$325 – $400

A Grace of Sense/Where Our Inner World and Outer World Meet - Asian/Pacific

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A rare chance to study with Bruce Fertman, an eminent and inspiring Alexander teacher with 50 years of experience.

About this Event

For details on class times and options, see schedule below.

What is it that makes us feel alone?

As we do our best to survive this pandemic, asking this question, finding some answers, and more importantly working out some real solutions might help us not only survive this pandemic, but come out the better for it. What is it that makes us feel alone?

Perhaps it is also true for you. There have been times when living alone that I have felt desperately lonely, and at other times, not at all. There have also been times, when living among people I loved and who loved me, that I have felt desolate, depressed, adrift, and at other times, not at all. If there exists no tidy correlation between feeling alone in the world and our social situation, then what is it that makes us feel alone?

Novalis, the German Christian mystic gives us a hint when he writes,

The seat of the soul exists where the inner world and the outer world meet. Where they overlap, it is in every point of the overlap.

We look at this image and it strikes us as exactly what we don’t want to be doing right now. In this time of physical distancing we are doing all we can to live safely within our own circle, to live in our own sterilized bubble so as not to overlap with anyone or anything. We want to be safe. We want others to be safe. We want to survive physically, mentally, and emotionally. In no way am I suggesting we should not be practicing physical distancing and doing all we can to avoid contracting the corona virus or transmitting it to others. Living in Osaka, Japan, I know how fortunate I am to be part of a calm, organized, sanitary, mask-wearing, bow greeting, high tech, collectively conscious society that believes in science, can do the math and act accordingly.  Solutions clearly exist for physically surviving this virus, and like virtually everyone in Japan, I do what I can to protect myself and everyone else.

However, if the seat of our soul, (psyche, heart/mind, animating spirit), exists where our inner world and the outer world meet, that is, if the seat of our soul does not exist exclusively within our own little bubble, then for us to survive spiritually means we must find ways of living in the overlap. The goal of this course is to provide some of the understanding and skills needed for leading us out of isolation and safely into the overlap, not only for the purpose of surviving this pandemic, but for life after this pandemic as well.

Course Structure

Part I

We will meet together for one 75 minute session each week, for 10 weeks. The program will run from October 3rd - December 5th, 2020. Recordings of each class will be made available after each class. Extensive and exclusive follow up material will be sent after each class to help guide you between sessions in your practice. In addition, when the corona virus is behind us, participants will be welcome to attend a $200 weekend training at the Alexander Alliance in either Germany or Switzerland, tuition free.

Part II

For those wishing to go deeper into the themes presented in A Grace of Sense, you will be welcome to partake in Part II. Part II will resume on January 16th and will run through March 20th, 2021.

Upon completion of Part II, participants will receive a Profession Enrichment Certificate from the Alexander Alliance Europe and will have begun to acquire some of the knowledge and skill necessary for passing my work onto others.

Class Times

For those of us on Asian/Pacific time, both class times are feasible. However, everyone is free to take both classes. For those of us living in Europe or the Americas, taking both classes is far more challenging, but you are welcome to do so.

Europe and Asia Pacific:

Europe: Saturday morning

  • UK (London) 4 weeks 10:00am BST (Summer) 6 weeks 9:00am GMT
  • Central (Berlin) 4 weeks 11:00am CEST (Summer) 6 weeks 10:00am

Asia: Saturday evening

  • Japan (Osaka) 6:00pm JST
  • Australia (Sydney) 1 week 7:00pm, 9 weeks 8:00pm AEDT
  • New Zealand (Aukland) 10:00pm NZDT (Daylight Saving Time)

Americas and Asia Pacific:

United States: Saturday evening

  • Eastern (New York) 5 weeks 9:00pm EDT, 5 weeks 8:00pm ET
  • Pacific (California) 5 weeks 6:00pm PDT, 5 weeks 5:00pm PT

Asia: Sunday morning

  • Japan (Osaka) 10:00am JST
  • Australia (Sydney) 12:00pm AEDT (Daylight Saving Time)
  • New Zealand (Auckland) 2:00pm NZDT (Daylight Saving Time)

Is this Course for You?

This training is for anyone wanting to learn how to be physically and personally comfortable with themselves and with how they interrelate with the immediate world around them. You will learn a great deal about your own body, not so much intellectually, but practically and personally; how to receive support from your body, how to find pleasure within your body, and how to, once and for all, truly love your body. You will learn, in great detail, a few simple, enjoyable movement patterns that will give you an operational understanding of how your entire skeletal structure works, (head/torso, arms/hands and legs/feet). You will learn how to relax your organs. You will learn how not to breathe, but to be breathed. You will learn how to receive massive support from the ground, how to relate to time and to space in tremendously freeing ways. You will learn how to walk with power, comfort and ease, how to handle all the objects you relate to in your everyday life in a totally new and refreshing way, how to be with people more peacefully, how perhaps best of all, how to live fully within the sensory world.

The material for A Grace of Sense is based upon my forthcoming book, In Good Company: The End of Living Alone.

If you are a somatic educator, movement teacher, psychotherapist, if you are someone who wants to be able to help people in the ways I do, this training program will provide you with a great deal of material you can use online or in person, individually or in groups.

If you are an Alexander Technique teacher or trainee, this material may greatly expand your repertoire, particularly if you wish better to understand the interplay between body and being, movement and meaning, and sensory and spiritual life.

It has taken 57 years of teaching movement for my work to have become as simple, clear and  deep as it is now. By offering this online training my hope is that, despite the current pandemic, we can meet and learn together.

Take your time reading this. It will take about 15 minutes to read. If what I have written touches you and speaks to you, and if you should decide to join me, I promise you my devoted attention throughout this course of study.

A Grace of Sense

Themes to be Explored

Sentience

Photo: Bruce Fertman

We are all endowed with senses, though some of us do not have all of them. There’s a very simple way to understand what happens to our senses. As our motoric activity increases, often our conscious sensory receptivity decreases. The result is that our actions are not as informed as they could be, which often makes them less accurate, more effortful, less effective, and sometimes inappropriate. By conscious sensory receptivity, I mean the awareness of sensory input. The diminishment of conscious sensory receptivity prevents us from experiencing how we are doing, what we are doing, as we are doing it, reducing our ability to delight in and appreciate life as we are living it.

It is as if, within us, there is a doer and a receiver. For example, there is the you who washes your hair, and the you who senses and enjoys your hair being washed, or the you who does not sense your hair being washed and therefore cannot enjoy it. There is the you who is feeding you a spoonful of soup, perhaps potato leek soup, or miso soup, or lentil soup, or split pea soup, or French onion soup. And then, there is the you who is tasting it, savoring it, feeling thankful for it, or the you who is not tasting it. Haven’t you ever been so distracted that you’ve sat down, proceeded to eat lunch, not tasting one thing, finished the meal, and then a half hour later can't quite remember if you ate lunch and, if so, what you had? 100% doing, 0% conscious sensory receptivity. Reawakening the receiver within, the one who is not putting out, not on output, but the one receiving, on input, keeps us from becoming depleted, allows us to be replenished.

A receiver differs from a perceiver. A perceiver witnesses, notices, observes, sometimes analyses, occasionally understands. Perceiving is primarily a mental activity, a mindfulness practice. Receiving is a sensory practice. A receiver senses, feels, experiences, enjoys and appreciates. With receiving we go beyond the perceiving of our actions into the receiving of our actions, beyond the perceiving of the world into the receiving of the world, beyond the use of the mind alone, and into the mysterious workings of the heart.

Your Place in the Family of Things

Photo: Tada Akihiro of Apache Potter Filipe Ortega
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things.
Mary Oliver

In his book, I and Thou, Martin Buber understands this profoundly. For Buber, there are only two possibilities when it comes to relationships.  One, subject-to-object, or two, subject-to-subject. Buber refers to the first as an I-It relationship, and to the second as an I-You relationship. I-It relationships are utilitarian and I-You relationships are existential, that is, about mutual existence. In other words, an I-It relationship is a being to non-being relationship, and an I-You relationship is a being to being relationship.

Buber goes into great depth around this simple idea. He explains how you can be in an I-It relationship with a person. If the reason for the interaction is primarily utilitarian, a person can turn into an It. What can this person do for me? How can I best utilize this person? On the outside, we may appear warm and friendly, but our deeper motives for relating to this person are essentially utilitarian. We want something from them. We do this a lot. More than we might like to admit.

But, thankfully, we can also be in an I-You relationship with people, but not just with people, with anything. Of course, if you are in an I-You relationship with another person, or with your beloved dog or cat, or with your blossoming apple tree in your backyard, you feel that this entity you are being with is alive. You feel their existence. You are in their company. The relationship is about being with, not about getting anything from, or anything done. But, and this is a very positive but, we can also be in I-You relationships with objects.

Here is what I have come to realize. Respect for the world and self-respect are inseparable. When we handle an object roughly, we handle ourselves roughly. If we decide not to handle an object roughly, we cannot handle ourselves roughly. If we decide that this object can feel everything we are doing, then we begin to feel everything we are doing.

Living on Biological Time

Time feels very real to us. A second is a second, a minute a minute, an hour an hour, a day a day, a year a year, a decade a decade, and yet our subjective sense of time varies. An hour can fly by in a second, an hour can feel like an eternity, for better or worse. An entire life can fly by in a blink of the eye. Ask almost any person nearing the end of their life. We can find ourselves waiting, a temporal event, for an urgent phone call, for a needed document to download. Or we find ourselves rushing about, worried about being late, meeting deadlines, getting everything done that we have to do. Living on clock time. Time pressure. Then, there is long-term waiting, waiting for the kids to leave home, for the perfect person to come into our lives, or for when we will be earning much more money, or for when the covid crisis finally ends and we get to travel, visit our friends, go out to eat, go to a movie.

Living in the world of clock time and the world of body time are like living in two different worlds. A clock has numbers on it and that is how we know what time it is. A body does not use a number system to know what time it is. It uses a sensory system. It feels out what time it is. For the body it is always the right time for something. It is our job to figure out what it is the right time for. When all our senses are tuning in to what our body is saying and we give our body just what it wants, we feel good.

Maybe our bodies know how to “tell us” the time. We sense when we are hungry, our body feels something, and this feeling tells us that it is time for us to eat. We eat and at a certain point our body will sense something, telling us that we have eaten enough, that we are no longer hungry. Sometimes we listen; sometimes we don’t, just like sometimes we listen when a person is talking to us, and sometimes we don’t. Learning to listen and to follow the biological beat of our own body.

No Center, No Circumference 

We all possess a sense of space within, or a lack thereof. Sometimes, we feel trapped, or cramped, that we have no room to move or breathe. Sometimes, we feel open and free, that the future is open to us, that the horizon widens forever, that the sky is the limit, that life is deep and vast, like the ocean. Some of us seem to puff out, some squeeze in, some hold back, some thrust forward, some press down, some pull up. Unaware of doing it, we impinge upon our space and sometimes the space of others. We want to live our lives with a pleasant, invigorating sense of space within us. We want to feel spatially unconfined, unfettered.

There is space between, between us and our smartphones, our computers, our steering wheels, our soup bowls. There is space between us and those around us when on a crowded train, in line at the grocery store, at the kitchen table.

There is space around, above us, below us, before us, behind us, beside us. Unbeknownst to us, often we live with blinders on, zooming in on what is in front of us, living our lives running along tracks, down invisible corridors, through high hedged mazes, unable to see and sense the immensity of space around us.

Space exists. A lot of it.  It’s up to us as to how we wish to relate to space, as an It or as a You.

Inherent Dignity

When you take a look at what humans do throughout the day, physically, it is fairly simple. At any given moment, we are either: (1) Lying down. (2) Sitting. (3) Reclining. (a combination of sitting and lying down.) (4) Standing. (5) Squatting. (a combination of standing and sitting.) (5) Leaning. (a combination of standing and lying down.) (6) Walking/Locomotion. (or other gaits, such as jogging, running, sprinting, crawling, climbing, skipping, leaping, swimming, etc.) (7) Transitioning between the basic forms above. (8) Working. When working, we are usually using our hands in some way, and usually handling tools in some way, and often we are with other people in some way, which means often we are either speaking or listening. Sometimes we are playing which is working in such a way where enjoyment supersedes practicality.

This is all we do. At any given moment, something is happening from (1) through (8). Some of these foundational actions are unique to homo sapiens, and are what we excel at: standing, walking, using hands, using tools, and speaking. Evolutionarily, these abilities emerged together, and developmentally, as infants and toddlers, they also emerged together, so it makes sense, as adults, that we continue developing them together.

But we don’t. We assume, mistakenly, that once our ability to sit, stand, walk, speak and use our hands is established that no further attention is required. But I have found this not to be true. Around the age of 6 or 7, and perhaps most noticeably as we grow into our teens, something happens, a fall from grace, a loss of inherent dignity. It is as if we were given a noble mammalian blueprint, designed by Nature herself, and somewhere along the way, we misplaced it. Actually, we didn’t misplace it. It is right where it always was, but something now is covering it. Together, we will unveil this inherently upright, upstanding, honorable blueprint.

Our Mother Who Art on Earth, Hallow Be Her Name

Photo: Bruce Fertman

Many Native American cultures refer to the Earth as Mother. Kivas, their religious chambers, unlike churches that aspire upwards, descend downward. Climbing down a ladder through a vertical tunnel, we return to the womb. Frank Waters in, The Man Who Killed the Deer, writes;

“Hush, son! You are in the womb of Our Mother Earth. You will be here many, many months, a long, long time. You have entered a child. You will be reborn from here a man. Then you will know why it is you must stay. Let there be no more whimpering, no more questions, son…. You are in a womb: in it the eyes, the ears, the nose and babbling mouth do not function. The knowledge that will come to you is the intuitive truth of the spirit, the quiescent wisdom of the blood, transmitted through senses you do not use outside. The pulse of the earth throbs through these walls which enclose you; the embers there reflect the heat of its glowing heart; that little hole runs into the center of the world, into the lake of life itself. Remember you are in a womb, child...Listen, son. In your mother’s womb you were conceived... From an individual human womb you were born to an individual human life. It was necessary, it was good. For twelve years you have belonged to your lesser mother. Now you belong to your greater mother."

From where doth our support come? It comes from the Earth, but first we must learn how to go down to get it.

Without Our Having to Ask

Photo: Bruce Fertman

What would happen if you just quit breathing for yourself? Breathing is not our responsibility, not our job. Breathing is not ours for the taking. Breath is not yours and it is not mine. Breath is a global, collective event, oxygen a shared substance.

To understand breathing we must look at the conditions that surround breathing. Breathing responds to pressure of any and all kinds, for example: altitude, pollution, over-stimulation, under-stimulation, danger, as well as safety, comfort, love, a cat resting in your lap.

Breathing responds to internal pressures as well, like exertion, hunger, fatigue, strain, disease, time restraints. Breathing responds to the entire gamut of thoughts, sensations, and emotions, be they painful or pleasurable.

Breath is not an action; it’s a response, it responds to actions. When we decide to run up a hill, we don’t stand there and breathe until we have enough air to make it up the hill. We start running. The air of the world, and our body’s reflexes, without our having to ask, help us to accomplish what we have decided to do. Just like that. Such support. Such kindness. Such faithfulness. And how often do we stop and say, ‘thank you’?

The moment we stop and say, ‘thank you’, and mean it, and feel it in our hearts, something finally stops. We stop doing. Breathing happens. We are simply being thankful. When pressures mount, as they often do, stop utterly and completely and softly ask yourself, ‘Who is breathing?’ And wait without waiting, until you know . . . It’s not you.

What's Love Got to Do With It

Photo: Bruce Fertman

The ancient Greeks identified four major kinds of love. We think about them being different kinds of love people feel toward other people, Storge, a love of family, Eros, sexual/romantic love toward a partner, Agape, love for humankind, or Philia, love toward a person who loves what we love. People loving people. But isn’t it enormously limiting to share our love only with people? Could not Storge and Agape love be extended beyond humankind? Why not include the animal kingdom of which we are a part? And why not include all plant life. Humans adore particular kinds of animals, plants and vegetation: horses, dogs, cats, fish, birds. Jane Goodall’s love of primates. Orchids, roses, wildflowers, bonsai. Pondarosa Pines, Aspens, Bamboo, Sakura, Weeping Willows, Giant Sequoia.

Once, I was giving a workshop in Kyoto when suddenly we all began to hear pattering and thumbing above us. All of us were a bit startled and perplexed except for one calm man who said, “They do this. They always find me.” He was a primatologist and about twenty snow monkeys had found him. Is this not Philia, brotherly love? Was not this primatologist and his dear friends kindred spirts?

Once, walking down to a lake for a swim on a hot summer day, I found my nine year old daughter standing waist deep in the lake motionless. “Is anything wrong,” I asked. She said’ “Shhhh…Dad, I’m petting the fish.”

Even Eros, once de-localized, can extend far beyond the human realm. Our sexual energies when allowed to spread throughout our entire body and when directed, not toward a particular human other, but toward the entire natural world-as-lover, converts our sexuality into sensuality. The warm touch of the sun upon our shoulders, the perfumed scent of lilac, rose, or lavender, a soft bed of thick green grass against our backs, the wind stroking its fingers through our hair, the taste of a tart, juicy apple on a hot summer day, just plucked from the tree, exploding in our mouths.

As our senses awaken, we begin to actually feel that the world is physically touching us all day long and all night long, which it is! We are never not being touched, not being supported, not being held. It is up to us to register it, to enjoy it, to let it in, to be grateful for it, to experience it as nurturing, loving contact, especially while living together through this pandemic.

Why not let our capacity to love, whether it be Storge, Agape, Philia, or Eros overflow into, what David Abrams calls, “the more than human world” of animals and insects and trees, rocks and mountains and stars, sun and wind and sky?

Resting In Peace While You are Still Alive

Photo: Bruce Fertman

What does it mean to have a peaceful body?

A peaceful body is an unafraid body. It senses its source, its larger body, as a baby senses its mother or father cradling them in their arms. A peaceful body is a safe body.

A peaceful body is a trustful body. It lets itself be touched by the world, and immediately and fully a peaceful body touches the world back.

A peaceful body doesn’t retain itself, doesn’t withdraw, doesn’t run away. It doesn’t push against, doesn’t fight. It meets. It joins. It receives, even when giving. A peaceful body only receives. It is all it can do. It is not in the least selfish. It is simply open.

A peaceful body senses how it is always in contact, always enjoined, always in touch – a breeze against its face, the warmth of the sun on its shoulders, the ground under its feet.

A peaceful body is always in good company.

Ten Friends-for-Life

After a lifetime of helping people become more sensorially attuned and motorically refined inside of their everyday lives, I empirically discerned a universal, ever-present contextual framework in which our lives unfold. Later, I began to understand the philosophical affinity my observations had with certain phenomenologists. In a nutshell, phenomenology seeks to understand our embodied, subjective experience of being alive. Phenomenology is about how the animate and inanimate world appears to us, how we interrelate and interact with it. Husserl, a German Jewish philosopher widely recognized as the first phenomenologist, introduces the idea of there being a Libenswelt, a life-world.

This life-world, this most basic of underlying structures, or what I refer to as our universal, ever-present contextual framework, is so utterly fundamental as to be a continually overlooked dimension of experience that nevertheless supports and sustains all of our lives, indeed all of life on earth. What is this basic structure, what is this universal, ever-present contextual framework, and how can we learn not to overlook it but to look at it, and not only look at it but befriend it, and not only befriend it but love it and interrelate with it in mutually supportive ways? This framework is not some philosophical concept. It is not an abstraction. This framework is real, as real as you and me, as real as it gets, and as good as it gets, and that is very, very good.

Rather than only attempting to improve the content of our lives, the situation in which we find ourselves, what would happen if we attended to our personal way of interacting with the context of our lives? What is this context?

I see this context, this framework as comprised of ten forces, ten realities, ten relationships that I affectionately refer to as our ten friends-for-life. In this course I will introduce you to all of them and teach you how to befriend them. Knowing them may very well change your life forever.

Consider joining me for a time of playful, in-depth, transformative study.

Bruce Fertman

Photo: Soomin Park

About Bruce Fertman

“In Bruce’s class you feel as if you are sitting by a deep, soft lake. He is the embodiment of his work. His pace and patience, his quiet confidence, allows people to unfold and open layer by layer. The superfluous falls away, leaving only life’s inner vitality effortlessly expressing itself through you. And then you know, ‘That’s who I am, that is who I could be.'”

Margarete Tueshaus – Alexander Teacher, Equestrian, Germany

Gone is the straight-lined striving, the stopping and oughting. Instead curiosity, inquisitiveness, and permission to experiment, to play, to open boxes and to climb out of them into a world of possibility – a world both soft and strong. And all this through a quiet power, a clarity of speech, and a wealth of wisdom. For me, Bruce’s work is more than exciting; it is important, both to the world and to anyone involved in any way with Alexander’s Technique.

Annie Turner – Alexander Technique Teacher, England

Having done so for 30 years, Bruce continues to teach annually in Europe, Asia, and the United States helping people to understand and experience the interconnectedness between physical and spiritual grace.

In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, now with programs in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and America.

Author of  Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart, Delving into the Work of F.M. Alexander, Bruce currently lives and works in Osaka, Japan and Coyote, New Mexico.

Investment Details:

Part I Tuition:

  • Early, Early Bird: $325 if you register by August 15th,2020.
  • Early Bird: $375 if you register by September 15st, 2020.
  • Under the Wire Bird: $400

Part II Tuition:

  • $325.

Registration: 

If you would like to register, please write me a brief email, telling me a little bit about yourself, why you wish to take this course, and what you hope to learn. (bf@brucefertman.com).

If you have any questions whatsoever, or if you’d like to talk to me personally, I’d be happy to talk to you. Simple write to me and we can arrange a time to talk.

I look forward to working with you,

Bruce Fertman

bf@brucefertman.com

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