Alexander Discovery, anxiety, happiness, Inhibition, mindfulness, stopping, trying

Something new for the better


It’s nearly the end of the year, so perhaps it is time to ponder.

What I’ve realised this year is that I have for many many years wanted to please others, even when it felt wrong, awkward, something that is not useful to myself.

I have a worry alarm in my stomach, a sensation that makes me more aware if something feels wrong or awkward or strange. Unfortunately it is very close to the ‘something new for the better’ warning they both have very similar sensations but there is a subtly; this subtly is easily missed and the wrong choice could be made.

Like making a purchase, say a car. You go into the showroom, you know what you want but as you discover more the worry alarm switches on, it doesn’t feel right so its time to stop and leave, however you’re caught by the sales person who explains why you need this car and it does have an easy payment plan. Little do you know that the sales person has the skill to move your worry button over to the ‘something new for the better’ warning and your hooked with a car you nearly wanted but didn’t, you now own a car you but you didn’t really want it.

This happened to me this year except I didn’t buy, left the showroom really tempted. I thought for a while in fact a couple of days, I needed time to reset my worry button. In hindsight my worry button was correct and I’m still looking for a replacement car.

Our feelings are emotive and sometimes don’t reflect reality, we all know this and some use this knowledge for their own benefit, the benefit of their employers and sometimes to the detriment of the customer.

It can happen the other way as well, the ‘something new for the better’ warning can start flashing, so you go with the opportunity, really enjoy the opportunity but something changes over time and the worry alarm starts, firstly there is denial as I know this opportunity is right so the worry alarm is just plain wrong. Then just persisting in suppressing the worry alarm until eventually it just gets too loud.

Time to change tack and do something else.

This also happened to me as well, I left the Alexander Technique Training school I was training in to seek another, my worry alarm was persistently ringing that something wasn’t right with my relationship with the school, I’d become stuck in the habits of the relationship between the school and myself. This is a difficult worry alarm to accept but once accepted it’s a great release.

The art of identifying the difference between the alarm and warning is to turn off all the  hype, bling and noise associated with whatever sets the alarm or warning off, if the alarm is still ringing walk away, if the warning is still there you now have the choice to go with it or not.

So whats happened to me this year is that I’ve started to listen to myself, my worry alarm and my ‘something new for the better’ warning. In the past I just ignored the warnings and just got on with doing what I was being told to do by others. Stopping and reflecting give me time and opportunity to do what I want to achieve, it is very empowering and freeing. Being my authentic self really helps, thought it is taking time for my family and friends to come to terms with the new me as I now say  what I think, well most of the time.

Have a great 2017.

Alexander Discovery, happiness, Imagery, Inhibition, mindfulness, present, trying

Pass your beauty on to others


Christmas is almost over, it’s a time when people either love it or hate it. I’m one of the later. It brings back memories of lost loves and lost families. I wonder what they are doing,  why don’t they contact me, why don’t I contact them? I seem to be stuck in my stubbornness to resolve these contacts, perhaps I like the hurt that this time of the year brings, perhaps it’s because I’m a bad person and deserve to feel this way.

I’ve hated Christmas for a couple of decades, I’ve tried many coping methods to live through this week; getting drunk, going away on holiday, food and TV for the week, being busy and walking. Some years a mix of them all, some years it works and I get through the week without any sadness, some years it is a week from hell.

This Christmas has been a particularly good time for me, I did have a dull point on Boxing Day morning. I spoke to my wife about it and she reminded me that we have friends that support us as we support them. Reminiscing of what could have been doesn’t help me or anyone else. I don’t have control of the past as I don’t have control of the future, so perhaps I might have control of what is happening now. Maybe, maybe not; I really don’t have the answer to this, I find this is a profound and impossible question to answer.

Being present has so many facets, so many habits, beliefs and behaviours it is really difficult to know if I have control of what is happening in this very moment.

Take typing, some people can touch type and don’t have a care where their fingers are going, they know that what they think will appear on the screen. They have had years of constructive training to magically get words appearing on the screen, I’m jealous. I’m partly trained, I know where the keys are but I still have to check the keyboard that I’m typing correctly, it’s so annoying.

A proficient typist has a different view on whats happening in the same moment than me, I’m concentrating on typing words correctly and they may be thinking about the sentence structure and story.  These comparisons can be applied to an athlete and a spectator watching the athlete. They are both in the same moment, at the same location but they are having completely different experiences. We don’t know what mental anguish anyone is going through at any one moment. We may see things physically but psychologically things may not be visible. You may see my eyes moving from the screen to the keyboard but you may not my annoyance of not being able to touch type.

You may see the athlete beat their record but you may not see the pain they are in. The spectator may be enjoying the athlete get their personal best but can you see the anguish they are suffering and they are only watching the athletics to get away from their suffering. The same is for Christmas, just because you are enjoying the festivities others may be there quietly and politely suffering from memories of the past, these make Christmas a painful time of year.

From my point of view, don’t get involved in the memories of those who are suffering but instead offer them love and support, dwell in the moment and make every moment you are with them a moment to remember. Be your authentic beautiful self and pass your beauty onto others then we will all have fun over this festive season.

Remember some people don’t like New Year, so here’s another opportunity to pass your beauty on to others.

Alexander Discovery, anxiety, Asthma, breathing, direction, End-gaining, happiness, Inhibition, intention, mindfulness, present

I’m just trying but unfortunately sabotaging myself


I hated using the peak flow meter, it never felt right, I never felt like it was producing the right result.

It is years since I used a peak flow meter as I don’t have asthma anymore, so I can now reflect on why it didn’t produce the right result. I was trying to produce the right result, the instruction or what I thought the instructions were, got me to focus on my breathing and I really tried to exhale. Unfortunately trying to exhale with a good strong exhalation got me doing a host of things that didn’t help me get a good result.

I fixed my diaphragm, I closed my throat, formed a shape in my mouth so that I could blow, I thrusted my stomach out and then was upset with the result.  I discovered that I was holding my breath whilst trying to get a good result on my peak flow meter.

I wasn’t aware back then of what I was doing with my diaphragm, stomach, mouth and throat, it’s only now I can reflect and now mimic myself and understand what I get up to.

I was doing all these things as I thought these were the right things to get a good result. Little did I know, even whilst being observed by various asthma nurses, that I was sabotaging myself.

I wonder if you do these sort of things, perhaps the next time you use your peak flow meter you could look at yourself in a mirror and see what you notice. But first perhaps watch this video to understand what looking in a mirror means. Many people including myself fail to see what you see in a mirror this video really helped me to see myself in a mirror.

My initial interest, if I observed you, is how your neck moved when preparing and when using your peak flow meter. My guess is that you moved your head backwards and your chin went upwards, this will narrow your throat and reduce your peak flow result. Now here’s a catch, your initial obvious thought, I’m guessing now, is not to move your head back but to keep it in the right position, you can try this but my guess is that you will get a similar meter result.

So what will help.

Simply put, by doing nothing, just stop trying to get a good result.

How about just having a fun happy thought, move the meter to your mouth and just blow.

Whilst I’ve been writing this blog I’ve noticed habits that I have when I use the meter, I move my tongue back but his constricts my airway, I raise my shoulders; we generally don’t need our shoulders to breath, I focus on a point just in front of me; we generally don’t need our eyes to breath, I forcefully suck in air to get ready; again we generally don’t need to force ourselves to breath, breathing happens naturally.

These habits I’ve used set my correct position hence best result to use the meter, do I really need them, I don’t think so they don’t work. It’s just trying to be good, just trying to get the best result, just trying but unfortunately sabotaging myself.

I would really recommend that you watch yourself using your peak flow meter and possibly  your inhaler in a mirror.

Notice what you get up to without any self criticism, be kind to yourself. If it hurts stop.

So be kind to yourself

Find a quiet space, either on your own or with someone who supports you

Don’t worry about the rest of the day

Don’t worry about getting a better result.

Breath out and allow yourself to breath in

When your ready use your peak flow meter.

Notice what you do without any self criticism, allow things to change at their own speed and you may notice your breathing will change for the better.

These thoughts worked for me.

If you want to know please follow this Link.

Alexander Technique, anxiety, body-mapping, breathing, Imagery

Simply change the volume in your chest cavity


This is a series about breathing, the first part is Troublesome Breathers

Try this out, but first please read Troublesome Breathers.

Intertwine your fingers of your hands, knuckles pointing up. Now imaging your knuckles are your diaphragm and your arms are your ribs.

I’m going to ask you to move your hands up and down, if you can keep your shoulders quiet so they don’t move too much.

Hopefully you are sat down, if not please sit down.

Now lift your hands up, if your shoulders are still your elbows should come close to your body. Do this activity a few times and notice what your elbows are doing.

Hopefully you have done this a few times and may be discovered something, if you want add a comment of what you have noticed.

Now for more imagination; your fist is your diaphragm, your arms are your ribs and your shoulders are the joint where your ribs attach to your spine. Hopefully that makes sense.

Now raise your fist, what happens to your arms? For me my arms rotate about my shoulders and are drawn into the side of my chest.

Now lower your fist, what happens to your arms? For me my arms rotate about my shoulders and my arms move away from the side of my chest.

This is what happens to your ribs when your diaphragm rises and lowers.

Air is exhausted from your lungs by two major activities, your diaphragm rising and your ribs rotating downward that reduces the volume of your chest cavity.

Air is inhaled in to your lungs by two major activities, your diaphragm descending and your ribs rating upward that increase the volume of your chest cavity.

Now for a warning – please be seated the first time you experiment with this activity and stop if you get dizzy.

Revisit the activity of moving your fist up and down in front of your chest, notice your arms moving in and out to the side. Do it a few times.

Move your fist to the lowest point in the activity above, now this time imagine your fist your diaphragm. Breath out, as you are breathing out raise your fist, stop when you want to, don’t do any forcing. Now on your in breath allow your fist to lower as your diaphagm descends.

Repeat a few times.

Stop if you feel light headed or dizzy.

Repeat again but this time synchronise your diaphragm with your fist and your ribs with your arms. As your diaphragm rises your fist rises and your ribs descend as do your arms, reducing the volume in your chest cavity.

As your diaphragm descends with your fist your ribs rotate up and away as do your arms, increasing the volume in your chest cavity.

That is how we breathe, we simply change the volume in the chest cavity, on the in breath a partial vacuum is created as the chest cavity volume is increased, air is drawn in to balance the chest pressure with atmospheric pressure. On the out breath the air in the chest cavity is displaced as the diaphragm and ribs reduce the chest cavity volume.

You may have notice a change in your breathing, when I practice this I have a change in the quality a my breath, it’s hard to describe apart from it feels cleaner and I feel more buoyant.

Here’s another warning, take care, wait a moment, you may feel light headed so remain seated until you feel safe to move.

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anxiety, Asthma, body mapping, body-mapping, breathing

Troublesome Breathers


When I started writing these blogs I didn’t know where they would lead, I now seem to have a direction, my earlier blog Thinking this is what freedom feels like explains where I was stuck, I’ve been writing about thinking over and over again and couldn’t work out what was wrong, what was wrong was that I was thinking to much.

For weeks I’ve been wanting to write about how I overcame my breathing issue but could never find the words. I seem to have found them.

Breathing is a natural act that we all do, you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t breathe. The issue with breathing especially with troublesome breathers like myself is that we can take control of our breathing, generally in a poor way. We have beliefs that aren’t true and disable us from breathing naturally.

Some questions

Where is your diaphragm?

What does your diaphragm do?

Do your ribs assist in your breathing?

Where is the top of your lungs?

Where is the bottom of your lungs?

What is in your chest cavity?

How far in your back are your lungs?

These are important questions for the troublesome breather to understand. We humans can have differing thoughts where our body parts really are. These beliefs have been developed over time by listening to others and just having a good guess. These beliefs will also trip you up and reduce your capacity to perform activities. If is important to know where your body is and this include the lungs, diaphragm and your other internal organs. If you don’t know you are just guessing.

What I need you to do now is to answer the questions above honestly, no cheating. If you answer to the best of your ability and it’s wrong, that is great as you now have the opportunity to learn. If you doubt my answers, please research and let me know if I’m incorrect.

I’m going to join you in answering the questions above with what I believe is correct, I’m not going to cheat and research the answers.

The diaphragm is attached to the lower ribs and the spine near the lower ribs.

The diaphragm aids breathing by moving up and down, up on the out breathe and down on the in breathe.

The ribs hinge from the facet joints of the vertebra and the cartilage of the sternum. The ribs move up and down, as the diaphragm goes down on the in breathe the ribs hinge upwards increasing the space in the chest cavity, giving more space the lungs to use.

The chest cavity contains the two lungs and heart, the diaphragm seals the bottom of the chest cavity.

Your lungs fill the chest cavity except for the space for your heart. The top of your lungs is just below your collarbone, the bottom near the lower ribs. What I find amazing is that your lungs are behind your spine. Have a look at a cross section on the internet.

How did you manage with your answers, were they the similar to mine, if in doubt please check. The important thing is to know what is true.

Don’t do anything about these discoveries, just think and sleep on it. I’ll continue on the next blog  Simply change the volume in your chest cavity.

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Alexander Discovery, body mapping, body-mapping, mindfulness, present, self-doubt, stopping

Thinking this, is what freedom feels like.


Do you ever do deep thinking, so deep that you can’t do anything physical?

The garden is ignored

The car needs a wash

Planning goes out the window

The only thing that matters is deep, deep thinking.

Well, I discovered last night I’ve been doing it for the past few years. It was a shock but it answered at least one question that has been lingering with me.

I thought that learning to be an Alexander Technique Teacher was all about thinking, I did a lot of thinking, thinking about being present, thinking about being in the here and now, thinking about where my body is in relation to gravity, thinking about my head neck back relationship, thinking about not doing anything. There’s more but that will do and you have got the idea.

I was thinking about far too much.

My blogs past will probably say as much.

Last night I discovered that there are two parts to Alexanders discoveries,

In reverse order there is an activity plan.

This is how you do something, playing golf, running, singing, brushing your teeth, you name it you have an activity plan. To become professional or just good at something, unless you have natural talent, you will seek out a coach to learn the why’s and wherefores to the activity you want to learn. Have a coach is a fast track to your success, they help you to miss the short falls on the way to being good at your dream. This is the second part and I guess you will be familiar with it

The first part of Alexanders discoveries is

The co-ordination plan

This is how you use your body in your activity plan, this has two basic parts, firstly you need to know how your various joints operate and where they are, not where you think they are but where they physically are. Secondly having thoughts about how you move your body in space freely without any undue stress or strain.

Putting the two plans together, and hay presto your activity is undertaken with a lot less stress and strain.

There is a catch, probably only available to Alexander Trainee Teachers, they turn the second part of the co-ordination plan into their activity plan. Everything eventually crawls to a halt and deep thinking emerges and physical activity stops, a vicious circle. The thoughts of freedom turn themselves into tight muscles as the vicious circle rotates whilst you are using your senses to notice freedom. Tighter and tighter until your stuck in the perfect Alexander Student position, straight back, tight neck. All the time thinking this is what freedom feels like.

I’ve been there and done it. I even got the badge!

The co-ordination plan should be a light touch over the activity plan, they work together not inside each other.

If you want to know more about co-ordination plans you can always sign up to my mailing list and I’ll send you the next blog by email.

Happy planning

Alexander Discovery, breathing, direction, End-gaining, freedom, happiness, intention, mindfulness, stopping, trying

I pushed on until I saw sense


I tried too hard yesterday, I decided to write a blog and got to preachy, then got stuck with it and couldn’t work out where it was leading me. I deliberately wrote ‘it’ as I normally let my thoughts lead my thinking. Yesterday I was steering my thoughts and not letting my thoughts develop organically.

So why was I like that? I was in a good mood and wanted to write something, I wanted to use my mood and energy to write something. Unfortunately I had an idea but I forced and constrained the route to get a conclusion I wanted.

I wanted and wanted and wanted, I was pushy with myself, I forced the journey.

These are dangerous thoughts and generally fail, if they are a success they are a success at the cost of something else.

So I stopped writing and left it alone, it’s not the first blog I’ve abandoned, there’s a few but this is the first one I know why I’ve abandoned it.

Life is like writing a blog, skills are developed and honed and used in various ways. There’s a goal to do something and a plan to reach the goal. Unfortunately things get in the way and the plan needs to change to meet these interruptions, and maybe the goal needs to be modified as well. Not everything is achievable or is it?

How about having an intention instead of a goal, it might make it easier and less onerous. How about breaking the plan into smaller achievable bits then it might be less of a challenge. The other important thing is to keep checking that things are going the way you want them to go. This is the bit that you can fool yourself, I did yesterday. I pushed on regardless of my thoughts, I wasn’t comfortable in what I was writing and I wanted to stop but I also pushed on until I saw sense.

It’s difficult to stop, stopping is a failure, wasting time and effort, money in some cases. It’s an embarrassment, it’s lots of negative things.

It’s difficult to stop, stopping is a success, it saves time, effort and money, things are cut short because they were going to fail. To notice when to stop you need to be in a position to notice, I wrote about this the other day and it’s so so simple to understand.

So if you authentically sense that isn’t going well, stop and choose another way. You don’t always have to stop and start for scratch but sometimes this is for the best. I’ll leave yesterdays blog alone. The stopping got me to think differently and this blog was created. For more of my blogs, have look at my web site and if you want to hear about my blogs as they are written you can subscribe to my mailing list.

 

 

 

 

Alexander Technique

What asthma and me, I don’t have asthma anymore?


I’ve got an hour before I need to go out so I thought a might write another blog, when I sat down and entered my password I hadn’t a clue what to write, I like it that way, then the thought that was to write about asthma and me; I’ve moved on, what asthma and me, I don’t have asthma anymore?

I discovered one of my inhalers this week when I was looking for something. I guess this is where the thought started. So this blog is about me and asthma but I still don’t know what to write. When I discovered my inhaler I had a saddening thought of what I was like, I was dependent an inhaler I couldn’t leave the house without one, if I forgot it I got into a blind panic. I guess I was a terrible pain to live with.

So why aren’t I like that now?

My simple answer is that I think differently.

I live in the here and now that gives me the opportunity to notice things happening in my body, stomach butterflies, chest tightening, lower back pain. When I notice the happenings I can then do something about them.

This isn’t a quick fix, to start to notice the happenings took time, it took years. Firstly I didn’t know I could notice, secondly I didn’t know what the happenings meant and I didn’t realise that I could do something about the happenings.

It is the knowing that really helped me, I didn’t discover this myself I got the help from some people who had trained to help people to find freedom and happiness within themselves. Please read It’s so so simple to give you an understanding.

Being an engineer and technically minded believing that I could have thoughts that could get rid of my asthma was just bonkers, airy fairy, too alternative. It took me a while to believe it, it was only when I realised that for a long time I hadn’t need an inhaler I believed it must be the power of thought. I wasn’t on any medication for anything.

This change was like a supertanker changing direction, it needs plenty of space and plenty of time, it can’t be done quickly. So the sooner it starts the sooner live can change.

It takes time and it also takes my capacity to believe in myself, for my authentic self to blossom. If you haven’t read It’s so so simple yet, please do, as it will tell you the two simple steps to help you.

If your stubborn and cynical like me, you may well follow the long torturous route I took, enjoy, but there are short cuts, people who have been there and are willing to tell their story and tips. If you are like me, late onset asthma after a traumatic event, your asthma may well be what you are thinking, I was for me.

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Alexander Discovery, anxiety, End-gaining, Inhibition, mindfulness, stopping, trying

It’s so so simple


I had trouble sleeping last night, I was too buoyant and happy to sleep.

I had a very busy day yesterday, a very busy day being me (most of the time). I went to London to visit an Alexander School to see if I liked the school so I could finish off my training.

I liked it

It was different

It was modern but ancient, it wasn’t the bit in the middle; it wasn’t body work, it was about thinking,

it is about understanding I have choices and I can change my choice at any point

it is about realising that we shorten and tighten as the responses to life, I have the choice to do something else. I have the choice to react differently and not let myself to shorten and tighten into pain, I can choose to do the opposite, to find space within myself; that is physically and mindfully.

Finding and going into my space makes me happy, very happy and very buoyant, in fact annoyingly buoyant and happy.

SO SO simple, so simple to understand, so simple to be there for a moment, so difficult to maintain, life has so many tricks to pull me away. Thoughts flash around to tempt me away from being myself, the art is to notice and not be tempted. Mythology has at least two temptations I can remember, there will be more, the Gorgons and the Sirens they both draw people away from their intention and goal, my thoughts are like these mythical beings, extremely strong when they come near. As with the myths, I need to notice my thoughts and be prepared with a countermeasure not to be drawn in and act my thoughts, not being smashed on to the rocks or turned to stone. The myths say that these temptations need to be met but you have to be prepared to overcome them, there may be casualties but the hero will win if they follow the instructions, put wax in your ears to safely pass the coast of the sirens or use your shield as a mirror to overcome the Gorgons.

So what to do with my thoughts?

Wax and shiny shields probably won’t work so I need another plan. Thinking about it, my thoughts spin around trying to avoid the real plan, that’s proper deflection of the problem. The real answer is being authentic, being real and being here and in the present. Thinking about what could work is being somewhere else in the future, projecting myself  somewhere.

It is so so easy but thoughts drag me away. I’ve played and tested lots of methods trying to discover my way of being here and in the now, they work to some point but are complicated hence difficult to maintain.

It needs to be so so simple.

So the simple plan is a couple of thoughts, a thought of connecting myself with gravity, I go up as gravity goes down, we have evolved to stand on two feet so let our evolved postural reflex work. That’s the first thought.

The second thought is including myself wherever I am, at the moment I’m in my office looking at the screen and  typing, there’s a wall in front of me, a window to the side, a door behind me, the sun is on my arm, and my dogs are lying close by.  I sense a quite contentment rising.

So these are my two thoughts, give it a go.

The next step is to repeat the two steps again and again, slowly increasing the tempo as you repeat the thoughts. With practice these thoughts just become a blurr and a wonderful quiet presence rises but beware of the Gorgons and Sirens they will be waiting in their lairs to catch you out, when they come close increase the tempo.

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