It was 1989 (or thereabouts) 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. After several months she discovered that living in a black apartment was not a good idea. She freaked out and left. But for a time, she and I were the only ones living in the building.
I was barely making a living as waiter at "Uncle Julio'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) were 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 weighing over 201 pounds to weighing 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 as I turned away to look at something else.
I didn't realize it at the time, but my drug using days were truly over. I would never go back.
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 and History at the University of Texas at Arlington. I had lost touch with most of my friends and nearly all my emotions. I had 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. Watching Star Trek reruns 5 hours per day didn't make life more livable. Neither did masturbating 5 to 6 times (or more) per day. But the compulsive T.V. watching and masturbation did help to numb out the pain.
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?
I had two lifeboats at the time. Two things that gave me some hope (however distant) and some sense of a future (however vague). My lifeboats were the work of two men - Moshe Feldenkrais and Milton H. Erickson. XXX Seems like everyone has some crazy messianic jew somewhere in their 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.
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 haves regrets about doing so.
But how does one get the materials and support to go more deeply into the work of Moshe FeldenDude? 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 nore 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 possibilites. 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, though without the transcripts and other cool bonuses you will get if you buy directly from me. 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, Volumes 1 and 2, From The Esalen Workshop
Over 12 hours of cutting-edge Feldenkrais sessions record by myself, Ryan Nagy, including...
Feldenkrais Classics Volume 1
1. Classic Flexors and Extensors (A must for serious Feldenkrais students.)
2. Finding Your Hip Joints (One of my favorites, can be fantastically powerful on many levels)
3. Your Dominant Shoulder (Dramatically reduce shoulder strain)
4. Exploring Your Extensors, Part 1 (Proof that you CAN get taller as you age!)
5. Exploring Your Extensors, Part 2 (Deeper and deeper)
6. Your "Dominant" Hand (Not from Esalen, but an important lesson for modern time. It can reduce or completely eliminate some repetitive strain injuries)
Feldenkrais Classics Volume 2
1. A 5-minute introduction
2. Rhythmic Tapping (a mind-blowing session)
3. Lifting on The Stomach
4. Rotating Your Spine Through Your Legs (fantastic for dealing with back pain amongst other things...)
5. Differentiating Your Hip Joint (your hips are important for many reasons - wink, wink)
6. Four Points Classic or Four Points of Support on Your Hands and Feet (This is the Feldenkrais session that I have done the most times in my life. It always has a positive effect on me. - Which will be your favorite??)
7. Crawling on Your Hands and Knees (This session can have intense changes in your self image).
Special Free Bonus: Feldenkrais "Basics" Volume 1
This album is not available anywhere else. I developed the sessions when I was dealing with some back-pain issues. I wanted to have some "moves" that I could do quickly and easily while sitting. There are five sessions, all under 30 minutes and they are fantastic. Eliminate back pain, relax easier while working and have better focus and concentration (transcripts included)
- Integrated Turning, Right and Left (If you teach this a great demo session)
- Opening and Folding (Wonderful if you tend to "slouch" or lean forward at your desk)
- Bending to the Side (Yummy! Will make you relax....)
- Full Body Integration (Combines all 3 session above with some unique variations)
- Shoulder Rotation in Sitting (The "Erroll Flynn" from Esalen and elsewhere. Awesome lesson)
Testimonials About These Feldenkrais Sessions
"I am very excited to have these lessons at hand now. I really look forward to doing them, I have already done three today. You are very clear and easy to listen to. No mucking about. Thank you." Rebecca Crawford, Australia
I actually bought the Feldenkrais Classics 2 first, and bought this FC 1 last week. It really isn't important which you start with. The movements are gentle but effective. Many of them may only have to be done once to get you balanced and feeling good. Now, that's effective! There is so much information in this MP3 set. His voice, timing and pace is just right. Buy it, you will feel better and change your life. Feldenkrais classes are pricey, this is a incredible value to see what Feldenkrais can do for you. Books and DVDs IMHO are not near effective as this MP3 set. - Cynthia R. Peterson
"I am the one who has been emailing and who hurt her back falling at Kaiser emergency room. I want to tell you that your downloads have made me very aware of the tension that has been held in my body, I must say that I have not had a headache - at all - for about three days!! What happened was, I went into your sessions and into myself and I realized WHERE the problem was coming from. I finally found the source...Thank you! You are one of three "heroes" in my life right now - there is you, my "coach" who does accupressure and massage, and my Feldenkrais practitioner, who personally trained with Moshe Feldenkrais....thank you, Ryan. " - Melinda Frances, California
Just did your lesson on tapping and am so grateful, especially your final comments about your own journey as I have similar disassociative feelings and getting up is especially difficult in the morn. After many, many years of effort, this is the first technique which has offered me hope and freedom from pain. Bless you. I plan to continue with lessons and private sessions in my area. - Linda
Thanks so much for offering this work at an affordable price. It is a real gift. - Adrienne
Dear Ryan, After having purchased your audio collection I'm happy to say that as a busy mom I've even found the time to experience the lessons. What I've found is that your style is encouraging, concise and playful, a wonderful combination of traits that go in to create a open learning environment for the 'experiencer'. One thing I've already noticed as a result of doing the lessons is an improvement in the quality of my sleep. I can't recommend these lessons highly enough!
Austat Certified Alexander Technique teacher
Musician, Writer, Performance and Movement Coach
What Is The Cost?
I am offering everything for $39.00. That is TOTAL, including ALL the sessions listed above. Most Feldenkrais practitioners would charge $99.00 or more for these sessions. And taking them in a class or workshop would cost $200.00 or more.
Why do I offer them so cheaply? It is simple: I have some of the highest ranked Feldenkrais websites in the world and I sell a TON of Feldenkrais downloads. I can give you my "volume" discount. And...as many of you know...I am a bit of a geek. I do all the recording and editing and selling of my products on my own. There is no "middle man" and I do not spend 1000's of dollars renting sound studios and editors and such.
A soon as you purchase a link to download the sessions is sent directly to your email address...you can download to your computer and start using instantly!
My Personal Guarantee To You
As you likely know already, I stand 100% behind what I sell. I want you to be delighted with these sessions. If you are not satisfied with the material, ask me and you will get your money back - no questions asked.
I will be raising prices across the board on ALL my products very soon. Act now if you want these sessions at the lowest price. I can only guarantee the price until September 27th, when I have to pay to upgrade my website and hosting account. (Plus, I have recently started school to get a second Master's degree and I will not be able to work as much. But more on that in a future blog post).