Awareness Through Movement Class

When:  Monday evening or Saturdays
Dates:  2019 classes TBA
Who:  Open – limited to 7 people – Contact Jeff by Friday
Cost:  4 class card $80 (expires in 6 weeks)
Responsibility:  Loose clothing, Bring a firm blanket
Please read:  How to take an ATM class
Teacher:  Jeff Bickford
Location & Register:  Contact Jeff

This is an ongoing class.  Each class will be a unique opportunity to practice awareness into your body and mind.  Participants will be guided through movement in sitting, standing, kneeling or lying postions.  Awareness Through Movement® is the group class form of the Feldenkrais Method®.  Please visit Unfettered Movement to read more about the Feldenkrais Method

Why start meditation classes?

The fish needs to say,
“Something ain’t right about this
Camel ride –
And I’m Feeling so damn

Most of us come to meditation classes or retreats for exactly what Hafiz points to in this poem.  We get an inkling that something just isn’t right about our lives.  We cannot exactly say what it is that isn’t right.  All the externals may look great, yet the fish on the camel feels that it is not in its natural environment, and it is thirsty.  There is a yearning to connect to something deeper or higher or different.  “Is there something beyond being thirsty on this camel?” This thirst, this niggling feeling, becomes the initiator to start seeking.  What we seek is not yet known.  This is how the path begins & continues; following a feeling and seeking something that will start to quench that thirst.

In my own life, I came to practice through this kind of seeking.  In 1986, I was a dancer -training and auditioning in that competitive world.  I had studied with the “greats” of my time: Martha Graham, Trisha Brown, Laura Dean, etc.   I landed a coveted position with a prestigious dance company.  I was filled with the sense that I had “made it”.  In the third week of rehearsals it dawned on me, I was at the top of the world & yet I was “feeling so damn thirsty”. Something wasn’t right.  All the glamor was not touching what I was seeking.

I did something crazy.  I resigned.  I had no idea what I was going to do, but I knew I could not continue on the camel ride.  I spent many gloomy weeks doing my usual ritual of movement classes.  Technique was no longer fulfilling, other dancers avoided me & my internal critics had a heyday.   Then it dawned on me:  though I did not yet know what I was seeking,  I did have the use of a large old room at a local church in exchange for caring for their alter.  For three hours daily, for one year, I locked myself in the empty room, with the intention to move, listen & engage what I was seeking.

For a year I listened.  Sometimes I was inspired by movement, often I laid on the floor wide awake.  At times my mind drove me crazy and periodically there was complete peace.  After a year, I said goodbye to this practice & sought a teacher who would be able to engage what I now knew & guide me in ways to follow what I yet did not know.  It a took a few years to find such a teacher.  When I found one, my heart spun; like a compass that has finally found north, like a dog, who finally understands that a person’s language means something & the possibility of a whole new world awakens.  And so it has continued for me.  I practice, I reach impasses, I listen, I contemplate the seeking heart and a new teacher appears. This is why many practice meditation, to learn to engage what we seek.  Meditation practice is not about ignoring some part of your life.  It starts like the fish on the camel; recognizing something isn’t quite right.  Then it proceeds to asking your questions, engaging your seeking heart and learning tools to bring this heart into your life.

First, The fish needs to say, “Something ain’t right about this Camel ride – And I’m Feeling so damn Thirsty.” – Hafiz

Copyright© 2015, all rights reserved Gail Gustafson, Mahakala Radio offers meditation classes in Colorado Springs, online and meditation retreats

Emptiness and Compassion

Emptiness has had a strong run of late as the ‘real deal’ of buddhist practice.  I’ve certainly spent a good deal of time clearing obstacles and doing practices to move towards recognizing and opening to emptiness.  I’ve found a shimmering vitality, freedom, often warmth and joy, vast spaciousness, and a bright, vivid clarity in the experiences that have unfolded.

Then, some time ago, I began to wonder, ‘where is the depth here?’  Resting in open clarity I’d find myself saying ‘I can’t get down!!’  I don’t feel depth in emptiness, light, or clarity.  There is no dimension, only what might be described as ‘space’.  Space without dimension is quite wonderful, and a bit odd.

In emptiness there is also no weight.  There is no weight because there is nothing there!  This is wonderful, and not the whole picture.  In my experience there is weight, and it is important in many ways.  Perhaps we shouldn’t regard the weight of experience as something that should, or indeed could, be transcended.

Depth implies dropping, there is a ‘down’.  Deep. One starts ‘here’ and drops right into ‘here’, down.  What gives access?  Beauty that reaches sublimity does, whether the movement of a poem or of leaves against a Fall sky.  So does pain or suffering, no matter the source of it.  When I rest with suffering as it arises there is, of a sudden, depth in my experience.  When I drop into that, another aspect of being is revealed.

Depth is dark.  When we bring light to depth it is no longer deep, dimension is gone.  Perhaps depth also has weight, that might be another aspect of the matter.  We grab a large stone and drop to the bottom of the pond, into dark water.  The space of depth is different from the spaciousness of light.  We can open to and into depth.  It is a little scary, maybe awesome.

Compassion puts us in touch with suffering.  It is not just an ability to be with suffering, to be with the difficulty, pain and discomfort of what arises in life – this can smack of heroism, of heroic tragedy.  Compassion creates, leads us to, a window.  Through the window we get in touch with something ‘so deep we cannot fathom it’.

So we have these two,,, aspects of experiencing and ways into experience.  Emptiness, the vivid, vital clarity of the emptiness of experience, of what is; and compassion, dropping into the depths opened by the suffering of experience that is pervasive and can be recognized or ignored.

Simply accessing the empty quality of experience and hanging out in the energy and light and freedom I come in touch with at some point seems incomplete.  Dropping into depth and ignoring or forgetting the empty aspect of experience leads into a darkness lacking in vitality; it is not depth but wallowing.

These two ways can, and do, function together.   Accessing the experience of the emptiness-of-being generates energy and can help to drop into the depth of experience without collapsing into reactions to it.

There is depth and emptiness.  Utterly resonant, mysterious, open, deep.  From here, we can do what situations ask for.  Which may be to simply be.

Copyright© Jeff Bickford, Mahakala Radio, Colorado Springs, CO

Click here for our meditation classes

About Jeff Bickford

Jeff Bickford teaches meditation classes & consults with students from different places in the world, while maintaining his practice in Colorado Springs, CO.  Jeff owns Peak Light Therapy & is a Feldenkrais teacher

He began spiritual practice with Pir Vilayat Khan, a Sufi teacher.  After a number of years he turned to Buddhist practice, first in Zen, then with a Shingon Buddhist monk.  Some years later he began practicing with Venerable Tenzin Kacho, which then led to many years of practice and study with Ken McLeod from the Shangpa/Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.  He completed Ken McLeod’s three year teacher development program and was authorized to teach.

Concurrently, he practiced and studied awareness in movement, beginning in the early ’70’s with Nikolais technique, which led to studies in Laban Movement Theory, Neuro- Linguistic Programming, the Pilates Method, and the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education.  For 25 years, Jeff was a lighting designer for dance companies & choreographers in the United States and Canada. Jeff also was the choreographer/director of his own performance company based in Seattle WA.  Jeff’s keen eye and knowledge of movement, space and light influences all of his teaching of meditation.

Click for meditation classes or awareness and movement work

Course Registration

This is for new students registering for our meditation classes in Colorado Springs or online. 

2018 Meditation Courses Mahakala Radio– Participant Information

Course Title:

1.  What about this course interests you?
2.  What do you hope to learn in taking this course?
3.  Describe your regular meditation practice:

4.  Describe what brought you to meditation practice:
5.  What are your principal traditions, teachers…
6.  Describe your relationship with your current teacher or your experience with spiritual teachers:
7.  Describe your relationship with sangha (fellow practitioners):
8.  Do you have a somatic movement practice? please briefly describe:
9.  What are three things you have learned through meditation or movement practice?
10.  In some courses, we have online participants.  Are you willing to have at least 1 practice conversation every 2-3 weeks with an online participant?  
You will need to use skype or google+ or facetime for this conversation
11.  Do you have any medical, physical, emotional or mental condition that will affect your practice?
12.  Please read
these responsibilities and let us know you can follow them

Return to Meditation Class Page or to Awareness & Movement site

Shibashi – 18 Movements of Taiji / Qigong

Waving Hands (Rising & Sinking)

Opening & Closing the Chest

Swinging the Rainbow

Parting the Clouds

Reeling Silk (Rolling Arms)

Rowing Across the Lake

Raising the Sun

Gazing at the Moon

Rustling Leaves (Twisting, Pushing, Grasping)

Waving Cloud Hands

Scooping the Sea & Opening to the Sky

Rolling with the Waves

Dove Spreading Wings

Dragon Emerging from the Sea

Flying Crane

Turning the Wheel

Stepping & Bouncing the Ball

Gathering Energy, Pressing Palms

( Shine the Pearl )

Click here for more moving meditation videos, Colorado meditation retreats, more information on meditation in Colorado Springs

How to do Awareness Through Movement® Lessons

Go Slowly. The movements you are learning may seem unusual and unfamiliar to you. You will need time to assimilate them, to feel the way your body is moving and changing. Do not rush! Pause whenever you feel like it and repeat movements you want to experience more fully.

Insist on Comfort. There is no reward in doing any of the movements in an uncomfortable position. Alter the position in whatever way makes it comfortable for you. Enjoy the process of the movement as much as the result. If it hurts, it’s not helping you.  Never try to overcome pain – it is a signal that your body is asking you to find a new way to move.

Don’t test your limits. Your goal here is to discover how your body achieves a movement so that you can learn to make that movement easier. Your movements should be light and as effortless as possible. Imagine how good it will feel to do simple mobile tasks without trying hard, without working.

Use your imagination. Take the time to do movements from these lessons in your imagination only, before doing them in practice. Allow the movement to become very clear and lucid in your mind, like a scene from a movie. Imagine a movement before attempting it can make an enormous difference in your ease of motion.

Rest frequently. The movements in these lessons, while gentle and pleasurable, may cause slight strain because you are using parts of yourself you may not have used in a long time, or in ways that are not familiar to you. Rest often during each lesson. Relax and let the movement settle in, enjoy the feeling.

Take the lessons with you. Throughout your day, pay attention to how a lesson affected you. Be aware of changes in the way you reach, walk, sit, feel and think. Putting your sensations into words builds a new sensory vocabulary and expands your body awareness, increasing aliveness and changing fixed habits of thinking and feeling. A lesson doesn’t have to end with its last movement – let the learning process linger and grow.

Click for more lessons and upcoming Awareness Through Movement  and Feldenkrais courses with  Jeff Bickford