Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, Asthma, breathing, direction, Inhibition, present, stopping, trying

Blocked Paths


In the part of the forest where I regularly walk, one of the paths is blocked by a tree, the tree probably blew over in a gale. The paths in the forest had been there for a very long time and have been established by animals and people choosing to walk a similar route. This tree is a particularly beautiful part of the forest, a beech canopy with the sun breaking through, in early May before the bracken appears fields of bluebells that disappear in to the distance.  I walk this path quite a lot, a time to reflect, my dogs to range around having a good time. I’ve been stepping over tree for several months, refusing to walk around it as many others do. Why do I step over the tree trunk, is it because I can, is it because I don’t want it to get in the way of my journey; in the Alexander Technique world this behaviour could be construed as end-gaining, just pushing on regardless and a disregard to my safety.

Perhaps it is safer to walk around but why should I. Perhaps I could use another path in the forest and avoid the fallen tree. I want to enjoy my walk and this is a beautiful part of the forest so I’ve chosen to walk on this path. A conscious decision to face the blocked path as the benefits outweigh the difficulty.

The tree trunk is easy to stride over with little risk but somethings in life may be more risky. Taking time to consider and make a conscious decision to act, sometimes to take that risk, sometimes not, the choice is yours but you can always stop and reconsider.

Perhaps the stopping and reconsidering needs a little more explanation; you can only reconsider if you know what you are doing in the first place, a skill that I’ve been developing for sometime and will be developing for sometime more probably a lifetime of development. Knowing what I’m doing during every moment in my life is taxing and near impossible but tuning up my awareness when it is needed, for example making those important conscious decisions. This awareness takes time to practice and put into operation, for me it’s been years. It’s difficult, upsetting, emotional, fantastic, freeing. Peeling back the blocked paths that stop me from thinking freely, from me being me. It’s a real challenge but worth it.

In the Alexander Technique world this is inhibition, the inhibition of those thoughts and actions that prevent me being really me. Every thought manifests itself onto some form of  physical activity, this is where the Alexander Technique comes into its own, by noticing this physical activity when it happens I can ask myself what was the thought, this takes practice, a lot of practice, I’m the same as you, full of habits that I’m not aware of. The quickest and easiest way to notice these habits it to work with an Alexander Teacher, as was are trained to notice these physical responses and they will be able to help you. For example, if you have asthma you may notice at times of stress you will have greater need of you medication, I certainly was. Over time and working with my Alexander Teacher I learnt to notice the trigger events and instigate a countermeasure to the trigger, early on it didn’t always worked, but slowly I got better at noticing the trigger earlier and earlier and I now control these triggers without medication.

The countermeasure is very powerful and simple, it is to inhibit the trigger by being present, in the here and now, quietening the what if’s, stop worrying about the future. I’ve got little control of the future especially if it involves other people. There’s not many mind readers around and I’m definitely not one.

The Alexander Technique is not just about posture as may people think, it is about thinking and the physical activity from that thought.

 

 

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 Technique, present, trying

Loving on a knife edge


This blog was going to be Living on a knife edge but I like the typo!

I guess loving is more apt to what I’m about to write. I’ve been discovering what is being present. I’ve made guesses and forced myself into being present, that’s just cheating and I was just fooling myself though I didn’t know at the time, I thought I was doing it right; ‘doing’ is the problem word in that statement. You can’t do being present, or forcing and cajoling, presence just won’t play. I image that the relaxation brigade think presence is with your eyes shut and allowing your muscles to relax, they are far from the point; it’s pointless lying still with your eyes shut, there’s not much you can do but lie still with your eyes shut.

The real being present is being present in activity, I’d need my  eyes open for that.

Being present in activity is like having your stars aligned, having all your duck in a row. Difficult but not impossible, the ducks that help are;

  • having your head nicely balanced on the spine
  • your spine being supported by your pelvis
  • and your pelvis being support by the ground
    • either via you legs and feet or via the chair you’re sitting on

All this balancing and supporting is with freedom and no pain

That’s the physical bit, now for the hard bit, you need to be present in time and space as well. Allow any anxiety or stress to go and a sense of expansion into the space around you.

Simple.

Now you are present in activity, moving around and applying yourself to tasks become easy and free, time slows and you have time to think before acting. It’s a lovely place to be. It’s a place of ying and yang, it’s loving on a knife edge.

It may be simple but it has taken me several years of practice using Alexanders discovery just to be there on the knife edge for a few minutes.

If you ever fancy a challenge find an Alexander Teacher, warning there will be tears on the way even for grown men. It’s not for the faint-hearted.