Category Archives: Asthma

My replacement salbutamol


That old friend, asthma came visiting this week. I met someone over the weekend, they said their cold was over and that it had laid them up for 3 days; thanks for the warning. What they had hit me on Monday, today is Thursday and I now feel like I can function now, their 3 days was spot on. Now my wife is enjoying the pleasure or not!

In the past, with a chest infection like I had and it’s still lingering, I would have used some salbutamol to ease my way. Instead I used some thoughts, very particular thoughts. Thoughts of freedom and aliveness with the possibility to move at any moment. This may read as crazy but these thoughts really worked. I did have rasping breath, I was dizzy when I changed from lying to standing, my temperature was hot and then cold however my breathing was free and alive.

I didn’t move my breathing to the top of my lungs like I would have done in the past.

So why is this? If you are like me, my asthmatic response is to really try to breathe with a belief that breathing is best done from the top of my lungs, this is a really bad way to breathe but in those moments it seems so true, it’s the only way.

It’s not!

I’ve had years believing this is the best way in moments of stress or anxiety,

It isn’t!

I know how to breathe without trying to breathe, I do it every night when I’m asleep, perhaps it could happen when I’m awake?

What I did, was to cut off my stimulus to a reaction at the pass. It was highly likely that asthma would visit again if got a chest infection, it did, but I didn’t react in my normal way, this time, I gave asthma space, aliveness with the opportunity of move at any moment.

This takes practice, a few years for me.

Don’t be without your inhaler when you need it.

The freedom and aliveness is not just for the asthma, it is for me firstly then anything want to use freedom and aliveness for. This week it has been for myself to help me breathe with freedom and aliveness. I must say, this is the first time for a heavy cold, it worked, it worked extremely well.

The freedom is trusting that my body will look after itself if I allow the freedom then my body can be alive to do whatever it needs to do. My asthmatic reaction is to tighten my chest and force my breathe, this time I chose my body to be free. This sounds trite but it really does work for me.

If you want know more then please join my mailing list.

P.S. I was going to put an image of an inhaler but my dogs look a lot better. Harry is the old boy, sadly gone a few years ago, Flint is now the old boy.

P.P.S My wife now knows what man flu is like. It’s real and hurts!

 

 

 

 

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My two big feet


I feel good today,

I’ve apologised,

I’ve apologised for something that I didn’t want to do in the first place,

I’ve apologised for a side effect that had happen because something else had to happen.

It all happened over twenty years ago,

it only feels like yesterday.

I was in such a mess,

I thought my world was coming to the end,

I couldn’t,

I didn’t want my life to follow what I thought was planned for me,

I needed to change,

I made a decision and jumped with that decision with gusto and my two big feet.

I knew there would be after effects  but I didn’t expect them to last this long.

Two decades and a bit, is a long, long time.

One way I found to cope was to just deny it ever happened,

that worked for a few years, may be a decade.

Birthdays and Christmas’s were when denial failed.

I got grumpy and angry.

I began to hate Christmas,

what’s the point without family!

You may have guessed, I forced a divorce, I could face living with my then wife another day, it very quickly became very acrimonious, I went into a melt down and for the sake of my children’s sanity I broke contact with them. They were getting a good strong dose of PAS parent alienation and with me sticking around it was only getting worse.  I paid for their support and for their university fees but never got a thank you or any recognition or any contact at all, they’ve married but I only heard that through the grapevine, now their children are being born, still no contact.

PAS lasts along time. Thankfully others have influenced my children and have discovered that what they have been told over the decades isn’t exactly true, most probably made up by a furtive mind trying to maintain their status quo.

I’ve was told they are just waiting for an apology, this morning I wrote and sent the apology via someone we both know.

Now I’m just waiting. It’s strange, I’ve tried to write and send letters before, they were never sent, there was too much anger in the words, now I’m quite content, the letter flowed, it was honest and truthful. I’m overjoyed by writing a letter so freely and open. This could have never happened in my days of denial and anger, angry that things didn’t happen in the utopian dream that I had. Life is real, life is in the moment, if you force things to happen then it just won’t go the way you planned; the end of utopia.

The best made plans never survive first contact with the enemy: Someone is quoted this or saying something like it.

The greatest influence in getting to this point is working with Alexanders discovery, in fact being aware where I am in time and space not only helped me with asthma, it’s now disappeared, anxiety depression and just living. I still have episodes of doubt but now I can catch them early, well most of the time by asking myself if my doubt is real or imaginary. The doubts are always imaginary therefore I don’t need them so I can let it go. As I’ve written in previous blogs, this isn’t a quick fix it takes time, don’t be hard on yourself. It has taken a several years to allow my anger to subside so that I can now write an apology. Also seek help from someone you trust, this is difficult to do on your own.

If you want to know what happens next, you could like my blog and you will get a notification when I publish next.

 

Quiet Dogs


The blues hit me yesterday, some old habits do like to show theirs heads when I’m feeling vulnerable. Is it

  • post holiday blues,
  • going back to work blues,
  • returning to normal blues

Do you have any blues that kick you between the legs when you least expect it?

I find the blues a fuzzy place to be, I want to do loads but I want to do nothing, I’m stuck in limbo land. A sort of fuzzy floaty space that just lingers on and on.

So being a master and expert in noticing these thoughts in myself and others, sometimes my thinking goes awry, it just proves that I’m human. However I do have a back up plan, something that you could use in your blue days!

Pause for a moment to reset yourself, find out where the ground is and where’s the top of your head, now get these two points connected. The getting connected is a thought, I think of space getting bigger between the two points, if you feel any muscles joining in you are thinking and doing, pause again and get connected without any muscular effort, this is achievable but does take some practice.

You may have noticed your blues have quietened down, even without any blues you should notice a change in mood, I sense a quietening, you may notice things get louder.

I was at the vets today with one of my dogs, I helped the vet by holding my dog whilst the vet did the procedure, I’ve done this a few times before, what I’ve found that my dogs really quieten down if I think of space between the top of my head and my feet and today  the clock on the vets wall became very noisy then more I thought about space. The vet did comment on how well behaved my dog was.

An other layer of thought you can apply is to be nonjudgmental about yourself and what is happening locally, being nonjudgmental about politics may be a little too far.

You now may feel a little quieter and the blues may be disappearing.

Now for the bad news, these thoughts you have just developed cannot be kept, they are only valid for a moment, they age off in a moment, if you try to keep them they will trip you up and the blues will return.

They need to be refreshed constantly, this does sound like an onerous task, it is when you first start but it does get easier the more you practice. You will find that you don’t know to do this continuously, only when something is bothering you.

That’s enough for today, there is plenty more in my tool box to help me and you if you wish. You have a few options, you can always search for my blogs and read about my ideas, come to my workshops, and soon you will be able to do my workshops via a webinar. Let me know if you are interested.

 

 

 

STOP WORRYING; if it was that easy!


You may think what is the Alexander Technique is and what it is to do with your mental health, from my point of few quite a lot; the Alexander Technique saved me from living  the rest of my life in depression or popping antidepressants to keep me happy.

The Alexander Technique sort of works the opposite direction to other methods in helping you with your pain be it physical or mental. We tend to not worry about what has happened in the past or what is to happen, The Alexander Technique is an educational approach that teaches you how to live your life fully now.

From my experience of mental health, I worry, I’m anxious. Worrying puts me in a place that is in the future, when I’m in the future I have no control of anything as I’m in a place that doesn’t exist, I’m worrying about nothing, I use a lot of energy worrying about nothing.

That can’t be healthy!

There is a premise that every thought produces a muscular action, we can only tighten muscles, worrying is thinking hence I tighten muscles when I worry. Tightened muscles get tired and eventually start to produce pain signals to ask for a rest. Continually worrying uses a lot of energy and eventually a lot of pain. You may start to blame the environment, chairs, beds, shoes, clothes, the food you eat. You may start to blame friends, family, your boss at work.

Take a moment to think; are they doing the worrying, they may be, but they are not doing your worrying, YOU ARE!

There’s a simple answer “STOP WORRYING”. If it was that easy!

I’ve noticed that when I worry I need to think about something, something not about me, something in the future or something in the past but definitely not about now. If I try to think about NOT WORRYING I need to think about something else, probably promising to be better in the future. This doesn’t work it is just more worrying.

It sounds absolutely hopeless, I thought that; back to popping antidepressants. However if you just could be in the moment then worry disappears, it’s true, there’s plenty of mindfulness practices that can do that. However the Alexander Technique has the edge on mindfulness, it is mindfulness in activity; knowing where you are in time and space as you engage with your daily activities.

You can teach yourself mindfulness in activity but we have a very good knack of not seeing how we move in activity, just try looking in a mirror and if you are like I was, you will do plenty of avoidance and that’s just looking at your face. This is where you need a nonjudgmental teacher to encourage you to observe yourself without judgement; it takes time but worth it.

It all goes back to those muscles you tightened when you worried, they learnt to stay in tension, if you just engaged in mindfulness it would some time take time for these muscles to release their tension, release their pain. With the Alexander Technique your muscular tension you developed over time, can be released by encouraging you to think differently, thinking the way you used to when you were a child, thinking that allows easy and freedom so you can do the activities you want to.

It worked for me, I have written a lot about muscular tension, all tension is related; by releasing muscular tension worry and anxiety disappear. It they reappear I’ve got the tools to let my anxiety quieten and disappear.

The opposite direction I mentioned earlier is to approach the muscular reaction to a stimulus instead of working on the stimulus to minimise the muscular reaction.

Intrigued, then why not contact me for more details.

 

 

 

Grumpy, miserable and sad


There’s plenty of words that describe people with mental health issues, I was going to write some but I’m not, as they are generally defamatory and demeaning. You also have your own list.

I’m really pleased that the Heads Together charity is the lead charity for this week’s London Marathon. It’s about time mental health is accepted and spoke about in public, I have a view that we all suffer from bouts of mental health issues, some are like a runny nose, some like flu and in some cases like pneumonia. My assumption is that we have all had the runny nose version and the runny nose can last for years and years. We just live with it because it feels normal.

I’ll let you into a secret, once upon a time I thought grumpy, miserable and sad was normal.

I was wrong, if you feel like that then you are also wrong.

My normal now is being happy (I do sometimes do get the runny nose but I have tools for me to return to happy).

Happy is a great place to be, I learnt this skill to be happy instead of learning the skill to being grumpy, miserable and sad.

Why is it so easy to be grumpy, miserable and sad? My answer is that where others want you to be because they don’t have the secret of not being grumpy, miserable and sad. The lowest common denominator is grumpy, miserable and sad.

I guess you want to know what tools I use to be happy, if you have read any of my blogs you probably know.

I’ve trained to teach the Alexander Technique, (a lot of hours over 4 years) you may already have heard about this, posture and reducing lower back pain may come to mind. It sort of is but the Alexander Technique is so much more, posture and reducing pain are just the sideshows that people can see, measure and brag about. What the technique is about is to change how you think during your everyday activities. If you are a stressed Eric as I was, full of anxiety, I was so anxious I couldn’t breathe without an inhaler, the inhaler ruled my life, ooh, I hated those years.

Learning to identify my anxious responses to everyday stimulus was the first step and then doing some different, even if the different thing was to do nothing, things started to change, I became less dependent in my inhaler. It took a long time, I’m inhaler free now.

The Alexander technique is many things to many people, it reduces physical pain, it reduces mental pain, I see anxiety as mental pain. It’s all this but what I understand the Alexander Technique to be is training on how to love yourself. If you love yourself from a safe authentic space then you can love others. Judgement of yourself dissipates as does judgement of others. Mindfulness is fine but mindfulness in activity is the key to this love and happiness; this is what the Alexander Technique is. My training as a teacher has taught me how to notice others and offer techniques and ideas to others, many of these ideas are indirect, this is an important aspect of the training as it helps you to notice your habits from a safe indirect perspective. Observing yourself, as I have written before it the first step.

If you are intrigued or want to get rid of your grumpiness give me a call.

 

9 steps to help you breathe


We take breathing for granted unless you have a breathing condition, then every breath is watched carefully.

If I was going to do some strenuous activity I would get my breathing ready for it.

Ugh

Funnily enough I can now take my breathing for granted because I’ve relearnt to trust my breathing and I know it won’t let me down.

Trust is the key!

This took me a long time from watching my every breath to allowing my breath to happen all on its own.

I didn’t do this on my own, I got help from several people – all Alexander Technique Teachers, now I’m an Alexander Technique teacher so I can now help you as well.

The secret of relearning anything is to notice what you have learnt to do it another way. In the case of breathing, I had many beliefs that were different to how my body actually works.

1 – Body mapping

This is relearning where your body parts are really are they are and not where you think they are.

2 – Understanding that you are probably wrong about some things

Again this is relearning but I found this difficult to grasp because it worked but it is wrong. I knew how my diaphragm moved but I was wrong, I was thinking the wrong way round.

3 – Being non-judgmental

Especially for point 2 Understanding that you are probably wrong about somethings, I just got plain angry and very judgmental – being judgmental you are just stuck, simple because you aren’t listening to sense. This took me a while to grasp, there are no half measures, you have the choice of being judgemental or non-judgmental – there’s nothing in the middle.

4 – Noticing things

Noticing muscular tension, what muscular activity do you notice when you become judgmental, is it

  • butterflies
  • shoulders flinch
  • tightening of your jaw
  • a frown
  • you scratch your favourite scratch

There are plenty more.

What’s yours, when you think about breathing?

5 – Doing something different

If you are getting anxious about your breath perhaps breath out a little before you breath in. Your lungs are probably full of air already and the air many be a little stale, I found when I was anxious I just wanted to cram in as much air as possible so I was ready for that moment that never came. So a breathe out before a breathe in then you will get some fresh air.

6 – Breathe in through your nose

There’s lots of benefits,

  • You warm the air before it gets to your lungs
  • You filter the air
  • You smell the air for odours, these could be dangers or good things
  • I get a sense of calming when I breath in though my nose, do you?

7 – Take your time

Take your time to change anything, if you force a change then there will be some judgment somewhere and this judgment will trip you up.

8 – Practice, Practice, Practice

There’s no such thing as practice, life is real, so treat every moment as a real moment.

9 – Seek help

Seek help to get you on your journey to natural breathing.

Why not contact me?

The hand that changed my life


I’ve just watched an article on TV – part of a series for Red Nose Day #rednoseday, the biannual charity event run by Comic Relief, #comicrelief the article was about adult male suicide. Beautifully and carefully produced, they interviewed a widow about the suicide of her husband and how the suicide affected her children and herself. Comic relief had given money and support to set up a charity to help those left behind after a suicide.

My immediate thoughts were I could have been one of those men, if I’d lost hope during my difficult times. For me I’d always thought that I would survive those difficult times, and I did.

Did I seek help – I know I had the support of my loving wife and friends.   I was in a terrible state for some years, asthma was just one of the problems, also I didn’t like myself and could never understand why others should.

Luckily I found help.

I found help when I left a supermarket, a hand on my shoulder and the offer of a half price session. I’d never heard of what the session was but I’ve never forgotten her hand contact. This was my first introduction to the Alexander Technique, that was over ten years ago and now I’ve completed the hours to be an Alexander Technique Teacher.

That hand changed my life.

You may be asking what suicide and the Alexander Technique have to do with each other.

The Alexander Technique, you may think it is about posture, fixing back pain, carpel tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and a whole lot more of aches and pains. You would be partially right, as this is what people seek as a last resort before surgery.

The Alexander Technique is about how you think, apply your thinking and with Alexanders discovery that your head, neck, back relationship is fundamental in all of your activities.

Suicide still doesn’t seem to fit?

Suicide is the act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally.

Suicide is an active thought, a decision made at the height of depression, the final decision that will sort everything because I won’t be missed and my loved ones will be better without me.

Can Alexander’s discovery stop someone not taking their life, I don’t know but I don’t see why not. It’s helped me manage my asthma, it’s helped me manage my anxiety. Alexander’s discovery helps people to change their life of pain to a life of freedom just by understanding their head, neck and back relationship and thinking differently.

I’ve made this sound so simple, well it is but it can be difficult to be simple.

I discovered the freedom and happiness from Alexander’s discovery, I’m cynic and can be very stubborn, if it can work for me I know it can work for you.

If you have those blue days or see too much of the black dog, why not contact me, I may be able to help.

Do terrible 2’s always change to angry adults


Do you know I get really angry with some people, they just won’t listen. Some of these people have never even seen me, we have never physically met nor communicated in any way  but they still make me angry.

Does this sound familiar? Politicians are my favourite to be angry with at the moment.

So if they don’t know me and we have never met how do they know I’m angry with them, it would be good for them to know, as I’m using plenty of angry energy on them. The probability is that they will never know I’m angry with them so why am I being angry with them. I’m guessing they have breached my beliefs, they have gone beyond what I’m comfortable with, someone sometime ago breached my beliefs and I had a tantrum. I don’t know when it was or who it was but my tantrum got the result I wanted. I may have used the tantrum over and over again and it produced the result I wanted. This tantrum was successful so I stored it away with my other habits. Everytime I needed this tantrum it was there for me, being like all habits it likes to survive so after each use it reviews what was successful and what was not, it changes a little, some bits are retired and new bits added, so it it really for the next time.

Over time the tantrum morphs into anger.

Many people will just stay that way, they develop from the terrible 2’s to angry adults, negativity works for them or so they think.

I think negativity doesn’t work as it just makes you ill, it may take many years but will get you eventually.

Negativity generates more negativity, a vicious circle! Wouldn’t it be better to be less angry.

This seem to be my theme over my past few blogs, stop and notice.

Notice what makes you angry, it maybe someones stupidity it maybe what someone says. If you aren’t close enough to challenge them to consider a change, then perhaps you could tone down you response to their stupidity. This takes some practice to notice when you start to be angry, it’s even more difficult to notice that you are going to be angry, noticing those triggers that set off your anger.

I’ve done a few years training to discover these things firstly in myself and then others, my training also taught me some simple skills on how to think differently. If you want to know more you could join my mailing list, it free and you have no commitment to do anything.

 

 

Play with my thoughts


Another day and another dollar, doesn’t that sound depressing, it does for me, I have thoughts of just slowly treading along doing meaningless, unfulfilling work year in and year out.

The slow trickle of depression sucking you down and down until you can’t function anymore until there isn’t a dollar a day, cast on the heap of worn out workers waiting for your maker. Is that what life is about, I think it is for some but it doesn’t have to be that way. I was being suck down with depression for years without even knowing it, it effected my breathing, how I behaved with people, I did enjoy the effects of alcohol as it hid my problems each evening, it helped me sleep then the day started again.

Another day and another dollar. 

This happened for years until recently when I discovered that the only person how was allowing the slow trickle of depression to suck me down was ME. It was hard to believe that I was causing myself to hurt myself, nobody has ever told that I could just hurt myself by thinking, but it is true.

So a started my slow journey from depression to where I am today: I don’t know where I am on the scale from 1 to 10 but I know I’m not at rock bottom though I was there once. I was probably lucky as I disguised my depression as asthma so I got inhalers instead of anti-depressants. I guess my slow journey would be a very slow journey if I was stuck with anti-depressants.

I discovered that my habits effect how I function and how I function effects my habits. So by doing something new I learn a new habit then I use the new habit to do that something again, the habit and the activity added together to create an improved habit, this cycle continues infinitum for depressive habits things just get worse and worse.

The secrets are firstly you need to notice that your thoughts are causing these thoughts, there may be relationships with people and organisations that trigger these thoughts but it is you that has the thought. Noticing is really difficult as you have nurtured these habits to survive and you won’t be willing to let them go so you will keep them we hidden from yourself however others have skills to expose your habits and help you to deal with them.

The way I learnt was to become more observant in my daily activities, simple thinks like when I get a nervous cough, I ask myself what was I thinking just before I started to cough. I may be because I was thinking of an awkward situation later on in the day and this triggered my cough. Once I’ve identified my thoughts I can play with the thought and ask myself if it happening now, No it’s later on in the day. If it’s not happening now then it may never happen, so why worry, why cough. I don’t have any control over others thoughts and actions so again so what I’m thinking about what they my say or do may never happen so why worry, why cough. This play on my thoughts brings me back to reality and I also have a physical feedback to check if i’ve stopped worrying, may cough.

This play can be done on any physical action but first you need to notice the action and the thought that triggered it.

If you want to now more I’ve a mailing list where you can receive more useful ideas

 

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.

If you want to know more then please join my mailing list.