Felden…what? Turning the torso

It’s called Feldenkrais, and it’s a method of movement that my brother told me about named after its inventor, Moshe Feldenkrais. As a dancer and choreographer, he was introduced to it recently and learned that this method also has benefits for people with central nervous system problems. I did a bit of research and found a place here in Copenhagen that offers lessons and also discovered that an American instructor was visiting and would give a workshop.

I attended this workshop last week and to be honest I didn’t really know what to expect. Since it is used by actors and dancers as well as athletes and is described as “Awareness Through Movement (R),” I thought perhaps we would jump around and move our arms and legs like Indians to find our inner spirit. But, what I learned is that it uses very precise movements that are quite complex and intentional. They provoke an interesting response not only physically but emotionally, mentally and psychologically. It’s also known as a “pre-pilates and yoga” method that “unlocks ‘frozen’ parts of the body and corrects habitual patterns of tension and imbalance.”

It’s kind of hard to describe precisely as I think it’s very individual. The instructor, Alan Questel,  described the method as a way to “use yourself more efficiently,” and use your skeletal system more and muscular system less and by doing this you use less energy and become more efficient and deliberate in your movements. It’s also a way of “deconstructing muscular habits” and becoming more “aware of the process.” He stated that “when you are more skeletal, neurological function improves.” 

One of the things that really struck me was the idea that as children we are fascinated by most everything around us and take the time to discover things along the way. As adults, we are more concerned with getting things done and not taking the time to pay attention to how we get there. I instantly recognized myself as the “go getter” I am.

Alan discussed Feldenkrais’ ideology and philosophy in an interview on www.achievingexcellence.com and said the following:

He (Feledenkrais) looked at the processes that occur in us as human beings. He saw that four things were always going on – thinking, feeling (on the emotional level), sensing (taking in and processing information), and moving. He believed that a shift in anyone of these aspects had the potential to produce a shift in the whole self, thereby bringing about change.

Apparently about one third of the people that do this type of body work do it because of a CNS issue, one third for orthopedic problems and one third for general self development. He recommended a few books that provide more detail about the method namely, “Body Awareness as Healing Therapy: The Case of Nora,”  and “The Elusive Obvious.” 

According to an article Alan wrote on the www.feldenkrais.com web site:

There are two main modalities of learning in the Feldenkrais Method:

Awareness Through Movement® lessons are a series of structured movement sequences that groups of people are led through verbally, utilizing attention, perception and imagination (The experiment in sitting and standing is a good example of part of an Awareness Through Movement lesson). There are over a thousand different movement lessons with movements ranging from developmentally based patterns to exceptionally innovative configurations. The movements are usually done lying down or sitting and at a pace and range that honors each participant. The major criteria for the quality of movement is comfort, ease and the development of each person’s inner authority.

Functional Integration® is a hands-on modality specifically designed to meet the needs of an individual. The practitioner, primarily through the use of his hands , guides the student towards a new or more varied use of themselves. The student is usually lying down or sitting and is fully clothed. The quality of touch is non-invasive, informative and interactive in nature.

During the session I went to, we went through a couple of exercises which were very light and comfortable. There was focus on extending the range of motion of the hip especially and working to incorporate the entire body. What started as a simple bend of the knee (laying on your back) turned into a complete movement also involving the arms, feet and torso. Once an understanding of the integration of body parts was achieved, it was practiced slowly and deliberately to one side and then the same motions were made to the other side of the body but only in the imagination – not by actually physically moving. The result was an intense relaxation, lightness and almost floating feeling. It was simply incredible. That was the immediate reaction. It must have something to do with the neurological conditioning and visualization combined that creates this chemical reaction or release of endorphins. I haven’t figured this part out yet.

What I discovered was the following day I became instinctively more aware of everything I was doing. How I stood, walked, stirred my oatmeal, etc. It reminded me of when I used to work for UPS and learned the proper way to move while lifting packages. Sayings like “pivot, don’t twist,” “lift with legs not your back,” starting popping back in my head. I also noticed that I became more clear headed and open. I feel like I have more capacity, a wider attention span and just a better rhythm.

The key just may be the torso. It’s fitting that a follow on workshop was held in Malmo this past weekend near the Turning Torso apartment building. Becoming more holistic in life doesn’t only involve being green or buying organic, it also has a lot to do with how completely you move and if you are integrating yourself as one. It’s not as obvious as you think.

 I have since learned that there are several podcasts available for download from iTunes including a few made by Alan. You can also download or listen to the podcasts at http://www.podcastdirectory.com/podcasts/28786

 For those interested, Alan also has sets of CDs from workshops he conducted in Switzerland. The sets include lessons entitled, “Falling,” “The Moment Where We Begin….An exploration between intention and action,” “The Pleasure of Challenge…The Challenge of Pleasure,” “Creating Creativity,” “Uncommon Sensing,” “Reversibility,” and “Getting Hip.” To get more info about these or to order them you can contact Alan directly at ASQUESTEL@aol.com 

Cheers!  

Oh to be Danish!…and live in America!

I seemed to have found a counterpart…a Dane living in the U.S. who is blogging about what he observes about being a Dane in America. Rasmus Rasmussen, not to be mistaken for Niels Nielsen, Hans Hansen or Jens Jensen, recently blogged about “100 Differences” between Denmark and the U.S. Many of these I have realized of course and some I hadn’t really thought about like the following:

“Toilet bowls generally have more water in them in the US.”

“There are no doorknobs to speak of in Denmark only door handles.”

“Danish buildings don’t have fire-escapes on the outside Which is common in the US.”

“In Denmark you never see crutches that go above the elbow.”

While I generally agree with the majority of these, I do think that some of it illustrates the difference in how Danes perceive Americans or American culture. Perhaps it’s just misunderstanding because of things being taken out of context. I believe if I made a similar list, which I actually may, I’m sure it would be biased by my American eyes. One of the things I would add is that in Denmark they have houses made with straw roofs, in America, they don’t.

 

 

Deep Thoughts from Deepak Chopra

I can’t remember exactly when I first learned about Deepak Chopra but over the past couple of years, I’ve become more and more inspired by his views, music and voice.  He is simply a great teacher and philosopher.

He’s also now on the brink of becoming a bit controversial in the Christian community due to his latest book entitled, “The Third Jesus, The Christ we Cannot Ignore.” A recent Dallas Morning News article covered the book release yesterday and stated that:

“Chopra examines the teachings of Jesus not in the context of his historical existence as a rabbi of Nazareth, and not in light of the Christian belief that he is the son of God, but as ‘a cosmic Christ’ — Jesus as a state of mind.”

Last night I had the opportunity to see Deepak speak in Copenhagen and hear him speak about the “nature of human consciousness.” I also had the chance to get my book signed, which was very exciting, as well as give him a very solid hand shake.

      

As for the speech, he covered a lot of ground. His main message was about consciousness existing in discontinuity. He spoke about the difference between happiness in ignorance versus happiness in enlightenment, the law of impermanence, Nirvana being the ultimate reality, Quantum leaps of creativity, meta-biological evolution, the non-local domain, synchronicity, hidden dimensions, and the realm of the unmanifest.

One of the things he mentioned that was a big take-away for me was that while he was researching for an upcoming book he explored the habits of some of the world’s great leaders and learned that they each sit in silence for at least five minutes every day. He said that how people see things or perceive things makes up about 80% of what determines their happiness and that less than 8% is determined by a person’s conditions for their life.

He also talked about an initiative he’s spearheading called The Alliance for a New Humanity whose mission it is to:

“connect people, who, through personal and social transformation, aim to build a just, peaceful, and sustainable world, reflecting the unity of all humanity.”

A video about the initiative can be seen HERE. And if you are interested in learning more about Deepak, visit his blog at www.deepakchopra.com or the site of the Chopra Center of Wellbeing.

All in all, it was a great experience. I am left with a new way of looking at things and a positive way of thinking. I was once again reminded of “The Power of Now,” and importance of living in the moment and letting go of the past or to “live, breath and move in the unknown.”

I saw a little bit of myself in one of Deepak’s Secrets to Enlightenment, which was that “we live in multi-dimensions.” I swear I can be in 10 places at the same time! It’s what he describes as observations coming and going, having a “there goes my body but here I am” kind of state, synchronicity, spontaneous self-fulfillment of desire, the realm of miracles, experience of immortality or feeling of/being in love. The key is to stay grounded in this state and in the body while tuning in to this realm of unlimited possibilities.

Finally, it was simply an honor to shake the hand of a person that has provided me with such a great amount of inspiration and to tell him that in person.

Presentation of Lanserhof Stay

Since I am having such a hard time finding the words to describe my stay at Lanserhof, I’ve decided to make a presentaiton of the photos I took while I was there. I believe this is a good representation of what I experienced despite the lost details of describing a Fango pack, energy body therapy, cupping, base powder, bitter water, lymph drainage, stomach treatment, chewing training and craniosacral therapy, I’ll let this speak for itself.

Enjoy!
 

In the meantime, I have just found another video produced by Lanserhof as a sort of commerical. Check this one out too! I believe it’s the same music as “Desperate Housewives” though…or it might be “American Beauty” I can’t figure out which. Not sure what to think of that.

A word on Copenhagen Metro being “the world’s best subway”

I just learned that Copenhagen’s Metro was voted the best subway in the world at the Metro Rail conference this year. The Copenhagen Metro is a super transport system and since we live right next to a stop, I must say it does make our lives easier when we want to get into the city without a car. It’s driverless and automated, runs quietly and is still relatively clean not to mention sporting a sleek design. What else would you expect in the world capitol of design and elegant aesthetics?

However! During its first three years of operation, the Metro was responsible for me waiting for extreme periods with no information provided, not to mention being late and not able to get home in a timely fashion. It was so ridiculous how many delays there were that we stopped using the Metro. I just find it extremely amazing that now, just a couple short years later, it’s voted “best in the world.” Obviously they are not taking its track record into account. It is fast and efficient when it’s working, yes. But it hasn’t been without its share of teething problems.

Also, just to point out that there was mention that the Copenhagen Metro was voted by experts from other metros like New York, Tokyo and London. I have a hard time understanding how these metros can be seen in the same ball park. It’s a little like comparing the choo-choo train in Tivoli with the high-speed rail of the Euro Star. I mean no disrespect at all because as I said, the Metro is a terrific public transport system when it’s working properly. And since I personally had so many bad experiences, I felt the need to express this.

I’m just glad that they were able to sort out the problems and impressed that have achieved this accolade. Obviously they have been able to correct it, which after that many years of problems is a major accomplishment. So, congratulations Copenhagen Metro, it looks like you are growing up!

 

What’s New in Denmark?

Stelton

Well, for one thing, the birds are starting to chirp 24/7. We slept with the window open last night and I woke up several times due to this constant chirping. My first thought however was how nice it will be when sun starts to rise around 3:00 am.

The sun set tonight just after 8:00 pm due to the time change and people are already taking advantage of it. Just now on a short walk around the hood, I noticed a couple with children in their strollers eating ice cream! Yes, that’s right, Danes can’t wait to start eating ICE CREAM! I have never seen more people eating ice cream in my life since I’ve moved here.

In other news, I learned today that a company called Project Better Place, which aims to provide electric facilities in cities to support the proliferation of electric cars, announced plans to implement the necessary infrastructure to bring electronic cars to Denmark. This would make DK the second country to have these facilities besides Israel. The electricity will supposedly be generated by wind turbines. In the press release, it states, “Within the next few years, Better Place Denmark is to introduce environmentally friendly, battery driven EVs to the streets of Denmark.” I just hope that they are also planning on building more parking places!

Another interesting news bit is that Danish women have won the right to sunbathe topless at bathing areas including beaches and pools, reports The Daily Mail. Apparently this was up for debate by a group called “The Topless Front,” that believes women should be viewed as equals to men when it comes to bearing the chest.  The leader of the group was quoted saying that women should decide when their breasts should be considered sexual or not. Here’s a news flash, they pretty much are no matter what you want others to think. It may be natural, but in the end it’s human nature you’re talking about.

 Finally, I learned about a new web site dedicated to Danish design, crafts and architecture called Danish Edge run by the Danish Ministry of Culture. The site brings together the Danish Design Center, Danish Crafts and the Danish Architecture Center to promote Danish design. It features loads of very cool, modern designers like Cecile Manz, Johannes Torpe and Rune Reilly Kolsch worth checking out. Some other cool crafts featured are a make-shift rubber tub and vaginal mirror, or basically things you never knew you didn’t need.

That’s all the news for today and enough random topics in one post!

The Lightness of Letting Go

Tea drinking at Lanserhof

There is nothing like the soft, light and warm feeling of true relaxation. I’m not talking about the kind where you simply prop your feet up, kick back on the sofa and watch TV. I’m talking about falling gradually and swiftly deeper and deeper into a state of utter relaxation where you feel like a pile of mash potatoes. It is not easy to attain this soft, fluffy and airy existence let alone retain it, but it is precisely what I experienced last week at Lanserhof. It was truly an experience of a lifetime.

I am still continuing the “cure” as they call it, at home and it’s been relatively easy. A strict diet, lots of rest and recuperation. I have managed to continue my Qi Gong exercises as well as my day and evening long tea drinking. I have a new found love of all kinds of herbal teas and am particularly fond of the fennel tea made from steeped and crushed whole fennel seeds. Who knew? Fennel tea has lots of benefits I have come to learn inclusing anti-spasmodic (good for me 🙂 and anti-bacteria, and it’s also good for calming a baby’s digestive system.  

The regimen last week not only took layers and layers of stress, tension and mental and emotional baggage from my body, it also left me almost three kilos lighter. Yes, just over five pounds in ONE WEEK! And I’m still continuing this.

As the journey continues, the benefits are unraveling. It is amazing what happens when you strip everything down to its core. Restriction can only been seen as a gift in the end.

No Time for Posting While Getting “Lanserhoffed”

While my intent was to blog about my stay at Lanserhof while I experienced it, I have found myself completely consumed and a tad overwhelmed. In between appointments, I have been either resting or taking the opportunity to enjoy the incredible nature and great company. The resort is perfectly situated with the most breathtaking views of the Tyrolean mountains. It has been an incredible journey in my short stay and I surely have a lot that I want to express about it, but it will have to wait until I’ve had time to take this all in and process it all properly.

 What I can say is that this experience has gone well beyond my expectations and I am now certain that the things I am learning here will be of great benefit for years to come. Until next time, be well and do like they do at Lanserhof and enjoy a cup of herbal tea – caffeine free of course!

 Cheers from Austria and Happy Easter.

Lanserhof Here I Come

Lanserhof

Tomorrow I travel to Austria for a one week stay at Lanserhof, a wellness resort I learned about in the magazine Monocle. I am a little nervous but also excited. I have never actually taken a week holiday on my own to a resort before. My husband will be spending the week in a nearby ski resort together with a good friend while I take part in a “clearly structured daily routine” that will be set up for me after my initial consultation.

As part of this experience, I plan to make regular entries about my stay because it something that I want to remember for years to come. I also figure that since there is very limited information about Lanserhof in the online media except the story about how Roman Abramovich went there with his peeps, it may give others insight into an otherwise not that well-known resort.

Until next time, wish me luck as I take a much needed break from the Danish winter weather and gain some new perspectives, input and impressions from the land of Mozart, Kafka, Apfelstrudel and “The Sound of Music.”  

Fighting a Cold with Juice, Garlic and Echinacea

echinacea

Well, it finally hit me…this cold strain that has hit just about everyone I know in the Copenhagen area including my husband. I was able to escape it so far but it seems that the recent rainy weather has left me open to coming down with it.

So, how do I combat it? I don’t just lay down and let it take over, I am taking charge! That’s right itchy ears, snotty nose and soar throat…the fight is on!

The first thing I do is make a double pot of white tea, which is apparently superior to green tea with lower caffeine and higher antioxidants, and I personally think it tastes better. Then, after breakfast I took my multi-vitamin and add an extra 500 mg of Vitamin C together with about 30 drops of echinacea. For lunch, I made a broccoli soup with lots of garlic, which is a great immune booster and natural sort of antibiotic. Then, I took some garlic “pills” or basically cut up small pieces of fresh garlic and took them like a pill. I don’t chew them, just wash them down the hatch with lots of water.

 Now, I need to run a quick errand, so I’ll stop at the grocery store and pick up some ingredients so that I can make a “Immune Zoom” smoothie including a mango, apple, 2 passion fruit, orange and added echinacea juice. It’s a recommended cocktail in a new book I got about juicing called, “The Complete Juice Book,” by Suzanne Olivier and Johanna Farrow. It’s a beautifully designed book with loads of great recipes and incredible photography. 

 I am also learning new tips and tricks with juicing from another book called, “Dr. Jensen’s Juicing Therapy: Nature’s Way to Better Health and A Longer Life”. Since I am so interested in the health properties in food, I also picked up “Dr. Jensen’s Guide to Body Chemistry and Nutrition,” and am learning little by little about nutrition.

Hopefully after a good night’s sleep tonight, my body will win the good fight and I will overcome the drips once again!