Alexander Technique, anxiety, body mapping, body-mapping, direction, freedom, happiness, Inhibition, mindfulness, Pausing, procrastination, self-doubt, stopping, Teacher Training, wellbeing

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?

Alexander Discovery, Anger, anxiety, Asthma, body mapping, body-mapping, happiness, Inhibition, intention, mindfulness, trying, wellbeing

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.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, anxiety, direction, End-gaining, freedom, happiness, Inhibition, intention, mindfulness, self-doubt, stopping, trying, wellbeing

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.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, alpha, anxiety, direction, dog, End-gaining, freedom, happiness, mindfulness, present, self-doubt, walking, wellbeing

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.

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, anxiety, body mapping, body-mapping, breathing, direction, trying, wellbeing

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.

 

 

 

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, body mapping, body-mapping, breathing, Imagery, mindfulness, wellbeing

Is Shoulder such a bad word?


In my last blog Your boney hollow is misled you, you may not have noticed, I mentioned your shoulder. Some people take umbrage about have an area in your body called the shoulder. I tend to agree however it is in our common language.

If you have an image of your shoulder as being like a doll with moveable arms perhaps you will need to read on.

The area of the shoulder is where the upper arm (humerus) connects to the body via the scapula and via the clavicle to the sternum, there is no skeletal connection on the back.

The range of movement in the arms and hands are huge and also must be strong and stable to allow lifting and pushing heavy objects. To achieve this we have evolved to have a very movable structure that is stable and very strong as well. The muscles on the whole of your back and front of your torso are involved in your arm movement. In fact all your muscles are involved.

Lets experiment, that’s if you feel it’s appropriate to you, move a hand out to the side or in front of you avoid touching anything with your hand. Now imaging your arm is the jib on a crane, just like the one’s used in building very tall buildings. Start lifting a very heavy load that is too heavy for your imaginary crane, now what happens, my crane starts to topple, does yours?

You can put your arm down.

The crane operator has a few options, firstly stop and lower the load, then either reduce the load or strengthen the crane, perhaps adding more counter balance weights and adding heavier load bearing cables would be successful.

We do these adjustments when we lift an arm with or without a load, we adjust muscle tone around our body to counter the effect of falling without even knowing it. This activity is happening continuously, even when I’m sitting writing this blog. Name an activity and this need to be in balance will be paramount in that activity.

I digressed, the shoulder.

I used to think that the shoulder was something a bit nebulas between my neck and upper arm joint, my shoulder blade also had something to do with it as well. Is that similar to your thinking? Add a comment, if  you like, and tell me about your shoulders beliefs.

Here’s a bit of anatomy, I’m deliberately brief as you can always do your own research to know more.

Three are three joints from the sternum to the humerus,

The sternoclavicular joint between the clavicle and the sternum.

The acromioclavicular joint between the scapula and clavicle, this joint is at the acromion process of the scapula,

The  glenohumeral joint between the humerus and the scapula, this joint is at the glenoid cavity of the scapula.

The scapula, the shoulder blade, is a plate like bone that has many muscle attachments to your back from down to your pelvis and up to the top if you neck, please read Your boney hollow if you want to know where the top of your spine is. There are also muscles attached to the sides of you ribs that move the scapula forward around your ribs. We have a huge range of movement in our scapula so that we can use our hands in activity, without the scapula’s range of movement we would be severely constrained.  How about experimenting by moving your scapula to experience the range of movement but don’t strain yourself, be kind to yourself.

You may think that your scapula is all on your back but it isn’t some of it wraps over the top of your ribs.

Put a finger on your sternum and follow along your clavicle, collar bone, until you reach the end of the clavicle at the glenohumeral joint, at the top of this joint is the acromion and just below and slightly to your centre line is the coracoid process, these are both parts of the scapula and at your front.

So what is a shoulder?

Can you tell me!

If you want to know more click here.

 

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, anxiety, direction, End-gaining, happiness, Inhibition, mindfulness, present, self-doubt, trying, wellbeing

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.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, Inhibition, intention, mindfulness, stopping, trying, wellbeing

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.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, anxiety, breathing, freedom, happiness, mindfulness, procrastination, self-doubt, trying, wellbeing

tɛkˈniːk/ noun


Why is the Alexander Technique a technique?

from Google the definition is:

technique
tɛkˈniːk/
noun
  1. a way of carrying out a particular task, especially the execution or performance of an artistic work or a scientific procedure.
    “new surgical techniques mean a shorter hospital stay”
I have difficulty in accepting the work “technique” for Alexander’s discovery, technique to me describes a linear process that is well defined and has recognised steps to achieve the goal, a procedure.
The path to Alexander’s discovery is anything but a linear process, there are ups and downs, blind passages, and dead ends to discover, I’ve been down quite a few. The singularity to Alexander Technique to me states that there is only one way, perhaps there is, once you have discovered the ups and downs, blind passages and dead ends aren’t needed in your ultimate discovery.
Just understanding the technique from ground zero, understanding it straight away will give you the ease and poise that Alexander’s discovery brings but you will miss the richness of understanding what life brings over the years before your discovery of his discovery.
From a personal viewpoint coming to his discovery later on in life has given me the opportunity to experience life’s ups and downs, I understand more what people have gone through; their avoidance methods, their procrastination, their depression, their sadness, their physical pain because I’ve been there and I’m still there sometimes, that’s if I want to.
Alexander’s discovery has given me the opportunity to make better choices in my daily life, I may want to procrastinate on something and not on something else.
My procrastination now is not the typical aviodance, but now a decision to put it off and complete later. This is a step change in my life and now things get done.
I’ve achieved this by being content where I am in time and space, understanding where my head is in relation to my neck, my neck is relation to my back, all this with a light thought of my head gently moving on the top of my spine.
This all sounds a bit weird but believe me it works, knowing this give me the time to decide what to do from a safe position, anxiety and worry can’t get me so I can make rational decisions that I know are authentic as in those moments I’m being authentic. In these moments I’m applying Alexander’s Technique, but my journey to getting there I used his discovery.
Alexander Discovery, freedom, happiness, mindfulness, trying, wellbeing

Tricks and Techniques


A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about how simple Alexander’s discovery is, well it is but if you are like me it is hard to understand its simplicity. It is in all of us if you are willing to find it and let it blossom.

Simply stop getting in the way of yourself and you will find yourself, that’s more difficult than you think hence why you need the likes of me to help you on your journey, show you the tricks and techniques that have helped me over the past few years in my training to teach his discovery.

So why is it so difficult and why has it taken me so long to grasp it all. If it’s so simple, why so long.

Not allowing myself to change is the simple answer, not allowing my habits to change that were stopping my elegance to shine.

It’s the elegance of freedom that is available in all of us but knowing this is a completely different thing to being this. My difficulty was transitioning my understanding to actually allowing myself to be my elegance.

The trick is knowing where you are in any single moment of time and being comfortable in not knowing what is going to happen with your intension to achieve something.

This is scary!

But when I have this trick working, I have a clarity, a very clear clarity, of what is happening as I move towards my intension and time seems to slow down and I can enjoy the clarity and elegance of the activity in undertaking.

These tricks and techniques are available to everyone, you just need to slow down your busy lives and become aware of what you are doing, noticing your reaction to things and people and challenge yourself to think that there could be another way, an easier way, an elegant way to approach these things and people.

Once you start noticing yourself and your reactions then you may be ready to learn these tricks and techniques.

These tricks and techniques are like the one’s you used many years ago when you learnt to ride a bike. Stabilisers, first two then one, then the one raised up. A hand supporting you under your saddle, then all of a sudden no stabilisers or helping hand and you are off on your own, slowly your skills improve with practice and plenty of hours.

How did that happen?

You learnt to trust in your own abilities in riding a bike. The tricks and techniques are only aids to get where you want to go; ride a bike, sing, swim, type or being content and pain free. The learning process needs to fit with the student and not the teacher, the teacher needs plenty of tricks in their back pocket that could help their students. I’ve collected a few over my years of training. But remember these tricks and techniques are only an aid to move you on to the next step, some will be lost on the way, some you will keep, and some may come back to help you later.

If you live in or near the Forest of Dean you may want to learn Alexander’s discovery face to face or you can alway subscribe to my mailing list