Category Archives: trying

Rediscover your ‘it’


I just come back from my Sunday morning walk with my dogs, now it is time for a coffee and write my daily blog.

Today I had an extra one today as well, some may say that four springer spaniels is too many for a walk, I’d agree if they were all on leads, fortunately they weren’t. They just run free in the forest, ranging around me as I walk. They do keep an eye on me to make sure that I don’t get too far away and I do the same.

I use my walking to reflect on things, today I did a voice recording of what I was thinking; I’ll listen to it later or not at all. The general gist was that I tend to write about how to become present in this moment, I’ve written plenty of blogs about this but have never really moved into what makes Alexander’s discovery so special.

To be fully content with life we need to know where we are in time and space, much of what I’ve written about is mindfulness, being present in this moment. Understanding where you are in space is a little more difficult. The difficultly is that our habits put us in various physical contortions. Just observe people, you may see some peoples heads jutting out in front of their torso, I guess this is tiring but is normal to them, if you ask them they will say they are perfectly upright and have a pretty good posture, you can clearly see this isn’t true. They have faulty sensory perception of their own body, as I do and most probably you do as well. It’s a global problem except for the fortunate few, normally the successful athletes, sportsmen and women and performers but not always.

head

Continue reading Rediscover your ‘it’

Muddy paws on a London bus


I had a very lucid dream last night, it’s still with me this afternoon, without going into too much detail it was about not holding myself back. 

As with many dreams it was surreal reality, real people I know in what could be real situations, oh, with a dog (not a spinger spaniel) with muddy paws on a London bus.

I’m sure I’m like many others, I have a plan to do something then some thought or other pops up, “you can’t do that because ….” then I’m deflated and everything stops, if I’m forced to do something I know I can do well, another though pops up “you’ll get it all wrong” and then I mess it up.

Perhaps that sounds familiar?

Time for an experiment, either think back to one of those times it didn’t go to well or notice the next time you hear your words of doubt. 

Are the thoughts a verbal thought, were you talking to yourself even if the words were silent? Mine are.

Now for the scary bit, what would happen if you asked for these thoughts to be quiet whilst you got on with your task. This is very difficult as I find these thoughts just want to chip in and take control. There is probably a few ways to quieten these thoughts, I find the best way is to go somewhere these thoughts can’t get to. 

Intrigued, read on.

These thoughts thrive when I’m reflecting on the past or worrying about the future, they have free range in my thinking. The place they can’t get to is this very moment in time, I wrote about this place yesterday in the last grain of sand. Yesterday’s blog was how I had a panic in the sauna, panicking comes in many forms, my view on panicking is that it’s overlaying past events with future what ifs to guess what is about to happen.  I may steer the outcome and fail fantastically, failing fantastically was in my verbalised plan but not in my original plan, my deep down plan, this plan was all about success.

Not holding myself back. 

With a bit of practice you may start to notice some muscular tightening, mine is in my stomach, when these negative verbalised thoughts pop up. When I notice them it’s time for action, I observe something without judgement, if words rise I let them go and intensify my intention to observe something, for example, I’m in a hotel reception, there’s specks of dust on the white floor tiles. Just wondering, listening to the hum of busy people, I’m just here without judgment. 

This does take practice, I’d guess, my whole life to truly not hold myself back, so there is no time like now to start.

I’d say practice, practice, practice, but I don’t believe in practicing, just do it or even better be it, be a non judgmental human being.

I don’t know what happened to the dog with muddy paws, I woke up

FORWARD = INTENTION and UP = ATTENTION


I’ve been thinking what all my training has been about, its been about a paradigm shift in thinking and how the show others how to achieve this change in thought.

We normally rely on our habits to conduct our day to day activities, just doing things without much thinking, take driving a car, have you ever been shaken out of you routine when a hazard suddenly appears and you have thoughts of “that appeared from nowhere”.

Why does this happen?

I have an idea why, we reuse old habits over and over again, driving down the same old road every day, its safe and nothing ever happens, so you have time to daydream and reduce your awareness of your journey, then something appears from nowhere, it didn’t, it was there all the time but it wasn’t on your previous journeys. It was your lack of awareness that created the hazard, if you had seen it earlier you could have taken early action around the obstacle instead of turning it into a hazard.

Relying on our old habits we switch between relaxed to startle in a moment. This is our normal thinking paradigm, Our thinking is either on or off,  on the seesaw of life, happy or sad, swinging between the two with no apparent control. Some think alcohol or drugs will help, they do to a point, they mask things but they don’t go away. I’m including the prescribed ones as well. I’ve certainly been on the seesaw of happiness and hatred and alcohol does mask things until the next day.

What I’ve learnt in my training is to slow the seesaw down so that it doesn’t swing too far either way, a lot of the time it works but not always, as they say, ever day is a learning day.

My paradigm shift in my thinking has two aspects, the first one is being content with not knowing what is going to happen, the second is knowing where I am in this moment. This thinking needs to be renewed continually, this needs practice.

Both of these aspects have many layers and they interconnect with each other everywhere, it is too complicated to understand, so lets not, this is the paradigm shift in my thinking, I am me in this time and space.

To make this simple I use thoughts of attention and intention, I have attention of myself in time and space, remembering to renew continually and the intension to move to perform whatever activity I choose.

I see this as FM Alexanders forward and up

FORWARD = INTENTION, UP = ATTENTION

So instead of driving down the road using the same old habits, I enjoy the journey even in traffic jams. You may be thinking about the developed habits in controlling the car, of course I use them, as I use the habits in developed in walking. These habits are all tied up with thoughts of attention and intention at this very moment

 

 

STOP WORRYING; if it was that easy!


You may think what is the Alexander Technique is and what it is to do with your mental health, from my point of few quite a lot; the Alexander Technique saved me from living  the rest of my life in depression or popping antidepressants to keep me happy.

The Alexander Technique sort of works the opposite direction to other methods in helping you with your pain be it physical or mental. We tend to not worry about what has happened in the past or what is to happen, The Alexander Technique is an educational approach that teaches you how to live your life fully now.

From my experience of mental health, I worry, I’m anxious. Worrying puts me in a place that is in the future, when I’m in the future I have no control of anything as I’m in a place that doesn’t exist, I’m worrying about nothing, I use a lot of energy worrying about nothing.

That can’t be healthy!

There is a premise that every thought produces a muscular action, we can only tighten muscles, worrying is thinking hence I tighten muscles when I worry. Tightened muscles get tired and eventually start to produce pain signals to ask for a rest. Continually worrying uses a lot of energy and eventually a lot of pain. You may start to blame the environment, chairs, beds, shoes, clothes, the food you eat. You may start to blame friends, family, your boss at work.

Take a moment to think; are they doing the worrying, they may be, but they are not doing your worrying, YOU ARE!

There’s a simple answer “STOP WORRYING”. If it was that easy!

I’ve noticed that when I worry I need to think about something, something not about me, something in the future or something in the past but definitely not about now. If I try to think about NOT WORRYING I need to think about something else, probably promising to be better in the future. This doesn’t work it is just more worrying.

It sounds absolutely hopeless, I thought that; back to popping antidepressants. However if you just could be in the moment then worry disappears, it’s true, there’s plenty of mindfulness practices that can do that. However the Alexander Technique has the edge on mindfulness, it is mindfulness in activity; knowing where you are in time and space as you engage with your daily activities.

You can teach yourself mindfulness in activity but we have a very good knack of not seeing how we move in activity, just try looking in a mirror and if you are like I was, you will do plenty of avoidance and that’s just looking at your face. This is where you need a nonjudgmental teacher to encourage you to observe yourself without judgement; it takes time but worth it.

It all goes back to those muscles you tightened when you worried, they learnt to stay in tension, if you just engaged in mindfulness it would some time take time for these muscles to release their tension, release their pain. With the Alexander Technique your muscular tension you developed over time, can be released by encouraging you to think differently, thinking the way you used to when you were a child, thinking that allows easy and freedom so you can do the activities you want to.

It worked for me, I have written a lot about muscular tension, all tension is related; by releasing muscular tension worry and anxiety disappear. It they reappear I’ve got the tools to let my anxiety quieten and disappear.

The opposite direction I mentioned earlier is to approach the muscular reaction to a stimulus instead of working on the stimulus to minimise the muscular reaction.

Intrigued, then why not contact me for more details.

 

 

 

Grumpy, miserable and sad


There’s plenty of words that describe people with mental health issues, I was going to write some but I’m not, as they are generally defamatory and demeaning. You also have your own list.

I’m really pleased that the Heads Together charity is the lead charity for this week’s London Marathon. It’s about time mental health is accepted and spoke about in public, I have a view that we all suffer from bouts of mental health issues, some are like a runny nose, some like flu and in some cases like pneumonia. My assumption is that we have all had the runny nose version and the runny nose can last for years and years. We just live with it because it feels normal.

I’ll let you into a secret, once upon a time I thought grumpy, miserable and sad was normal.

I was wrong, if you feel like that then you are also wrong.

My normal now is being happy (I do sometimes do get the runny nose but I have tools for me to return to happy).

Happy is a great place to be, I learnt this skill to be happy instead of learning the skill to being grumpy, miserable and sad.

Why is it so easy to be grumpy, miserable and sad? My answer is that where others want you to be because they don’t have the secret of not being grumpy, miserable and sad. The lowest common denominator is grumpy, miserable and sad.

I guess you want to know what tools I use to be happy, if you have read any of my blogs you probably know.

I’ve trained to teach the Alexander Technique, (a lot of hours over 4 years) you may already have heard about this, posture and reducing lower back pain may come to mind. It sort of is but the Alexander Technique is so much more, posture and reducing pain are just the sideshows that people can see, measure and brag about. What the technique is about is to change how you think during your everyday activities. If you are a stressed Eric as I was, full of anxiety, I was so anxious I couldn’t breathe without an inhaler, the inhaler ruled my life, ooh, I hated those years.

Learning to identify my anxious responses to everyday stimulus was the first step and then doing some different, even if the different thing was to do nothing, things started to change, I became less dependent in my inhaler. It took a long time, I’m inhaler free now.

The Alexander technique is many things to many people, it reduces physical pain, it reduces mental pain, I see anxiety as mental pain. It’s all this but what I understand the Alexander Technique to be is training on how to love yourself. If you love yourself from a safe authentic space then you can love others. Judgement of yourself dissipates as does judgement of others. Mindfulness is fine but mindfulness in activity is the key to this love and happiness; this is what the Alexander Technique is. My training as a teacher has taught me how to notice others and offer techniques and ideas to others, many of these ideas are indirect, this is an important aspect of the training as it helps you to notice your habits from a safe indirect perspective. Observing yourself, as I have written before it the first step.

If you are intrigued or want to get rid of your grumpiness give me a call.

 

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.

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.

I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing


Now you understand where your sit bones are and also where your head neck joint is, if you  don’t then please read Your boney hollow and Acetabulum is one of those words I just love then you will discover where they are in your body and also what an acetabulum is.

What are your views and beliefs on how breathing happens and how does breathing happen within yourself.

Once I had some really skewed beliefs how I had to breathe, I thought I had to consciously breath when I did any strenuous activity and also I didn’t trust my breathing to happen on its own.

Unfortunately we can learn to control our breathing, this is necessary if you want to hold your breathe when hiding from someone and something or swimming under water. When stress and anxiety becomes a way of life, being conscious of your breathing becomes second nature.

Thoughts of:

  • He going to be angry with me – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • Thats a steep hill to walk up – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • I don’t want to face up to something – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • I need to go shopping – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • I need to go to work – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing

The list is endless and you may have other reasons to hold your own breath. This breath holding is the initiation of conscious breathing.

Conscious breathing with anxiety is not a very successful partnership. The anxiety sets your breathing to a quiet mode with minimal diaphragm and rib movement Breathing takes place just at the top of your lungs, you may notice short shallow breathing with some movement of the scapula, the scapula moving forward so the glenohumeral joint rolling forward in space into a shrug.

Conscious breathing with the smallest use of your lungs is not adequate in fact it’s hopeless but that is what may people with anxiety do.

I know I was one of them.

I changed my breathing with help from others and I learnt how my breathing happens and the anatomy involved in breathing. I found the anatomy so important for me as it dismissed the beliefs I had in how I breathed.

Did you know your ribs move up and down hinging about your vertebra and sternum as you breath, this was a shock to me. I thought my ribs were just there to contain my lungs and heart, they didn’t move. Discovering my ribs moved down on an out breathe and up on in breathe was hard discovery to make, first because my ribs moved and secondly the direction of movement was illogical to me and sometimes still is.

The curve of the ribs with their movement changes the volume of air in the lungs. The ribs go down the air is displaced out of the lung, when the ribs go up the volume increases causing a vacuum in the lungs, air is drawn in to the lungs to equalise the vacuum with atmosphere.

There are many muscles that are involved in breathing, if you want to know more then it time for your own research. I might do a later blog about them if you want to wait.

The important thing to know about breathing is that you can just let it happen, when you start interfering with it, you will mess it up. Knowing the physiology and anatomy gave the confidence to leave my breathing alone. I still have certain triggers that bring on an asthma event, instead of jumping to my old trusty inhaler, I use the knowledge of how my breathing happens, notice any rising anxiety, and consciously control the rising anxiety and allow my urge to control my breathing to diminish.

These skills didn’t happen over night, it was may months, in fact a couple of years, so don’t put your inhaler in the bin and do it my way, things my turn nasty for you. Gently, gently is the key.

If you want to know more if got a mailing list where you can receive my blogs via email.

 

 

 

 

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.

I thought it was just chocolate


We’ve had a week of ups and downs and sometimes nothing, it’s been horrible, we have only just survived.

Luckily after several pleading phone calls to strangers it’s all sorted out.

What shocked me was I thought I could live without or live with it when it was in short supply.

I could understand if this was;

  • water
  • food
  • shelter from the weather
  • heating
  • transport
  • electricity

but

broadband!!!!

I struggled because of broadband, I couldn’t do things that I took for granted. I wasn’t just me it was my phone, my music;

  • they wouldn’t play my music
  • they wouldn’t connect to each other, I thought my wifi would look after that, obviously not, its broadband they need.

It was an annoying week but I got used to it, I started reading books made out of paper – whatever next!

Actually I read quite a lot of books print on paper, perhaps not as many as I could if the internet wasn’t so available.

The Internet has been with us for the past decade or so and is now so embedded in our lives it’s difficult to understand how we live without it. Just three or four days without it was initially difficult and annoying but I soon got used to it. I enjoyed not being pulled to my screen to check up on the world, I got a sense of freedom from the chains of the internet.

This did get me thinking about how we cope with change, firstly I was very annoyed and angry then I calmed down and developed a coping strategy. My coping strategy was to stop checking the latency, download and upload of my internet connection and get on with other things. I shed the need to check up on the world every few minutes and let it be.

My behaviour, I suspect, was normal but what I was doing was observing myself going thorough these emotions, where I felt it physically; my anger in my stomach and sensing lightheadedness because I wasn’t in control of my internet, my head pulling down with despair. I must say that these where quite subtile sensations but they were there all the same. When I changed my view and started doing other things these sensations diminished though there was a longing to use the internet again.

How about giving it a try, stop doing something that you habitual use or do for a couple of days, it could be not using the internet for a couple of days, or my other habits; chocolate and coffee.

You will have your own habit you could experiment with.

So to remind you, it is not about stopping whatever you choose to stop, it is noticing the thoughts and what happens in you physically when you can’t have what you want. It is best to note what you are feeling as and when they appear and also what you did when you noticed.

Please be safe and if gets too much, stop the experiment. I’d love to hear about your experience.

If you want to know more you could always join my mailing list.