Overcoming Tragedy – Gloria’s Story

I came to see Larry because of the nightmares and PTSD I suffered after my husband took his life. I couldn’t walk into my basement without seeing his body lying there on the cold ground, right in front of the washer and dryer I had to use once a week. At night, I relived that terrible night in my dreams and would wake up wailing or screaming. I could barely get out of bed and go to work. I considered moving from my home of 22 years at that time, but it felt wrong to just try to run away. And since I would have to take my mind and memories with me anyway, it seemed pointless to put myself through another major life-change. I even considered ending my own life.

I was dubious about the treatment at first, I admit. I’d been to see several therapists and psychologists, and was taking Valium and anti-anxiety medications at the time, but nothing helped, and I was afraid of getting addicted to them. I wanted to try something different. ANYthing that might have a chance of working.

During my first session, I told him about what was happening to me. He was very compassionate and kind, and I felt safe and understood. Even being in his presence was relaxing to me. He made several suggestions using visualization about the basement where my husband died. I also said goodbye and told him I loved him. The very next day, when I went down to do my laundry, I no longer “saw” him lying on the ground. I thought of him, but in a different way. I felt free and at peace. He was free, too. After only one session with Larry.

I went to see Larry again several times after that, including once 3 years later, when I was considering beginning a romantic relationship with an old friend who was courting me. I was afraid and anxious again, this time about opening my heart to another person. I also felt unfaithful to my late husband for some reason. Larry’s kind and wise words helped me overcome my fears and doubts and gave me clarity. I was able to reach out into life and love again, and accept the gift being offered to me.

Today I feel strong and heart-healthy again. I can get up in the morning without my heart clenching in grief. I can accept what life puts before me with grace and a peaceful heart. I am open to love and having a brand new life and future. I can laugh again! And at the beginning of the new year, I will be moving the place I’ve wanted to live since I was a child, with a new love, a new home, and new possibilities. It feels right at this point. I won’t be fleeing. I’m making a conscious decision from a place of clarity and peace.

Thank you, Larry, for all the help you have given me. I wouldn’t be here without you. Literally. Words cannot express all the gratitude I feel. Keep on doing your good work to help people live happy and fulfilling lives.

Gloria (Name changed for privacy)

 

What is Feldenkrais?

Whether you are new to the Feldenkrais Method or not, this video can be a very helpful aid to understanding.

You can participate in your own improvement more than you may know!

 

Integral Practice Group: What it includes

We have had some positive responses to the idea of an integral practice group, and some have asked for more information. In the previous articles we spoke of: grow up, wake up, show up and clean up, in addition to some form of physical practice. Specifically, we anticipate including the following in each of those areas.

In addition to theory and other processes, the physical practice will include: Qi Gong movements, strength building/muscle toning exercises, and Feldenkrais for flexibility and quality of movement.

Growing up: We will begin with learning Ken Wilber’s AQAL model and Don Beck’s and Christopher Cowen’s Spiral Dynamics. Both of which claim to be a theory that explains everything.  These theories of human development are not just for the individual, but for cultures and nations as well. They are useful for learning where we are in the process and what comes next.

Wakeup: Guided imagery, meditation, contemplative prayer and several other practices including one called, The 1-2-3 of Spirit.

Show up: This will include exercises for discovering personal passions and life mission. We will learn how to remove barriers that keep us from doing what we want to do, and being whom we want to become. The exercises or practices are Neuro Linguistic Programming processes.

Clean Up: We dig into working with the shadowy parts of ourselves, those parts we want to deny are a part of us and which we project onto others. We will learn how to be free of them by acknowledging and claiming them. One process is 3-2-1 of Shadow. Others will include a variety of journaling processes.

We anticipate announcing full details about the application process, costs and beginning date very soon. Are you interested? I’d love to hear from you.

Essential Oils and Chinese Medicine

Your meridians are the channels through which your life energy (Chi) flows, including your emotions. The natural and free flow of Chchi-balance-essential-oilsi and balanced emotions moving throughout your meridians ensures your good health.

While blocked or suppressed emotions result in imbalances and clogged meridian channels, we can restore the five element balance. The harmonious flow of Chi is the heart of the purpose of Chinese medicine. The five elements are the five categories of Chi related to the various organs, body systems, emotions and psychological states of a human being.

Essential oils can be used to safely and effectively balance and restore health to the five element system through the meridians. Using the direct application and inhalation of your essential oils is especially effective for restoring the flow of chi.

Also, diluting your favorite essential oil, or blend of oils, with a vegetable carrier oil for skin application is advised. Applying a blend along a blocked meridian channel or acupuncture point before needling is effective for stimulating the flow of chi.

Universal essential oils to consider using are lavender and frankincense. They can be used alone or blended with other oils. I have a selection of natural blend formulas that can help bring the meridian channels and five elements into balance. Some conditions that can be treated are: headaches, insomnia, stress, hormonal, and stomach imbalance too. By applying these oils on the temples and on the affected area, essential oils can help bring greater grounding too.

Spiritual But Not Religious – What Next?

We received quite a lot of response to the previous article about SBNR, for which we are grateful, especially to those who sent comments or spiritual-but-not-religiousspoke to us about it in some way. Thank you.

Now what? It’s one thing to challenge one another to Grow-Up, Wake-Up, Show-Up, and Clean-Up. It’s quite another to answer the question of “How?” or even, “What does that mean?” I will address the second question first.

By grow-up I mean adding breadth to our depth and depth to our breadth. One of the marks of personal maturity is the ability to take multiple perspectives. I know someone whom I greatly admire because she has the capacity to listen and learn from those who hold opposing understandings of almost any issue. Rather than try to convince them her view is correct, she experiences these interactions as learning opportunities. That does not mean she is swayed by their comments, but she learns. We know that an individual’s behavior makes perfect sense in their model of the world. She wants to know about their model. The great peace makers of the world do not try to win compromises. They try to reconcile differing models of the world. They try for win-win-win solutions (each of the parties involved win and the overall well-being of the “world” wins.) To do that one must expand their breadth of knowledge and deepen their understanding of motivations.

Let me begin the “wake-up” explanation by recalling a story I once read (I think it is from the Talmud): The Rabbi was riding his donkey through the village shouting, “Has anyone seen my donkey? I can’t find my donkey!” Someone finally said, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you looking for your donkey? It’s right here with you.” To which the Rabbi responded, “So why are some of you trying to find God?” It’s not that the God/Spirit is absent, it is that our experience of and with God/Spirit is absent. To wake-up is to engage in practices that do more than give us information and understanding of Deity, God or Spirit, but those practices that give us direct experiences of and with God/Spirit.

We begin to show-up when we quit focusing on what or whom we should be and just be whom we’ve been created to be. We all fulfill roles, but we also live roles. We find it difficult to just be whom we are. In fact, I suspect most of us don’t even know how to just be whom we are. Most religions have done a super good job of letting us know we do not and cannot measure up. They have been wrong. I am what and where I am because I must be here to get where I’m going. We’re still growing-up and waking-up and it’s about time we showed up. We can’t get where we’re going while pretending to be what we’re not. As one child put it, “I know I’m good because God don’t make no junk!”

Finally, let’s talk about cleaning-up. I’m a peace maker. On the Enneagram, I’m a Nine; a person who easily sees both sides of an argument and wants to reconcile and make room for everyone. Every person is worthy of being treated with dignity and respect. But, I still have my prejudices (mostly about those that don’t want to include everyone!) We need a practice that will help us to love even our enemies, and to forgive those who offend us. We do not do this for their sake. We do it for our own sake. Anger, hatred, and resentment are heavy burdens to carry around. They wear us out and keep us awake at night. We give away too much power to those people. They can push our buttons in a heartbeat. The fewer buttons we have, the more peace and harmony we experience.

So, now to the first question: “How?” Perhaps it was 15 years or so ago Future Life Now initiated an Integral Practice Group. This group met for two and a half hours, three Saturdays a month and planned on meeting for a year. It turned out to be longer than that because of scheduling issues.  Today, we still hear from members of that group about the profound impact it had on their lives.

I will be starting a similar Integral Practice group although on a smaller scale. What I envision at this point is a twice-a-month meeting for six months with the option to extend, if the group desire is there. As before, this will not be a come-and-go group or a show-up-when-you-want group. Those who choose to participate will commit to attending. There could be some wiggle room in scheduling if group needs are sufficient. As before, there would be an application and interview process. The group may choose to meet on some day other than Saturday. Besides myself as faciliator, there will be periodic guest speakers.

Each meeting would address each of the areas discussed above and would also include some form of movement designed to promote better body health. It would be exercise but not aerobics or strenuous strength exercises. No running or jumping.

Here’s my call to action: If you might be interested in participating in such a group, please contact Future Life Now, or email me at larrywells@futurelifenow.com. I am not currently asking for a commitment. This is a request for a show of interest only. We need a minimum of 10 to commit, and could not accommodate more than 18 (maybe 15). My expectation is that we would begin shortly after the first of the year. The fee for the program has not yet been finalized but we will do our best to keep it affordable.

 

Feldenkrais Method and Chronic Pain – New York Times

It's not often that my field makes national headlines. We take notice when it does. This week Jane Brody, a conservative long-time writer, published an article in the New York Times. If you haven't yet read that article Trying the Feldenkrais Method for Chronic Pain, it is worth a read. Brody discusses how she had heard of the method long ago, but pushed it to the side thinking it was some kind of "New Age gobbledygook with no scientific basis."

Based on the recommendation of Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, author of Crooked, she decided to give the Feldenkrais® approach a try, and she feels enlightened to say the least. So what is the scientific basis for how the Feldenkrais Method works to reverse chronic pain?

From my view centers around several well-studied fields: Learning theory, Neuroplasticity, and Human Development. These three fields are so intertwined that I think it is quite difficult to truly separate them. I want to see if I can make key findings from these fields easier here, not in an attempt to over simplify, but as a way of helping you gain some knowledge around how your body-mind works.

Your nervous system, which includes your brain, spinal cord, nerves, and sense organs, is all the time trying to do right by you. When you were born, it spent most of its time learning (notice the word learn) how to regulate basic functions like respiration and body temperatures.

It had to "sense" a myriad of sensations for the first time and started doing its best to decide which of these required what kind of response. Its interest, above all else, is your ability to survive. So it tends to err on the side of caution. And in that quest, sometimes inaccurately, defines something as potentially dangerous that turns out to be quite okay. As more internal and external experiences occur, it becomes better and better at categorizing, responding, and growing into the next phase of life. This is neuroplasticity: the ability of your nervous system to change in form and function. This is also learning. This is also living. That children did this is nothing new. But fairly recent on the scientific scene is the discovery that adults, even adults in old age, are capable of neuroplasticity. Not as much is fixed as we thought it to be.

Chronic Pain and Neuroplasticity

A feature of the plastic brain or nervous system is that it gets better at doing what it does a lot of. The more times it is called to do that item, whatever it might be, the better it gets at it. It can be really good at producing back pain for example. This isn't the same thing as "it is all in your head" thinking. But at the crux of it, all experiences are interpretation made by the nervous system. Joy, sadness, anger, comfort, and pain are felt because the nervous system says X sensation equals Y.

Pain and fear are survival necessities. Joy isn't. Pain keeps us from putting our hand on a hot burner. Pain teaches us to avoid stubbing our toe and potentially breaking it. Fear tells us to avoid walking off of a cliff, stepping out into traffic, or dark alleys. Because they are necessary for survival, the animal brain in us will sometimes interpret something as pain or fear, when really it was just sour or bitter, or reminded of a time when something was dangerous.

Most chronic pain situations begin with some kind of trauma such as an auto accident, a lifting injury, stepping off the curb wrong, or even assault. Perhaps the injury felt big. Maybe it didn't. But then something else happens, and something else, and somehow it has been several months and the person is still in pain. When the stimulus that results in pain is repeated enough or is scary enough, it begins to need less and less information to decide to feel pain. It begins to jump to conclusions. The brain's pain map has become faulty.

Neuroplasticity and Brain Maps

Different areas of the brain provide different functions. Researchers have studied what parts of the brain does what kinds of functions. Based on these studies, they have created pain maps, sensory maps, and motor maps to name a few. As a person becomes more specialized in an area, these maps are changed. For example in your sensory-motor maps you will assign more territory to your hands and hearing if you are a musician than if you are an olympic runner.

If you experience chronic pain, we know it isn't just the pain map which is changed but also the sensory-motor maps. People with chronic back pain have been studied and found that they do not have an accurate idea of where their spine is located in their body. If you want to move your hand, but you perpetually perceive it to 2 inches to the left of where it really is, this is going to cause a lot of disappointing outcomes. The same is true with your back. You need to accurately sense your body parts and their relationships to their partner parts to use them well.

The Feldenkrais Method® and Chronic Pain

With that rudimentary background laid out, we are ready to respond to how the Feldenkrais Method helps with chronic pain.

#1 If you have been using yourself in a way that leads to wear and tear, instead of wear and repair, the Feldenkrais Method guides you to learn about your parts of yourself and how they can function together. It turns out we know way less about how to use these bodies than one might imagine. Yes, we need to move, and your system craves motion, but there are more efficient and less efficient ways to move. The less efficient leads to gradual wear and tear. As your efficiency improves, the system moves increasingly towards wear and repair. This means the nervous system doesn't need to stay on high alert so much.

#2 Sensory-motor maps can become faulty through trauma, chronic pain or misuse. Neuroplasticity says they absolutely can be improved regardless of age. Anyone who has experienced the Feldenkrais Method can attest to how brilliantly it helps you discover and sense in more ways that are truly novel. Because the brain is preoccupied with survival, anything novel really catches its attention. It wants to examine new experiences thoroughly so it can decide, “Is this safe, and if yes, what is it?” The Feldenkrais Method coaches small, gentle movements while breathing easily. Creating safe explorations frees up the nervous system from staying stuck on "Unsafe" or "Pain" and allows it to assign new sensations such as ease, comfort, and fun. We know from research that the sensory-motor maps are heavily impacted by how you use yourself. We also know that people with chronic back pain do not have an accurate perception of where their spine is located in their body. If you want to use your parts harmoniously, you need to know about where they are and how they function.

#3 By staying within the safe, comfortable range of movement, the overactive aspects of the brain that sense pain can begin to come off of alert and return to their natural function. This results in actually informing you when something is truly risky. The Feldenkrais Method lowers the background noise caused by a disordered or fearful nervous system. That lowering of that noise, gives you an opportunity to listen to other “voices” that before just couldn’t be heard above the din.

#4 By becoming aware of how you move, you gain choices. And not just choices in the way you stand up or reach for a glass, but choices about how you function in the world. Along with this comes opportunities to be curious, experimental and to choose painless, perhaps even pleasurable interactions and ways of moving.

In my own personal journey, the Feldenkrais Method marked a change from living a live centered around chronic pain to one centered around possibilities. It was so impactful that I became a practitioner in the work. And over the past 15 years have helped thousands of people come out of chronic pain. The options today for finding a practitioner on-line or in person are the best they have ever been. Classes to private sessions, online to live all give a wide range of financial entry points. There isn’t a better time to give it a whirl and see if you too can release the burden of chronic pain.

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Schedule with Cynthia on-line for a live, in person session in Cincinnati or a video session. Or you can call us at 513-541-5720.

You can find other North American practitioners at feldenkrais.com. Or ask us. We will help connect you to someone near you.

Feldenkrais Method Chronic Pain

Art Opening: Ali-ce in Winterland: Prints & Quilts by Ali Hansen

Join us on Friday, October 6th at 6:00 pm

at Future Life Now and meet the artist, Ali Hansen.

Several of her artworks will be on display. Light refreshment will be served. We hope to see you!

Future Life Now is located at 4138 Hamilton Ave, Suite B, Northside, 45223. Free parking will be available in the lot behind our building and on the street. The entrance is on the Knowlton St. side of our building. Come up to the second floor for our suite.

A note from Ali Hansen

“Shadows snapped from leafless branches onto the snow. The Stranger in a hooded cloak shuddered against the wind…”

I moved to Michigan eleven years ago, and discovered a wonderland of real and imaginary characters in my own backyard. Ali-ce in Winterland is the garden’s story from the first fallen leaf in August to the first snowfall in December.

The work in this show was completed in the last two years. I have enjoyed reconnecting with printmaking and love working with fabric and collage. I completed this work at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center where I have learned to set type and print on the letterset press.

I would like to thank Cynthia and Larry, and the rest of the team at Future Life Now for the opportunity to share my story with you.
Ali Hansen

Ali’s Bio

After thirty years in Cincinnati, Ali Hansen moved to southwest Michigan to “retire” and enjoy sunsets on Lake Michigan, pursue her artwork, and as a surprise, begin writing stories. This work is the first combination—writing, illustrating, and publishing—her own words.

Ali lives in Benton Harbor with her life partner, Marilee Panna, their dog, Wyeth Blue and Keillor the cat.