Alexander Technique

Opportunity for freedom


Sunday walk again in the forest, I didn’t see anyone, just me and my four dogs, it gave me time to reflect on my week.

This week I visited an Alexander Teacher, it was three years since I last visited and just before I started my Alexander Teacher Training. We discussed various things but what I took away was that as an Alexander Teacher we can only offer an opportunity for freedom, we can’t make anyone do anything, if we try we fail, if we measure we fail, we can only offer an opportunity. For me this goes against my beliefs as I want to help and make better, see an improvement, want them back again so that I can make them even better.

A dichotomy, so if I want to help, I don’t help but I offer an opportunity for freedom and let them take it if they want.

My past blogs have been about stopping and inhibiting but little about what I was stopping. That’s the end-gaining, the bad boy of Alexanders principles, well the bad boy for me.  For me end-gaining is everywhere, and sometimes hidden. Wanting to help is end-gaining, worrying what others think is end-gaining, these are more subtle than the need to get things done at any cost sort of end-gaining. These subtle end-gainings, for me, are the difficult ones to recognise as they are well built into my being, so they are very strong, difficult to notice as they are me. I’ve been toiling for sometime to notice these end-gainings. Could it be this toiling thats kept my end-gainings hidden.

All I need to do was to offer myself the opportunity for freedom then I have time for choices, one of the choices could be, do I need to guess what others are thinking at this moment, I guess not, as it will probably be wrong anyway, perhaps a better choice is to give myself the opportunity for freedom to be myself.

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, Alexander Technique Congress, End-gaining, Inhibition, present, stopping, trying

Making considered choices


There’s something about blogging I quite like, I don’t know what is really is but it’s enjoyable, in the last blog I decided to write about what ever come to me whilst I was writing, I’m going to de the same again.

I do have a plan, well sort of, something about me and my journey with the Alexander Technique, the past couple of blogs have been about how I’m a specialist in end-gaining, I’ve had plenty of years to develop these skills. At the Bristol Alexander School I’ve read Alexanders four books and others, it was difficult to read and understand especially as I was reticent to fully engage with the technique whilst learning to be a teacher, not a very good admission, the thing is I didn’t know I was being like this, I was being normal; I mentioned this earlier in Touching reality. However recently I’ve dipped into CCCI and read a few pages about mind wandering, he gets the point across and I enjoyed and understood it a lot more this time, I guess this is the classic view of you can only understand something when your ready to understand it, something I’ve never really understood until recently. I thought I was always ready to understand and learn, I guess I was, well to a limit. If my learning hit my boundary I would stop and pretend to carry on, rather like Bryon Katie’s ‘judge your neighbour worksheet’, I’ve read her book and she say’s if you have any issues with anyone including yourself complete a worksheet, read it and then throw it away. I haven’t done a worksheet yet, that’s beyond my boundary, I might discover something unexpected, something I don’t like, something that may upset the dynamics of my boundaries hence something to avoid.

I’ve been experimenting with my boundaries recently or should they be my walls, noticing what I’m thinking and how the thoughts manifest physically, for example what makes me anxious, if I catch the thought early, I ask myself:

  • why am I having this thought, probably a response to some stimuli
  • why does this thought attach itself to a habit
  • why does the habit have a particular physical response
  • was the physical response helpful in this moment
  • can I soften the physical response?

If I miss my thoughts but notice my physical response:

  • was the physical response helpful in this moment
  • can I soften the physical response?

The answers to the questions above really don’t matter,the important act is to recognise that I can have these questions and they stimulate a response. If I have a response I can work with it. Working with a response using the Alexander Technique is pretty simple on the outset but quickly becomes complex as I will be asking myself to change, if you are anything like me that is hard. The Alexander principle I use is the 5 point plan, have a search on the internet for a fully definition and it’s in chapter 1 (page 46) of the The Use of the Self by FM Alexander.

My take on the 5 Point plan is

  • inhibit – i.e notice whats going on
  • work out what I want to do
  • maintain my intent to do, get on with the activity, if I notice I’m not following my intent, stop and back to step 1
  • check if I really want to do what I planned, if not, back to step 1

I’ve only 4 points to the 5 point plan and if you read the fully script I’ve also a lot of words missing.

Alexander based his plan around speaking but as you my guess, my thoughts are that it is about life. This plan can be used anywhere and at any time, in fact I believe if has an infinite timeframe sometimes in picoseconds, second, minutes and possibly years, the choice is mine and yours. The art of life is to realise that I’m the centre of my universe and you’re the centre of your universe, from our centres, that’s our real centres, we can make considered choices and also observe ourselves dispassionately and others dispassionately and allow your love to evolve for ourselves and then on to others.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, direction, End-gaining, Inhibition, intention, Teacher Training, trying

Touching reality


It’s Saturday and I’m not at AT teacher training, well it is the summer break so this is my first free Saturday for quite a few weeks, today I’ve managed to get the lawns back under control: my life seems to have been put on hold without I’ve been training. Did I put my life on hold or was it a conscious or unconscious choice that I’m just doing AT trying so nothing else mattered.

(I’ve decided to write this blog with no intension of what the topic or conclusion will be, an experiment to observe where my thinking goes.)

I think it was my habitual behavoiur to focus on the most important and ignore the rest, some my say end-gaining. End-gaining to train as an Alexander Technique Teacher, SURELY NOT! Where was my unified field of awareness and my presence, surely I could apply these to include the rest of my life whilst training. I guess many of us just get focused on what they think is important and ignore the rest, the rest is just a sideline that will interrupt what is really important.

Or is it?

I think the sideline is very important it’s the bit lost when you round things down, remove the n from XxX+n when you differentiate (or is it integrate) to make 2X. It’s what makes us human. Being too focused is bad for your health, focusing and trying to fix things by doing things that have always been done just makes things even more worse: surely doing the thing that made it worse in the first place and then keep on repeating it is not a good idea, I know, I’ve been rather good doing the same thing over and over again thinking that things will change, eventually the penny drops or someone shouts loud enough for me to understand that I need to change. The latest shout was (there wasn’t any shouting, I was just told over and over again) that I wasn’t ready to go it alone and teach the Alexander Technique. I did believe it but somewhere deep in my thoughts is still didn’t believe it. I didn’t know how to stop and change these thoughts, there was a belief that all will be fine by graduation day (that was last week), my belief was squashed when reality struck. Thinking about it now, I need that, I needed to meet reality so that I knew my believes were unfounded. Without this reality I would have just carried on in my dream.

Reflecting on this, though I really love the training and the changes I’ve made over the past three years I haven’t been 100% honest with the training and the Alexander Technique, I’ve kept it at an arms length, a habit that I’ve recently discovered, the habit has recurred in many parts of my life maybe the whole of my life once I developed it. It’s based on the fear of criticism; if I don’t commit fully then I can explain that I failed because I wasn’t fully committed. This has worked really well for most of my life but unfortunately the Alexander Technique only demands 100% of myself, nothing else will do. I only wish that I had learnt this earlier in my training but then I wouldn’t have learnt it as I needed to touch reality. For those Alexander Technique teachers reading this, I did have a thought of going though the basic principles and the five point plan overtly but I recon most of these principles are hidden in this blog.

 

 

 

Alexander Technique, Inhibition, stopping, Teacher Training

Floating on Air


Keeping my feet on the ground has been a little difficult over the last weekend. Being somewhere because it was the right and proper place to be and to be seen, but at the sometime really wanting not to be there. I felt I was floating on air, not being part of the event and had the feeling that I was observing from afar. Not a nice place to be but I needed to be there. I guess many of you have been to an event you really had to go to but didn’t want too.

It all started several weeks ago, I was told I wouldn’t be ready to qualify as this July as an Alexander Technique Teacher, I really didn’t believe it and still didn’t believe it until I didn’t sit at the front of the room with the rest of my year on graduation day.

I had a huge conflict going on in my head, I knew I wasn’t ready, I really knew that, but I secretly wished that I was wrong and my teachers where wrong and would see the errors of their ways, but I really knew I wasn’t ready. I’ve been torn apart by being rational and irrational at the same time. Now I’m a failure, well that’s what my irrational, needy half thinks, my rational side knows that I have to develop and really be myself. I have to be my real self without all the additional habits laid on top. I’ve got a lot of habits and they go a long way back.

My rational thoughts had maintained the upper ground until last weekend when irrationality struck, I wasn’t at the front with the others, why? It felt like I was floating in the air, I was there but not really there, a really strange sensation. I was a ballon trying to escape gravity, luckily there were plenty of Alexander Technique teachers who helped be to the ground, bringing me back to reality, being grounded, being present, being in the room, being with the graduates, being with the other students, teachers and families. I was still lonely in a room full of people, I felt like an outcast, these were my thoughts, it felt real, sore, a really deep sore, it really hurt, it still does but I was there in the room and I witnessed to graduation from afar, I really was at the back of the room. I felt a failure, not good enough, why go on, I’ll never make it, pack it all in and do something else. I know these thoughts are irrational but irrational thoughts really hurt, it hurts so it must be real. But I also know that I’m great and wonderful – I’ve been told by too many different people for it not to be true – I’m great at everything I put my heart into, including the Alexander Technique.

So why didn’t a graduate? My self-doubt gets in the way, bloody annoying habits from a long time ago, really pernicious habits that I will need to resolve, to let go somehow.

I’ve noticed them for a long time and sometimes I can inhibit them other times they win over. Knowing my habits is the first step and inhibiting the next. The secret with habits is that there aren’t any in the present, in the here and now. It’s only when I step out of the present and think about the future or past that habits appear.

Now back on to my journey with a whole summer to reflect on this experience and others, this experience though very sore at the moment will be a benefit to me later.

Well done to the graduates, and also my teachers for helping us all to deeply learn about ourselves, so we can all become teachers of the Alexander Technique, I’ll be a graduate when it’s my turn.