Loving on a knife edge


This blog was going to be Living on a knife edge but I like the typo!

I guess loving is more apt to what I’m about to write. I’ve been discovering what is being present. I’ve made guesses and forced myself into being present, that’s just cheating and I was just fooling myself though I didn’t know at the time, I thought I was doing it right; ‘doing’ is the problem word in that statement. You can’t do being present, or forcing and cajoling, presence just won’t play. I image that the relaxation brigade think presence is with your eyes shut and allowing your muscles to relax, they are far from the point; it’s pointless lying still with your eyes shut, there’s not much you can do but lie still with your eyes shut.

The real being present is being present in activity, I’d need my  eyes open for that.

Being present in activity is like having your stars aligned, having all your duck in a row. Difficult but not impossible, the ducks that help are;

  • having your head nicely balanced on the spine
  • your spine being supported by your pelvis
  • and your pelvis being support by the ground
    • either via you legs and feet or via the chair you’re sitting on

All this balancing and supporting is with freedom and no pain

That’s the physical bit, now for the hard bit, you need to be present in time and space as well. Allow any anxiety or stress to go and a sense of expansion into the space around you.

Simple.

Now you are present in activity, moving around and applying yourself to tasks become easy and free, time slows and you have time to think before acting. It’s a lovely place to be. It’s a place of ying and yang, it’s loving on a knife edge.

It may be simple but it has taken me several years of practice using Alexanders discovery just to be there on the knife edge for a few minutes.

If you ever fancy a challenge find an Alexander Teacher, warning there will be tears on the way even for grown men. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

 

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Absolutely knackered


I’m on the train home after a couple of hectic days with AT Success. I don’t know if I’m coming or going, I’ve got brain ache on the train. I thought I should get some sleep on the train but with my buzzing brain I’ve got no chance. Jeremy’s ideas in running an Alexander Technique are inspirational. It’s all about getting people interested indirectly in Alexander’s discovery. Introducing the discovery to strangers of the discovery, is full of traps;  we speak a strange vocabulary and we put hands on people. To strangers this can be quite strange and abnormal in society.

Jeremy’s ideas, that’s from someone who in absolutely knackered, is to stand back a little and explain the discovery by vocalising and student participation. Getting the students involved from the start so that they can start their own voyage of discovery from the very beginning. Students can do a lot of things during the workshops without the involvement of the teachers hands. Getting students to work together in activity and then discussing their discoveries from the activity is empowering and they own experience and discovery, they can take it home and develop further.

Today we worked though how our ideal students would be, the simple answer is the ones that are seeking answers to what I was seeking answers for when I started my journey of discovery. To understand what I was seeking starts with writing my own story so far. Difficult to start but from a place of safety and me being present, it became quite easy and the words flowed, I was shocked and emotional at the outcome. Yes, there where tears.

The workshop on Sunday was about how to create my niche, I discovered that my niche is to release people from the constraints of anxiety and allow them to develop into happy wonderful people. Some may say that’s approaching a shrinks type of work; it may be if I approached their problems directed, but Alexander discovered that these problems can be approached indirectly  via their use; the way they move, the way they react to stimuli. By observing the way they move and asking them why they move that certain way will start a chain reaction that will release something in themselves and the problems that anxiety will be lessened. There is a caveat; they need to want to go on this voyage of change, I’m only the catalyst or facilitator, it is their journey of discovery. It all sound so simple, it is, but it’s not. To have any chance of working I need to be there in the room, not dreaming of being somewhere else. Then I can and only then invite them into the room with me; what I mean in the room is not physical, they already physically there with me, it’s not dreaming about somewhere else or worrying about what I’m going to say, what I’m going to ask them to do , etc. I just want them to be present in all ways in the room with me.

I’ve discovered that the only place worries can be resolved is in the present. It’s a bit difficult if you’re thinking is the past or future, these places don’t exist. You can’t address issues from a place that doesn’t exist. I’ve found it quite easy to get people to be present for a moment, anything longer takes practice and it takes energy and trust to stay there for any length of sometime.

  • It’s a place of vulnerability, people can see you for what you are.
  • It’s a place of strength, people can’t hurt you as they can’t reach you.
  • It’s a place where you are naked, your personas have been removed.
  • It’s a place of beauty, time slows down and you have time to enjoy every moment.
  • It’s a place of joy, peace and happiness just appear.

I normally like to have a flow and story to my blogs, tonight is just a rambling, I have an excuse I’m absolutely knackered.

My glasses don’t work anymore!


It was a comment from my wife this morning; “Do you know that all those glasses I’ve bought over the past years, none of the prescriptions work for me and some are worse than others! I know things change but my eye sight is getting better.” This statement is more poignant as she is my greatest critic of the training I’m doing to become an Alexander Technique  teacher.

Then she asked; “Why don’t the National Health Service use the Alexander Technique in helping people with health issues.” She really feels the benefit of my training.

Wow, if only. So why don’t the NHS use the services of Alexander Technique Teachers? My answer is politics and money, or rather who gets the money and they drive the politics. Now this is tongue in cheek and no evidence with the number I’ve stated.  So if each of us had a little thought of being present and about our primary directions then, say, 80% of prescribed drugs wouldn’t be needed as most people would be fit and well. How do you think the drug companies would feel about such a drop in profits. It is their interest to make a profit and I guess they will use every trick they have to defend their profit. I’ll leave you to ponder.

 

 

 

 

I really NEED too …


Reading aloud has always been a terrifying event for myself, I’ve developed many avoidance techniques which have mostly been successful and I’ve had to use the final technique in just being absolutely hopeless when challenged to read aloud and hope for sympathy.

I don’t know where this fear originally started but I do being absolutely terrified waiting for my turn to read aloud in class, I was probably 12 or 13 and the class where reading King Lear aloud, taking turns in reading a paragraph or so each. It hurts to think about it even now though it happened so many years ago. The fear of getting it wrong especially english language led me to fail English CSE, a rare event at school though I got top marks for sciences and maths.

Perhaps a teacher should have noticed the disparity with my topics and done something about it. Education then, as one teacher told to my sister, was to keep children occupied until they could go to work in the local factories.

The need to please and do well just made me freeze, I just couldn’t put pen to paper for the fear of getting it wrong, I just couldn’t read out loud in case I got it wrong.

The thoughts of:

  • I really NEED to read well to impress others
  • I really NEED to understand the words
  • I really NEED to understand the sentence

  • I really NEED to understand the context

  • I really NEED to remember what I’ve just read

These thoughts just compounded my fear.

However all is not lost, there is a way out of this fear, if you are prepared to change.

I discovered that I could improve my reading aloud by applying the fundamental principles of the Alexander Technique. It takes time as these reading habits run deep within, and are very tetchy habits that like to stay just where they are, they also operate everywhere where I think I need to impress.

Reading aloud is still work in progress, but I seem to get better all the time. Using The Alexander Techniques 5 Point plan is a winner for me.

I’ve been thinking?


It’s been awhile since my last post, Limerick seems such a long time ago, I’ve just completed my first half term of my third year of Alexander Teacher training.

The thinking has been, should I continue with my training? Don’t worry, I’ve made my decision, I’m continuing; if I wasn’t I probably wouldn’t be posting a blog on this page.

It’s taken several weeks, in fact half a term to decide, then finally there was nothing to decide. I was in an impasse with myself, I’m not good enough, I try too hard, my thoughts get in the way, I’ll have to teach real people very soon, I’m not good enough, the endless self-doubt keeps going around and around.

Shall I continue my training or not, I’m too old to train, excuses, excuses, excuses. Then a week or so the self-doubt disappeared (it’s still there in the shadows) and my decision was made.

The answer to my doubt was good old inhibition, stopping and considering what’s on offer and then making a decision and being happy that my decision may be wrong, I can always stop and start in another direction (I was going to get all Alexander speak but I feel it gets formulaic). The 5 point plan seems to always work!

I am good enough, it looks like I’m the last on to realise it.

Imagery, Is it right or wrong for the Alexander Technique?


I’m in two minds when it comes to imagery and the Alexander Technique, could it be where I am with my training.

I’ve used imagery in my own thinking and some Alexander Technique teachers have offered words about imagery; a balloon above my head offering an upwards direction, wings from my shoulders that allow widening. I must admit they have been an aid to understand a direction but after a while they seemed to get in the way of my thinking.

I’d disregarded imagery for a while until I heard my favourite image mentioned in Limerick at the Alexander Technique Congress; having a kangaroo tail. I’d found this thought particularly, in my first year, to support my thoughts in allowing my spine to be supported by my pelvis and legs instead of my superficial back muscles.

Those words that I eaves dropped whilst walking though the work exchange room got me thinking.

Yes, imagery is very good to get to understand a concept but I’ve found imagery shouldn’t be totally relied upon. There’s a temptation to go and search for the sensation that we had the last time I had the thought of kangaroo tails instead of a fresh set  of thoughts about Inhibition and Direction.

There’s a fine line between imagery and doing, take the balloon floating above your head, what will be the student’s response, “oh there’s a balloon gently raising my head” or does the student lift their head and neck upwards chasing after the balloon, I guess in reality they will be probably pulling their neck back and down. Not the expected outcome.

So is imagery right for the Alexander Technique?

Yes, but be careful and in small doses.

What you say will probably get misinterpreted by the listener.

Images should have a short lifespan, don’t let them become a habit or a mantra

We can’t rely on sensations alone so be present, with conscious control and use the guidance that the Alexander Technique brings to your life.

The temperature in the bus keeps going up up up


The other night, not just any night, it was on the bus to Limerick University after the 10th International Alexander Technique Gala Dinner; there was a lot of hot people on the bus. These people where all Alexander Technique Teachers and after dinner they just danced solidly for two hours. When the music finally stopped we all boarded the buses. My bus had a temperature display over the drive displaying 16 deg C. My group commented that it can’t be right, it’s far hotter than that.

Well the doors closed and the bus pulled off and the temperature display just kept rising and the AC started cooling my feet but had little immediate effect on the temperature display. It was a twenty minute or so journey back to the halls and I decided to get off at the first drop off and have a final walk over the bouncy bridge, sorry Limerick Uni but I can’t remember the bridge’s official name. On my walk, I wondered if the temperature display on the bus could be used for a business to sponsor the 11th International Alexander Technique Congress in Chicago in 2018?

  • I felt the band was amazed at the energy on the dance floor.
  • The dance floor was full of dancers from the very first note to the very last.
  • The average age on the dance floor, I guess, was in the low 50’s
  • I guess if the band played on the dancing would continue
  • The temperture in the bus kept going up!

My thought was; why can’t we harness this energy to display how everyone can have a wonderful life by harnessing their own powers via the Alexander Technique.

This lead too;

Why not find a sponsor who wants to do research on the energy of various professions.

Give every deligate at Chicago, who wants to be in the trial, a bio montor to record heart rate … .

Do the same at other professional conferences/congresses and to a trial group in the general population.

Get some results and hopefully the results say “Hey these Alexander folks know how to tap their own energy, they live longer, they are happier, they are content with what life brings, they use a lot less meds than the average for their age, gender, race, they are a lesser burden on the state etc etc”.

Then market the results.

Does anyone know anyone with the links an organistion with these sort of interests?

I my thought viable?

Does anyone want to take up the lead?

Behind the bike sheds


Ahh, it’s the end of term and the end of my second year, time for a rest from all that learning.

Let my neck be free so that etc etc. Will I stop thinking all those thoughts, not a chance. It’s now time to work on my own for the next eight weeks.

However

In a few weeks it’ll be time for Limerick and the Alexander Technique congress. I’m really looking forward to the week in Limerick putting faces to names, learning something different or something I know from a different perspective.

I guess I may get a bit overloaded with AT thoughts and activities, and nowhere to chill out. At school, many years ago, the place chill and have a crafty fag (cigarette for my US readers, apparently ‘fag’ has a completely different meaning in the US) was behind the bike sheds.

Perhaps in this new non-smoking world, I might be able to chill and have crafty slump behind the bike sheds instead. Any one else fancy a slump as well?

See you behind the bike sheds.

Trying


Alexander in the Forest

An interesting word, have a thought about really trying to do something, anything you like, it could be a thought about you trying your favourite sport or a thought about something like trying to open a door or trying to take the lid off a jar, there’s an awful lot of trying if the lid is really tight.

I’ve only asked you to think about it, did any of your muscles tighten in preparation in just thinking about trying what eve you tried; I certainly felt my neck muscles tighten at just the thought.

This topic came about at the Bristol Alexander School this week, where I’m into my second of three years of teacher training.  In normal parlance we say try or trying may times a day when we want to do something. During our discussion at the Bristol Alexander School , we came to the conclusion that when we say…

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Trying


An interesting word, have a thought about really trying to do something, anything you like, it could be a thought about you trying your favourite sport or a thought about something like trying to open a door or trying to take the lid off a jar, there’s an awful lot of trying if the lid is really tight.

I’ve only asked you to think about it, did any of your muscles tighten in preparation in just thinking about trying what eve you tried; I certainly felt my neck muscles tighten at just the thought.

This topic came about at the Bristol Alexander School this week, where I’m into my second of three years of teacher training.  In normal parlance we say try or trying may times a day when we want to do something. During our discussion at the Bristol Alexander School , we came to the conclusion that when we say trying there’s a tendency to over do what we are aiming to do.

In the case of movement we will overuse our muscles by tightening them, this is probably the complete opposite that we really want to do. Why did I tighten my neck at just a thought, I’m sure it’s not needed. It’s a habit that I’ve developed over my lifetime but how can I not tight tighten my neck at just a thought? That’s a skill I’m developing, but first I need to notice what is happening to myself, if I notice it then I can do something about it. This skill is one of the many skills I’m developing during my Alexander Technique Teacher Training.

How about giving yourself a challenge;
  • Notice when you say try or trying and notice which muscles tighten
  • Can you substitute trying for another word?  Does that word have a different muscular response?
  • Notice if your quality of thought changes when you don’t try?
Notice if you;
  • really try at playing your sport?
  • have aching muscles?
  • have variable performances ?
  • struggle during the high pressure important moments.

Then perhaps you are tightening muscles, find an Alexander Teacher, they will show you how to help yourself.

p.s. for those at Bristol Alexander School, this blog was written a few months ago but never posted, so for us at school it is a little of sync with our lesson plans.

Have you ever thought it should be easier than it is, I've got some secrets I'm willing to share on how to make your activities easier.