Alexander Technique, direction, freedom, happiness, Imagery, Inhibition, intention, mindfulness

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.

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 Technique, anxiety, body mapping, body-mapping, direction, freedom, happiness, Inhibition, mindfulness, Pausing, procrastination, self-doubt, stopping, Teacher Training, wellbeing

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?

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, anxiety, happiness, Inhibition

The crazy thing these thoughts just feel normal


Working, working, working, I never seem to stop, I don’t want to stop because I’m enjoying my life. What I do like to do is writing something that I don’t know the end to. Just like this blog. I used to really worry when I was at school as I was told that I needed to know what I was going to write before I started writing. I didn’t write much in case I wasn’t very good, because if I didn’t know where the story was leading now could it be good! This stifled my creativity, I didn’t do very well with English at school as I developed a belief that I was rubbish at writing and reading, so I was rubbish.

Our beliefs we developed from people in power, like teachers, form what we are going to be, I gravitated to science, maths and engineering because I had a belief at school that there was only one precise answer to a question in these topics, If I knew the answers to the questions then I would get full marks, I did, well most of the time.

I’ve just thought of two directions this blog, is going to be either “pleasing people” or “how people influence others”; they are really both the same but from the opposite ends of the spectrum, so I’ll see where I get.

We learn by copying and being guided by others, this can be either a good or bad thing.  The person teaching may not know what is being learnt was received in a good or bad way. Take my writing all those years ago, I don’t know what was said or taught but I developed  a fear of writing, I feared criticism, possibly ridicule. It wasn’t nice in the English class.

Being observant when working with people is very important as it is very easy to lose direction when random thoughts fly in off tangent and whatever you were doing can result in bedlam, you may be able to laugh it off  or not.

Wouldn’t it be easier to keep focused and keep with the job!

Keeping focused seems like hard work, it sound like juggling for a long time, maintaining and forcing you intension. I would say this way is false, forced and will eventually fail.

How about being observant about yourself, notice where you are, what you are doing, what mood you are in, being observant about your thoughts about other people or situations other than this moment, are you fretting about something, do ideas keep popping into your thoughts. If you have a busy mind on other things then you are not giving the person you are with the service or attention they deserve. I can only guess my English teacher probably had some of these thoughts.

There distracting thoughts can mess up your day, weeks months and years, I developed these thoughts sometime at school, the fear of not being good enough sort of sums these thoughts up. The crazy thing these thoughts just feel normal, they are because they were my habits, something I developed during my life.

I’ve now learnt to notice these thoughts and now put them to one side when they pop up, I ask myself if I need then at this moment and then decide if I want to use these thoughts, I’ve never said yes to them yet. It takes practice, constant practice, practice when I’m writing this blog, practice when cooking a meal, practice at anytime.

If you want to know what I do to notice these thoughts, I’ve got hints and tips that could help you via my mailing list. See you there .

 

 

 

 

 

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, Alexander Technique, anxiety, direction, End-gaining, freedom, happiness, Inhibition, intention, mindfulness, self-doubt, stopping, trying, wellbeing

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.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, alpha, Anger, anxiety, body mapping, body-mapping, breathing, happiness, Imagery, Inhibition, mindfulness, self-doubt

Your furry friend will thank you for it


In my last blog Dogs are a mirror of your thinking I wrote how you calm your dog by just knowing where you are in time and space (it’s at the bottom of the previous blog).

It’s useful for children too but it takes a little longer for them to notice.

If your dog is a mirror to your thinking then you can use their behaviour to notice what you are up to, you may not notice that you are on edge but your dog is messing around, may be chew things that shouldn’t be chewed. Noticing that your dog isn’t calm could be your opportunity to reflect on what you are thinking.

Are you:

  • angry
  • sad
  • depressed
  • anxious
  • extremely happy
  • being humorous
  • having a great time

If you are having a good time, well your dog just wants to join in with your happiness

If you aren’t feeling to happy , then it is time to stop for a moment and discover where you are in time and space. Your furry friend will thank you for it.

If you confident at stopping and resetting your ‘time and space’ you may be ready to check yourself out a little more.

We tend to, including me, know how well we move, we all move almost perfectly, our posture is pretty good, if you ask your friends about these points, you’ll probably get positive answers but when you look at how they move you may think otherwise. We all have a faulty sensory awareness, we think we know where we are in space but what we think is inaccurate. In Your boney hollow I write about the first step to reducing your faulty sensory awareness.

 

 

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, alpha, dog, End-gaining, happiness, Inhibition, intention, mindfulness

Who’s the alpha dog now?


I live in the Forest of Dean, if I didn’t have my dogs if would be unlikely I would see as much as the forest is I do now. I just love getting out walking, it’s a time and place I can reset my thinking. My dogs make all this possible, time to be with myself and of course my dogs, without them it would be unlikely that my life would not so content.

My dogs make life enjoyable, they worry when I’m down and are joyful when I’m happy. As with all dogs, they want to be a member of a pack, they always strive to be the alpha male or female, the secret is to know that but not allow them to gain the alpha status, I’m the alpha male in my house and my wife the alpha female. My dogs know it and we know it.

Years ago, when I was new to having dogs, we allowed one to become alpha, I didn’t know any difference, he was sometimes indifferent to things what we wanted him to do, we thought it was just want dogs do. I’d heard of the alpha status, i thought I was the alpha but I didn’t tell the dog.

Things rolled along as they do, until we introduced a puppy to the house, our dog saw a   puppy from another male, he used his alpha status, when the opportunity arose he tried to kill the puppy. We stopped him.

I never blamed him for this act, he was only maintaining his status and he didn’t approve of the new puppy from another pack. We spoke to couple gamekeepers and they said that it was because he knew he was alpha in the household and we were below his status.

I became the alpha as did my wife, and life is now content with my dogs. We sometimes have the dogs staying with us, they have to join the pack, some are difficult, they come with the view that as they are alpha over the humans at home, they can assume the role here. They are wrong. It takes a few hours to a few days depending who they are for them to recognise their status in my pack, once they are there they become content and listen to the humans in the house and to our second in command, our senior dog. He does a lot of work in maintaining his role as right hand dog. He copies my style of management, free and easy but within the rules, he’s quick to remind his juniors if they step out of line as I am with him.

All this is done with love and compassion, a quiet authority with authenticity. Dogs love a quiet authentic authority, they love pack rules that are consistent  and consciously applied.

Dogs are extremely good at reading the thoughts and emotions of humans, we’ve developed this skill with our dogs have over many centuries that humans and dogs have lived and worked together.

Maybe you could give it a try and develop a quiet contented household with dogs.

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

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, Asthma, body mapping, body-mapping, breathing, direction, Inhibition, mindfulness

Your boney hollow


One of my previous blogs I wrote about how your lungs function with the aid of your diaphragm and ribs Simply change the volume in your chest cavity. Please read again and perhaps try the breathing experiment.

What I didn’t mention was where you are in space and time when trying the experiment. Hopefully you are sat on a chair, it’s safer on a chair as you may get a little dizzy when experimenting with breathing.

Take a moment to notice how you are sitting, I would recommend that your feet are fully on the ground, if the chair is to high you could use some books or something flat and solid for your feet to rest on. Are you resting your back against the back of the chair, if you are could you just rock forward a little so you pelvis is taking the weight of your upper torso.

If anything I suggest is painful or awkward then please do something else that supports and helps you. 

Now I want you to imaging where your head neck joint is. Nobody is watching so be honest with yourself and point with a finger where you think your head neck joint. Hopefully you where honest with yourself, I want you to learn from not knowing something or your educated guess.

Now I’ll tell you where your head neck joint is;

Put a finger on one of your shoulders and run this finger a long the top of your shoulder to your neck.

Hopefully you will be touching your neck somewhere in the middle, this is roughly where the load bearing part of your neck is. Now run your finger up your neck to under your ear, you have a boney hollow just there. Now repeat with your other hand, on your shoulder, along the front of your shoulder to your neck and then up to the boney hollow under your ear. Between fingers is your head neck joint.

Next time you are using a mirror repeat and have a look.

With your fingers under your ears in the boney hollow, nod and tilt your head to get the experience that your head actually moves and balances from this point.

Can you notice how much freedom you have in your head neck joint?

You may be thinking, why do I need to know this to breathe better?

To improve your use and functioning in anything you do, including breathing, it helps if you are aware of where you are in space and you have an understanding where your joints are and their movement. Some consider that the head neck joint is the most important joint in your body, I do. From this joint and the vertebrae in this area, all nerves, arteries and veins pass to and from your brain to service and support your body in your use. If this are is compressed or constrained in some way then your use and functioning may be impaired.

Now have a thought of distance between your head and the top of your spine, where your fingers are/were. Extend this thought down to the bony part of your pelvis that is resting on the chair. Enjoy this thought, now perhaps repeat the activity in Simply change the volume in your chest cavity with your thoughts of being connected from the top of your head to your pelvis.

If you are enjoying this blog why not enrol in my mailing list.

 

 

 

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.