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.

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Alexander Technique, Inhibition, intention, mindfulness, present, stopping

Walking on Cornflour


You know, sometimes after banging your head against the brick wall it’s sometimes best to stop.

I’ve had a sleepless night trying to work out why something isn’t working, You may get to know what it is later or maybe not. It’s early in the morning, the sun is a few hours away, it’s quite and my solitude is writing this blog. I’m not in my usual buoyant mood, I’m angry, I’m annoyed but surprisingly quite chilled about what’s going on. Perhaps it’s because I’ve made a decision to stop, I just need to tell people now.

I’m at the point before the point of release and celebration, I’m saddened by my decision but can see it is for the best for me.

Have you ever played with corn flour and water, if its squeezed it goes solid and it returns to liquid when you let go. There was a science programme once TV a few years ago, they filled a swimming pool full of corn flour and water. The challenge was to walk from one end to the other without sinking, the presenter was successful, they then demonstrated what happened if the presenter just stood still or moved to slowly, you guessed it, they sank.

I’m the one sinking now and it is time to get out of the pool.

This isn’t a nice place to be, it is uncomfortable, it is strange, it is empowering. My past few years have been preparing for this point, learning how to be present, inhibit, direction, plan a way ahead and apply my intention. I’m doing all that now, of course in a non-doing way. This thinking is a wonderful way to work though difficult times. Sometimes the way ahead isn’t what I’ve expected.

I never expected this.

So it is time to re-plan my  way ahead and apply my intention. I’m in the inhibition stage at the moment, it may last a while but I don’t know how long, so many options, perhaps let life just lead me.

Sorry, you will have to wait for another day to find out what this is about as it isn’t right to let you know before I have a few honest discussions with those it will impact on. Some of you may already know as I’ve discussed it with you and thank you for your guidance and support.

Alexander Technique, anxiety, Inhibition, procrastination, stopping

I hope it will be forgotten


I’ve been procrastinating about this blog, lots of things going on socially and in my thoughts. It’s the procrastinating that’s interesting me, why do I procrastinate?

I get a voice in my ear saying; “don’t do it yet”, ” you don’t want to do that” and a host of other reasons why I should procrastinate.

I guess my reasoning is that if I don’t do what ever with the hope that it will be forgotten and I don’t need to do it.

But why do I do it, my guess is at sometime somebody criticised me about something I did, I don’t know what it was and who it was, but I’ve developed the need to procrastinate on somethings I do but not everything.

There’s a couple of things if been deliberately procrastinating with this week to observe how I feel when the procrastinating thoughts rise.  For me I get a tightness in my stomach and some light headedness, it feels comforting and familiar with a touch of anguish. It feels nice but with an imminent threat of failure. It heightens my awareness with a sense that I need to do something.

I have a sense of driving with the handbrake on.

Something is holding me back, a fear of failure, criticism, shame, I’m not good enough etc.

I’ve developed a strategy to combat these thoughts and with a bit of practice you may become proficient.

The first step is the hardest, notice when it happens and stop. Sometimes it is just too hard to stop, if that happen just notice what happens and don’t be hard on yourself. Perhaps reflect on why you had to carry on, again don’t be hard on yourself.

When you do notice the need to procrastinate and can stop, ask yourself what would it be it a just didn’t complete the task. I’m guessing you may feel that you are in a better place because you have stopped. Now play a game with yourself, plan what you need to do for this task, now break the task into smaller tasks that are real and achievable in a very short time, if the task can have an identified measure of success all the better. The measure of success is your own measure, nobody else needs to know.

Decide when to start and get on with the first smaller task, once you have completed it stop and reflect.

Was the task successful, did you achieve your measure of success, was the task too big or scary for you. If it was too big perhaps you may notice some other future tasks are big as well.

With you knowledge of the first task, reflect and adjust your measure of success, stop for a moment to review your plan and when your ready get on with he next task.

Again stop, reflect, adjust the plan, ask yourself if you are still meeting the original goal. Has your original goal changed, do you need to modify your tasks?

Stop, reflect and start on the next task, continue working thought your tasks to meet your goal.

Once you have time to reflect and consider what is going on, you are bringing out your authenticity, with your authenticity you may notice changes in yourself and how other respond to you. Be content if you find the original goal you were procrastinating on has changed, that is the power of authenticity.

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Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, Inhibition, present, self-doubt, stopping, trying

You, me and the dog makes three


To be content with life, there are at least two ways of doing this.

The first I’ve tried for many years, it seems to work, what do you think?

Here’s the plan, sit back observe everyone and get an idea how to please them. Work out a whole lot of what if’s and maybe’s and set the plan in motion, then things don’t seem to go to plan, so add a few more what if’s and maybe’s. I’ve done this for years, it can be effective but very tiring trying to second guess and please folk.

It works to a point but I didn’t put myself in place I should be, I’ve made myself a slave to everyone and everything else. If I’m at the service first to everyone and myself second I’m not looking after myself and I’ll eventually break.

The second method, you may have guessed, is to:

1.Put myself first,  not in a selfish way but self-full,

  • I care about myself,
  • I’m content with myself,
  • I’m conscious of what I do
  • I’m efficacious in what I do

2. However this isn’t really enough on its own, these on their own are just being selfish, bothers need to be included.

  • I’m observant of my friends and colleagues
  • I accept the support off my friends and colleagues
  • I trust my friends and colleagues

3. However this is still not enough, I interact with equipment and tools, to be inclusive these need to be considered.

  • I understand how to use the tools
  • I’m skilled at using the tools
  • I’m conscious of my use when a use the tools

4. However this is still not enough, I interact with other people and the environment, to be fully inclusive they need to be considered as well.

  • I recognise that I live with other people and the environment
  • I recognise the other people and the environment support me both directly and indirectly
  • I can accept the support of other people and the environment openly

There is a catch to all this, each of the above points need to be in balance with each other, if one has a greater pull then the others will suffer and contentment will suffer.

Here’s an example, I’m a singer with an orchestra, (if only)

  • Point 1 is about myself
  • Point 2 is about the members of the orchestra
  • Point 3 is about my body and voice
  • Point 4 is about the audience and the theatre.

Take a moment or a few moments each day to consider who and what are in your points and in your thoughts.

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, Inhibition, stopping, Teacher Training

Floating on Air


Keeping my feet on the ground has been a little difficult over the last weekend. Being somewhere because it was the right and proper place to be and to be seen, but at the sometime really wanting not to be there. I felt I was floating on air, not being part of the event and had the feeling that I was observing from afar. Not a nice place to be but I needed to be there. I guess many of you have been to an event you really had to go to but didn’t want too.

It all started several weeks ago, I was told I wouldn’t be ready to qualify as this July as an Alexander Technique Teacher, I really didn’t believe it and still didn’t believe it until I didn’t sit at the front of the room with the rest of my year on graduation day.

I had a huge conflict going on in my head, I knew I wasn’t ready, I really knew that, but I secretly wished that I was wrong and my teachers where wrong and would see the errors of their ways, but I really knew I wasn’t ready. I’ve been torn apart by being rational and irrational at the same time. Now I’m a failure, well that’s what my irrational, needy half thinks, my rational side knows that I have to develop and really be myself. I have to be my real self without all the additional habits laid on top. I’ve got a lot of habits and they go a long way back.

My rational thoughts had maintained the upper ground until last weekend when irrationality struck, I wasn’t at the front with the others, why? It felt like I was floating in the air, I was there but not really there, a really strange sensation. I was a ballon trying to escape gravity, luckily there were plenty of Alexander Technique teachers who helped be to the ground, bringing me back to reality, being grounded, being present, being in the room, being with the graduates, being with the other students, teachers and families. I was still lonely in a room full of people, I felt like an outcast, these were my thoughts, it felt real, sore, a really deep sore, it really hurt, it still does but I was there in the room and I witnessed to graduation from afar, I really was at the back of the room. I felt a failure, not good enough, why go on, I’ll never make it, pack it all in and do something else. I know these thoughts are irrational but irrational thoughts really hurt, it hurts so it must be real. But I also know that I’m great and wonderful – I’ve been told by too many different people for it not to be true – I’m great at everything I put my heart into, including the Alexander Technique.

So why didn’t a graduate? My self-doubt gets in the way, bloody annoying habits from a long time ago, really pernicious habits that I will need to resolve, to let go somehow.

I’ve noticed them for a long time and sometimes I can inhibit them other times they win over. Knowing my habits is the first step and inhibiting the next. The secret with habits is that there aren’t any in the present, in the here and now. It’s only when I step out of the present and think about the future or past that habits appear.

Now back on to my journey with a whole summer to reflect on this experience and others, this experience though very sore at the moment will be a benefit to me later.

Well done to the graduates, and also my teachers for helping us all to deeply learn about ourselves, so we can all become teachers of the Alexander Technique, I’ll be a graduate when it’s my turn.

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, End-gaining, Inhibition, self-doubt, stopping, Teacher Training, trying

I should have been annoyed?


I must have changed, in the past if I was given bad news I would be annoyed especially if I was to blame.

An interesting sentence, bad news, blame, two things that seem to go together in many aspects of life. I was caught in an interesting state, I knew I was at fault but had to wait until someone told me.

My fault was being to reliant on my habits to float quietly through life. This may be fine for the vast majority of people throughout the world but for a certain type of people that’s Alexander Technique Teachers, there may be others, floating quietly through life just won’t do. In my last blog The perfect student or the Alexander Overcoat I’d discovered just this, discovery is one thing, but unwinding my habits are another. This takes guts and trust that my world won’t just crumble to dust if I let my well established beliefs and habit disappear.

You may be aware that I’ve been training to become an Alexander Technique Teacher, 1600 hours over three years, quite a commitment but seems quite easy, learn some procedures, read some books and do some writing, the usual for a training course. Alexander Technique Teacher Training has all those aspects but includes one other huge aspect, we need to get to know ourselves from the bottom up, this is the honest, truthful, beautiful self. As I mention in my previous blog I got somewhere in discovering myself but got stuck ‘doing the do’ instead of ‘being the be’. This has been a hard lesson to learn but essential for me to move on. Unfortunately my discovery is at the right time for me but not for my Alexander Technique Teacher Training so I’ll have to stay on longer than my expected 1600 hours.

When I was told, I was relieved as I knew I wasn’t ready. It would have been different if I was still wearing my Alexander Overcoat, blame and anger would have been to order of the day.

Acceptance of myself is a powerful tool that the Alexander Technique has given me, this only comes with practice and patience.

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, stopping, trying

I need to get my bones lined up


I’m in Blakeney in Norfolk having a break with my wife and celebrating my father-in-laws life, he loved Norfolk especially the North Nolfolk coast, he made an annual visit every year of his life. We are staying at the Blakeney Hotel, a hotel that I’ve stayed at a few times over the years. I love the north Norfolk coast as well (don’t tell the wife).

The hotel is a little expensive, not too expensive, nice and quiet. The clientele are quite senior with a sprinkling of younger adults, I haven’t seen any children. The pool and sauna so far I’ve had to myself, ideal as I’m enjoying my solitude and being reflective. This afternoon I intended to take some photos, taking my time arranging the image, setting the exposure, depth of field and focal length. My heart wasn’t in it, so instead of forcing myself I’ve decided to drink coffee in the lounge and just enjoy the view. I did wake myself with a snore.

People have come and gone in the lounge, quietly talking to each other some are not so quiet, some of conversations I could hear others not. There was a couple of women nearby quietly talking, when they decided to leave they planned to meet later to go for a walk.

One said, “I need to get my bones lined up before I go for a walk.”

This got me thinking, was she in pain, was she planning to get in pain during her walk, was she thinking as she was becoming a little senior in her years she should feel not as free as she used too. I haven’t spoken to her so I don’t know. Why is it  just her bones that need to be lined up, why does she think that way. Is this fatalism, I’m getting old so I can’t now do … .

I guess that a few years ago I had the view that I’m getting old so I can’t no do … but not anymore. I not need to get my bones lined up as my bones are always lined up and I have freedom between my bones. I’ve got a secret that I’m willing to share, I want to share, I want to shout about. We all have the capacity to have our bones always lined up. The secret can be free, but you’ll get on your journey much, much quicker with the help of a guide.

All you need to do is to think of freedom and space within yourself without any doing, it is just a thought. I’m being rather simplistic but that is all it is, but you will discover it is a lot more than that.

You will need help by someone who’s used Alexander’s discovery to help themselves. Alexander Teachers have to undertake a 1600 hour teacher training course plus many more hours to understand how to pass this discovery to others. For me it was a life saver, it could be for you as well.   How about challenging yourself to keep your bones always lined up so that there’s freedom between your bones.