Category Archives: wellbeing

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’

Quiet Dogs


The blues hit me yesterday, some old habits do like to show theirs heads when I’m feeling vulnerable. Is it

  • post holiday blues,
  • going back to work blues,
  • returning to normal blues

Do you have any blues that kick you between the legs when you least expect it?

I find the blues a fuzzy place to be, I want to do loads but I want to do nothing, I’m stuck in limbo land. A sort of fuzzy floaty space that just lingers on and on.

So being a master and expert in noticing these thoughts in myself and others, sometimes my thinking goes awry, it just proves that I’m human. However I do have a back up plan, something that you could use in your blue days!

Pause for a moment to reset yourself, find out where the ground is and where’s the top of your head, now get these two points connected. The getting connected is a thought, I think of space getting bigger between the two points, if you feel any muscles joining in you are thinking and doing, pause again and get connected without any muscular effort, this is achievable but does take some practice.

You may have noticed your blues have quietened down, even without any blues you should notice a change in mood, I sense a quietening, you may notice things get louder.

I was at the vets today with one of my dogs, I helped the vet by holding my dog whilst the vet did the procedure, I’ve done this a few times before, what I’ve found that my dogs really quieten down if I think of space between the top of my head and my feet and today  the clock on the vets wall became very noisy then more I thought about space. The vet did comment on how well behaved my dog was.

An other layer of thought you can apply is to be nonjudgmental about yourself and what is happening locally, being nonjudgmental about politics may be a little too far.

You now may feel a little quieter and the blues may be disappearing.

Now for the bad news, these thoughts you have just developed cannot be kept, they are only valid for a moment, they age off in a moment, if you try to keep them they will trip you up and the blues will return.

They need to be refreshed constantly, this does sound like an onerous task, it is when you first start but it does get easier the more you practice. You will find that you don’t know to do this continuously, only when something is bothering you.

That’s enough for today, there is plenty more in my tool box to help me and you if you wish. You have a few options, you can always search for my blogs and read about my ideas, come to my workshops, and soon you will be able to do my workshops via a webinar. Let me know if you are interested.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

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?

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.

Dogs are a mirror of your thinking


You may be wondering how you can have a quiet home with dogs, it’s easy. Dogs pander for the quiet, they can sleep or rest for most of the day but they also need exercise and mental stimulation, rather like us. We need all three, sleep, exercise and mental stimulation as well. When out walking with dogs you also get the exercise and mental stimulation.

Dogs pick on our moods and habits and try to do something about it to mimic or please us, they can’t vocalise so it’s normally something physical. If you can’t settle then you may find your dog running around or misbehaving, remember they are doing something that they believe you want, shouting at them could also be a greater stimulus to continue what they are doing. You are getting excited and angry by their behaviour and they think you want more of the same.

Remember, dogs are a mirror of your thinking.

The best action to quieten down you dogs is to be calm yourself, this could be a problem if you don’t know how to calm down. If your head is full of stuff that you need to do, you have things to worry about and now I’ve asked you to calm down for the dogs sake, probably the last thing on your mind and being calm is just impossible.

Your dog probably treats you as an alpha member of their pack even if there is the two of you. As you are the boss they will do as you say even if you don’t verbalise it, they just want to please and be a member of your pack.

Unfortunately the onus is on you and your family to have a happy well behaved dog. Have well defined boundaries, which of course, they will try to break. You just have to reassert the boundaries when they are broken, over and over again, just like with children.

Be a calming effect on your dog, here’s some tips.

Know where you are in time and space

  1.  Check out what you are thinking, if it’s worrying about something in the future or in the past, change your thought to being here at this very moment. Admire a  painting, a view, your dog, anything, the choice in yours, stay with those thought of wonder. Here’s some more ideas.
  2. Check out how you are standing or sitting, raise your awareness of your head, neck, back, shoulders arms, legs and feet. Notice any pain you have, do you notice anything else? Be inquisitive about how you move.
  3. revisit 1 and then 2, keep going around these two points over and over again and you may start to notice yourself quietening down, your breathing may soften, your dog should sense your quiet and settle down as well.

Repeat these points when you have a moment or if you notice being stressed, you’ll find that with practice these thoughts will only take a moment, nobody will notice and you will be back on track.

If you want to know more you can join my mailing list.

 

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.