Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Sciatica

"Even the teachers are running"

That's how the Japanese describe their Xmas season - of course it is not Xmas here, much as the big department stores would love it to be so. But it is bonus time - all the corporates pay out, and everyone's running around planning what they will do from next April, including BodyChance.

People are leaving jobs, planning moves, deciding what they will study in the New Year. It is a busy time for BodyChance also. Take this weekend for instance. It started organising things around the Body Thinking One Day Human Body Users Guide workshop - this is the workshop that graduates of the two year BodyThinking course will be certified to teach. The graduation is coming up in April, so the next three months of the BodyThinking unit will be orientated to the content and pedagogical methodology of teaching to groups.

The course concept will be presented to about 70 Bellydance teachers and students who are coming to BodyChance's "Bellydancing Event". The BodyThinking One Day Users Guide to the Human Body Course is a teaser for AT lessons and joining our one year Ippan (public) program. While preparations for this are going on, we scheduled a meeting with our new "Medical Advisor" Dr Tsukasa Fujimoto. He is joining the BodyChance Research Project and helping us develop and hone the measurements we are collecting every 6 months on the progress of our ProCourse trainee members. We are coming up to the two year mark, so now we need to figure out how to analyse the data in a meaningful way that 1. gives us a clearer picture of how our members are changing in relation to the work and 2. the beginnings of a consumer product that we can start offering the 100+ members of the Ippan program.

The vision is to spin off a new company which will offer a "Co-ordination Health Assessment" for consumers, with a series of conclusive prescriptions that send them across the road, clutching their report, to book into BodyChance Ippan Program where our "technicians" (BodyChance teachers) will educate them on how they can manage their co-ordination effectively. After 6 months, it's back across the road to see how they are progressing on a series of measurements that demonstrate the changes that have occurred in a way that is difficult for even a hard-nosed sceptic to argue against, but of course they will.

Dr Fujimoto is an eminent Japanese Neuro-surgeon who has recently retired, having just published his autobiography. Yes, he is quite famous here. He spent his career investigating and assisting people with headaches - which led him to us, and a process of learning about Alexander's stupendous discoveries. His wife, an Opera singer, is a ProCourse member (trainee).

Same day, but after teaching a three hour class of the Directors Course Unit of our training, a late evening meeting with Yasuhiro, a ProCourse 3rd Stage trainee member, who is heading up our new internet Alexander books course - which is becoming a new Unit of the training, but one that does not require your physical presence. I wanted to pull study of the books out of the training to free up more time for practical work, but I still see studying Alexander's books as a critical part of the training process. You don't have to love them, you don't even have to agree with them (like me), but you do need to be familiar with them.

Part of that project - the reason is took so long to get going - is finding the money to get them translated into Japanese. Now that we have secured the rights to UCL and, soon CCCI, we have two people (Yasuhiro on CCCI & our new Board Member from SONY Yuko Suzuki on UCL) working on their translation this year, so we are ready to launch more book units in 2011.

I've left out the two Management meetings, the ATI assessment, the 2nd Stage assessment process for Yoko-san in class, the organising of the legalities and tax issues (and writing the agreement) for selling 42 shares in BodyChance to graduates of the ProCourse to help me raise money for the new Sydney studio I am planning for 2012. And yes, I also had to wash my clothes, talk to my girls, arrange buying a car in Australia, pack up everything for an 8 month "sabbatical" from Japan, organise the management issues for the three new full-time staff members that will join us in April and, somewhere in there, eat.

So is it any wonder that my old, old sciatica returned to my leg. Oh dear - what is that telling me? I concluded one thing - if I move in my old way, I think in my old way. So all of me is having a daily, hourly, minute by minute conversation with my right leg - which still stubbornly believes that in times of multifaceted activities, lateral rotation at the hip joint is definitely the solution. It's all part of a re-energised habit kicked off by my retinal attachment operation which basically retained the sight but decimated my ability to see. So I started unconsciously turning my left eye forward, creating an invitation for my right leg to resume it's laterally rotating support system, which had been on holiday for many years.

It's December in Japan and yes, even the teachers are running.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Minister For Everything

I am a cowboy at heart, not an intellectual.

I try to make it look right, but it's not really me. It's a constant struggle, as many of my goals depend on an enlightened mind that understands and can navigate so many different worlds: business (me?!), neuroscience (me?!), anatomist (me?!), language (hopeless at Japanese still), writing/communication (this), Buddhism and of course Alexander discoveries, with all the pedagogical issues that howl around the propagation of his work.

These last two are most treasured and important to me - the study of human consciousness itself, primarily my own, hence by extension everyone else's.

In 1996, when I was on the small Working Group that organised His Holiness the Dalai Lama's visit to Sydney to offer the 11 day Kalacharka ceremony, my nickname was "Minister for Everything". It was meant as a derogatory remark to accentuate my maddening tendency to want to know everything about anything. And this has always been central to my own disorder as a human being - a case of gluttony, a case of wanting too much, resulting in a lack of focus, of persistence, of commitment. It's apparent in many things I have done, and still do.

Yet, like all disorders, there is a flip side which is extremely beneficial. If this tendency to gluttony can be harnessed to serve one master, then rather than being detrimental to its owner, it becomes magical. Much as many people disliked me, so there were others who were thrilled with what I could do. The sheer volume of creative planning, analysis of different needs, the master plan for whole project, the detailed budget, the staffing allocations, a twist on the publicity, the videoing of it - all of the above and more flowed from my flawed consciousness in service to His Holiness.

His Holiness has often said, that in small measure, our faults can be harnessed to benefit us. He gave the example of two Buddhist practitioners living in the same household. He pointed out that the self-cherishing mind could lead to competition between the two partitioners: "Did you do your practise to day? I meditated for over an hour actually." But a little competition, His Holiness remarked, could be a good thing if it spurred you to practise more.

So I see my disorder this way. I can't not not be me - that much I have concluded. Short of becoming enlightened in this life, I am stuck with the cluster of habits, imprints and personality disorders that were hardwired into my brain a long time ago.

So giving up on the premise that I can fundamentally change the energetic organisation of my personality, the next obvious step it to channel the energy of this personality in a constructive way. Do I believe no transformation is possible? Of course not. But transformation involves effectiveness in directing the energy of activity, of thought , of intention. It is not of the nature of Jeremy becoming His Holiness, or any other spiritual mentor. I think this is a wrong understanding of change, and is usually motivated by people who lack love for the precious qualities of their own human consciousness.

People may think that these "confession session" blogs indicate a disturbed mind, a person in angst, a person in conflict. Far from it. These reflections are born from a recognition of the precious and magical nature of my humanity - how wonderful it is, how extraordinary, the whole "what a piece of work is man" speech from Hamlet. I am in love with my Self, but not the disordered self, but the Self that is ordering the disorder. Terrible choice of words, but the idea comes through doesn't it?

Which all comes down to this: my approach to this dilemma these days, as BodyChance grow richer, is to ask others to do what I really can't (and often don't want) to do myself.

In BodyChance, Cathy Madden is the light behind our training approach, a transforming conduit from Marjorie Barstow, who herself stood upon Alexander's work and said: "Why not this too?" and so a whole new movement in the AT world was born, a movement that is being increasing felt by the Alexander community as time marches on. In England, Don Weed - a long time student of Marj - has shown members of STAT that with the right approach there are plenty of people who want to train - "50 new students have joining the ITM Teacher Training Course" they proudly state on their website.

Here in Japan we have 65 people on our ProCourse training program, and more than a 100 more now signed up for our Ippan annual membership program of one private lesson or one group session every week. We reached that growth in 18 months, and we're already planning the opening of a second studio in Tokyo.

Folks - Alexander's work is still alive and kicking, don't believe the doomsayers. The world is about to be flooded with a whole new generation of teachers, an extraordinary renaissance of our work is coming. Believe it.

For BodyChance, the other thing I am doing is organising a ProCourse Summit in Switzerland before the next Congress in 2011, where all the Training Directors and Associate Directors of BodyChance's ProCourse trainings in Tokyo, Osaka and soon to be Sydney (numbers 10 teachers now) will gather together for three days to do an overhaul of the curriculum and set up various experiments and changes.

Finally the Minister for Everything can take a rest, and feel proud that something good has come from something bad. Personality disorders are great!