about how he was constantly embedding messages for people to come back, but they said in the afternoon he relaxed and did more of the authentic work, without the subconscious leading. I saw it more clearly myself the second day - he's got amazing technique.

I realize that an amazing array of strategies are available to create and utilise a list of BodyChance interested folks - the sky's the limit. The limit, as I still suspect, will be the availability of teachers, not the availability of work as the situation stands today. Eventually they will be clamouring for what we have to offer, and there will be many mimicking our model, but without approaching the excellence of our own teachers. For the next five years the goal is to develop teacher training methodology across a number of schools in different locations and cultures (for now Japan and Australia from 2010) and develop a system of training that is followed at every BodyChance Studio. This gives students flexibility, and it gives us a huge experimental resource where we can being testing and measuring the efficacy of our teacher training.

Starting in 2008, we began asking our trainees to accept an experimental program of 7 different measurements at 6 monthly interviews over a two year period. We decided to use the 2 year certificate course - BodyThinking - as the domain for this first venture into finding a set of variables that can be interrelated in a way that offers some compelling evidence of change in their overall, functional unity. Beyond that, we have no idea. Some of the experiments were suggested to me by Neuroscientist and Alexander Technique student Lucy Brown, who spoke at the first Lugano Conference in 2008. We also received suggestions from Yosuke Yamada, a research scientist at Kyoto University's Human Posture Lab. The idea is taking a different approach to developing criteria for qualifying a teacher of this work - find concrete measures that can be calibrated against the head's movement relation to the spine, arms and legs. We also hope to develop a compelling, consumer product that will give people another health measure that is unique, and unseen by medical science. So we are developing this product through Greg, and his contacts at Sydney University's Laboratory of Movement - who could be advising Greg on database construction and ways to manipulate data based on Greg's information. Greg is heading this project, and the prospects for it in the long term are extraordinary. It will be fun developing that business, while also collecting valuable data available for an almost infinite number of mathematical variations.

Selling all these things is Bredan's forte, and I am overflowing with ideas so the question is when, not what. Priorities need to be based on the most effective way to generate a healthy cash flow that can fund continuing development of product streams. Another face that has entered the BodyChance mandala is Paul Cook, Publisher and Editor of DIRECTION (yes, it still lives and very well under Paul's stewardship). Greg & Michael took an early plane home this morning rather than return to Brendan, so I brought Paul along to enjoy the show.

Brendan was great - the idea of marketing Alexander Technique obviously penetrated his thinking, because he kept mentioning about it all day, and was indirectly coaching me on ways to build BodyChance. One suggestion was a whole multi-faceted selling program around themes of Knee Pain, Neck Pain, Arm Pain - you get the idea. Each one I mount a separate campaign, building a story of redemption through AT by addressing more specifically the specific needs and issues that rise for each kind of pain sufferer. AT is horizontal - EVERYONE is interested it alleviating pain at some point of their lives, or helping others around them to do it - but I learnt at Brendan's that horizontal markets are harder, bigger, more diverse. A vertical audience is better: they are easier to target with specific emotional benefits, a campaign that is designed with them in mind. Niche, niche, niche - that was one of Brendan's advice. Like people who suffer from knee pain. AT teachers often try to be all things to all people - they advertise to a horizontal market without the economic muscle to be particularly effective. The result is 125 years of relative obscurity of AT from ordinary consumers.

So from tomorrow we have a series of meetings with Tom, Greg, Michael, Paul and myself about marketing these 9 weekends in 2010, and looking at the general strategy we will follow towards the launch of the Studio in January, 2012. I want to put Paul in charge of marketing and the website, and use Brendan's ideas to achieve a profit off the workshops in 2010. All this is up for discussion, together with a plan for the legal structure of BodyChance, it's relationship to Japan and the way equity can be handled. It promises to be an important week.

Oh - and I bought myself a new home in Mullumbimby, that has the fabulous quality of being cash neutral/positive, though it will cost me $765,000 to buy. It will be a great resource for BodyChance - I can let it out to the company to hold small workshops here for Japanese with all accommodation and teaching fees in one package. This can also serve as a pilot program for the eventual Japanese attendance at the Sydney Studio. Tomorrow, in the midst of everything else, I have to complete the Loan Application, fax everything to Jay and...

Sigh.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

EQUANIMITY

Maintaining an equal feeling towards my two daughters is the focal point of my practise of dissolving the feelings of attraction and aversion that the concepts of "friend, enemy or stranger" so easily conjure up inside my heart. Them, and some irritating correspondents I receive messages from occasionally.

How to feel equal to all these? Well, for now it is impossible to class the correspondents in the same category as my daughters, and indeed there is no need - the concept does not need to be thrown away - I can still label a person an irritant - but the aggression, the inappropriate behaviour: all these things are only harms to myself, and my spiritual purpose.

Many parents will tell you they feel equally to their children, but on the whole they are lying I think. Why would the tendency we have outside the family - to have favourites, people whose company we enjoy more than others - be somehow magically evaporated once you crossed the threshold of your front door? No - don't believe that nonsense, people always try to delude themselves.

Yet I feel great trepidation at even considering this issue in an honest matter - as though the admission of the fact becomes the primary cause of it's own being, feeding the very fire I want to put out. So with great delicacy and care do I meditate on the differences in my attitude and treatment of my children. This is part of the practise of equanimity - not fuel the idea that flames out to burn me, but douse water on any idea that seeks to put prejudiced favour of one before the other.

Douse it with what? With truth, with the absolute understanding that every human being is created with an equal desire for happiness, and an equal right to it. At times the demand of one can outshine the other, and one can appear to give favour, but in essence that moment of decision is based on circumstances, based on a consideration of many things - NOT based on a feeling of feeling better with one rather than another.

Anyway, I am being obtuse as one day those little creatures might even come to read this - so for today that is enough. It was useful to write about it, as I have a clearer understanding of a few things now.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Chairwork II

In the morning at 2am - yes, sometimes I start the day early - I was searching my email database for something, and came across an email from a teacher about chairwork. No need to mention who here, but I was taken by how lightly the idea of working outside of chairwork was treated, almost as though one only did that if one didn't have sufficient abilities to do chairwork. All said in a nice way, but still overtones of...

So, I got a little carried away and wrote a passionate and challenging response, which later the writer (gently) pointed out that I had I read more of the actual email, rather than read into the email more that he in fact said, I might have had a more balanced response, and I am sure he is right.

Anyway, here's what I wrote (lightly edited):

***

Early in my training school, many students - aware of what is happening in other Alexander circles - started clamouring for me to do "chairwork" and "hands on" - neither of which are part of my training program (other than getting in and out of a chair which is an activity with no special status in my mind).

I refused for the simple reason that I did not want my trainees attached to any "form" - which to me is how traditional chairwork often operates. It can be a safe haven within which one can explore the principles. Ask someone to step out of that haven and explore the same principles, and my guess is that many teachers would simply be at a loss what to do.

I am of the opinion that if you do the same thing every day of your training for three years, you do get some familiarity with how to take someone in and out of the chair. Yes, we still need refined abilities to do that, and the depth that one can go into with this activity is tremendous. No arguments on that score. However, I do think that any action, however difficult, when repeated again and again over a long period of time, assumes a kind of comfortable familiarity.

I put the burden on my students to come up with the subject of our lesson - these are the kinds of requests I have dealt with in just the last three weeks (no kidding):

- I stutter when at my work, but nowhere else (23yo man at intro class)
- People say they can't hear me speak (28yo woman at same class)
- I freeze up whenever anyone is taking my photograph (trainee in ThinkingBody Course)
- I get the same pain as my patient whenever I massage (Trainee in BodyThinking Course)

Firstly, when faced with such requests - there is no form to hold on to. Taking them in and out of a chair won't fly. I don't doubt they would get benefit, but I do doubt they would leave the lesson any wiser in knowing how Alexander's discoveries, and the process it involves, can be an aid and support for them in dealing with the specific problems and difficulties of their lives, as they conveyed them to me above.

Secondly, for me each request becomes a new adventure in discovering how inhibition, direction etc. can be applied in delightfully unexpected ways. These oddball requests test me on how clearly I can understand and apply the work in any situation. There is no chairwork "procedure" to enjoin with a principled approach - the principled approach is all you have; the form to enjoin to that must be re-created every lesson. You need to investigate the request, quietly collect information about their co-ordination, consider it internally, then suggest a means whereby that takes into account all the information you have collected and puts a plan together that allows a person to experience a sense of accomplishment; or at least begin to cognitively AND experientially understand how to deal with the issue they have brought you by using the principles and discoveries of Alexander.