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  Home > Articles > Almost Dying in a Foreign Language, pt.4


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Almost Dying in a Foreign Language  (part 4)

by David Gorman

NOTE: This is a record of a session that took place in a 5-day workshop. The names of the person who brought up the issue and the other participants as well as some of the details have been changed in consideration of everyone's privacy.

I have edited the flow of the spoken words to improve readability. Here and there, I have added some explanations of the work and its tools that the participants had at other points in the workshop. Aside from these edits, this article is almost verbatim from the actual session.

Because of the length of this article, it is primarily aimed at teachers, apprentice-teachers and those with some experience of the LearningMethods work, though others may find it interesting to pore through the whole piece. There will be a shorter version coming soon that just covers the main points of the problem, the tools used to explore it and its solution.

This version is a long article (over 30,000 words) so it has been split into 4 parts:

               part 1    part 2    part 3    part 4

PART 4 (... continued from previous part):

David: If you are not even interested in that whole ancient text territory, does that mean that, in fact, that territory is not as relevant and important to you as some other territory?

Raphael: Yes, in fact, that’s true. It was true when I was studying in rabbinical school and it continues to be true.

David: Is that not a valid point of view? One that could also be stated to somebody who might have a different emphasis. If that’s really your point of view of what’s important, what does it matter what somebody else’s point of view of what’s important is? I am asking that as an actual question…

Raphael: I’m not an academic in the field of Jewish studies who is studying a piece of the 4000 years worth of tradition that I am most interested in and becoming expert in that, but I do carry a responsibility by becoming a rabbi. By choosing to be a rabbi, I do carry the responsibility of passing on the tradition, even though in my passing it on I automatically interpret it. I automatically filter it through my sense of self — my present moment self — which is different than who I was 20 years ago.

David: If that’s your sense of your responsibility, then why not carry it out?

Raphael: Because I am a tired middle age guy and there is only so much I can keep learning and knowing and passing on. That sounds kind of lame.

Because I can’t know it all. That’s true. Nobody can know it all. I am happy to look it up for you. I’ll tell you next week. How’s that?

David: Why can’t they look it up themselves?

Raphael: I am happy to tell you how to look it up. Go, leave me alone. Go learn it yourself…

Lisa: Ask if there’s anyone in the congregation who knows.


David: Yeah, there’s a little 12 year old girl up in Manchester who knows…

[More laughter]

David: There’s something else too, when you are talking about passing on a 2000-year old tradition. There may well be a tradition and the tradition needs carrying on if it is to be kept alive. But do you have to be the one that does that particular text part or are there others who could do that bit — the ones who are interested in it? As you put it, can one person do it all or is it a shared thing?

Raphael: It has to be shared.

David: So if it has to be shared, and some people take on some parts of it and other people take on other parts of it, which sort of elements would make more sense for you to take on? The things you are interested in and think are important or the things you don’t think are important?

Raphael: Well if you put it that way…


David: If we all took on the responsibility to do the things that we are the most bored by, that would be good, wouldn’t it? That would really be equal.

Don: Well somebody’s got to do it.

[More laughing]

Raphael: I am almost angered by some of the stuff I’m reading now. That’s not necessarily boredom. That’s the question.

David: Angered by parts of the tradition you mean?

Raphael: Yes.

David: Maybe certain parts of the tradition shouldn’t be passed on. Depending on what we mean by tradition, certainly some parts of some traditions shouldn’t be passed along, unless we want the same things happening now that happened in the past.

Don: Can I ask you a question?

Raphael: Of course! I am a rabbi, you can ask questions.

Don: Are there texts that you are deeply interested in knowing how to read in the original?

Raphael: Yes. I could read traditional texts that I am interested in. This is like, do you want to read Aristotle or Plato or Shakespeare or Beowulf, that’s what we’re talking about. But the question is not which writers and what is their viewpoint on the world, but are you able to read the text? Are you able to look at the printed squiggles and decipher, decode, translate…? Forget about whether or not you like it — can you read it?

David: Let’s take a little step back to see where we’ve come to. Process-wise, as you go through these things you want to be assessing whether the territory that has been revealed is sufficient to cause this problem. There may or may not be something more that emerges later, but in a very practical sense in terms of a piece of work, you’ve then found something that you can work with.

And in this piece, there is a huge territory in what has come up — in these ‘shoulds’ and the idea of rabbi-ness. This is big stuff.

For the rest of you, if you can put yourselves in his place and think, "If I was the one who was in this situation and who had these ideas and these experiences, would that be sufficient to generate the same feelings and stop me from learning?"

One of the main characteristics of this circular thing is that by its very nature it is hard to pin down. By its very nature it will go around like that, which is quite different than some other kinds of issue where you really can get a focal point and follow it straight through to a resolution.

But in circular problems we inevitably keep going back to the same places because that is the way they work. There is no escape from that one until the illusion is seen through. It is just a question of bringing out the central misconception and revealing it again and again in all its detail, until the person themselves begins to make the connection. It is like the penny starts to drop when they can see it for themselves: "Oh yes, I do see it now — when I have those thoughts again, I have those feelings again and that moves me onto the next part… Aha!"

I say it that way because I’ve run into these circular problems a lot. It is in the nature of it as a piece of work that it takes longer in terms of time to go through. I find them quite interesting, in fact, because often it is very subtle and slippery and even with my experience, it takes me a number times going around the circle before I go, "Hang on, aren’t we coming back to the same thing again? There’s something circular here."

Of course the main point is not my understanding, it is to help the person whose issue it is to understand what they are caught in. Showing the circularity is an important part of understanding what reinforces the issue. But I agree with Raphael, though, that the main element is what stops him from learning. And this seems to be that red-flag ‘should’ — how the world should be, compared to how it actually is.

Carl: This is really very powerful, because it keeps, really courageously I think, just going right back to it and back to it.

David: I think I know what you mean. We have more days coming up here, and one of the advantages of having a number of people sharing those days is that you will witness a number of different issues, which are really quite different issues with quite different problems with potentially quite different solutions.

Don: What I have been working on for some months in terms of using this work myself is coming to a practical approach in my life that is not run by ideas of my life but run by the experience of my life.

This whole question about how change happens is quite curious for me in terms of what happened with my problem when you helped me get rid of it in one session because it is just mysterious. I’ve experienced a couple of little things like that on my own where I’ve gnawed at it and worked on it and worked on it and been rigorous, but I can’t say at the end of it that I know what I’ve done. But then something happens and I realize, oh this is very different and I am not any longer caught by that. I can’t really say that those ideas and explorations that I went through added up to that uncaughtness, but somehow it happened.

David: It is a funny one. You may not know the exact mechanism by which the change took place. You may not even be able to say with any degree of certainty that in any one time the process you went through actually caused that outcome.

Though, we can definitely see that in following this process over enough times we do get relatively consistent kind of changes taking place. And so, something must be going on here, even if we don’t know exactly by which mechanism it is achieved.

Sometimes the change is quite obvious and you can see it in an actual activity like the person was doing with their martial arts yesterday. These ones are quite different and very concrete. However, at other times, the main learning comes as a realization that gives you a different point of view on experiences that you have.

So it appears to be in these vicious circles. In these, the point is just to get everything out there on the table clearly enough to see the circularity of it. That you can begin to see that there is something about this whole thing that keeps you going around in circles so that it can’t get resolved. The point is to bring you so that you no longer perceive each of those steps as being somehow real, but rather see them as steps that drag you back and reinforce the circle.

This takes the power out of them. That habit can only keep going so long as it can convince you that it is ‘reality’. Even at the moment that you can question it and begin to suspect it, it has lost its main hold over you.

We could probably stop relatively soon now. We’ve gone as far as we can go for today with this piece and we’ll see where Raphael is with it tomorrow or the next day when he’s had some sinking-in time.

We’re at the end of our red-flag subroutine now. Pretty much everything we uncovered came out of noticing that red-flag word ‘should’ and all that was implied in it. I hope you can see how valuable it has been to be able to wake up to it and follow it like a thread off into the unknown. Eventually that thread ravels through the whole issue and leads us here.

We’ve done two days out of five and we’ve had three pieces of work. I would like, of course, the opportunity for everybody in those next days to have an opportunity to bring up something.

Going through more and more pieces of work will highlight some of the kinds of traps that keep us in our problems. We will have more and more shared moments to have a basis upon which to see what happens when we bring our attention systematically and rigorously to the problems we have.

Of course, one workshop may only show you one example of a particular sort of problem. But there’s nothing we can do about that unless we want to make up non-existent problems. I get to see the whole range of examples because I see them over and over again in different workshops, and those of you who have been here a few times will be expanding your experiences of what’s underneath these issues.

It was interesting for me, and a surprise, when I started to explore this way years ago to find that there were not an infinite number of problems. It soon became clear that there was a relatively small handful of quite common issues that came up over and over. And conversely, a relatively small handful of tools needed to change things.

We’ve had a number of those tools come out already and you’ll have more opportunities over the next days to recognize them and learn how to use them.

So let’s finish for today and if any thoughts or insights come up for you tonight we will start tomorrow morning by looking at them.


Follow up — next day:

Raphael: I did do some studying this morning and last night, and I did notice that I had much more of a curiosity of what the words meant and far less of what an idiot I am that I don’t already know this. So, a shift has begun, certainly.

And also, I don’t know how this came in, but I have somehow developed more compassion for myself because I am reading the translations in the English and this stuff is fairly impenetrable even in the English! So all the more so how difficult it is in the original language because it is not my language. It’s like reading Aristotle.

The stuff that I am working on right now is very complex philosophical material coming from a entirely different world view about the body and the soul and God and all that stuff. And I don’t necessarily understand it in English, even if I understand the words.

David: Entirely different writing style from that period too.

Raphael: Absolutely. Right now I’m at least not going, "Ahhhhhh, what an idiot!"

It reminds me that at the time when I went to my particular rabbinical school we were required to get a Masters degree in a non-Judaic discipline in a separate institution in order to qualify for graduation. I got my masters in counselling from another university, which was Catholic, so I’d go from all day in Jewish world, take my yarmulka off and drive across the city and go to the world of the crucifixes and collars. I remember thinking, "Oh, this will be a piece of cake, at least everything is in English." Just because it was in English doesn’t mean that studying masters-level material in any field was easy.

David: Notice some things here, if I can recap a bit from yesterday. I’ll use an image. Here you are in the landscape of your life like an explorer or a discoverer. You are where you are at the moment, knowing what you know and not knowing what you don’t know. But you used to think, "Oh, I should be way over there on the top of that mountain way out ahead of me, five miles away, and I’m still here down on the plain with all these things I have to get past in order to get there."

If you have the framework, "I should be way up there on that mountain", notice all the stuff that you have to get through to get there. There’s a huge amount of it and you can see why you’d be thinking, "Oh, am I ever stupid, look at all the stuff I don't have".

What you are now experiencing sounds quite different. Now you are more just where you are and in front of you there is the next tree or the next little stream you have to cross. Is that such a big deal? That’s not a big thing and you don’t have to feel stupid because you are only trying to do that little bit at that moment.

So, of course, if you have your old point of view it makes sense that you would be thinking and feeling those negative things. But now your changing point of view is automatically giving you a different set of experiences and therefore different thoughts and feelings. You are starting to take in your own experience and it is showing you something different. It is no more, "Gee, I’m stupid." It’s, "Oh, I can see that. That’s kind of interesting. I have just learned that bit."

Raphael: And the mountain loomed so large that you fool yourself about how far you have to go to get even to the base of the mountain because it’s so huge and you see it from so far away.

David: And you also only tend to see the mountain, you don’t really see all the nice stuff around you at the moment. What you already have — the butterflies and the fish and the little Hebrew words jumping in the stream…


Follow up — second day after:

Raphael: I continue to have different experiences when I am studying now and it is really quite phenomenal.

David: Tell us. It sounds interesting.

Raphael: Well, it is not unlike writer’s block. That is, staring at the empty page you get negative feelings about that. Staring at a Hebrew page I used to get a whole set of feelings about it — shame, frustration, embarrassment, judgement about my innate intellectual capacities. And now I am simply bringing curiosity to it: "Well, how does this work." It is just a language. I can decode this. I can decode English to an incredibly subtle level and tune into myth and poetry. I love that stuff.

So it used to be a frustration about not being able to do it. And I am not feeling ashamed anymore about it. I am not feeling ashamed about it sitting by myself with it.

The universe operates in interesting ways. I used to live here in this city, I grew up here so I have a few friends that are still here and yesterday I called this friend who was very intensely involved in my life for the three or four years before I went to rabbinical school. She didn’t answer my phone call, and, OK, she is a little spacey and we see each other once every two years even though I come here regularly…

Anyway, she got my phone message at 5:30 yesterday morning in Heathrow airport on her return from Israel so she connected with me yesterday here when she got back and we said we’ll get together later. She is also a PhD psychologist. So when we got done with all the catching up we started talking about the work I did yesterday.

I tried to describe it in the abstract which didn’t work at all. So I said, "Oh well, I’ll tell you what I did." To the best of my abilities I recapped what happened although I was so inside it I really don’t know what happened, but I do know the outcome of what happened. She was totally intrigued by, a) the fact that I was ashamed and embarrassed and, b) the fact that my Hebrew skills were as small as they are because I had covered it up and she had no idea.

She was just fresh from Israel so about every sixth word was Hebrew because if you are fluent the process doesn’t completely switch over yet. She said a couple of words that I don’t know. I actually was able to ask her what the words meant that I didn’t know. And she just simply said what they meant. Or then once in a while she wouldn’t know and I would say, "Well is it related to this?" And she would say, "Oh yeah, you are really getting the language. It’s the same root, but no, it is not that form, it’s this form and it’s colloquial."

I don’t know, now I am just rabbiting on. But we were talking and I was saying, "Oh, that’s got a mapiq in it." And she would say, "Huh?" And I said, "Oh, that’s the little dot inside the letter that indicates whether it’s locative." And she said, "Huh?"

So she doesn’t know grammar either, but she’s fluent in Hebrew… And she’s not dumb… Except that I know a lot more grammar than she does…

Then I said, "Last week I finally understood the definite noun phrase and how you form it." And she went, "Huh?" And I said, "You know, the definite noun phrase where you put a he in front the word and then the word that follows because the adjective in Hebrew follows the noun, but in English it precedes the noun."

And she is going, "I don’t know this stuff." And I said, "Well, I didn’t know it either, but don’t I need to know this?" And she said, "No, you don’t need to know this kind of stuff! Just go there and learn to speak it!"

So I’m trying to wrap my head all around this grammar stuff that I don’t even understand in English, as the doorway to the language, and here is somebody who is totally fluent in it, totally acculturated to it, completely thinks in it… dreams in it... And she doesn’t know grammar! So what…?

But my first encounter at rabbinical school was this absolute *&%@# professor for whom grammar was the thing, and if you didn’t know grammar he would just really rip into you. And it’s not only about shame, it’s about competition. I made that other leap.

There is a tremendous amount of competition about who knows what, and can you quote it, and where’s the source and who said it first. So the feelings of shame are not just in the framework in which I first spoke about them, but the piece about competition is really important — which I haven’t explored yet but it just sort of went ding, ding, ding. Anyway my inner landscape is shifting, quite a bit.

David: It may have been implicit in what you said, but you said you were able to ask her about the words you didn’t know. Is that different than you would have done before?

Raphael: Yes, I would have pretended that I knew them. I wouldn’t have asked because I would have been embarrassed to ask because I would have been ashamed that I didn’t know, so I would have not found out. But now I understand that the not-knowing isn’t a problem. It was wonderful! It was delightful!

James: What went through your head at that moment?

Raphael: Oh gee, "I think I will ask what it means." What a concept!

David: In a way it is kind of obvious…

Raphael: Totally! Like, duh, what’s the matter with this picture!

David: It’s obvious when you see it from the other side. But the old framework puts you in a place where it is virtually impossible to see it. And it’s impossible to learn too, either because you are overwhelmed with these negative feelings or because the whole thing is preconceived in a way that the last thing you’d do is ask and learn something. Instead you’d cover up.

But with a different framework, suddenly there is curiosity, there is interest. You ask, you learn. You gain new insights like that grammar might not be the most important thing. Learning is bursting out all over the place so it’s a reinforcing circle, a constructive circle…

Raphael: Positive reinforcement!

David: And this is reinforced now because it’s fun, it’s interesting and you’re getting somewhere, and that’s makes it easier the next time.

Raphael: Very exciting, to be excited about it! Wooo!!

David: You see what can happen quite quickly — one or two days. It just means breaking through the illusion and seeing… Seeing what…? What did we do that other day?

We spend the major amount of the time going around and around, showing each time how the way you had attributed those negative feelings to the not-knowing Hebrew just wasn’t accurate. Instead, each time around the cause really turned out to be the ‘I should have known’ ideas.

Raphael: Right. Absolutely.

David: That’s the thing that causes the feelings. Once you get past that one, or detach from that one, the whole thing starts to crumble.

Don: You are saying that after he detached from the ‘I should’, ‘I have to’? And how did he do that?

David: Put the other way around, notice every time that ‘should’ thought is there with the power of ‘I should have known this already’, the feelings will be there.

Raphael: All by myself, with nobody else in the room I use to be able to make the circle happen. Now I don’t want to, so why would I?

Don: What’s your experience of how you detached from that, from ‘I have to’, ‘I should’?

Raphael: What’s my experience of it?

Don: Yes or your thoughts about how that became detached. David says it is very important and I can see why it is very important. I was wondering how you achieved it?

David: Can I say something? Personally, I think it is immaterial how that happens. Or rather, there are two answers. I could tell you precisely how it happened in the sense of the means we used and that’s precisely and exactly what we did that afternoon. We just kept at it and kept at it, round and round the circle. That’s manifestly how it happened. We can play the tape back and hear it there and we can do the same thing with another person and it would probably happen again.

Don: By keeping at it? By keeping at the one idea of the should?

Raphael: There is an internal connection I had between the cognition and the feeling bundle. And what I have experienced through a system of logical questions about what actually is happening, is that there was a disconnect made… No, it frayed, it didn’t disconnect.

What happened in the experience here was that a fraying began between the ties that bind the cognition and the feeling bundle. And what happened by myself later is that the tie broke because it had been weakened, because I was able to notice what was going on, because I kept at it, because I have a phone call planned for Thursday afternoon with my study partner so I am still looking at the text.

David: I think you said it beautifully there — the fraying between the ties that bind the cognition and the feeling bundle.

These circular things keep rolling, and have the power they do only because we do believe that that’s the way that it is. As long as it can convince you it is a reality, you are subject to the belief and there is no way out of it.

What I am doing is helping you do an exploration to find the mismatches between the idea and the actual reality and then embark on a calling-into-question in such a way that something about that mismatch is planted in there that can’t be refuted each time we go around. In this case it was the question, "What about the person who, in the face of the disparaging teacher, is not affected because they don’t have any ‘should’ ideas and they can see it as the teacher’s stuff?"

That question sits there like the 2000-pound elephant of unavoidable fact in the pathway of the circle and each time around you are going to run smack into it. There’s really no way around it because within your circular framework it is that disparaging teacher who is doing the shaming so it would be impossible that this person wouldn’t be shamed, yet here he is not being shamed. And the only difference between him and you is that he doesn’t have the ‘should’ idea. How can this be?

As you can see from the other day, I had to plop that elephant down there quite a few times and you had to run into it quite a few times, but since it cannot be refuted, and provided it is not ignored, then sooner or later the whole edifice of the framework will begin to crack, or fray as you put it so nicely. Once it can no longer succeed in pretending to be reality and once doubt about it enters, it is doomed.

Raphael: I can tell you where the fraying began. The fraying began with the question, "What does it have to do with the Hebrew language? If you would have been sick in Hungary, would Hungarian be the problem? You had this traumatic experience of illness and were almost dying in a foreign language and couldn’t communicate, but would you continue to have a thing about Hungarian? Would you still be pissed about Hungarian?"

So that was the first question that began to fray the cord which was such a tightly-bound bundle.

Don: What to me was actually the most mysterious part of that was after the first paragraph from Raphael right away you put the question, "Well, you say the problem comes from the language, but is it the language that is problematic or not-knowing the language that is the problem?" And that was so surprising to me that you went at that little piece.

David: Let me see if I can explain why that stuck out for me. When you are working with your own issue or helping someone else, you’re tracking the precise details of that particular content. And you want to recognize when you have a situation where your beliefs or constructs have gone past the territory of ‘belief’ for you and entered the territory of ‘reality’ with quote marks around it. Only, normally, you don’t know it has quote marks around it — you think that it is ‘Reality’ with a big ‘R’.

Unless you are able to question the validity of your belief, nothing will change. Instead you will be trying to find ways to cope with this ‘reality’. However, by the very nature of these circular frameworks, it’s not so likely that you yourself will be able to question your own beliefs. You are so caught in the illusion that it is probably the last thing you would think to do. You saw how much I had to keep at it in the face of Raphael trying to convince me it really was a reality.

So, until they learn how to do it for themselves, most of the time someone caught in such a circle will need help from another person who is tuned to recognizing mismatches and who can then begin to question it with them, "How can this possibly be the way that you think it is?"

That’s a process of questioning where you are going to have to look at it closely enough to see what’s really happening, to get past the insistence or past the assumption of reality. In the beginning, you’re going to need someone who is skilled at keeping at it until the seed of doubt is planted and begins to take root, until that huge elephant of fact is firmly squatting in the pathway and won’t move.

That serves the purpose of jarring you out of the illusion. Once you can call it into question and you yourself are able to look at it clearly it won’t take you long — it wouldn’t take anybody long — to actually see that everything isn’t what they thought it was.

Don: Right. I’ve experienced that.

David: And then the whole thing rapidly falls apart because it can only keep going as long as it can convince you that it is a reality. Once there is a slightest crack in it, it will sooner or later spontaneously break apart and disappear. Here is where there is an analogy with that example I often use of being in a train in the station and thinking you are starting to move when it is actually the train beside you. Your first interpretation breaks down as soon as sensory information comes in that violates it. The violation of your interpretation that you are moving is the fact that you look through the windows of that train and the station isn’t moving.

So when even just the slightest fact can be brought in that violates your circular interpretation and if that fact stubbornly cannot be refuted, then your interpreting system can no longer keep up that old interpretation because something doesn’t match it and cannot be fitted in, no matter how many times it tries. And it will try many times as you saw.

But eventually, and usually sooner rather than later, the old inaccurate interpretation will just spontaneously fall apart and a new possibility will arise to take its place. And, by the way, the new interpretation will be more accurate or more true because it will have taken account of this new and more accurate fact.

You really only need one undeniable and inescapable experience of something different for things to change — for instance where you were able to ask your friend about the meaning of those words and didn’t feel all that shame. After this, you simply cannot maintain a certainty about the old ‘reality’ any more because something just happened that is impossible in that reality.

Then, of course, the thing that really gets change moving is that once you’ve got the crack in there, and actually start to see things more accurately, you automatically start to have difference experiences. And with actual new physical and emotional experiences, then it is off and running because once you look at those unknown Hebrew words and go, "Oh, this learning is kind of interesting", you’ve got curiosity and interest there instead of shame.

Shame catches you up in your own emotions, drags you into a repeat of the past and forces you into reaction to your own experience. It begs for avoidance and for pretending that you know which blocks your learning.

But curiosity and interest take you out of yourself towards the language and the meaning and draw you on find out more. The more you follow your interest, the more you then get nice experiences like new insights, discovery, learning, accomplishment and so on. These reinforce the new approach further and so on… These new experiences also serve to disprove the old ideas that you are stupid and a slow learner.

There’s nothing like a positive experience to get us wanting to go towards it. Problems we want to go away from, but high-value experiences are just as powerfully reinforcing, but in a good way.

Think for a moment… In another few weeks or a month or two looking back on it, you are going to go, "Whoa, how could I ever have seen things that way — this seems so obvious now."

Raphael: It already seems that way. And I’ve been stuck in this… I started rabbinical school in the late 70’s and I was sick in Israel in the early 70’s.

David: And yet, of course, when you are caught in it, it doesn’t seem obvious at all because the other ‘reality’ seems so self-evident. If you get a chance to listen to the recording of this piece, it will be quite interesting I am sure. You will see the number of times you tried to convince me it was true…

Raphael: "No, I refuse to acknowledge what you are saying!!" Right.

David: So there is that intense power that keeps it rolling because of the belief reinforced by the reaction experiences. But, lucky for us, these things can be cracked apart very easily really.

Lisa: Easily? It didn’t seem that easy.

David: Well, easily… What are we talking? A few hours and a few words, versus thirty years of problem. We are not talking five years of weekly therapy, we’re talking an afternoon.

Of course, we can’t say yet that you’ve completely solved your problem here, That will only become clear in the next weeks and months. And, by the way, I’d be very interested in hearing how it goes for you.

However, you can see, that by using these tools, most of the time it is not a big deal to find what the cause is in the first hour. Sometimes the working through spontaneously changes the whole issue, like this one did. Other times, the resolution is a further practical thing that people need to meet in their daily life over a bit of time before becoming actually liberated. But when it happens, it is a liberation. You simply don’t have that problem anymore. It just won’t be there. It is gone. You don’t need any coming back for further help in this matter. You are free.

Raphael: And it only costs some money.

Lisa: That’s right, what a deal!

David: Ah, and you’ve got a bonus because the money also covers all the other learning in the other four days of the workshop.

Raphael: It is just phenomenal! And I’m interested too to see what happens. It makes me more curious about the things that I brought up the first morning which I thought were going to be easier to deal with, but I figured that as long as I was going to be here, I may as well go for the gold. And I’m glad I did.

So thank you very much. And I am curious to hear the recording because I only have a vague sense of what took place.

David: Raphael, I think it’s wonderful what you’ve come to.

Raphael: Here’s something else that is also very interesting. My rabbi head is now moving into place.

We’re coming into spring and the next holiday is Passover which is this whole mythical structure about freedom. I’m going to the city where I had my first pulpit and had some wonderful and some extraordinary difficult experiences. And I am going back not to my pulpit, but one of the members of my previous congregation sort of started her own thing, so I am going to go for a gig for the Sabbath before Passover and I am talking about freedom and liberation.

I had in my notes when you were talking, I don’t remember, I think it was the first day, the very first day you were talking about looking for the cause that will evoke long-term change versus coping in the moment by using techniques to diminish the symptoms but they will come back. And I made myself a little paradigm, interestingly enough in Hebrew words, about the structure of freedom which I learned from my teacher.

The skeletal structure of the freedom myth as articulated in Exodus is first there is a problem and then there is a crying out. The problem was slavery, the people cried out to God. There was a response. God sent Moses — the instructor, the guide, the leader — and Aaron and Miriam in to the people who were having the problem. The problem got worse — more intense — and then they came out, but the coming out wasn’t sufficient. They were out of the immediate situation — the slavery — but then they got up to the Red Sea with the Egyptian army behind them and the sea in front of them, so total block.

Something happened that shifted their cognitive possibility — that they were completely trapped and were going to be annihilated — and what happened, according to one of the rabbinical interpretations, is that somebody had the courage to go into the water and the going into the water made it split. And then they got through and the water closed over the army and they were free.

But they were not free yet because they were just a band of slaves who didn’t know what to do with their freedom. So they wandered for a long time before they get to the goal which was the land. But in the meantime they would bump into a problem and say, ‘What’s the matter, why did you bring us out here? What, there weren’t enough graves in Egypt? We could have died there just as well as going through all of this and then dying. And beside there we had fresh fish and there were leeks and there were cucumbers.’

So the negative circle… They were out, but what do they want? They long for the slavery. They want to go back…

So I am putting what you are talking about with what my teacher taught me with what I got and I am going to have my gig!

[Everyone is laughing…]



Follow up — By e-mail 11 days later:


Hope you are well.
I continue to have important learnings from the work that I did with you and am getting very curious about what the recording will "reveal" to me when I listen to it.
I'm off to Manchester tomorrow..



Follow up — By e-mail 23 days later:


The recording arrived while I was in Manchester, and I have not yet had an opportunity to listen to it. I want to be able to give it my attention.

I can tell you that I continue to experience my "relationship" with Hebrew differently. It is much easier to say 'I don't know' or 'that's interesting, I hadn't thought of that connection before' . . . Don't know if I'm going to Israel this summer or not. Plans are moving ahead so that we can go, but won't make a final decision until early May.

Thanks, again!


Follow up — By e-mail 5 months later:


My experience of the Hebrew language has changed since our work together. Some of it is very subtle, but just like some of the natural healing arts, subtle is extremely profound. My understanding of the language, especially its grammatical structure, has deepened and things that used to perplex me no longer do so. I seem to have more vocabulary too, without really trying. The most profound change however remains my attitude. It has shifted from shame and embarrassment to curiosity and excitement when I make a connection or understand something that I didn’t used to.

It was truly revelatory to learn that "not knowing" is simply "not knowing" and that teachers are supposed to teach. Sounds awfully simple, but it is revelatory nonetheless.

Look forward to hearing from you


Follow up — By e-mail 5 months later:


My relationship to Hebrew has changed significantly in that I am more relaxed, its easier to say "I don't know" and to try to figure it out, I'm teaching/studying with some college seniors this year and it is delightful, they are teaching me as much as I am teaching them.

Also, I have decided that I really no longer care enough to dedicate the time and energy it would take to learn Hebrew at the level that I would want to actually have . . . so I'm going to pursue the study of massage therapy instead, much more fun, much more interesting. Don't know what I'll "do" with it, but who cares? It's enlivening to have something new and different to study.



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There is a small biography with some personal details about the author below.

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About the Author

David GormanDavid Gorman has been studying human structure and function since 1970. He is the author of an illustrated 600-page text on our human musculoskeletal system, called The Body Moveable (now in its 6th edition and in colour), and numerous articles and essays, including the book, Looking at Ourselves (2nd edition in colour).

David has been working with performers (singers, musicians, actors, dancers and circus artists) for over forty years. He is a trainer of teachers of LearningMethods and of the Alexander Technique and has taught all over the world in universities, conservatories, performance companies, and orchestras; for doctors in hospitals and rehabilitation clinics; and in training courses for Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, physiotherapy, osteopathy, massage & yoga.

Over the years, his changing understanding about the root causes of people's problems led him to gradually extend his Alexander Technique teaching into the development of a new work, LearningMethods (and an offshoot, Anatomy of Wholeness about our marvelous human design), which is being integrated into the curricula of performance schools in Europe, Canada and the United States by a growing number of LearningMethods Teachers and Apprentice-teachers.

For the last 6 years, David has been running online post-graduate groups for Alexander Technique teachers and groups for those who want to learn to use LearningMethods in their own lives and work, as well as a group for those who want to go on to train as LearningMethods teachers.

E-mail:     Telephone: +1 416-519-5470
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