Contact Ken gilbert | embodyment

Contact ken gilbert | EMBODYMENT

Let me know what you sense, imagine, feel and create . . . 


Santa Barbara, CA, 93105
United States

805.452.7164

Somatic Education in Body-Centered Movement:

Pilates | Nia | Expressivity

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Ken's Blog

Awakening Your AWARENESS into SPRING

Ken Gilbert

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I am an introvert loving the autumn and winter, the months of the year where dusk and dark thrive. Over the past several months I am content to stay inside the "womb" of my home and office to emerge in my work day and creative work. But now, it is March and my wife reminds me (one of the reasons why I love her) that it is time to step out into the light and find the renewal and rejuvenation of our life-cycle.

On March 20, 2017, at 5:28 am (PDT), it is the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere; marking the end of winter. The equinox is the time of year when the length of day equals the length of night all over the world. At this moment of the year this equinox ignites spring and a desire for renewal.

With the arrival of lengthening days and shorter nights consider greeting spring with some rituals to welcome change, growth, revitalization, and renewal for yourself. Rituals - those symbolic behaviors you perform before, during, and after a meaningful event - can help mark the beginning of a fresh start or new direction. They are often used to mark the passage of time or commemorate an ending or a beginning.

Consider some of these Rituals over the next few days and weeks (inspired by The Chopra Center's outline of "Spring Equinox: 5 Rituals for a Fresh Start).

Your Practice in Movement - movement is the medicine to a healthy and fit life. Activate and stimulate your brain/body and body/brain relationship.  Commit to expressing your body's potential through movement to enhance strength and flexibility. Challenge your mind/body focus and integration. Create new patterns of movement to release "worn-out" habits that no longer serve you.

  • Consider a short-term or long-term commitment (many options available) to the Pilates methodology of body mobility and stability. Private or Semi-Private Sessions allow personal focus and intention to better movement.

Plant some Seeds - what you plant grows in the physical world and in metaphor. Clarify your intentions and mindset. Enhance your purpose and potential of your body, mind, emotions and spirit. Find time to plant, nurture and prosper in the possibility of a new thought, feeling and action. Set your intention as you would plant a seed and relax into what will come.

  • Plant colorfully luscious flowers, cooking herbs, edible vegetables, drought tolerant succulents, a tree you'll nurture over the years; let them become the metaphor. 
  • Journal your inner thoughts and feelings. Activate your body into manifesting your words into movement and action; empower your power of mind and body.

Time to Cleanse - time for a Spring Cleaning not only your home and office, consider other parts of your life that could use a tidying up or deep cleaning. Even more than a vacuum and broom, take a look at your clothes closet, your car, your kitchen and the food that you eat. Let go of figuring out what you think you might need "someday".

  • Let your intuition guide you: what do you truly need to release and let go? If you have not used something, touched it or looked at it over the past 6 months; perhaps, it is time to give it away or sell it. 
  • Let go of old habits that hold you back from other choices. Nothing is ever a permanent change, try a one-time refresh. Get creative. Rearranging a room to boost your mood or donate old books to the library.

Head for the Hills (or the Beach?) - find a moment in the morning or the evening to shift your attention to the outside. Get out and stand, walk, run or dance in the sun-rise, mid-day or sun-set. Take a moment to connect and engage with the world around you. Nature can reduce depression and help heal in all kinds of ways.

  • Create a ritual of going outside at the same time each day or to the same spot each week to better notice the spring awakening as it occurs. 
  • Take a new way home. Turn a different direction in your everyday path; let yourself sense and feel the stimulation of something new.

Time for Yourself - choose what metaphorical seeds you are planting this season, and how you will nurture them. What do you value, what do you desire and what are you hoping to align with? Get body-work that will stimulate your sensibilities to sensation and your proprioception (where are you in space and time). Give time to be yourself in body, mind, emotions and spirit.

  • Light a candle or set up an altar to create a personal and sacred space for only you. 
  • Share with someone you trust, tell them about your focus and intentions to support you in your actions.

Welcome the spring time of potential and possibility.

Move and dance into a renewed sense of yourself. 

The darkness has served its purpose and, now,

 we move into the light!

Love & Love & Love Sweet Love

Ken Gilbert

45 years ago I graduated from Davis Senior High School. I went off to Sacramento State College and suddenly was able to see any current movie at any time during the day or at night.  I loved the relevancy of movies that were addressing social issues at the turn of the decade. These four actors we celebrity and the topic inferred by the title appeared scandalous. I had to see it!

Roger Ebert reviewed the movie in December, 1969: "'Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice' isn't really about wife swapping at all, but about the epidemic of moral earnestness that's sweeping our society right now. For some curious reason, we suddenly seem compelled to tell the truth in our personal relationships."

The movie began with a retreat at Esalen Institute, a place where participants would often indulge in nudity and encounter groups; seeking a "truth". The movie was fun and easy to watch although there were moments of intense confrontation between the four characters. 

What I remember most from the movie came at the end with the promenade of people walking side-by-side gazing at each other accompanied by the song "What the World Needs Now Is Love" (Hal David and Burt Bacharach, sung by Jackie DeShannon). I was swept away and teary sitting in my seat observing and feeling the song’s simple message. I saw the movie three times to experience this moment again and again.

Now, the song is made relevant in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre last June. Broadway performers came together with glorious voices in a chorale to sing: "Broadway for Orlando". And, again I am observing and feeling the song's simple message.

It is easy to say the words . . . perhaps we need to find our promenade and take a moment to gaze into each other's eyes in Love Sweet Love.

I do not want to be taught . . .

Ken Gilbert

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I was 7 years old, living in Columbus, Ohio, when my family of five (I have two brothers) was driving home one afternoon; we passed by the local Drive-In Movie Theater. My Mom turned to my Dad commenting on the current feature “South Pacific”: “Let’s go tonight, honey.” “Go to what?,” I asked. I was captivated by the idea that a movie would have songs and dancing.

That was 1958, and 58 years later I still remember every moment of the movie – imagery and song. This morning in the wake of the Orlando tragedy of an unnecessary massacre, the media coverage of a “bully-driven” primary presidential campaign and the ongoing and internal unrest of terrorist threats, I am caught up in one song from Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s musical: SOUTH PACIFIC.

You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught  

You've got to be taught

To hate and fear,

You've got to be taught

From year to year,

It's got to be drummed

In your dear little ear

You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid

Of people whose eyes are oddly made,

And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,

You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,

Before you are six or seven or eight,

To hate all the people your relatives hate,

You've got to be carefully taught!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diYlHI8Ghkg&feature=youtu.be

Bias, bigotry, prejudice, preference and choice are aspects of human being and behavior. If I don’t understand something that is different from me in my life and experiences, I do have a choice about how I think, feel and act about whatever it is. Just now, in writing this, I began to label myself with a title – “White European Male” – and, in this moment I stopped to realize that in this title I am initiating a litany of bias by defining myself as separate from others who are not like me. In this moment, I am a person who is upset about the current state of human behavior that instills hatred before curiosity, which condemns another before questioning, which creates a barrier rather than a bridge to understanding and compassion.

In 1971, I choose to become a theatre artist, to look inside characters and their behavior; to be compassionate to another’s pain, suffering, humiliation, perseverance, esteem, pride and grace. In 1986, I began my journey into my darkest shadows with Reichian Therapy, seeing parts of myself that were revealed as truths that I was holding. Every day I look again and again at what I judge and condemn . . . I want and need for this to change.

I will look at the heinous acts of others and question them as actions that are revealing something about humanity. I will pause before I comment about another. I will empower myself to walk among others knowing that I can only be who I am.

Today, I do not want to be taught hate and fear.  

Living Mindfully in a Healthy Body

Ken Gilbert

(this is what I teach in Nia & Pilates)

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The Body’s Way is the path in the experience of Nia. Living in a Healthy Spine is the way of Pilates (Body Contrology). How do I live in my body through sensation: the workout, the practice and the lifestyle of My Body’s Way? How do I move from the acute awareness of my spine mobility and stability into my everyday life? Nia is a way in which I experience the truth of my body without stories, my body is a mirror of what is – it only knows truth. When I live in a spine that is upright through alignment I optimize my thoughts and actions, my way of finding strength and balance. Living in my body becomes a commitment to acknowledging sensation and emotion while engaging my mental and spirit witness.

During the workout whether it be Nia or Pilates, I take the time to sense every moment, every movement; through the music in Nia, through the breath in Pilates. When I am conscious in my movement and aware of sensation I am safe: I have time to notice what is pleasurable or what is in pain or discomfort. In my awareness of what I sense I can choose to move with efficiency and ease; to live in my body with comfort and safety. If I let the movement do the healing, as it is the medicine of health and well being, I can live in physical ease all my life.

Awareness of my sensations invites me to practice being present in every moment; a living meditation of dynamic movement and stillness, from Nia I find that “Every movement feels like I am dancing”, from Pilates I find that (Body) Contrology develops my body uniformly, correcting wrong postures, restoring physical vitality, invigorating my mind, and elevating my spirit. When I workout, mindfully, I find the source of my self-healing. I create a daily personal practice of living in my body. With awareness, consciousness and mindfulness, my life is changed, it transforms everyday; I create my life as living art.

Photo: J Rosenberg

We are here to create experiences . . .

Ken Gilbert

I believe that we, human beings, are here to learn, to create and to teach what we know about ourselves and each other. This is what makes us “human kind” – the kindred of living as people; with compassion. Experiences are about how we are living in the world.

In the classes that I teach and the theatre productions that I create, I am a human being with passions and urges, with vulnerabilities and fear: “Who am I?” “Will I be understood?” “Do I want to be seen, heard and felt?” “Do I want to share my vulnerability as a person, a teacher, a friend, a partner, a lover of life, a man?” This fuels my teaching and my theatrical artistry.

Last week I began sharing the photographic images of my “yeard” . . . a year of letting my beard grow; an arduous commitment to my maleness and my masculine image – my mantra over the past year “shaving is the easy choice”. I am in the experience of “not shaving”, letting my beard grow; it is an expression of my maleness and masculinity . . . there is no way to cheat a year-grown beard. I am a veteran, for now, in the experience of living as a bearded man since January 2015.

Over the past week, looking at myself in the photos, I see a man different from who I feel myself to be: a man with a white beard – the mark of an elder, of Santa, of an “old man”, for me unsettling. Still, wanting to hold on to my experience and commitment of my bearded experience, I am not ready to shave to a smooth face. I had my beard trimmed; it appears more controlled, more current, more of a “looking good” statement of who I am in 2016. For me, this is healthy; to look at myself, at my experience, differently.

Last night, on Valentine’s Eve, watching several movies about Love and relationships, finding connection and community, trusting that we can find our way to “who we are in the world”, I cried and laughed. I felt the experience of compassion about who I am, who we are as human beings, as human kind, seeking identity and engagement with each other. I was caught in the experience of feelings.

This afternoon, at the theater; seeing a production that is well staged and performed, I am unmoved. The “show” was unrealized in the experience of life. I heard the words of the playwright, watched the actor move inside the set and lights of the production. The audience stood to acknowledge the performer; I did not. This is live theatre and I was not moved. This is the “stage” on which I live. I am frustrated in the art that I love: ”experience as art”.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon wondering about why I was not touched; why I did not cry or laugh. From my point of view, without experience there is only thought – concepts and ideas – the telling of a story.

What do I do? Rest is the “easy” performance of thinking and cogitating about who I am? Or, do I create experiences that stimulate, invigorate and challenge every cell of thoughts and feelings . . . to jump into the depths of the experiences of connection and engagement?

This is the source from which I teach and create . . . it is in the experience of being who I am, sharing, teaching, performing who I am . . .

Photo: Forte Fotos

Quintessence of the Body is Experience . . .

Ken Gilbert

Pondering this last week of Nia and “Integrating Pilates” Classes, Pilates Sessions and the after-glow of DramaDogs’ staged reading of THE BOONDAWGLE ESTATE at the Santa Barbara PlayFest, I wonder about the work that I do . . .

 “What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties; in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god: the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals! And yet to me what is this quintessence of dust?”                                                                                      

 –  William Shakespeare (Hamlet) 

Inside the artist and creative processes, methods, and techniques of DramaDogs, from its inception as Slightly Askew Players, the practice and essence of the body is expression.

From the moment I chose to become a theatre artist, I believed that we live in a body of thoughts, feelings and actions that demonstrate our personal and fundamental “grace”. How we live in our body establishes how we feel about ourselves in our actions as we step into the world around us.

For me, experience is the epicenter of all that is, even in the mental and spirit realms of “higher consciousness” we live in a body of sensations and feelings; sinking and rising through any moment.

I choose to create experiences that will affect me; shaping my present moment and the moments that are to come. I am choosing to take risks in the unknown; to jump in with both feel and trust that I will land fully embodied – body, mind and spirit.

The quintessence of my body is my experience of thought, feeling and action – this is who I am – as a person and a somatic teacher.

~  more on this later ~

Photo: Forte Fotos

Today; Living Consciously with Awareness

Ken Gilbert

Living consciously in mind and spirit while living in awareness of sensations and feelings is a mindful way of living day-to-day; this is what I desire. 

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After spending a week in Portland, Oregon, at the Nia International Headquarters with Debbie Rosas, the creator of Nia, and my Nia Training Faculty Colleagues I am feeling introspective. For 18 Years I have done these seven days journeys into the experiences of Nia: White, Blue, Brown, Black, First Degree Black Belts, Nia 5 Stages, The Body’s Way, and Nia FreeDance. Each experience being separate, outside of my ordinary life, allowing me to experience and confirm that I live from the inside out and that “I love my Body and my Life”; even when I am a bit overweight or not moving in my fullest range of motion. I am in awe of my body’s fortitude and ingenuity to survive and thrive. And, I return home to my every day responsibilities, but I am different, I sense and feel a realignment and change; a willingness to let go of the past, stand in the present and wait for the future.

Today, being home, feeling loved in all parts of my life, I desire to become a fully expressive artist teaching through somatic awareness into consciousness and creativity; body-centered, bottom-up, developing the body and brain relationships of intuition and compassion.

Today, I will step into every moment as an opportunity to release distractions from past experiences and future expectations; each breath an affirmation that I am standing in the here and now.

Tomorrow I will teach from what I know . . .

At the beginning . . . a year of 13 Full MOONS

Ken Gilbert

 I am thinking about endings and beginnings following this first week of 2016; I realize that I am unsettled and excited about what has been and what will be. The challenge in this realization is to stay with what is . . .

Creating my website in 2015 was important for me as it became an inner journey of how I want to be seen in the world and how I define what I want to contribute to the world of humanity. My life is the processes and practices of body, mind and spirit; each defined by what I have learned and how I teach through “Integrating Pilates”, Nia and my being and living as a Theatre Artist.

Each discipline is unique to itself, and yet, through me there is a thread of thoughts, feelings and actions which make them, for me, inseparable.

·        Understanding the Body through movement in the work of Ron Fletcher (Pilates), BODY | MIND | SPIRIT | BREATH, I find the practice of spine stability, mobility and expressivity.

·        Understanding the Mind through movement integration of body and brain in Nia’s Practice of The Body’s Way, I find systemic experiences of dynamic ease.

·      Understanding the Spirit of being a human being in my way of teaching, creating and crafting experiences that reflect a way of living in a body that is artful and meaningful through the lens of being a Theatre Artist.

This is my “calling” for 2016 – to be best at what I do in the classroom and the studio; Nia Classes, “Integrating Pilates” Classes and Sessions. I intend to develop relationships with students and clients in ways that meet each of you “where you are” to be “Better in Your Body”.

My teaching focus in 2016:

Create and develop the relationship of opposing forces in the body through "active/passive" work in the spine and appendages. 

 Intended to enhance strength and agility throughout Body/Mind/Emotion/Spirit.

Photo: Forte Fotos

Personalizing Change of Self and the World

Ken Gilbert

I am a “changer”; I love change in myself and in the world. I do seek moments of stability; moments, when whatever change has come, settles in or lands. Growing up I always wanted something new and different in myself and in my surroundings. I remember going away on Boy Scout events, returning home and wondering if anybody noticed the changes within me. I grew into my adulthood seeking for something unique; something from within that was “me”. This curiosity of the unknown and the extraordinary is what took me into the theater in 1971; and, for these past 44 years has driven me in my individuality and artistry. 


Inside the process of a creative project, seeking change (from the ordinary) is necessary to find the most authentic way of performing a character, a poem or a play. During the past 24 years I am driven into creative collaborations with artists - movers, dancers, actors, designers, costumers, musicians - particularly with my wife, Bonnie; a force that keeps me moving into my next moment of creativity.
 
From inception to manifestation, theatre is a living art that demands empathy and compassion regarding the human spirit.
 

On December 6, 2015, as part of the COP21 (United Nations Conference on Climate Change), Bonnie and I wanted to make a statement about the current state of the world - the earth that is changing rapidly. We joined up withARTCOP21, CLIMATE CHANGE theatre action, and one of our favorite playwrights,EM Lewis. We performed a reading of EARTH DUET, a short lyrical play, and danced a Nia Class, we read the play and moved in a yoga class, and most important, we collaborated with a local environmental scientist and poet to perform an evening of integrated art and science.
 
The experience of change that comes through collaboration is extraordinary and profound; it is surrender into what can happen crafting a moment. For me, creating and crafting art is an experience of change - changing the way I think and feel and live in my body. For me, my work as an artist is about creating experiences as art that change all of us for the better. Changing the world . . .

Photo: Baron Spafford

Waiting; the moment of pause, to let things happen

Ken Gilbert

This year, through the unrest of my skin’s healing; I understand the importance and the dynamic ease of waiting. I am finding reverie in the moment of the pause, when nothing happens; knowing that something else will follow, unknown or known. A “beat” in time when the energy of rest and receiving initiate the moment that follows. 

The pause comes in a breath, the smell of an essence, a heartbeat, a blink, a swallow, a sensation within or upon the skin, a taste of saliva, a sound or a silence perceived. The practice of being in the moment is in the waiting; in the pause.

In the practice of Nia Classes, the waiting is in the listening to the music, standing in stillness; letting the music inspire the first pulse of movement. Then, it is the stance and the step, followed by the pelvis, chest and head, the arms hands and fingers. The body begins the dance.

In Pilates, the waiting is in the first breath, when the place of movement initiation is sensed and empowered. The spine is prepared for what will happen next, the pause is the preparation, the action of stability or mobility – flexion, extension or rotation of the bones and joints.

In the crafting of a theatrical moment, the body is relaxed and ready to express the words that will come from the mind. The actor waits for the space in time when the words will have connection to emotion and thought. Then, at the “right” moment, something is gestured and the voice activates the words of feeling and meaning.

Today, I have taken many moments of pause. Waiting to sense what will happen next, for the words to come as I write.

Photo: Forte Fotos

Attentional Sightedness; to rebuke Inattentional Blindness

Ken Gilbert

In my recovery from introversion, particularly in the past three years, the most challenging and profound action I choose is to remind myself to put my head on top of my spine and to look up and look out into the world. This has evolved into my embodied choice of sensing “myself” in the world; a courageous choice – to be willing to see others, to see the world, and, most important, my willingness to be seen by others, to be vulnerable and exposed in the world of random actions of everybody living their own lives.

I realize that “attentional sightedness” is a discipline that requires my full attention in any moment; a willingness to see and sense with my eyes. This is opposed to inattentional blindness, something I detect in myself and others when I fail to notice a fully-visible, but unexpected object when my attention is engaged on another task, event, or object, rather than being in the immediate moment of seeing what is.

I understand that the amount of information my body senses through sight, sound, taste, touch and smell is limitless, but my brain can be limited when it comes to where I place my attention; an act of exclusion. Hence, body awareness and an alert mind can easily be shut down or shut off. It becomes an inclusive practice to choose to pay attention to sensation and to include my surroundings and others when I am “looking up and looking out” into the world.

Everyday, with my head up and eyes looking out, I am amazed at how many times I dodge someone pulling out in front of me when driving anywhere in town and on the freeway. I am becoming a horn honker when this happens, something I have never done before. I am amazed at the lack of “eye contact” with others, particularly, when I recognize the other and them, not me (yes, I have a beard of eleven months, but my face and eyes are the same). I am beginning to stand in the clear sight of someone I know, focus on them and wait for some sort of recognition; and, if not, I smile and move on. I am concerned that the ease of inattentional blindness is becoming a state of everyday life; choosing not to look out and see the world and others.

In my life as an introvert, I am making an extroverted choice. I am committing to take the time, the moment, the pause, and to look up and see with my eyes; to witness an extraordinary world populated by many people.

Photo (filtered): Forte Fotos

Being at HOME in the Body

Ken Gilbert

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Today, caught in the wake of the terrorism in Paris, there is a feeling of instability. It is easy to spin stories of devastation and chaos. The questions come: Where in the world can I be safe? This most immediate attack was an assault on the "City of Lights", a place where the entire world celebrates a unique romanticism of love; be it art, or food, or the extraordinary light of impressionism (a movement in art that "forced" our perspective of the world).

This morning, in the Santa Barbara Salt Cave, the focus of a Nia Class was to
"Find the sense of home; being at in the body". We moved and danced among the ancient Himalayan salt crystals; we breathed the salted air, we touched the coarseness of the granulated floor, we received the salted light of the floor, walls and ceiling. Moving slowly and quickly to the rhythm and melody of Nia Music, we moved our 13 joints and stimulated our body, mind and spirit. 

When I travel thousands of miles from my everyday home, I travel "with my best friend." I am with my body, first - beyond thinking, beyond feeling, beyond my spirit connection to my "higher self". I am with my constant companion, with whom I MUST feel safe; then, when I am safe, and only then, the inconsistencies of the world become un-oppressive or non-aggressive. I feel safe in the moment, wherever I am, I am with myself (body, mind, spirit), I am safe.

Teaching today, I experienced an extraordinary class. Nia was the guide - to play in the Music, Movement and Magic of the moment: I sensed my body's ability to move with dynamic ease, I sensed a connection with eight other people in the womb of the Salt Cave.

Today, for a moment, I was safe. There was no fear. There was a connection to my confidence of "sensing myself in the world" . . . fearless, and powerful.

Today, I realize, I cannot change some actions of violence in the world.

Today, I can sense compassion and strength . . . to live my life in the moments of my body's experiences. This is an expression of truth.

Photo: Forte Fotos

The Humility of Self-Healing

Ken Gilbert

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Living in a body and being a Somatic Educator I continually suggest that every move of the body is to “heal” – to make better any movement, being it habit or something new to the brain/body relationship.

In March 2015, I began healing my skin through an eruption of eczema, followed by MRSA and later on two smaller infections. My skin is sensitive and compromised; and, being the largest organ of the body, any disorder or discomfort is unsettling. My skin has become a journey of self-healing in the awareness of how my body, mind, emotions and spirit work together, expressing through my skin.

Louise Hay, “Heal Your Body” (paraphrasing) suggests that the skin is a protection that lets us feel safe; that the skin, when protecting us allows us to feel free in every moment. I have great longing for this to be true, in my skin, to have my self-healing bring me to feeling safe and secure in the world.

Body Awareness is the entry into Self-Healing – to pay attention to sensation and to invite mental and emotional insight. The body has the power to heal when guided with support and assistance. Healing comes in many forms: moving the body, body work (physically and energetically), and medicine; all ways of assistance into systemic healing and integration of the brain/body.

For me, healing my skin is a time of surrender and reflection. I am spending time listening to my body and seeking support: for my body with a variety of treatments (sometimes pharmaceutical), with my mind and emotions receiving insights through conversations and therapeutic relationships, and with my spirit striving to thrive in the truth of who I am in the world – a self-healer teaching through somatic education how to have and be in relationship with the body.

For now, many imbalances of what I sense, think and feel have been revealed to me. And, there is more healing to be done for me to sense and feel dynamic ease in my skin.

Photo: Forte Fotos

Today, I am Sixty-Four

Ken Gilbert

When I was 16 (1967), I was getting a glimpse into my sense of existentialism; I could grasp Albert Camus’ “The Stranger” and talk about it; not knowing, then, that it would become the epicenter of my Master of Arts Thesis project at UC Davis – my one-man show – “This Sound of Being Alone: A Search and Portrait of Albert Camus’ ‘Absurd’ Man.”

At this same time, although not an avid Beatles fan, I occasionally listened to their music. But, when they changed their direction with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band I heard their existential twist on life. “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “Lovely Rita”– I could sing along, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” –the metaphor made me curious, “Within You Without You” – the sounds of the sitar intrigued me, “Good Morning Good Morning”, “A Day in the Life” and a few others – unsettled me in their stories of futility and subtle despair in everyday living, simply, it was strange. Suddenly, I was enamored by the sound and lyrics of the Beatles. From this entire album, only one song had not context for me other than making the statement of getting old, it seemed silly to me – “When I’m Sixty-Four” – a  time 48 years from my age of 16, until today . . .

This morning, I’m thinking back about where I was and where I have come, sure that I feel no older than I did then. Yet, as I look back at myself at 16, today . . . for me, these are good questions of current relevance:

“When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me
Will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

You'll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with you

I could be handy mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings, go for a ride

Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me
Will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage on the
Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck, and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine forever more
Will you still need me
Will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?
Hoo!”

                       ~ John Lennon & Paul McCartney

Photo: Forte Fotos

Accidental Companion or in Your Body

Ken Gilbert

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During my day, I love to witness and observe people in their bodies. I have done this most of my life. I remember my mother tugging on my arm and saying "Kenneth don't stare". I would say to her: "I'm not!" What I was doing was watching and observing how they were living in their body; particularly if they had a physical issue with which they were living. I was  never judgmental, just curious.

I am curious about myself and others. And, from this curiosity I have created my career as a Theater Artist and a Somatic Educator. I love the human form and what it is capable of doing in Posture, Body-Center and Gesture. This awareness and consciousness, first about myself and then, about others, keeps me interested in all of us human beings.  

There is no hiding when moving in the physical realm of the body. The body is reflecting every choice in every moment, even if we think we are masking something; the mask is revealing something that is being concealed. Our physical practice, in our body, is revealed in its silhouette. Our emotional state is "written" in every gesture. Our thoughts are in every tension and relaxation of our bones and muscle. Our spirit, our uniqueness, is seen and felt with every step we take.

One morning, over the past several months, the title of "Accidental Companion" came to me as I observe and witness people in their bodies. Noticing how they move: are they an "appendicular mover" (moving from their legs and arms) or a "core mover" (moving from their spine, their core)? Without thinking, the title came. Some people have their head and eyes cast down, some people have their heads forward of their spine, some have their heads balanced over their shoulders. All of these are ways people sit, stand and walk. 

I realize, in this observation, that some people appear to have an "Accidental Companion", their body, coming along with them rather than being in the present, in the moment, sitting, standing or walking with eyes up looking out into the world.

Being an extreme introvert, learning to survive in an extraverted world I am making a bold choice, particularly since my Pilates and Nia practices over the past 20+ years, to keep my eyes "up" - looking out into the world, willing to be seen. Head on top of my spine as I sit, stand and walk, I am with my body more than having an "Accidental Companion".

Photo: Forte Fotos


Designing Your Practice of Embodiment . . .

Ken Gilbert

I watched a TED Talk this week: "What really matters at the end of life" with BJ Miller.

BJ is a medical doctor who practices at the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco. He works with patients ("one who suffers") who are dying. His premise: "How we die is indeed something we can affect." He speaks of living in a sentient body: "Sensuous, aesthetic gratification, where in a moment, in an instant, we are rewarded for just being. So much of it comes down to loving our time by way of the senses, by way of the body - the very thing doing the living and the dying." This TED Talk is worth a look - he stimulates the mind and the emotions.

I am committed to be here in a body with mind, emotions and spirit. I am committed to teach, more than instruct; to educate myself and others about living in a healthy and thriving body. Each week I teach 8 Classes and many Private Pilates Sessions to remind me and my students that our body is the only thing we "have" and how we treat it is how we live until the end. Like BJ, I am designing my life in every moment, every choice, ever movement; to find "a liberation to realize you can always find a shock of beauty or meaning in what life you have left, like that snowball lasting for a perfect moment, all the while melting away. If we love such moments ferociously, then maybe we can learn to live well - not in spite of death, but because of it. Let death be what takes us (from this life), not the lack of imagination." Let's live in our bodies and do this well.

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Each week, I post a FOCUS and INTENTION for the Nia Classes I teach. This holds a possibility of action; a focus on a piece of the whole as we move in classes and sessions. Come . . . take a class . . . book a Pilates session . . . find the health of your spine, intimately, become the moving master of your body and the master of your life. 

Photo: Forte Fotos

Living in a body is personal . . . for me, at least.

Ken Gilbert

                                                                                                           

Launching my newest website, I am excited. At this moment I am revealed to the world. Who I am, what I know and what I do . . .

Choosing to live in a body is a personal choice of stepping into the world. Choosing how to discover, self-heal and master a sense of self. Choosing to live embodied in the body of the four realms: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. This choice demands courage as the everyday filters of "easy" and "nice" fall away. This choice is the face of truth and personal empowerment that is edgy and uncomfortable.

This is my way as an introvert; shored up by hours of spending time alone with my "best friend", doing years of therapy, finding conversations within and with others; looking out in the world, revealed through my eyes - looking out, willing to be seen by some who care to look in.

There is vulnerability in my choice; and, the demands of courage to breathe into my body everyday.

Please, take a moment and look in . . . peruse my new site!

Photo: Forte Fotos