This was originally published on RyanNagy.com a website that I am slowly but surely “taking back” from its former focus on search engine marketing. Soon, most of what I write will be there. I got a very good response from the article below and I thought to edit and republish it here. I have added a few details that were not in the original article. Details perhaps to painful to remember and write about at the time. I hope you enjoy it.
Sex, Drugs and Feldenkrais
It was 1980-something and I was a recovering drug user and drug dealer. I was living in a nearly vacant and almost condemned apartment building in Dallas, Texas. Some of the apartments had holes in the floor and you could see the apartment below. Thankfully no one was living in those apartments, though there was a beautiful red-headed lesbian in the building who had painted her entire apartment black. She and I were the only ones living in the building. After several months, she discovered that living in a black apartment was not a good idea. She freaked out and left. I then lived there alone.
I was barely making a living as waiter at “Uncle Julios’s” a reasonably hip Mexican restaurant in Oak Lawn, otherwise known as the “gay” part of town. I was very slowly and very painfully recovering from my drug and body abuse. In the 1980´s Ecstacy (XTC) was legal…at least for a few months…and cocaine was about as common as weed. Sadly, methamphetamine (“crank” and “speed” as we used to call it) was easily available as well. Have you ever snorted a drug that kept you up for 24 hours and made you forget to eat? That may sound like one of Oprah Winfrey’s wet dreams, but trust me it sucks. In less than two months, I went from being highly-muscled and over 201 pounds to slightly less than 148 pounds. That is the glory of methamphetamine. Very few things can fuck with your self-image more than staring in the mirror and seeing a scarecrow looking back at you. If I could have, I would have said, “What have I done to myself?” but those words could not come. I could only feel loathing that as I turned away to look at something else – anything else. My “image of achievement” was death. Several of my friends from that era died. One, I am sorry to say, whose name I cannot remember. She was so incredibly beautiful when I first met her. Intimidating. The last time I saw her I hardly recognized her. She looked like a concentration camp prisoner who was given just enough food to keep her alive and working.
On second thought, I don’t actually know if she died. I never saw her again. Perhaps she recovered.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but my drug using days were truly over. I would never go back. But I was still very much in the phase of trying to figure out what, if anything, my future had in store for me. I had dropped out of an honors program in Philosophy at the University of Texas at Arlington. I had lost touch with most of my friends and nearly all my emotions. I severed contact with my family. I really didn’t have a clue what would come next and didn’t have much in the way of resources -financial or otherwise. Somehow watching Star Trek reruns 5 hours per day didn’t make life more livable.
Thanks to vagaries of recovering from massive drug use, I’m still uncertain of certain parts of my history from that time. What came before and after? Not quite sure. I do know that I eventually left the apartment to live in my car as I traveled to California. I had migrant labor of sorts, getting paid per signature to get support for political initiatives. I slept in national parks, cheap hotels and beaches. I eventually ruined my credit. But my will somehow remained intact. What kept me together during my journey back to having a life?
My lifeboat, what gave me hope and a future, was the work of Moshe Feldenkrais. Seems like everyone has some crazy messianic jew somewhere in his or her background. Why not me? What the fuck. How did I find his work? I believe it was through a workshop that had a section by Feldenkrais Practitioner Jack Heggie. Though I’m not 100% sure. And somehow after hearing about Feldenkrais and while still living in that apartment in Dallas, I got a hold of a copy of Awareness Through Movement (the book). At a library? In a bookstore? I think it was a bookstore. It was probably the only copy for sale with 500 miles. I can still remember picking it up and holding it my hands. I can still smell its newness.
I was lucky enough to have the time and energy to experiment with the work for a bit. Still in Texas and with little to lose, I would occasionally spend my rent money on Feldenkrais sessions with Jack Heggie and spend what time I could doing Awareness Through Movement by reading passages from the book of the same name. I would read a paragraph and then lie down to try and “do” the movements. I was never quite sure if I was getting them right. But I continued to be stunned by differences that I felt. It was an absolutely, positively life changing experience. It was “learning how to learn” on my own, in my own time and in my own way without the interference of anyone telling me definitively what was “right” or “wrong.” I had to rely on my own resources and interpretations. If I had to do it all over again, I would have spent more time in that space, living in the unknown and doing the work for my own pleasure and at my own rate and my own time. I later took a Feldenkrais “training” and to this day, I have still have regrets about doing so.
But how does one get the materials and support to go more deeply into the work of Moshe Feldenkrais? Where do you get the materials and sessions? For me, in the 1980’s it was relatively impossible. It was a time before the internet as we know it today. It was a time before mp3 players and file sharing services. There were no ebooks, iPads, iPhones nor cellphones with headphones. The Feldenkrais materials available at that time could only be sent “snail mail” and they seemed ridiculously expensive – $69 for a tape set, plus $14.00 for shipping. It could have been $100 or $1000, no matter. It was out of reach to me. I did buy one set, but it only had 8 sessions, and afterwards I was left wanting and needing more.
As I fast forward to the world we live in today, the technology has changed. Ideas can spread around the world in seconds, files can be sent in nanoseconds and we are awash in information. However, many people practicing the Feldenkrais Method have not caught on to the changes. They either do not see or are not willing to act on the possibilities. People routinely sell Feldenkrais CD sets for $50, $100 or even $200 dollars. And usually you still have to get the damn things mailed to you. And then what? What if you don’t like the series or the person’s voice or style, do you send it back? Whose got time for that?
The possibility of getting Feldenkrais to the masses is here. But people are not using the possibilities. That is why I have re-started a long time dream of getting high-quality material – and lots of it – into the hands of people that want it and doing so affordably.
I have started and stopped the project many times over the years, but have finally begun pursuing it in earnest. I am calling it “Feldenkrais Classics” (Formerly, I called it “The Feldenkrais Forty” but I decided to create many more than forty). And the first volume is ready for sale as a download. That means you can buy it now and start using it in minutes. That means some recovering drug-user or other person in need can get materials wherever he or she might be. And the price is affordable. As I will soon be selling the Feldenkrais Classics series worldwide on Apple iTunes, Amazon MP3 and a few other services, I am going to keep my prices in line with those services: $9.99 for each volume. And who knows, as I get create more volumes, I may create a package with a discount. Feldenkrais does not need to be expensive to change your life. Interested in proving that to yourself?
Feldenkrais Classics Volume 1
These “classic” Feldenkrais sessions are derived from sessions that Moshe Feldenkrais taught to several select groups of people. I believe one of them only had 14 people. He felt these sessions were important to teach to these groups who were encountering the work in the intensive workshops. These are not necessarily easy sessions, and in fact they can be frustrating at times. I want to emphasize that: These are not necessarily easy sessions. But done by you in a gentle and curious manner, they have the potential to help you revolutionize your life, your understanding of yourself, and your ability to take effective action in the world.
You do not need any special skills or equipment to do these sessions; you just need a space where you can lie down on the floor. They are not exercises nor a workout so be gentle with yourself and go at your own speed as you learn. Never do anything that is uncomfortable or painful. Stop and rest at anytime during the sessions. You do not need to adopt any special beliefs to benefit from these sessions and there is no ideology to accept. You just need to have a bit of curiosity and the willingness to attend to your own experience. You can do them in the order that they are presented or you can do them in your own order and skip around. How you use these sessions is completely up to you. The downloads are playable in all computer operating systems and mp3 players.
As always, with my products, if you don’t like them or want a refund for any reason, let me know. I will refund your money with no questions asked.
What will you receive?
Over 4 hours of material and 6 Sessions:
1. Classic Flexors and Extensors (Very unique and not what you might expect: A must for anyone’s collection)
2. Finding Your Hip Joints (One of my favorites, can be very powerful)
3. Your Dominant Shoulder (Reduce shoulder strain)
4. Exploring Your Extensors, Part 1 (Proof that you can get taller as you age!)
5. Exploring Your Extensors, Part 2
6. Your “Dominant” Hand (Can reduce or completely eliminate some repetitive strain injuries)
Feldenkrais Classics, Volume 1
Feldenkrais Classics, Volume 1 With Transcripts
Are you a Feldenkrais or other body-based, awareness-based practitioner? Get the transcripts of the materials for use in your classes or workshops. They are in word doc, pdf and rich text for maximum compatibility. Note: These are the transcripts that I used to record the sessions. They have not been professionally edited and they are not exact transcripts of the sessions.
Feldenkrais Classics, Volume 1: Transcripts Only
If you bought Feldenkrais Classics on iTunes, Amazon or elsewhere you can buy just the transcripts of the sessions. Or if you would prefer to work directly with the transcripts and not buy the mp3’s, that’s fine too.