Alexander Technique, anxiety, Asthma, body mapping, body-mapping, breathing, mindfulness, self-doubt, stopping, trying

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

 

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, Alexander Technique, Asthma, Asthma, breathing, walking

Fancy a walk in the forest


I’ve been thinking for a while how I can help others with what I’ve learnt from Alexander’s discoveries. The truth is, it is probably everyone in the world, that is a little to big for one person – I’ll be worked off my feet!

So I best refine this down a little, my choices are, a geographical region perhaps near where I live or people who enjoy similar activities to me but are struggling to get about to enjoy it, or it could be both.

I love walking but not so long ago asthma restricted how far I could walk, I’m well now without the use of drugs to support me, it was Alexander’s discoveries that let me be free of my breathing difficulties. I don’t know how far I can walk now but I guess it’ll be exhaustion not asthma that will stop me.

Have I narrowed enough to a community that I can help, I don’t know but it would be fun to work with them. A couple of inside workshops and then out for a walk so that they can discover the discoveries in the safety of a room and then practice out in the wilds. Bring your dogs and have more fun, I’ll even supply the tea and coffee, anyone fancy bringing the biscuits?

I’ve identified a venue, the owners don’t know yet. I’ve got a good idea what I want to say for the workshops, I think dogs will have to stay at home for the first few of workshops  as this will give you time to discover a natural way to breathe, this type of breathing is a benefit to all, so if you just get out of breathe on hills it will as well, or out of breathe when running it will also help.

Now I just need to find people who want to come along.

  • Walking magazines
  • Walking Facebook groups
  • Local walking groups
  • Local advertising
  • Doctor referrals

I assume some of these will be better than others and there’s other things I could focus on, any ideas?

I’ll be taking the plunge soon on a series of workshops, anyone in the Forest of Dean interested? Please let me know.

Happy rambling

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Alexander Technique, Asthma

There’s more than just the Whispered Ah for asthma control


In the last blogs I’ve eulogised the Whispered Ah but this only a small part of what has helped me to get my asthma under control.

The Whispered Ah is functional and doing activity or it can be, when first experimenting and have little experience of the Alexander Technique. The Alexander Technique is about inhibition, non-doing  and direction, so initially the Whispered Ah doesn’t seem to fit with non-doing. It may have been devised as a deflective alternative activity to break a habit of poor breathing, I’m being deliberately vague of what poor breathing is.

Perhaps FM Alexander took the Whispered Ah from whom ever invented the activity and applied the Alexander Principles.

I recon from my experience asthma sufferers just push on with what they are doing as whatever the cost, in Alexander terms  they end-gain, I needed to stop doing this by non-doing, putting myself in neutral, when in neutral strange things start to happen, maybe sounds become clearer, you hear a clock ticking for the first time, vision softens and becomes clearer, you sense the clothes touching your body, someone else’s body heat, in short, you notice what your senses have been reporting all along but you’ve need to busy to notice.

From this neutral place inhibition is available ‘Conscious and ongoing prevention of habitual interference with optimum poise’; there’s a lot of detail in this quote which will have to wait for another day.

Whilst inhibiting plan your next move, perhaps initiate a Whispered Ah but this don’t just do the Ah, have a thought of the Whispered Ah, keep the thought in your head and don’t visit the parts you thought of i.e your diaphragm, rib, tongue etc. Once you have established your thought let is go and allow the Whispered Ah to happen. I find the quality quite different from the doing Whispered Ah.

Give it a go.

Alexander Technique, anxiety, Asthma, breathing, stopping

Ah – The Whispered Ah the antidote to asthma


I’ve never felt so awkward and silly pulling a funny face, breathing out and making a strange gravelly noise.

That was my introduction to the Whispered Ah!

After my first few attempts my Alexander Technique teacher asked me how wide open I thought my mouth was. I answered “very wide”; so go and look in the mirror; to my surprise I’d barely opened my mouth. How could that be, the answer may be possibly in a later blog.

My Alexander Technique teacher was introducing me to an alternative way to breathe from my usual shallow gasping asthmatic breath. Little did I know that I couldn’t breath in as I hadn’t breathed out, so all I was doing was  trying to top up my lungs that were already full!

The Whispered Ah was developed before FM Alexander included in his repertoire but I believe he modified the activity to suit his technique.

The Whispered Ah is an activity to bring your breathing to your consciousness, namely the activity of breathing out, allowing your lungs to empty as your diaphragm rises and your ribs move together, then waiting for the in breath to happen and experience your diaphragm move and your ribs move outwards as your lungs fill.

There is a lot more detail in how to experiment with the Whispered Ah on YouTube and elsewhere, please search them out.

I’ve recently been experimenting with flaring my nostrils to initiate the in breath, I sense a reflex between my nostrils, sternum and ribs, do you have a sense of this reflex?Once you have experimented with the smiley face with soft eyes, tongue resting just behind your bottom teeth, jaw leading forward and down from the TMJ … then initiate the out breath you will have experienced the Whispered Ah, for an asthma sufferer it’s a breath of fresh air.

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Alexander Technique, Asthma

Asthma and how the Alexander Technique helped me


In 1995 I had a very bad year, some of the most stressful events in my life appeared at once, then I got the flu – asthma struck me with a huge bang.

I could only walk a few yards before I needed to stop to get my breath back, it was just horrible, I seemed to be permanently using my inhaler. On one event I was admitted to hospital, the paramedic prepared me for a drip in the ambulance, I thought I had some medicine through the drip and instantly recovered.

I thought, asthma is psychological? A needle in my hand connected to nothing and the symptoms stop!
 
I’d never really thought what asthma was, here is a definition
•a respiratory condition marked by attacks of spasm in the bronchi of the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing. It is usually connected to allergic reaction or other forms of hypersensitivity.
•from Greek asthma, from azein ‘breathe hard’.
Well, that may be true but is it always, sudden onset of asthma after a trauma could well be different; I recon it is a muscular response to stress related to the fight or flight reflex. Breathing is dependant on the muscles and skeleton of the thorax and also the muscles abdomen however with asthma caused by stress the control on these muscles goes awry.  I found that when I had an asthma attack, it wasn’t that I couldn’t breathe in but I was full of air and couldn’t breathe out, inhalers eased the effect but did nothing in the long-term. I simply wasn’t using the array of muscles available for breathing as my thorax was locked in a fright, unwilling to move, not knowing how to move. I sort of breathed from my shoulders, sucking in air by scrunching up my shoulders. My shoulders felt like they were up near my ears. I was breathless if I did too much activity, I went in to panic mode if i did too much activity, a vicious circle with no escape if I didn’t have my inhaler to hand; well that’s what I thought.
I accidentally discovered the Alexander Technique 10-12 years after I started with asthma. It just made me feel good, I enjoyed the feeling of lightness, greater ease, I was happier. My inhaler use reduced but I didn’t put it down to the Alexander Technique; I’ve noticed that it’s always something other than the Alexander Technique that has improved what has improved.
I remembered the night in the ambulance; A needle in my hand connected to nothing and the symptoms stop! 
Perhaps the Alexander Technique can help me manage my asthma. I went on  a voyage of discovery, firstly I discovered that the Alexander Technique is not a therapy but training how to use myself efficiently and effectively, in fact efficaciously.
My asthma is the output of many habits I’ve developed over my lifetime; they were all valid when I developed them but may not be valid now. The Alexander Technique allows me to stop and choose how I want to approach stimuli, say a stressful situation, instead of my habitual tightening and resultant asthma, I can choose something else.  The Alexander Technique isn’t a quick or instant fix but I think well worth the effort, why be reliant on inhalers when I can consciously control my actions.
I now live an inhaler free life, when the asthma indicators arise, I can now stop, choose and get on with my life.