Category Archives: Teacher Training

Write your own rules


I haven’t blogged for a while and I’m not sure if this blog will be published, however I have the intention to write it but I haven’t got much attention to write it. It may be because we have just returned from a break over Easter meeting old friends and new friends for the first time. It was something that someone said to me during the last week; “believe in myself because it is the right thought”. It was said when I was working with her in an Alexander Technique activity, my fingers where drawn to a point on her shoulder, a point where she was tense. My senses were accurate but I didn’t believe them  and it wasn’t Alexander Technique thinking!

I was holding myself back because of my beliefs, in hindsight I’ve been doing this for years, not believing what I was thinking. I probably need to add that these thoughts rise when I’m calm, content, in a safe place, a state of mindfulness with my senses enlightened with a very strong of presence. Having trained many hours in the  Alexander Technique, I think I’d developed a thought of what Alexander Technique Thinking is. These thoughts have constrained me, they are not real just something that I thought was true, perhaps I need a set of rules to work to, perhaps we all need rules to abide to or is it fail to.

Constraining my thoughts to imaginary rules just sets me out to fail and fail quickly.

What are your rules?

Wow, that got my attention, I write my own rules to fail to!

So why?

  • So I can under achieve
  • So I don’t exceed my limits
  • So people will like me
  • So I can hide in the middle
  • So I get pity
  • because I’ve been caught in some social conditioning
    • being British
    • keeping myself within my social standing
  • So I can be normal

It doesn’t really matter why, the important thing is to notice, pause and do something different, if I want to. I may want to seek pity, that’s fine if I know I’m doing that, the problem is when it become habitual.

The reasons why her point of tension was so important, firstly, she is an Alexander Technique Teacher with years of experience, secondly, I spoke to her about wanting to really push at her tense point and she told me I was correct in my thinking, thirdly, she told me to follow my senses and do what is needed. I instantly realised I had written myself my own rules of engagement for my Alexander Technique work, I let these rules go and the work just flowed.

If all this intrigues you, drop me a line and I’ll tell you more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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?

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

A bucket of troubles


Over the past few years I’ve been troubled with what end-gaining is. End-gaining is the habitual response to astimuli without any conscious thought or control. I’ve until now thought this was mostly about physical activity, how I walk, speak, run, stand; yes standing is an activity. These and many more physical activities can be sabotaged by how we think we should do the activity; “do” is the key word here, by doing we are not allowing ourselves to use ourselves appropriately. 

There’s another layer to all this end-gaining and that is stress, anxiety, stage fright, thoughts of not good enough, etc have a part to play in the end-gaining game. This was my discovery this week during my Alexander training; it’s taken a long time to realise that I’ve been sabotaging myself in my training with negative thoughts of ‘I’m not good enough’ and a host of varieties of self doubt. 

If you’re like me,  when I have a doubt about something I get the sense that the back of my neck is tightening, a handy indicator for me at the moment, this gives me the opportunity to do something about the anxious thought.

I like visual thoughts, I know not everyone does, but I have an imaginary bucket that I put these anxious thoughts in and then treat them in the same manner. I’ve experimented with various thoughts on how to treat the anxious thoughts in my bucket. Having aggressive thoughts makes them more aggressive and they fight back, it’s not very nice vicious circle. Being kind, thanking the thought and deciding not to use the anxious thought really works for me, it releases me from my habitual end-gaining response and now I have constructive conscious control of what ever activity I decide to undertake.   

So be kind to yourself, if and when your form of self doubt, self worth raises its head, thank the thought, be kind to it; you did create it sometime ago when you needed it. Tell it that it’s not needed at the moment and let it go.

Enjoy the freedom this brings.

 

Now this is a rather large bucket, any ideas what it is?

 

My Story


I’ve been thinking that my story begins when I got asthma but it was way before that, years before but that may be another chapter when I’m ready to write it.

This part of my story starts a few hours after a cruise from Southampton to Spain and Portugal and return.

I was just leaving a supermarket, I thought I was relaxed but this woman, I never asked her, thought otherwise. She stopped me offered a sales pamphlet about her Alexander Technique practice and put her hand on my left shoulder. It was something to do with her touch, I immediately felt safe without judgement. She was offering a half price first lesson, the price didn’t matter, I wanted the safety of her hand, I would have paid double. I ended up going for lessons every Friday for over a year. I changed jobs to another area so my lessons stopped, she cried as I left my last lesson.

In hindsight she probably put a lot of emotion effort in to my lessons which I didn’t notice at the time. I guess I did learn a lot over that time as I was an emotionally wreck on the Saturday and happy happy happy on the Sunday after each lesson.

I took a year away from the Alexander Technique, I fought the urge to find another teacher for quite a while but gave in, I was intrigued and wanted to know more, so I found a local teacher and was with her for a few years. I was a reluctant learner, I must have been hard to teach but did recognise changes in me, I was becoming less anxious, my asthma was getting under control but I wanted more hence I started teacher training.

IMG_1901Reviewing my lessons that I had, I never really got that it was a teacher/pupil relationship until late on, I went for the therapeutic experience. I wasn’t ready to learn because I couldn’t stop I just got on and did, my habitual responses were extremely strong and only very recently and that’s into my third year of teacher training that I can control these habits, well most of the time.

I’ve very valid reasons for these habits, they have protected me from the grief of loss of my two children though divorce and very shortly afterward my mother who was the bedrock of my life. This was 17 years ago, I guess I was stuck in a state of fright for all that time. It hurts both mentally and physically and habits get well and truly stuck.

With Alexander’s discovery I’ve managed to get back on track without the need for medicine or counselling.

If you suffer with anxiety I would give Alexander technique a try, but remember it’s a teacher pupil relationship, you are there to learn, don’t waste your valuable time enjoying the therapeutic experience, use the teacher as a catalyst to your happiness. Hopefully you won’t take as long as me to find your freedom and happiness.

 

Down to one stabiliser


I’ve nearly completed my second year of Alexander Technique Teacher training, one more week to go, and time for the summer break.

It sounds like I’m looking forward to the break, I am but not. I think I need some time to reflect and absorb my training and personal changes over the past year. I need some rest as well. What I’ll miss is the contact and encouragement my teachers have given me over the past year.

I’m also looking forward to going to Limerick in a few weeks where I’ll meet loads of Alexander Teachers, if you want to meet and work together, please contact me.

Alexander Technique Teacher Training, is very much like learning to ride a bike. You can’t ride a bike unless you can, your need practice and hours and hours of practice to refine the art of riding a bike, just the same as the Alexander Technique.

If you just theorize about riding a bike you may become an expert in the observation of bike riding but if you try to ride a bike with just theory you will probably have a few falls and give up.

My learning journey has now past the theorizing stage, I finally realised a few weeks ago, that to understand the technique I have to be the technique; there’s no shortcuts, I was dearly hoping there was one somewhere!

I hung on there waiting for the shortcut until there was nowhere else to go, then I jumped or rather collapsed into a heap, confused but then I was free to move on.

At about this time my first stabiliser was removed, I’ve learnt in detail the various activities we practice on our own and working with other student and teachers however I still need one stabiliser and sometimes my teachers help to keep me balanced and to stop me falling off.

‘balanced’ in this context I mean; maintaining my thoughts and directions for myself and managing the volume of my thoughts and directions so others can sense them when needed.

Hopefully very soon I’ll be stabiliser free, then I can start learning the Alexander Technique for proper!