Category Archives: direction

Rediscover your ‘it’


I just come back from my Sunday morning walk with my dogs, now it is time for a coffee and write my daily blog.

Today I had an extra one today as well, some may say that four springer spaniels is too many for a walk, I’d agree if they were all on leads, fortunately they weren’t. They just run free in the forest, ranging around me as I walk. They do keep an eye on me to make sure that I don’t get too far away and I do the same.

I use my walking to reflect on things, today I did a voice recording of what I was thinking; I’ll listen to it later or not at all. The general gist was that I tend to write about how to become present in this moment, I’ve written plenty of blogs about this but have never really moved into what makes Alexander’s discovery so special.

To be fully content with life we need to know where we are in time and space, much of what I’ve written about is mindfulness, being present in this moment. Understanding where you are in space is a little more difficult. The difficultly is that our habits put us in various physical contortions. Just observe people, you may see some peoples heads jutting out in front of their torso, I guess this is tiring but is normal to them, if you ask them they will say they are perfectly upright and have a pretty good posture, you can clearly see this isn’t true. They have faulty sensory perception of their own body, as I do and most probably you do as well. It’s a global problem except for the fortunate few, normally the successful athletes, sportsmen and women and performers but not always.

head

Continue reading Rediscover your ‘it’

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.

 

 

 

The last grain of sand


I was in the sauna today, I am on my holidays, I turned the sand timer over to start my time in the sauna, or rather, when I should get out of the sauna. Wow it’s hot in here, can I last until the last grain of sand has left the top bulb?

My instant panic surprised me, I’d set myself a rule and I’m going to struggle though, whatever!

So how am I going to struggle through, one way is to grim and bare it, I opted for another way. I decided to be interested in the wood on the walls, looking at the grain and knots, wonderering if any of the planks are off the same tree. I noticed that I was having verbalised thoughts between myself, I was saying words to myself, they were silent but I was definitely saying them to myself. 

I wondered if I could have similar thoughts without words, as it happens I can but words still pop up. I noticed that there is a different quality to non verbalised thoughts, they lack judgement. I have a sense of wonder, a quietening, a loss of time and in the sauna the heat became bearable, in fact it stopped being a nuisance. 

When words popped up I let them go and returned to observing without words. 

I felt grounded and content, oh, I looked at the sand and it was all at the bottom.

Time for the hot tub.

FORWARD = INTENTION and UP = ATTENTION


I’ve been thinking what all my training has been about, its been about a paradigm shift in thinking and how the show others how to achieve this change in thought.

We normally rely on our habits to conduct our day to day activities, just doing things without much thinking, take driving a car, have you ever been shaken out of you routine when a hazard suddenly appears and you have thoughts of “that appeared from nowhere”.

Why does this happen?

I have an idea why, we reuse old habits over and over again, driving down the same old road every day, its safe and nothing ever happens, so you have time to daydream and reduce your awareness of your journey, then something appears from nowhere, it didn’t, it was there all the time but it wasn’t on your previous journeys. It was your lack of awareness that created the hazard, if you had seen it earlier you could have taken early action around the obstacle instead of turning it into a hazard.

Relying on our old habits we switch between relaxed to startle in a moment. This is our normal thinking paradigm, Our thinking is either on or off,  on the seesaw of life, happy or sad, swinging between the two with no apparent control. Some think alcohol or drugs will help, they do to a point, they mask things but they don’t go away. I’m including the prescribed ones as well. I’ve certainly been on the seesaw of happiness and hatred and alcohol does mask things until the next day.

What I’ve learnt in my training is to slow the seesaw down so that it doesn’t swing too far either way, a lot of the time it works but not always, as they say, ever day is a learning day.

My paradigm shift in my thinking has two aspects, the first one is being content with not knowing what is going to happen, the second is knowing where I am in this moment. This thinking needs to be renewed continually, this needs practice.

Both of these aspects have many layers and they interconnect with each other everywhere, it is too complicated to understand, so lets not, this is the paradigm shift in my thinking, I am me in this time and space.

To make this simple I use thoughts of attention and intention, I have attention of myself in time and space, remembering to renew continually and the intension to move to perform whatever activity I choose.

I see this as FM Alexanders forward and up

FORWARD = INTENTION, UP = ATTENTION

So instead of driving down the road using the same old habits, I enjoy the journey even in traffic jams. You may be thinking about the developed habits in controlling the car, of course I use them, as I use the habits in developed in walking. These habits are all tied up with thoughts of attention and intention at this very moment

 

 

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?

Stop looking and it will appear


I’ve been studying Alexander’s discovery for a few years now, I’ve visited several schools and I have gotten a different definition of his discovery at each school. This is confusing and frustrating, each school appproaches the same thing from a different direction, but why.

The answer is quite simple, the discovery is very hard to verbalise so different metaphors and physical activities are used to explain this discovery. Some will work for me but not for you. I’ve found that if you go with someone’s definition and it doesn’t suit you will be led down a blind ally, you will pick up useful information on the way but you won’t discover the discovery. I know this as I did it. It’s frustrating, it’s time wasting, made me feel like a failure.

It is some of these but much more, learning that something isn’t for me is a very powerful learning point. I can choose to stop and change direction. I’m glad I did, then the thoughts that I should have stopped earlier arise, perhaps I should but was I in a position to notice that a change was available, probably not, I was thinking that the end of my journey was near and if I stuck with it, it would be over and then get on with the next part of my life.

So what is this discovery, well it’s a rediscovery of youthfulness. If you ever meet an Alexander Teacher, guess their age then add ten years to your guess and you will be pretty close, this discovery lets you look younger and physically fitter than the average for your age group especially as you get older.

So this discovery is the elixir of youth, perhaps it is but it is also the holy grail. If you seek it you won’t find it as it is with you all the time, stop looking and it will appear. The various teaching methods are just the way how someone discovered this discovery and they are telling their way to the discovery.

I’ve written around this discovery for many blogs, perhaps I didn’t know what it really is as I was trying to decipher somebody’s metaphor and it wasn’t working for me.

Unfortunately I’m going to state what the discovery is to me, this may not work for you.

This discovery is about me, and for you, to be the most important person in your universe, being conscious of the environment about you, that’s in the room and then beyond, as far as you can imagine. This thought will only last a moment, this moment can not be keeped or reused, a new thought needs to be generated and then again and again so there is a contiguous flow of thoughts without dwelling on the past nor trying to figure out the future.

This takes some practice, then applying it all the time is some feat. So these thoughts swing in and out. When they are needed I increase their frequency.

The next part is that we are continuously communicating with each other and animals. My dogs can read my mind and to some extent I can read theirs. Have you ever known who is calling you without looking at the caller display, or tried to call someone but they are engaged because they are calling you. This is our natural communications, this communication can be enhanced when we are near to each other and enhanced again by touch. Our communication drastically improves if we don’t dwell on the past nor figuring out the future.

The person we are closest to is ourself, we can communicate to ourselves as exceptionally well, we have the best communication within ourselves but we just don’t listen; we can tell ourselves so much to keep ourselves well and healthy but why don’t we listen?

The world is your oyster


In my previous blog A dog with a new bone I wrote about the shield I held in front of me, nobody saw it whether I was hold up or thrown it on the floor, my shield was pretty pointless, I know that now but for the past decade or so I thought it was very important to use, it protected me. In reality it stopped me from doing things I wanted, stopped me saying things I wanted to say, stifled my creativity and most important of all it stopped me from being the real me.

Have you ever thought that I could do that but decided not to because:

  • They won’t like what I say
  • It’s too hard for me to do
  • It’s out of my comfort zone
  • They don’t respect me so it’s not worth doing.

I have and now I regret things I haven’t done.

The thing is, these are your thoughts about whatever the topic is, no one else’s, they don’t know what you are thinking as you don’t know what they are thinking. These thoughts have been my shield, they prevent me from moving on.

What I did was experiment with these thoughts and turn the thoughts around by making them positive, for example ‘they will like what I say’ and get on and speak, notice their reaction, I’ve been pleasantly surprised, no bad remarks and thanks for honestly.

I’d got in the way of my own authenticity.

There is a little more to this, I NEEDED TO BE TRUTHFUL TO MYSELF, if I didn’t like what I was saying, it didn’t work; people know authenticity and they know the opposite.

What I’ve learnt and written in previous blogs is that these skills take time and determination to be developed, there is a shortcut, find someone to help you, I found the Alexander Technique and have since trained to teach the technique.

I learnt that the very first thing is to notice negative emotional and physical reactions to activities, once a reaction is noticed then the change can happen, perhaps turn the thought around to ‘they will like what I say’ then notice what happens. To start to notice things you need to know where you are in time and space, if you are too busy worrying about something else or hurting from physical pain then it will be very difficult to start noticing other things, I can help with this, part of the many hours of training over 3 years is to show people how to rediscover their capacity to be here in this very moment and also to enjoy their own space. From this point the world is your oyster.

Dogs are a mirror of your thinking


You may be wondering how you can have a quiet home with dogs, it’s easy. Dogs pander for the quiet, they can sleep or rest for most of the day but they also need exercise and mental stimulation, rather like us. We need all three, sleep, exercise and mental stimulation as well. When out walking with dogs you also get the exercise and mental stimulation.

Dogs pick on our moods and habits and try to do something about it to mimic or please us, they can’t vocalise so it’s normally something physical. If you can’t settle then you may find your dog running around or misbehaving, remember they are doing something that they believe you want, shouting at them could also be a greater stimulus to continue what they are doing. You are getting excited and angry by their behaviour and they think you want more of the same.

Remember, dogs are a mirror of your thinking.

The best action to quieten down you dogs is to be calm yourself, this could be a problem if you don’t know how to calm down. If your head is full of stuff that you need to do, you have things to worry about and now I’ve asked you to calm down for the dogs sake, probably the last thing on your mind and being calm is just impossible.

Your dog probably treats you as an alpha member of their pack even if there is the two of you. As you are the boss they will do as you say even if you don’t verbalise it, they just want to please and be a member of your pack.

Unfortunately the onus is on you and your family to have a happy well behaved dog. Have well defined boundaries, which of course, they will try to break. You just have to reassert the boundaries when they are broken, over and over again, just like with children.

Be a calming effect on your dog, here’s some tips.

Know where you are in time and space

  1.  Check out what you are thinking, if it’s worrying about something in the future or in the past, change your thought to being here at this very moment. Admire a  painting, a view, your dog, anything, the choice in yours, stay with those thought of wonder. Here’s some more ideas.
  2. Check out how you are standing or sitting, raise your awareness of your head, neck, back, shoulders arms, legs and feet. Notice any pain you have, do you notice anything else? Be inquisitive about how you move.
  3. revisit 1 and then 2, keep going around these two points over and over again and you may start to notice yourself quietening down, your breathing may soften, your dog should sense your quiet and settle down as well.

Repeat these points when you have a moment or if you notice being stressed, you’ll find that with practice these thoughts will only take a moment, nobody will notice and you will be back on track.

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I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing


Now you understand where your sit bones are and also where your head neck joint is, if you  don’t then please read Your boney hollow and Acetabulum is one of those words I just love then you will discover where they are in your body and also what an acetabulum is.

What are your views and beliefs on how breathing happens and how does breathing happen within yourself.

Once I had some really skewed beliefs how I had to breathe, I thought I had to consciously breath when I did any strenuous activity and also I didn’t trust my breathing to happen on its own.

Unfortunately we can learn to control our breathing, this is necessary if you want to hold your breathe when hiding from someone and something or swimming under water. When stress and anxiety becomes a way of life, being conscious of your breathing becomes second nature.

Thoughts of:

  • He going to be angry with me – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • Thats a steep hill to walk up – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • I don’t want to face up to something – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • I need to go shopping – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • I need to go to work – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing

The list is endless and you may have other reasons to hold your own breath. This breath holding is the initiation of conscious breathing.

Conscious breathing with anxiety is not a very successful partnership. The anxiety sets your breathing to a quiet mode with minimal diaphragm and rib movement Breathing takes place just at the top of your lungs, you may notice short shallow breathing with some movement of the scapula, the scapula moving forward so the glenohumeral joint rolling forward in space into a shrug.

Conscious breathing with the smallest use of your lungs is not adequate in fact it’s hopeless but that is what may people with anxiety do.

I know I was one of them.

I changed my breathing with help from others and I learnt how my breathing happens and the anatomy involved in breathing. I found the anatomy so important for me as it dismissed the beliefs I had in how I breathed.

Did you know your ribs move up and down hinging about your vertebra and sternum as you breath, this was a shock to me. I thought my ribs were just there to contain my lungs and heart, they didn’t move. Discovering my ribs moved down on an out breathe and up on in breathe was hard discovery to make, first because my ribs moved and secondly the direction of movement was illogical to me and sometimes still is.

The curve of the ribs with their movement changes the volume of air in the lungs. The ribs go down the air is displaced out of the lung, when the ribs go up the volume increases causing a vacuum in the lungs, air is drawn in to the lungs to equalise the vacuum with atmosphere.

There are many muscles that are involved in breathing, if you want to know more then it time for your own research. I might do a later blog about them if you want to wait.

The important thing to know about breathing is that you can just let it happen, when you start interfering with it, you will mess it up. Knowing the physiology and anatomy gave the confidence to leave my breathing alone. I still have certain triggers that bring on an asthma event, instead of jumping to my old trusty inhaler, I use the knowledge of how my breathing happens, notice any rising anxiety, and consciously control the rising anxiety and allow my urge to control my breathing to diminish.

These skills didn’t happen over night, it was may months, in fact a couple of years, so don’t put your inhaler in the bin and do it my way, things my turn nasty for you. Gently, gently is the key.

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Acetabulum is one of those words I just love


Continuing on from Your boney hollow now lets move to the other end of your spine. At the very end is your tail bone, the coccyx, then slightly higher is your sacrum and the sacrum attaches to the lumber spine, then to the thoracic spine on to the cervical spine to the base of your skull.

So how many vertebra do you have?

It’s very easy to remember, excluding the coccyx and sacrum you have breakfast, dinner tea. You breakfast at 7 (the cervical spine, C1 to C7, the neck), then dinner at 12 (the thoracic spine T1 to T12) and tea at 5 (the lumbar spine L1 to L5).

You can now impress at the next quiz.

Back to the sacrum, the sacrum is part of the pelvis with the two hip bones, these bones are connected by a movable joint the sacroiliac joint, the movement is very small but it good to know that there is movement, and at the front where the two hip bone meet there’s a disc similar to the ones in our spine, the symphysis pubis, so though you may think the pelvis is a fixed boney structure there is some movement  between the bones, more akin to shock absorbers.

Each hip bone is made up of three bones which fuse together during childhood, these are the ilium, you can feel this bone, the top part is the iliac crest, if you prod around your waist line the bone you can feel is the iliac crest. The other two bones are the pubis which is at the front where the symphysis pubis connects and to the rear and the ischium. You will need to do some research on the shape of the pelvis as I can’t describe it fully in words.

The centre where these three bones meet is the acetabulum, the socket for the ball of your hip bone. Acetabulum is one of those words I just love, whoever and whenever our bones where named they sometimes used common terms that were useful, acetabulum is one of them. Acetabulum means vinegar bowl, I imagine they used an animal pelvis for their vinegar during there banquets and feasts

Back to the ischium, the lower part is the ischial tuberosity, also know and the sit bones, lets find these sit bones. Please sit, they are easier to find when sitting, move over to one of your sit bones and on the other side put your hand under your raised sit bone and the chair, then move back to upright, now for the warning, this may hurt as your fingers get squashed so look after yourself. Hopefully you have felt something boney, that’s your sit bones.

In the world of Alexander the sit bones are very important, when sitting they contact you to the ground via the chair or stool you are sitting on. If you consciously know the location of your sit bones and your head neck joint, connecting the two ends of your spine with a thought of your head lightly resting on the top of your spine, you may be able to extend that lightness down your spine to your sit bones and sense that you are fully supported on your sit bones, gently balancing. I have the image of a gently moving grass in a meadow, each piece of grass is fully connected to the earth with the head of seeds just move with the gentle breeze.

We have evolved to be in movement, so whilst you are sitting image a blade of grass moving with the breeze and transpose the thought to yourself, being grounded by your sit bone and allowing your head to gently move with freedom all the way down your spine.

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