Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Real Learning happens in Life

The Grinberg Method is a discipline of attention. As a teacher and practitioner of the Grinberg Method profession, I practice exactly what I teach others. Put another way, I would not be the teacher I am today if I did not practice what I teach.

At the age of 20 I was finishing the compulsory military service in Israel, and what I was left with was a strong wish to learn and find my own individual direction. By chance I heard about a lecture about the Grinberg Method profession. I didn’t know what it was, but I was curious and I decided to go.

I must admit, I do not remember much about the content of that lecture, but I remember being impressed by the simplicity and respect for people’s lives that this approach offered. I also remember being intrigued at seeing how much the practitioners loved their work. The possibility of working with people and joining them in their struggle for better health and life really grabbed my attention so I became a student of the Grinberg Method.

Looking back from where I am today, I see it as one of those moments in life, where we decide that we want something, and we just go for it. I simply did what I needed to do to make it happen. I got the money together to study, moved to a new city, found an apartment and a place to work.

The studies of the Grinberg Method are structured so that from the first moment on, students find their own clients to begin practicing what they have learned. I found this exciting and challenging. At every step I had to stand behind my decision. I was in a new city where I hardly knew anyone. I was working in part-time jobs to earn money to study, and at the same time I needed people to work with to practice the profession I was learning.

Studying to become a practitioner of the Grinberg Method was a wonderful and intense experience in the classroom. Yet I felt the effects of those lessons not only in my working room with my clients, but also in all the day-to-day situations in life, where I had to push myself beyond my own personal limitations to achieve what I wanted.

More than 20 years later, I am still learning. Every day contains new moments of daring, moments of love, of challenges, disappointment, failures and achievements. I continue to train and strengthen my own willpower. In the past it was building my practice with my clients, and today it involves teaching and running the school in Berlin.

Over the years I have found that many moments, struggles and difficulties in life can become great experiences of learning and training - rather than just problems to be solved. To see things from this perspective, I need to continually remember my initial intention, and my vision. Both these things drive me to do what I do.

10 years ago, Claudia Glowik and I opened the Grinberg Method School in Berlin, and even after all these years, it fascinates me seeing how capable our students are after the first week of study. It is amazing for me to see how natural this profession is, how the fundamental elements are in each of us. I am also continually fascinated by the way in which our students don’t just gain a profession. As they practice what they teach, they also transform their own lives. Seeing students and practitioners learn the art of touching people’s lives is a beautiful process to witness and to be a part of, full of challenges, joy, personal struggles and victories.

I would love to celebrate 10 years of the Grinberg Method School in Berlin with you on 12th October. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What others might think?

Worrying about what others might think of us is something we all go through. Often it starts at home, where our parents teach us to behave and dress in a certain way. Then of course there’s the mainstream media, advertising and our peer group. All these things get inside our heads and often we find ourselves pre-occupied with worrying about what phantom people might think of who we are and what we’re doing.

The struggle to let go of the meaning we give to others’ opinions is one that is important to win, yet not so easy to do. This worrying and fear of others' opinions is a cage that many of us know far too well. When we’re caught up in what others might think of us, we often limit ourselves and behave unnaturally.  Instead of focusing our attention on what we are doing, our attention wanders to 'them' – and the funny thing is that this undefined group is often not even the 'them' whose opinions we do care about. We become afraid of what “they” might think about what we do, think, wish and feel.

And yet, to not care at all what others think is a cold and lonely place. A place where the only thing that matters is what I think, and the entire world of people around me seems to have no meaning. Can we find a way to accept that people will always have an opinion and allow that to be there, without letting it take away our confidence, freedom, individuality and choices?

Even as a child, I remember worrying about what others might say or think about me. It’s almost as if it were always there. This awareness in the back of my mind, looking at myself as if from the outside, and judging myself as “they” would – those people I had never met.

But I also remember the moments where all of this didn't matter – where I was fascinated by something, totally immersed in it, a part of it, and this awareness of others' observations was gone. In these moments, I wasn’t judging or talking to myself about myself. Life was just what I experienced - magical moments of enjoyment, belonging, and feeling a part of the world around me.

Those are the moments I collect and hold onto. And in some way, they are the only moments that actually count, real moments of silence, freedom and being myself. Moments where the experience is much bigger than what anybody has to say about it – full of the richness and intensity of what is happening and becoming.

The way to not worry about what others think of us, from what I can observe, has nothing to do with other people or with their opinions. It has a lot to do with our ability to fully care for whatever we do and our ability to be fully involved. It is about directing our attention to the thing we are interested in, rather than commenting or talking to ourselves about it.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a conversation, painting, cooking, practising an instrument, running, or writing. When we are fully immersed in whatever it is that we are doing, we find moments of creativity and intensity, and in these moments our minds are blissfully quiet.

I find that the real challenge is in creating those moments on purpose and turning them into a way to live life. It is about staying loyal to my own perception of things, staying clear and focused.

Becoming confident in ourselves and our view of life does not mean that we don’t care about the opinions of others. Instead it means to be confident enough to intentionally ask for the opinions that matter to us, with the aim that this will give us a different perspective, help us focus, or make our work better. The difference is that if we genuinely ask for someone’s feedback, we are in reality. We are not caught up in our heads, worrying about what we think others might think of us.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The ownership of pain

People always talk about "my" pain, as if there were ownership of pain. As if one pain were more important than another. We create a strange kind of competition, where we examine our pain in comparison to that of others, where we have to prove somehow that "my" pain is stronger than "theirs", or where we decide that "my" pain is not as important or as serious as people take it to be.  

In this competition of pain, there are no real winners. Everybody loses. Nobody cares anymore. But, pain has no ownership. We all experience it, we all know it, and there is no competition on earth that can evaluate one pain in comparison to another.


We can try to kill, destroy, avoid or compare it, but it probably will still be there. If we only could find a way to change our attitude toward it, we might be able to find a different way to experience and deal with the experience of pain.
The presence of pain should be honored: not by being serious and heavy, but by breathing it in and allowing it to simply be, until at some point it transforms itself and becomes a completely different experience of strength, beauty, power, laughter, friendship or warmth.

Having pain is not a personal thing. People who have experienced pain talk about the beauty of sharing it with somebody else: that magical moment when we realize that somebody actually saw we were hurting, that someone saw us fully, that somebody "out there" acknowledged our pain by being there with us in that moment where the pain is. It does not belong to one master and does not need to be owned.
Pain is natural to our being, just as breathing is. The beauty of it is that when it is accepted and wanted, it transforms itself into wishes, friendship, power, and strength and into our real experience of life itself.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Should we be positive about life?

Everyone says we should be more positive and see life in a nicer way, a brighter way, a happier way.
Pink is not my favorite color, and I am not sure that feeling happy is something I can relate to as a goal in life. I somehow do not think that life is supposed to have one particular taste, where happiness is the ideal flavour.

We wouldn't dream of creating all our food with exactly the same herbs and spices, every single time, and yet when it comes to how we feel, we already have clear expectations of how it should be. We imagine we know exactly what we should feel and want, and what we should wish to feel and want.
Life is not positive or negative. It simply is. I love someone. There are happy moments between us that are full of what people relate to as positive. But what about all the rest? What about missing one another, life considerations, pain, anger, fears, failing, being hurt, wishing to communicate and not knowing how? Why are all of these things supposed to be worth less than being ‘positive’?
Pains and fears so often create great changes in people's lives. Yet still, somehow, so many people agree that feeling good about ourselves or about life has the greatest meaning.
Some mornings I feel great. Some mornings not. Looking back, some of the greatest things in my life happened not when I was happy and positive. Some of the biggest lessons in my life happened just there, in the crack between my pains and my loves, between my fears and my wanting, where words like 'positive' or 'negative' have no meaning. Their meaning only comes into existence when we look at ourselves and judge whether a certain moment is a ‘good’ one or not.

The value we give to feeling good or being positive about life is a value that is being constantly promoted to us. When we are truly happy or positive about life, we do not report it to ourselves and usually it is far away from the image we have about it.