Alexander Technique, Asthma

I panic, I get breathless


I used to be really bad at breathing, just one thought that worried me and I was on my inhaler. Tight chest, panicking and couldn’t go anywhere, life was shit, if it wasn’t for my loving wife and support from friends I guess it would have even been worse, I definitely wouldn’t have been writing this now.

I’ve discovered that I wasn’t alone with these thoughts and the utter dependency on asthma inhalers. What really annoyed me then and still does is the reliance our doctors have on drugs to cure all. I didn’t need drugs to cure me as there is nothing to cure, I was panicking because that is what I’d learnt was the best thing in these situations. I panic, get breathless, get noticed then I get love and support. Unfortunately getting drugs is no replacement for getting love and support.

Perhaps a better medical workflow would be I get breathless, see the doctor and they proscribe drugs for the immediate problem and also help to identify the root cause.

I see the issue is that doctors are expertly trained however the training steers to a pharmaceutical solution to most issues the patients bring, I may be completely wrong in my understanding but it is very rare that when I see the doctor I need to call by the dispensary to pick something up. Perhaps many like myself as patients also expect to call by the dispensary to pick something up.

Unfortunately I’ve never had the support to identify the root cause, my meeting with various asthma nurses never went well, I didn’t believe what they said as they were employed independently from the surgery, I may have been cynical but they alway wanted to try another drug. I don’t see the asthma nurse anymore nor take asthma medication.

Someone noticed, I don’t know what they noticed, that I behaved in a certain way that suppressed my breathing when I became anxious. This was my habitual response to the stimulus, if you remember, if I suppressed my breathing I received love and support. As a very young child it was a win-win situation. However in the adult world the love and support isn’t always there, instead it is a lose-lose situation, once started it is very easy to spiral down to very dangerous place, the asthma drugs do slow or stop the spiral for a short time. Drug don’t address the root cause.

The art is to notice when the response to the stimulus starts or just before then you then have a very good chance of not starting the spiral, in fact with practice the habitual response changes to something else instead of I panic, I get breathless, my panic increases, I get more breathless… .

This skill takes a time to grasp, I’ve grasped it but not without having the support and love of others, I did seek professional help, they helped me to notice my response to the stimulus and that I could choose to do something else.

Please let me know if you want to know more.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, Anger, anxiety, Asthma, attention, freedom

We sometimes think too much. 


You may have noticed that many of my blogs are about noticing our habits, more precisely the habits that stop you doing the thing you really want to do, this thing may be  your ambition; it may be singing solo in front of a huge audience, skydiving, running a marathon, reading aloud without stuttering or overcoming a phobia of some kind. Achieving your ambition is firstly to overcome your doubt.

You may have guessed what the first step is; noticing what happens when you think about your ambition. I guess it may feel overwhelming else you would have achieved it  already.  Again notice the thought, probably it was a thoughts of; “it’s impossible’, “I can’t work out the first step,” ” I don’t know where to start”, with all theses thoughts there will be some muscular tension somewhere; mine are butterflies in my stomach. You’ll have something somewhere, sometimes you need to be quiet to notice.

When I sense my butterflies it is time to act, I don’t think, “Oh those butterflies again I’m going to fail again” that was my old thought. I use my butterflies as a moment to pause and do something different from what I habitually want to do; this a hard to achieve as thoughts of “don’t be silly, that can’t possibly work” and other self sabotaging thoughts appear. The harder I try to do something different the louder these thoughts shout out. I’ve failed at this step many times and still do however there is a way to silence these thoughts instantly. It is being here in this very moment and understanding that this very moment can’t be held on to, you need to let go of every moment as you pass through it.

My current thinking is about balancing gravity, space and time; being in balance with all three. We are constantly working with gravity whether we are sitting, standing, lying down, in activity and when we are asleep, it never goes away. We use gravity all the time.   We sometimes sabotage ourselves and think gravity is against us, for one, gravity can’t think, it is our own thinking that is doing the sabotaging.

We sometimes think too much.

When I notice my butterflies, it is a prompt to think about how I am with gravity, I’m probably giving into gravity and letting my body crumble to the ground, even if it’s ever slight. I reverse my thoughts by pausing, noticing how I’m touching the ground is it though a chair or am I standing, then allow my legs and torso to move so my head and body are in balance with gravity. For me this has quietening effect on my thinking.

My butterflies are also a prompt to notice if I’m compressing myself, maybe I want to hide for some reason, and making myself small I might disappear or not be noticed. Again I pause for a moment and invite each molecule in my body to take up its own space and then expand my space into the room I’m in, then out to the local area and on and on into space, this also effects my thinking this time into space, now I’m in balance with gravity and space.

My butterflies are also a prompt to notice if I’m thinking into the future and worrying out the future. When I’m worrying or being anxious I have a sense of projecting my thoughts just in front of me, I pause again and have the same thoughts but this time I have the thought just behind my eyes, where my centre of gravity is. I find this quietens down my worry to nothing, now I’m in balance with gravity, space and time.

There is a catch to this, if you try to hold onto the sensation of being in balance with gravity, space and time you will get stuck and tighten up and loss the freedom, space and the time will return to anxiety. These thoughts only last for a moment, they need to be let go of as soon as they are thought and rethought again and let go again. With practice you will get quicker and quicker and then non-verbal. Then you can take the first steps to achieve your ambition.

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, anxiety, Asthma, Asthma, direction, flu cold

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!

 

 

 

 

Alexander Discovery, Anger, anxiety, Asthma, love, mindfulness

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.

 

Alexander Discovery, anxiety, Asthma, body mapping, body-mapping, breathing, direction, End-gaining, habit, Imagery, Inhibition, mindfulness, Pausing, self-doubt, wellbeing

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.

 

 

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, anxiety, Asthma, body mapping, body-mapping, freedom, happiness, Inhabition, mindfulness, self-doubt, trying, wellbeing

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.

 

 

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, Anger, anxiety, Asthma, breathing, happiness, love, mindfulness, self-doubt, trying

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.

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, Anger, anxiety, Asthma, body-mapping, breathing, direction, End-gaining, Inhibition, mindfulness, wellbeing

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?

Alexander Discovery, Anger, anxiety, Asthma, body mapping, body-mapping, happiness, Inhibition, intention, mindfulness, trying, wellbeing

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.

Alexander Discovery, Anger, anxiety, Asthma, Asthma

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.