Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, anxiety, direction, End-gaining, happiness, Inhibition, mindfulness, present, self-doubt, trying, wellbeing

The trug of success


I’ve been set a challenge, that is to write a blog everyday, the time limit hasn’t been set, so everyday could last a day or infinity.

So lets see how the challenge goes, by the way if I miss a day or so I’ll just start the challenge again, I do have until infinity to achieve my challenge.

Setting unrealistic goals is very easy to do, I’ve done it, I’m going to lose a stone (14 pounds, 21 kg) in a month, on the outset it seems achievable but as the end of the month draws closer the challenge gets steeper and steeper, then I have two options, morn at my failure or hope the challenge is forgotten by others and myself. In reality my memory will linger with the other bucketful of failures, empowering my sense of failure at anything I set a challenge on, others may remember and remind me of my bucket of failures further empowering my sense of failure.

Perhaps trying too hard is my failure, setting unrealistic challenges is my success.

The other part of failure is self criticism , being judgmental about myself.

This time the way I’ll be coping with this challenge is that I know that there are days that I’m nowhere near a computer or have a very busy day so writing my blog will be impractical, so I’ll be non judgmental for those days, also there will be days where my focus will be elsewhere, so again, I won’t beat myself up about not writing.

You may think that this is setting myself to fail, it is not, this is establishing a realistic goal, something that I can meet without my judgmental self criticism jumping in. I know I can miss my daily challenge, let’s face though I accepted the challenge from someone, it is me who sets the terms of the challenge.

I may write everyday, I may not, these are my decisions. There will be a sense of failure when I don’t write and this is a good opportunity to reflect on yesterday’s blog, I thought it was just chocolate.

I don’t know who’s reading this blog, setting myself a challenge I feel obliged to fulfil my challenge for you, this has been a common trait of a people pleaser, putting others first. It feels selfish if I do it any other way. However putting others first is not a healthy approach as others will just take until I have nothing more to give. They don’t know what the anguish I’m going through to satisfy their needs and wants. They don’t know me, as I suspect you don’t know me.  From my view I don’t even know if I’m providing what you really want.

So supplying someones needs is futile, but being authentic and offering what I have you then have the opportunity to receive or not.

Looking after myself is paramount then I can offer to others or not, I now have the choice.

By caring for myself I can add to the trug of success instead of adding to the bucket of failures.

So will I be successful at my blog a day challenge, a clear resounding YES, will I write very day, a clear resounding NO; as I’ve set my rules for the challenge, clear realistic rules.

Everyday I’ll be adding to my trug of success, blog or not.

Do you want to know more then you can always join my mailing list.

On your next challenge how about setting some realistic goals with the permission to break them, then you can have a trug of success instead of a bucket of failures.Please let me know how you are getting on.

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

Happy 10th Birthday


Tonight I thought it would write another blog but Facebook notifications and texts keep pinging. I do a report on Monday evenings so the plan was do the report and then blog.

Those pings just distracted me. I see this all the time, someones phone make a noise and the only thing them can do is to respond to their phone, it doesn’t matter what was going on in the real world next to them the phone is the most important thing in this moment in the world.

It’s scary how we have suddenly changed in only ten year (it’s the smart phones tenth birthday today) to be slaves of our smart phone.

Why is it much more interesting somewhere else than just here and now?

Could we be missing something somewhere?

Do we crave for distraction from the real world?

I don’t know your answer, so one of mine, I think I have a few but this one is tonights. Simple it is procrastination, a way of avoiding things by getting involved with a distraction. I’m good at it, I even blog to procrastinate.

By the way I’ve just had a flurry of pinging and I’m still writing, they’ll have to wait until the end of this blog and I’m chuffed with myself. This is the power of noticing my response to a ping, stopping my habit of going to see who has messaged me but instead deciding that they can wait until I’m free and ready to see what’s going on. Of course I could have decided to go and look who is messaging me, then I have another decision to either respond or not (just been pinged again, oh the temptation).

That comes on to another point, it’s all well and good to notice and decide to do the “good” thing every-time, if you continually do this, life does become evangelical and boring.  I know, I’ve done it. As all things in life, living should be fun if it’s any other way you’re trying to hard, lighten up and have fun. So perhaps go with the temptation but only with a conscious choice.

Happy 10th birthday

Why not click here to discover more

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

I’m just trying but unfortunately sabotaging myself


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what will help.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So be kind to yourself

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

Don’t worry about the rest of the day

Don’t worry about getting a better result.

Breath out and allow yourself to breath in

When your ready use your peak flow meter.

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

These thoughts worked for me.

If you want to know please follow this Link.

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

I pushed on until I saw sense


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

It’s so so simple


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

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

I liked it

It was different

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

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

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

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

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

So what to do with my thoughts?

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

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

It needs to be so so simple.

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

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

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

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

If you want to know more you can sign up and get my blogs and other thoughts via email. 

 

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, direction, End-gaining, Inhibition, intention, present, self-doubt

Something about nothing


My Alexander Technique odyssey continues, it has become an adventure where I don’t know the start or end and even where I am, I wouldn’t say I was lost as I know my intent but the events of my odyssey keep taking me in different directions. Take a few days ago, I discovered I can be angry and annoyed with complete presence, I was there grounded and really being in the moment, I had control of my thoughts, I had time to answer, my emotions and habits tried to rise, I stayed with them but didn’t respond to them, I was present and in control, it was wonderful to angry and annoyed knowing I was right*.  I haven’t had this experience for many years, my normal reaction is to capitulate and succumb to the others point of view and be wrong, I’d leave broken, desperate and not knowing what to do and what is really authentically right.

The trouble with capitulation is that I succumb to the rules and beliefs of the vanquisher, they are not my rules and beliefs, they probably don’t suit me but as I’ve capitulated so I try to make them fit. It is the trying to fit that is the problem.

Trying never works!

This not just my problem in my own little world but it is constantly happening throughout the world on a massive scale, country against country, opposing political parties and millions of people everywhere.

Perhaps what I recently discovered on my odyssey could help others,

  • Stop
  • Ground yourself and be really in the moment
  • Observe
  • Then make a decision
  • Test the decision, it must be authentic for you
  • Stop if necessary and make another decision
  • Repeat as necessary

Of course with many decisions you may come to an impasse with someone else, you don’t see eye to eye. If both of you have both come to an authentic decision for yourself but the decisions are different, that’s fine, now you have something to work as you and I understand each others authentic beliefs and boundaries. Sometimes the relationship can be maintained and the differences respected, for others building space between each other is one of the answers.

For me I much prefer to respect the differences of others and work together.

As with most of my blogs, the intent is to write a blog and not knowing its content and its end, I’ve done it again. The subconscious is wonderful, it is full of stories that just emerge if I allow, give it a try, I’d love to hear your stories. Here’s a plan

  • Stop
  • Ground yourself and be really in the moment
  • Observe
  • Make a decision to write a blog and POST it
  • Test the decision, it must be authentic for you
  • Stop if necessary and make another decision
  • Repeat as necessary

Today may not be the day for you to blog, maybe tomorrow will be the day for you.

Happy bloggingimg_2299

*Of course, this was from my perspective.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, anxiety, End-gaining, intention, self-doubt, trying

When the dog howls


Have you ever walked down a road or in the woods and a dog comes out from somewhere looking menacing and barking. Perhaps they are worried about you, they don’t understand your motives, they may sense your fear so they feel they have the upper hand so they become threatening. I’m only guessing what the dog is thinking but it is responding to its immediate environment and you are in the immediate environment.

Could you make the immediate environment feel safer for the dog and hence yourself, my assumption is that you can. My dogs pick up what I’m thinking and respond appropriately,  other dogs surely must do the same. If you are walking around worrying about things or not being aware of your environment, dogs may see you as an easy target for their aggression.

So the easy answer is to stop worrying about things and being unaware of your environment if you are likely to met a dog when you are out walking. I’m being a bit flippant with that thought but I think you can change your thinking, here’s an idea to practice.

Breaking these habits is a tough nut to crack but is achievable. The answer is in You, me and the dog makes three. Take your time about it, to achieve good results the work and time has to be done. Using the ideas in that blog I would add the thought of being observant whilst I’m walking. When it is safe to do so, I change how I am looking; instead of seeking to see things I just allow light into my eyes, this softens my vision, the muscles of my eyes release and my vision changes, my depth of field increases, colours become more intense and things on the periphery of my vision appear to move as I walk, rather like watching a 3D movie. Surprisingly my hearing becomes more crisp with more clarity but also it appears the local environment seems to quite down, there seems to be more presence around me.

With my softer vision, walking seems to be easy. With lightness in my walking, the worries of yesterday and the anxiety of the future seems to melt away. It’s quite blissful and serene. My dogs also seem to sense the serenity, though they are ranging around me in and out of the trees and undergrowth they seem to be more at easy and just enjoying themselves.

So perhaps when you next notice you are tense or worried about something, soften your eyes and enjoy the freedom that it brings. Perhaps you’ll notice all the dogs that meet you have happy faces and very waggy tails.

Dogs are just humans too, they have feeling but are often mistreated. With love and encouragement they can become mans’ best friend again.

This blog was written for Stefanie a fellow Alexander Technique Teacher.

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, Alexander Technique Congress, End-gaining, Inhibition, present, stopping, trying

Making considered choices


There’s something about blogging I quite like, I don’t know what is really is but it’s enjoyable, in the last blog I decided to write about what ever come to me whilst I was writing, I’m going to de the same again.

I do have a plan, well sort of, something about me and my journey with the Alexander Technique, the past couple of blogs have been about how I’m a specialist in end-gaining, I’ve had plenty of years to develop these skills. At the Bristol Alexander School I’ve read Alexanders four books and others, it was difficult to read and understand especially as I was reticent to fully engage with the technique whilst learning to be a teacher, not a very good admission, the thing is I didn’t know I was being like this, I was being normal; I mentioned this earlier in Touching reality. However recently I’ve dipped into CCCI and read a few pages about mind wandering, he gets the point across and I enjoyed and understood it a lot more this time, I guess this is the classic view of you can only understand something when your ready to understand it, something I’ve never really understood until recently. I thought I was always ready to understand and learn, I guess I was, well to a limit. If my learning hit my boundary I would stop and pretend to carry on, rather like Bryon Katie’s ‘judge your neighbour worksheet’, I’ve read her book and she say’s if you have any issues with anyone including yourself complete a worksheet, read it and then throw it away. I haven’t done a worksheet yet, that’s beyond my boundary, I might discover something unexpected, something I don’t like, something that may upset the dynamics of my boundaries hence something to avoid.

I’ve been experimenting with my boundaries recently or should they be my walls, noticing what I’m thinking and how the thoughts manifest physically, for example what makes me anxious, if I catch the thought early, I ask myself:

  • why am I having this thought, probably a response to some stimuli
  • why does this thought attach itself to a habit
  • why does the habit have a particular physical response
  • was the physical response helpful in this moment
  • can I soften the physical response?

If I miss my thoughts but notice my physical response:

  • was the physical response helpful in this moment
  • can I soften the physical response?

The answers to the questions above really don’t matter,the important act is to recognise that I can have these questions and they stimulate a response. If I have a response I can work with it. Working with a response using the Alexander Technique is pretty simple on the outset but quickly becomes complex as I will be asking myself to change, if you are anything like me that is hard. The Alexander principle I use is the 5 point plan, have a search on the internet for a fully definition and it’s in chapter 1 (page 46) of the The Use of the Self by FM Alexander.

My take on the 5 Point plan is

  • inhibit – i.e notice whats going on
  • work out what I want to do
  • maintain my intent to do, get on with the activity, if I notice I’m not following my intent, stop and back to step 1
  • check if I really want to do what I planned, if not, back to step 1

I’ve only 4 points to the 5 point plan and if you read the fully script I’ve also a lot of words missing.

Alexander based his plan around speaking but as you my guess, my thoughts are that it is about life. This plan can be used anywhere and at any time, in fact I believe if has an infinite timeframe sometimes in picoseconds, second, minutes and possibly years, the choice is mine and yours. The art of life is to realise that I’m the centre of my universe and you’re the centre of your universe, from our centres, that’s our real centres, we can make considered choices and also observe ourselves dispassionately and others dispassionately and allow your love to evolve for ourselves and then on to others.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, direction, End-gaining, Inhibition, intention, Teacher Training, trying

Touching reality


It’s Saturday and I’m not at AT teacher training, well it is the summer break so this is my first free Saturday for quite a few weeks, today I’ve managed to get the lawns back under control: my life seems to have been put on hold without I’ve been training. Did I put my life on hold or was it a conscious or unconscious choice that I’m just doing AT trying so nothing else mattered.

(I’ve decided to write this blog with no intension of what the topic or conclusion will be, an experiment to observe where my thinking goes.)

I think it was my habitual behavoiur to focus on the most important and ignore the rest, some my say end-gaining. End-gaining to train as an Alexander Technique Teacher, SURELY NOT! Where was my unified field of awareness and my presence, surely I could apply these to include the rest of my life whilst training. I guess many of us just get focused on what they think is important and ignore the rest, the rest is just a sideline that will interrupt what is really important.

Or is it?

I think the sideline is very important it’s the bit lost when you round things down, remove the n from XxX+n when you differentiate (or is it integrate) to make 2X. It’s what makes us human. Being too focused is bad for your health, focusing and trying to fix things by doing things that have always been done just makes things even more worse: surely doing the thing that made it worse in the first place and then keep on repeating it is not a good idea, I know, I’ve been rather good doing the same thing over and over again thinking that things will change, eventually the penny drops or someone shouts loud enough for me to understand that I need to change. The latest shout was (there wasn’t any shouting, I was just told over and over again) that I wasn’t ready to go it alone and teach the Alexander Technique. I did believe it but somewhere deep in my thoughts is still didn’t believe it. I didn’t know how to stop and change these thoughts, there was a belief that all will be fine by graduation day (that was last week), my belief was squashed when reality struck. Thinking about it now, I need that, I needed to meet reality so that I knew my believes were unfounded. Without this reality I would have just carried on in my dream.

Reflecting on this, though I really love the training and the changes I’ve made over the past three years I haven’t been 100% honest with the training and the Alexander Technique, I’ve kept it at an arms length, a habit that I’ve recently discovered, the habit has recurred in many parts of my life maybe the whole of my life once I developed it. It’s based on the fear of criticism; if I don’t commit fully then I can explain that I failed because I wasn’t fully committed. This has worked really well for most of my life but unfortunately the Alexander Technique only demands 100% of myself, nothing else will do. I only wish that I had learnt this earlier in my training but then I wouldn’t have learnt it as I needed to touch reality. For those Alexander Technique teachers reading this, I did have a thought of going though the basic principles and the five point plan overtly but I recon most of these principles are hidden in this blog.

 

 

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, Asthma, breathing, End-gaining

Don’t try this at home


What a lovely Sunday morning, I like Sunday mornings; the doors and windows are open letting the cool fresh morning air into the house, a nice breakfast, tea maybe coffee later, it is quiet, I have room to reflect and think. I want to, have the need to, write but I haven’t a clue what to write, will it be about Jessica Wolf’s workshop at BAS, or further thoughts about how I feel about not being ready to qualify as an Alexander Technique teacher. The later I’m content with, so maybe this is could be about breathing, in fact about just a few moments during the workshop.

As you may be aware, I manage asthma with thought alone by using the Alexander Technique, no more inhalers for me I haven’t used one for a couple of years. This nearly changed on Friday. We were working though the various activities that Jessica was directing, silent ‘la’s’, whispered ‘ah’s’ and counting on our out breath, I’m not going to go in to detail here about these activities as I won’t give them justice. Jessica suggested that for a moment we imagine what poor breathing is like and perhaps attempt some poor breathing. I CAN DO THAT! I just thought of how I used to breathe and a little more poor use on top. It was a bad move, my chest tightened I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t count passed ONE , worst of all it was real and I was stuck with panic, fear and thoughts of how the hell can I get out of this breathing pattern. I didn’t have a clue what to do, I was really stuck in my thinking, old thoughts of trying to do something, just do anything so that I can breathe again. The panic was awful.

I don’t know how long it took, in reality probably a few moments. Luckily we were working in pairs, Jane had her hand on my chest and abdomen to notice my breathing during the various activities. I grabbed her hand, she stayed with me, my breathing returned to something like normal and I cried for a long time, tears are with me as I write. I’m not sure about the tears, are they about sorrow and loss of how I was for so many years, was it the panic I used to feel in just doing simple tasks, was it planning my life around an inhaler, ‘ooh thats’s going to be stressful so time for my inhaler’ My life was so reliant on inhalers, I feel depressed just thinking about is and it’s hard to see the screen with my tears.

Those moments of thought about my old bad use has taken me two days and a little more to get over. This has been a real lesson on the power of thought and how old habits can just reappear, it is also a really good lesson again on the power of thought, that’s conscious constructive control of thought, using indirect methods to help myself to breathe freely again.

The conscious constructive control I’ve learnt over the past few years during my Alexander Technique Lessons and my teacher training so I have the skill to return to breathing freely again. Don’t try this at home else you may be in trouble.