Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Regulation

Just caught up on all the emails and info about UK regulation - my goodness, what a tiring issue to be worrying about.

My sense is to re-invent AT and sell that. Who needs to be an "Alexander Technique teacher" anyway? It's not like it's a fabulously well known brand folks - don't kid yourselves. There's some gravitas to be sure, but you wouldn't lose that anyway: "Based on F. M. Alexander's discoveries but the Alexander Technique NOT."

Except for Japan - God bless them. We don't have to worry about all this here. I once went to a lawyer asking him about regulation and how we might handle that? He asked me how many members were involved - it was under three digits at the time. When he got up off the floor from laughing, he told me to come back when we had a million or more were involved. Until then, the Japanese Government couldn't care less.

Personally I think AT is situated wrongly anyway - human potentiality is more relevant than human repair. So just like Madonna, a rebirth might be a healthy thing. Look out for BodyChance Coaches - OK?

If I decide to do that, please understand it has nothing to do with my idea that I have invented something new or better or different - it is simply a question of positioning the product where it doesn't attract government regulation.

Who needs that?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Seeing the Self

Our friends all suffer from our personality disorders, yet we rarely see or understand them ourselves - although these days I am coming to notice my own more clearly. To me it is perplexing - why is that a problem for other people? How can I possibly change this aspect of myself? Is it my problem or theirs? Finding answers only comes when the information about the disorder is clear.

And there's the rub - the flip side of our disorder is often the very thing that creates our success. In my own case, I have a talent to plan, to imagine, to create an endless cascade of ideas and possibilities that mostly overwhelms and discourages people closest around me. When I go into flight, people either feel that it is too fast and noisy and they simply can't (and don't want to) catch up, or that I fill the space around me so thoroughly with myself, that there is no space left for them to simply be.

To those who know me - I am aware of it. And it costs me, in small and significant ways. This year alone several people have walked out of a being in relationship to me: their core issue being - I suspect - this inability they perceive of me being unable to hear them. On that score it is often the case that I know people are against my plans - I simply choose to ignore their objections. Sometimes I listen - and I have spent my whole life attempting to develop this ability to listen - but another voice chimes away inside claiming that they just have fear for the unknown, and that if I listen and follow every objector around me, I will simply not get everything done.

I am a person on a frantic mission, no question of that. Frantic? Why frantic? Well, the clock of life is ticking. Death - as the regular reader of this blog will know - is already stalking me with finality and definiteness. Right now I have stumbled upon something the likes of which could reengineer the consumer presence of Alexander's discoveries in the world within a business model that could benefit millions of people for hundreds of years - and make a shit load of cash while doing it. Alexander's work is a commodity - it is like gold in your hands. But just as the internet is a place where you're always needing to be figuring out - what is the next angle? How else can we sell this thing? - so is Alexandersphere a mysterious place to be doing business, a new internet-like something at a scale that has not been witnessed as yet…

It is like an improved software program. We are installing this new software in the human brain - the essence of primary directed movement - and slowly reprogramming the world. I spent a long time thinking about the mission of the company I have started. And after 18 months - and going through many options - the simple truth of it hit me. The purpose of this company is to make Alexander's discoveries accessible to everyone on the planet. It will take hundreds of years, but when it is finally accomplished, as it most certainly will, humanity will not be quite the same anymore.

Alexander fantasied himself about this in his books, didn't he? Was he neurotic too? Probably he was, especially if it turns out that my theory about my disordered Self is true.

Alexander wrote that the adoption of his discoveries by humanity would constitute a new step in the Evolution of the Self that would usher in Man's Supreme Inheritance which is the Conscious Constructive Control of the Use of the Individual as a Universal Constant in Living.

And it will all be accomplished on such a huge scale, that it will eventually generate mountains of cash. It will transform the pain industry, eliminating thousands of jobs while creating even more new ones: rehabilitation programs will evolve into razor shape treatments that are so effective they leave patients better off than they were BEFORE their injury! Any why not?

This is the Alexander Technique after all. This is the thing that two Nobel Scientists have acclaimed, one of them being the father of neuroscience, Sir Charles Sherrington himself. This is the same Alexander Technique that the British Medical Journal in their August 2008 issue published a break through study which demonstrated a 86% reduction of pain in a study of 579 people. If that can't make you money in this world (?) nothing can.

I don't think this is just my drunken grandiosity, but it sure needs a little dose of insanity from somewhere just to keep it gong another day. It will, after all, affect primary school curriculums.

So, what if I could figure out a business model for doing AT on a corporate scale in a huge consumer market? What if I could capture basically the same sized market that Macdonalds does - then can you see why I am frantic about it? Ray Crock was 53 when he started Macdonalds. I am 54 and counting. But I honestly think I am on the edge of cracking something huge.

Macdonalds for a food chain? Well, why not Alexanders for a movement chain? What you eat and how you move - can you think of two things more important that those? That is the arrogant vision I am holding on to inside. I will even be offering shares in a few years. BodyChance has googles of potential. So. Such a vast and drunkenly grandiose plan (I've done my time in AA, NA etc.) requires a highly neurotic person with Niagra Falls in their brain, constantly spewing ideas out onto the early morning dew.

Such a person would be me - meet my personality disorder.
(If I could bow now, I would).

While I function in this hallucinatory world - for that is all it is - protecting myself from feeling any of the pain my insanity is inflicting upon those that surround me - out pops another idea, a new plan: ideas after ideas until all the weary people surrounding this endless thinking waterfall, finally nod off and go to sleep. Meanwhile, I dash out another idea in my drunken lust for planning things while I use this process to distract my attention from the pain I might be feeling if I was truly in empathy with those people around me. I continue to believe that all this is actually real.

So yes, I see my personality disorder quite well I think

But… (and here it comes)

What if I am right?

***

My spiritual teachers assure me that my job in life is to be of assistance to others, and this is at the core of the mission I follow so frantically. At a certain level, there's no room for doubt or cautiousness in me at the moment - yet I can see that this is neither wise nor beneficial to my plans in the longer run. How can being a catalyst for hurt towards those closest around me be congruent with a spiritual purpose? Clearly something is amiss here. Doubt is the artist's friend - without it arrogance, coarseness and stupidity can breed - so why would I choose to ignore that???

So I have my doubt, this blog is actually asserting it. For me there continues to be this unanswerable question pressing in upon the space surrounding my purpose.

Another irritating aspect of my personality disorder for friends and foe alike, is the changeability of my point of view. People start to distrust what I say to them, having already experienced shifts of viewpoint that leave them feeling stranded and betrayed on an island of my making! While I am witnessing this storm around me, what is my neurotic voice chiming to me inside?

Oh, that things change, everything is always changing, and people live with the delusion that things stay the same, when they simply do not. Sure what I said awhile ago is true, but that was then, this is now - things have changed.

Of course, for the opportunist, it is a lovely song. For those left behind in the wake of my new plans, it is no comfort at all. Success in business, it is often said, is dependant upon the speed with which change can happen. The corporate monoliths that finally fail in business do so because they can not adapt to changing circumstances quickly enough. The fourth biggest company in America before the advent of the Ford was a maker of whips. Now they no longer exist.

But at least they were reliable. They made whips, and continued to make whips, and they didn't disappoint the people who thought they were a whip making company. In a way, our Alexander community is a little bit like the whip making company. These days people want something that we clearly don't offer in a way that is wonderful for them. Yet at the core what we have is what they need - so why are so many Alexander teachers struggling to make a living, and most not even doing that?

But I veer from my subject, which is what I always do - yet another frustrating, personality disorder for others to suffer in my presence. So as usual I got nowhere figuring this out. I see what it is that people object to in me - I am not blind to that - but I do not see a way to change that without ceasing to be who I am. Recently I have been concluding that this is the package you get - take it or leave it. I am not without compassion for the effects of my disorders upon others, but I can not see how the engine of my ambition can function without them.
12

Monday, November 09, 2009

Giving Directions

Alexander was adamant - you must first think one thing, then while continuing to think of this, you think a second thing, then while continuing to think those things, you think another and so on: this whole process Dewey called Thinking in Activity and “anyone who does it will have what a new experience in what they call thinking” (FM in UOS Ch 1).

However, FM was only adamant about that in his discovery story that he recorded into writing during his first training in 1929~33. He was not adamant about this all his life - in fact he came to the point, which he never recorded in his writing, where he believed we must stop this process of “giving directions” as quoted by Walter Carrington in his diary:

“At tea FM said that he had, at last, decided that we must cut out in future teaching all instructions to order the neck to relax or to be free because such orders only lead to other forms of doing. If a person is stiffening the neck, the remedy is to get them to stop projecting the messages that are bringing about this condition and not to project messages to counter-act the effects of the other messages.”

Given the continuing fondness for “giving directions” in our Alexander community, it is surprising to me that this opinion of Alexander’s is not more widely known for being the heretical recantation that it is. If Alexander thought we should stop “giving directions” why are we still doing it?

Well, for good reasons, chief among them being that we all suffer from varying levels of attention deficient - an increasing chronic problem in our modern world. Our quality of attention is at the heart of the issue of “giving directions” so it is worth digressing a little by pulling out some information that has been utilised by meditators for thousands of years to achieve levels of attention that can deliver extraordinary powers of insight and well being to understand how we might intelligently understand what this whole process of “giving directions” is all about.

***

Omniscience is the quality of knowing all things in every moment, of being able to have your attention with every sentient being in every moment, without discrimination of past, present and future. It is a totally incomprehensible concept to our dualistic minds, but in the Buddhist analysis of reality, those that achieve this quality of attention are called realised beings, for they are able to simultaneously know the conventional truth of dualistic existence as existing within the absolute truth of non-duality or dharamkaya.

We - being those that have consciousness - all possess the ability to realise this, and it comes about by the removal of the obstacles and afflictions that suffocate our knowing. Our consciousness is defined as having two qualities: that of knowing, and of luminosity. Neither of these have any material form - consciousness is considered a formless phenomenon - yet in human beings, gross consciousness does exist in dependance upon organs that are essential for the arising of different categories of consciousness: the consciousness of seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, touching, feeling and knowing.

***

Unless we are omnisciencent - and I don’t remember meeting anyone who was - our capacity to know something fluctuates depending on where and how we direct our attention. Attention is not a faculty that requires any effort on our part. From the moment of our birth, to the fading of our life, attention is filtered by our intention. We place our attention here or there depending on our intentions.

So our attention is driven by our intention, but the two are easily confused. Attention is not something we can turn on or turn off. Can you stop seeing? Even if you close your eyes, you still see something. Even while you sleep, you hear things. Attention is not the same a being conscious of something - that is intention at work. Attention it is simply to ability to receive information. Or that is how I am asking you to consider it for the sake of these ideas.

We receive huge amounts of information every second and we are totally unable to intentionally place our attention on all of it at once. So we must be selective, and that selection is directed by our intention, which in turn is powered by our interests, our desires, our passions.

We can direct our attention any place we like - so how do we decide where we want it to go? Well, as I said, if we have a passion for something - a person, a hobby, a food - then our intention calls us to pull up any information that exists in relation to that object. If the desire is out of control, it is very hard to decide to place our attention somewhere else. We obsessively look information about the person, food and activity we desire.

So part of the ability to bring attention under our direction is to tame the unbridled passions that afflict our consciousness. In the absence of these afflictions, in the presence of satisfaction and contentment, a wonderfully new question might arise in our consciousness: what will I place my attention on now? What do I intend to study now?

Alexander suggested that the most profitable candidate for this newly freed intention is the primary control in the use of our self - intend to pay attention to that by directing it in every activity. Hmm. How does that work?

Intention is fuelled by knowledge, which itself is the product of being able to distinguish one thing from another thing within a holistic framework. When a dancer watches another dancer, they have their attention on things that we, the non-dancer, do not even know. They have educated themselves, so their attention can be placed in ways that we can not do. However, we see everything they see - that don’t see anything extra. So in my analysis of attention and intention, our faculty of attention functions with no limitations compared to theirs, however their intention is vastly different to ours.

Being that they have studied dance for so long, when they direct their attention, they direct it in ways that we can not possibly do. They make distinctions between things that we do not even know you could make distinctions between. The placement of the hand at this angle instead of another angle during the dancing of a flamenco dance, is simply not something we can pay attention to because there is no intention to do so.

Intention is the key, and Alexander made a case for placing your attention on your use of your self, and he proposed a method for doing that. That method is his idea of “giving directions” but this is an intention, it has nothing to do with attention.

But people use their intention to see if their attention has been able to make the change that they were hoping to make based on an experience they had previously. If I use intention this way, I interfere with attention. If attention was a person, it would answer you like this:

“What do you mean is your back still hurting in the way it was a minute ago? I am telling you everything I know. All I know is what you are already doing, so why are you asking me if I can tell you something I just didn’t tell you?"

So intention is not something that looks back, not even for a second. Attention is the report of the intention, of “what just happened” and it is already a settled matter. It is history, be it only a milli-second ago. Intention on the other hand is directive to the future, even one second into the future. So “giving directions” is something projected into the future, something that is not “known” while intending it.

And we can educate ourselves around this intention - second by second, day by day. That is why the repetition of words is meaningless without the company of a vastly growing reservoir of distinctions of intention in relation to our use. The words only exist because our faculty to maintain attention with our intention is so dismally poor.

So by reminding ourselves to stay with the intention by a skeleton or words - or by wordless imagery or any other method that can hold our attention to our intention - then we are growing, However, searching into past experience does not give us much new to consider - it can actually decrease the acuity of our intention, it does not enhance it. Which is why intention is needs to be a fresh something projected one second forward, seeking more information through experimentation with thought, while attention is always the report of that one second - and can not be shaped by anything other than intention. The report is necessary - to shape the next intention. The two dance together, but dwelling mostly on one (trying to feel out what is going on) or the other (chanting words like a machine) do not work. The process starts with intention, it always must, while attention is being directed towards the object you are considering - the Use of the Self.

This seems impossible to most people—they can not believe that the mere throwing of an intention into the future will change how they co-ordinate themselves. Which, when you think about it, is nonsense of course. We do this all the time, but not it seems when our intention is around the co-ordination of our self through the activities of our day.

If this is all making no sense to you, maybe I am too tired to be writing. I am getting a little confused myself - but a reason to write all this was to dig deeper into my own thinking and fault it. I can now - I hear lots of arguments against what I just wrote, mainly of the clarifying kind.

Anyway, signing off as my bullet train is now approaching Kyoto. Maybe I will re-write this to make more sense, maybe I won’t.