Monday, May 31, 2010

Transformational Structure #1

I write a lot of things, and some of my material lies languishing in piles around my office.

Are you wanting to transform your life?
Do you work in group teaching situations and need a fresh perspective?
Are you teaching, and want to know an underlying structure that informs your work?

I wrote a particularly long and thoughtful piece on "A Plan for Teaching Groups" which I've decided to run in sections in my blog for awhile. It's not been published anywhere. I gave it to teachers at my class in the Congress in 2008, otherwise that's it.

I don't know if it is about running groups, so much as about the process of transformation that I use structurally in all the work I do.

So the beginning of this article goes like this:

***

A Plan For Teaching Groups

BACKGROUND
This is a generic plan that works for anyone wishing to move towards a new situation in their life, whether that involves the gaining of a new skill, the transformation of a social situation, or becoming a different kind of person from the one you perceive your Self to be at the moment. This plan is the context for teaching a person to gain autonomy in achieving what they want for themselves.

WORKSHOP
This plan becomes the basic structure of both an individual piece of work with one person, as well as the structure of the entire workshop. The workshop or lesson is not primarily about helping the person to feel better by co-ordinating better, the primary purpose is to demonstrate how this process works, how it helps you achieve what you want, and how you can practice it on your own.

TEACHER TOOLS
Your own personal understanding of the scope of the work determines the skill set you need to help others. The basic tool set is a precise understanding of your own co-ordination compared to the average person, and the ability to consciously manage your co-ordination in any activity of life. With this skill set, you gain the ability to understand how others are dealing with this issue. From this skill, the ability to influence other people's choices about their co-ordination will naturally flow. The "touch" ability of an Alexander Technique teacher is a subset of their own co-ordination, unless that teacher develops a touch guided by the ideas of intervention and manipulation. Alexander's own pedagogy leant towards the category of manipulation, a word that is he often writes in his books to describe the way he uses his hands in teaching.
In workshops, another essential skill set is the ability to manage the overall quality of engagement of the participants of a workshop, and a use of language as a tool for positively influencing the ability of others to correctly conceive the information that is being offered.

ALEXANDER
The plan for this workshop is based on Chapter One of Use of the Self "Evolution of a Technique." In that chapter, Alexander moves through all the steps described below. If you study the chapter, and compare it to these notes, it is easy to understand how the plan below follows the stages of Alexander's discoveries. My language is different, but careful study will reveal that it is still essentially the same description as Alexander's own in that chapter. By getting this point clear in your mind, you can create a clear workshop structure and gain an understanding of the learning plan we are asking our students to apply to their own wishes for change, growth and development.

***

TOMORROW: Stage 1: The Wisher (in us all)

That's all folks!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Want A Whole New Life Update

I heard from a friend that my recent blogs, particularly my last, might have come across as though I was re-thinking my commitment to BodyChance in Sydney?

I am surprised to hear that, as I opened that blog by stating how powerfully I remain committed to staying on my current path. But if that isn't convincing to you, perhaps this is…

1st Reason

Since I was 20 years old I have done nothing else but study and teach others the discoveries of F. M. Alexander, so 46 years later I am not about to stop! What would I do? Who's going to employ a 56 year old who has never done anything else but teach AT - Small market eh? I think I could only employ myself!

2nd & 3rd Reasons

I have two compelling and rock solid reasons why I wanted to start BodyChance in Australia - as opposed to just staying in Japan - and those reasons are Angelica and Grace, my two children.

My heart has been moved by how they are blossoming under the influence of Steiner Education. The oldest one, Angelica now in year 5, transformed from a monosyllablatic rock of darkness, to a springy & brightly moving chatterbox. In Japan, without us realising the cause, she had been hiding herself, getting darker and smaller as time passed by. Seeing her now, I can never return her permanently to school in Japan. She's here to stay. Grace two - who is only in Year 2: ten years to go.

So you're stuck with me here!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Want A Whole New Life? Update

I heard from a friend that my recent blogs, particularly the one below, might have come across as though I was re-thinking my commitment to BodyChance in Sydney? I am surprised to hear that, as I opened this blog by stating how powerfully I remain commitment to staying on my current path.

But if that isn't convincing to you, perhaps this is…

1st Reason
Since I was 20 years old I have done nothing else but study and teach others the discoveries of F. M. Alexander so, 46 years later, so I am not about to stop now! Who's going to employ a 56 year old whose never done anything else but teach AT? Small market eh? I think I could only employ myself!

2nd & 3rd Reasons
I have two compelling and rock solid reasons why I wanted to start BodyChance in Australia - as opposed to just staying in Japan - and those reasons are Angelica and Grace, my two children.

My heart has been moved by how they are blossoming under the influence of Steiner Education. The oldest one, Angelica now in year 5, transformed from a monosyllablatic rock of darkness, to a springy & brightly moving chatterbox. In Japan, without us realising the cause, she had been hiding herself, getting darker and darker. Seeing her now, I can never return her to school in Japan.

So you're stuck with me here! Now, here's the blog that worried folks…

***
Want A Whole New Life?

Those who follow my blog know that I am public about the raging furnace of my aggregated consciousnesses. Recently my fire ran low, my embers are just faintly glowing, but luckily my mission is not linked to my emotional weather report. Emotions ebb up and down, enthusiastic one day, despairing the next - not a reliable base upon which to build dreams. So to those who wonder if I falter (?) know that I do not. My vision is not based on how I feel at any particular moment, and if that is how you run your life (?) I suggest you study the discoveries of F. M. Alexander: "When the time comes that you can trust your feeling, you won't want to use it."

My current crisis is precipitated by a number of elements - chief amongst them a loss of clarity. Clarity is power, remember? My vision is to build a company that will render access to Alexander's discoveries to everyone on the planet. I don't reckon I will get the job done in this life, so my sub-mission is to put in place the processes which will make that inevitable.

So part of that plan is "proving" that this can be done. That Alexander's discoveries can be harnessed to the energy of money to bring about global transformation of society. That is the BodyChance mission: To make profits through Alexander Education to bring about positive change in society. Is this a mission that interests you? Then I need you help. It's not something I could ever do on my own.

How could you help me? Well, you need to be in Australia, specifically Sydney. But not absolutely so, because any suggestion, advice, relating of experience or duplicate goals in other places could all feed to each other to create a burring fire again.

Japan is proving that Alexander discoveries are attractive to ordinary consumers - how it goes there we will see (we have yet to make real profits) but the prospects are looking good. But it is easy for people to say "Oh, Japan is a special market - you could not do that in the West." So enter Sydney. If I can build Sydney to mirror the success of Tokyo/Osaka (yes, we have two hubs of expanding activity in Japan now) then I have created a blue print to repeat this again and again: London, New York, Seattle, Z├╝rich, Boston, Brisbane, Paris etc. etc. As my lama says: "Think Big. Big love. Big life."

So Sydney is critical to realising the bigger vision: if I fail there, all I am is a loud wind bag of hallucinogenic proportions, blowing foul air on the truths of human society. I could be that, in my worst moments I have been that, but my intuition tells me I am on to something. That this could very well be, THE NEXT BIG THING.

So how can you help me? Well, I'm getting there…

How do I make a success of Sydney? This is the question I have been asking myself, posing a differently shaped question and receiving various advices on an almost daily basis. So the obvious place to look for an answer is within the current success of Japan. Well, those who follow DIRECTION know that a new issue just came out where I penned a 3,000 word article explaining just that - so I won't try to repeat all the insights I gained again here.

The essence comes down to this:

1. Create a product (cost, convenience, content) that solves a problem;
2. Market it to people who can afford it.
3. From that market, build a Professional Course (ProCourse)

In Japan the statistics tell us that of every 100 people who book into our one year Ippan Course (for weekly lessons in group or individual) 10% of them will upgrade themselves into the ProCourse.

So THAT'S how you can build, and sustain, a successful BodyChance Alexander Technique Teacher Education Course.

Except there's one problem - resources. To build that in Sydney I need:

1. A full-time studio in Sydney's CBD, or some other central location. (Expensive)
2. Teachers to teach, who understand BodyChance AT Education (chair and table NOT)
3. A full-time administrator (expensive)

All this equals Working Capital, which I do not have. Now if you are beginning to think "Oh, this guy wants to me to give him some money…" then you are wrong. I don't. (Although if you want to invest, you can always let me know!) No, it's not money I want - it's energy: in the form of relationships, skills, networking - but I get ahead of myself.

So what do you do if you don't have working capital? You build a cash flow business. You get enough clients who pay into the business so you can use that income to build the business. This is the approach I am currently taking. However, this approach means I can not open the Studio in Sydney (yet), I can not build the market that will sustain the school longer term.

Although I have a vital lesson to learn from Japan, I can not apply this lesson in Sydney! It's the money, stupid. Longer term, when Sydney succeeds and Japan is turning over real profits, THEN I can ask other people's money. But right now, I have to "prove" that the BodyChance methodology of monetizing Alexander's discoveries is a valid, doable model.

So - that (finally) brings you to my current dilemma: if I can not build the ProCourse Education on the base of larger Ippan (Public) education - the studio, the central location, the one year course - then how do I build it?

Actually, this is not only my problem. This is a problem that any AT Teacher Education school has. And the sad fact of the matter is: none of them do it very well. The anecdotal evidence is that AT Schools the world over are struggling at various levels. Oh dear - so am I barking up the wrong tree? Maybe. But I have not given up yet.

What I have given up, which is a huge relief, is the idea of building the Ippan (Public) Education Programme any time soon. My goal is to first build the ProCourse Education. Now I have 7 people (or is it 5 as two people need to tell me if they plan to continue or not) and this creates a cash flow of about $15,000. Not much - it certainly doesn't cover the costs. I subsidise the school from my own personal funds at present. These are the true facts that a vision is born from. I am having fun doing all this, but there is never ending risk and surrender necessary to move ahead. If you wonder if you could do this yourself (if you are not already) then that may be your answer. There is not much that is "safe" about this path. Every day is an unknown, but that is why I like it so much. It means living the work in everything I do.

So - here I am grappling with this question: who is going to want to join BodyChance ProCourse Education? Where are they? How can I reach them?

I planned to get much further than this with my blog today, but I have run out of steam. How can you help me? Well, start by giving me your answers to those questions. Tell someone close to you about BodyChance in Sydney (if you can). Come an experience a free introduction with me if you live in Sydney (or close by). Go to this link to book your place:


http://www.bodychance.com.au/events/


If you want it for free, enter BODYCHANCE into the coupon box, so instead of costing $49, it costs $0. That's a simple, effective way you can help me right now.

Who knows - your life may never be the same again!

Wouldn't that be fun?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Deliverance

Dark days tinged with disappointment and despair have delivered determination unto my decisions...

Ambition has yielded to sobriety, and this creature understands better that balance is a function of intelligence.

BodyChance, that creature of my minds' imagination, absurdly flutters out from my 5 senses, faint projections on unsuspecting bases: which side is real - the base, or my projection upon that base?

The lives of those living in Sydney will continue on whatever I do. And yet, some lives are lived differently by way of my projections, while others remain as indifferent as the stars.

How quickly do I want to proceed? Always in a hurry. Be afraid of death, be afraid. Now, not later when it comes, but now. Then you are ready.

So I hurry. Then I stumble and fall - a broken arm, an eye falling out. Vision lost. My right hand is gone. Is this the way?

Clarity is power.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Siblings of Achievement

Can you imagine success fuelled by darkness?
Powered by inner demons seeking escape?
Shielded by dreams that seek to forget?
Startled by tears that convulse?

Snapshots in my life:
a broken arm
tears at Golden Week
relief fantasies with death

It was the last that alerted me most - that ticked away, hidden beyond my daily grasp is desperation, hope is draining away. I want to share this with everyone. BUT. BUT. BUT.

Never Give Up - it is what I am guided by now.

My business life these days is shaped by my family: their needs, their wishes, the possibility of constructive living. My beautiful eldest daughter, who - until only a few months ago - was herself sinking into darkness, hiding herself from the tightening noose of Japanese school life, while puberty overtook her body. I was thinking she had become monosyllabic - hormones dulling her childhood - but once in Mullumbimby, at the happy Shearwater Steiner school, she came out of hiding: a bright face glowing lively again, lightening her voice and confirming to me that our move to settle into Australia had suddenly raced ahead of our deadline for achieving it.

So that is my situation now - a fabulously successful experiment in Japan roaring ahead, despite a stagnant economy, and Jeremy - sitting on the joyful crescent of its success, tumbling down into the emptiness of Sydney. I left Sydney 10 years ago and once the work had flourished there. Now very few teachers earn a full-time living, one school languishes with 6 or 7 trainees, and publicly there is little feeling of care or knowledge about AT in Sydney these days…

I had people helping me - but they wanted co-operation, which I didn't offer, so they left. Then someone on a basic salary - but I can no longer afford to pay that, so naturally empty pockets pull stronger than passion. Many people around me are inspired by the mission of BodyChance, are happy to be involved and committed in heart and soul to its cause, but we all need to earn a living. That is the crux of it, that is why I started BodyChance in the first place - to create a culture of success, to generate interest, excitement and engagement in Alexander's discoveries with the wider community again.

What has happened to that vision? Nothing, but I am understanding now the loneliness of carrying a vision. I am the first person who is never paid. My salary, so painfully developed over 10 years in Japan, now devotes itself to funding BodyChance Sydney and I am alone in funding that vision. If I can pay, I can get support - but without that, well… When you are in my shoes, support is not agreeing to be paid to work for BodyChance - that is employment. And it is reasonable - who works for nothing? It is a ridiculous idea. Except that I do. Hundreds of hours, $30,000+ investment, and still very little to show. It is my vision/burden and it feels more the later than the former at this time. Sigh.

Will I give up? Of course not. Do I feel strong all the time? No. Have I made stupid decisions? Of course. Have I been clever in building BodyChance Sydney? No. Have I learnt lessons? Many, and continue to do so.

I hate to complain, I love to hype, but there is a darker side to creating a vision and I am with that now: a feeling of darkness, even a whiff of despair putrid and poignant. I will regenerate, I will continue - but I wonder if it can be said that vision and darkness are siblings in achievement?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Balls In the Air

If you can imagine Martha Graham marrying Noam Chomsky - Lucia Walker is the child of that family! She has her own style as a teacher - created mainly by herself, as she does not seem to "follow" any particular lineage of teaching.

At BodyChance Alexander Technique ProCourse Education in Sydney, Australia over the three days of May 7/8/9 2010, Lucia throws balls in the air and then asks you to collect information about all wonder of things…

- do you startle or not? do you think that is a bad thing? really? isn't it part of being human?

- are you annoyed when your ball does not fall into the hand of the person waiting to receive it? are you joyful when it does? isn't this also something natural? isn't it a deep part of your self that when your co-ordination requests are fulfilled, you experience a natural joy? Alternatively, when you fail, you feel some frustration - isn't this only natural?

- when the ball drops, why say sorry every time? isn't dropping the ball as natural as catching it?

- what happens if two balls or more are thrown to you at the same time? the story of the juggler who received 12 of them - inspirations in possibilities...

- as the ball arrives, how is your focus? do you see the ball, the thrower and the others standing in the circle? what would happen if you just focused only on the ball? or only on the people surrounding the ball?

Of course our weekend together was not all about throwing balls - there was Bozo Looking for a Corner too! All about exploring your focused vision and your peripheral vision; your ability to connect with someone, while still holding the group; noticing your excitement in response to the game, but having the ability to guide that excitement appropriately towards the people and circumstances of the game.

Lucia's work is multilayered. Often you start with one simple idea, conjoined with an activity, then build on that - creating the complexity of living within the jurisprudence of a game: non-confronting, non-personal, but "You" am still there, "You" are still behaving in ways that mirror back into your real life, and in so doing engender discoveries and insights that eluded you previously.

Lucia has crafted her own "hands off" teaching technology: that binds a group in happy explorations of human behaviour leading to discoveries that then reflect back into everyday living. The researchers of the Art of Group Teaching need to take attention and learn from this gentle, inquisitive, fun-loving student of human potentiality and intelligent living.

A deeper current that also flows through Lucia's work is that you are OK - that behaviours you condemn yourself for are no more than exaggerated tendencies that are naturally at the core of every human being. The obsessive desire to be right - destructive as it may become - is still part of a natural movement. The regret at mistakes is the source of the vitality that creates success - everything weaves together in a embroidered cloth of living that is deliciously colourful moment to moment, that provides experiences containing everything we need to know about everything we want to know, including the discoveries of the Alexander Technique.

Balls in the Air - wondering at your reactions to the everyday moments that all living consists of, that is Lucia.