I should have stopped


This week I’ve had and still do have a stinking cold, enough to stay at home and miss a few days at work, but not enough to miss my Alexander Teacher Training; how wrong was I!

On Friday I decided to attend but just receive any helping hands to be worked on, it was great, my symptoms dissipated, I guess the cold was pulling me down and the teachers and fellow students work got my directions going up again, I thought I was over the cold.

So yesterday, time for school again, I forgot Friday’s decision to receive but instead worked on my teachers and a couple students. I was like working with brain full of cottonwool; AT and a brain full of cottonwool just don’t mix.

I should have stopped working with my fellow students

I should have stopped working with my teachers

I should have stopped going to school for the day

I should have staying in bed!

The moral to the tale is to listen to my body and not push on regardless it just doesn’t work.

Bed

My groundhog day


My 2nd February has probably lasted as long as Phil Connors, the synopsis IMDb > Groundhog Day (1993) > Synopsis recons Phil’s was around 10 years; i may be still be in my Groundhog Day loop how knows.

My 6am call wasn’t  Sonny & Cher singing “I got you babe” but me knocking on my Alexander teachers door for another lesson, the lessons are now a blur but they seemed to be repetitive initially as I was learning to stop, though I was probably told to stop, I didn’t take the instructions in, neither did I stop. Rather like Phil’s suicide attempts then his 6am alarm again/ my knocking on the door again and again.

I then realised that I had to do something about something, it was time to understand something but what?

Stopping seemed to be a good idea, but I only paused really, I know that now but I thought I was really stopping. There’s a bit difference between stopping and pausing, when I stop I have a choice to do something else, with a pause I was just waiting to continue the same old thing, just like pausing a video.

Choices, choices, choices, is the name of the game: once you understand that is what life is about then you can live. Watching your favourite soap in TV is not a choice, it’s a habit thats stealing your time.

Understanding about choices isn’t the same as doing the choices, you need to be the choices.

Phil’s went through this realisation, finding out what Rita liked and loved and he became the expert in them; Jazz piano, French, ice sculpturing, but Rita still didn’t want him. He gave up with trying and became himself, and in response became the most beloved man in town, and in the morning it’s the 3rd of February and Rita is by his side planning to live together.

I had my first realisation of non-doing and stopping a few weeks ago, the difficulty is doing the non-doing, its so hard not to do and allow. Not doing and allowing is such a wonderful place to be in

The moral of the movie is to be honest and love yourself and then people will respond to you and may even love you back. Rather like the Alexander Technique.

I thought a was OK but little did I know


Sometime years ago my Alexander Teacher gave me a questionnaire to fill in, I think it went of the STAT for analysis. One of the question was about why you choose the Alexander Technique. I replied about something about that it improved my wellbeing.

Improving my wellbeing was the truth but not the full truth, it was the only truth I could see. The real reason was well hidden in layers of protection and denial. I enjoyed the calm, peace and space I received during each lesson.

Looking back, I must have been a difficult student but I kept going back for more lessons.

On reflection, I was a bull in a china shop, I just wanted to plough on no matter what, I couldn’t stop as I would be found out that I was a fraud, I didn’t deserve the life my wife and I have built from scratch, something bad would happen if I stopped, I must keep going. My Alexander lessons were a 40 minute sanctuary where I could hide and be safe.

When the questionnaire appeared I was in a state of self loathing though successful in my work and my personal relationships. I had difficulty in breathing apart from the 40 minutes a week. I recon I was a mess.

Perhaps improving my wellbeing was right, when I started of this blog the plan was to get around to saying, “I use the Alexander Technique to manage my asthma”. Asthma was just a subset of my problems and at the time wasn’t accessable during a lesson. I seem to remember the majority of lessons were about stopping and non-doing but I didn’t really do the non-doing, I just paused for 40 minutes. I must have gotten something out of the lessons as I’m now doing my teacher training. It’s from what I know now I can reflect on the past. Stopping and non-doing have been a real challenge for me, i’m a doing sort of person, I like to get my back into things.

This non-doing stuff, can’t I just bypass it get on with things?

Changing from a doer to a non-doer takes time, for me a few years. I’m on the brink of becoming a non-doer, hence this flurry of blogs; I’ve been holding in for years and I want to let it out now. Being a non-doer gives me time to reflect and get things done, a real oxymoron. Having time to reflect gives time to plan and do with efficiency, effectively and efficaciously just as FM envisaged. And whoever or whatever was chasing me has given up the chase.

There’s more than just the Whispered Ah for asthma control


In the last blogs I’ve eulogised the Whispered Ah but this only a small part of what has helped me to get my asthma under control.

The Whispered Ah is functional and doing activity or it can be, when first experimenting and have little experience of the Alexander Technique. The Alexander Technique is about inhibition, non-doing  and direction, so initially the Whispered Ah doesn’t seem to fit with non-doing. It may have been devised as a deflective alternative activity to break a habit of poor breathing, I’m being deliberately vague of what poor breathing is.

Perhaps FM Alexander took the Whispered Ah from whom ever invented the activity and applied the Alexander Principles.

I recon from my experience asthma sufferers just push on with what they are doing as whatever the cost, in Alexander terms  they end-gain, I needed to stop doing this by non-doing, putting myself in neutral, when in neutral strange things start to happen, maybe sounds become clearer, you hear a clock ticking for the first time, vision softens and becomes clearer, you sense the clothes touching your body, someone else’s body heat, in short, you notice what your senses have been reporting all along but you’ve need to busy to notice.

From this neutral place inhibition is available ‘Conscious and ongoing prevention of habitual interference with optimum poise’; there’s a lot of detail in this quote which will have to wait for another day.

Whilst inhibiting plan your next move, perhaps initiate a Whispered Ah but this don’t just do the Ah, have a thought of the Whispered Ah, keep the thought in your head and don’t visit the parts you thought of i.e your diaphragm, rib, tongue etc. Once you have established your thought let is go and allow the Whispered Ah to happen. I find the quality quite different from the doing Whispered Ah.

Give it a go.

Ah – The Whispered Ah the antidote to asthma


I’ve never felt so awkward and silly pulling a funny face, breathing out and making a strange gravelly noise.

That was my introduction to the Whispered Ah!

After my first few attempts my Alexander teacher asked me how wide open I thought my mouth was. I answered “very wide”; so go and look in the mirror; to my horror I’d barely opened my mouth. How could that be, the answer may be possibly in a later blog.

My Alexander teacher was introducing me to an alternative way to breathe from my usual shallow gasping asthmatic breath. Little did I know that I couldn’t breath in as I haven’t breathed out, so all I was doing was  trying to top up my lungs that were already full!

The Whispered Ah was developed before FM Alexander included in his repertoire but I believe he modified the activity to suit his technique.

The Whispered Ah is an activity to bring your breathing to your consciousness, namely the activity of breathing out, allowing your lungs to empty as your diaphragm rises and your ribs move together, then waiting for the in breath to happen and experience your diaphragm move and your ribs move outwards as your lungs fill.

There is a lot more detail in how to experiment with the Whispered Ah on YouTube and elsewhere, please search them out.

I’ve recently been experimenting with flaring my nostrils to initiate the in breath, I sense a reflex between my nostrils, sternum and ribs, do you have a sense of this reflex?

Once you have experimented with the smiley face with soft eyes, tongue resting just behind your bottom teeth, jaw leading forward and down from the TMJ … then initiate the out breath you will have experienced the Whispered Ah, for an asthma sufferer it’s a breath of fresh air 🙂

daisy

Asthma and how the Alexander Technique helped me


In 1995 I had a very bad year, some of the most stressful events in my life appeared at once, then I got the flu – asthma struck me with a huge bang.

I could only walk a few yards before I needed to stop to get my breath back, it was just horrible, I seemed to be permanently using my inhaler. On one event I was admitted to hospital, the paramedic prepared me for a drip in the ambulance, I thought I had some medicine through the drip and instantly recovered.

I thought, asthma is psychological? A needle in my hand connected to nothing and the symptoms stop!
 
I’d never really thought what asthma was, here is a definition
•a respiratory condition marked by attacks of spasm in the bronchi of the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing. It is usually connected to allergic reaction or other forms of hypersensitivity.
•from Greek asthma, from azein ‘breathe hard’.
Well, that may be true but is it always, sudden onset of asthma after a trauma could well be different; I recon it is a muscular response to stress related to the fight or flight reflex. Breathing is dependant on the muscles and skeleton of the thorax and also the muscles abdomen however with asthma caused by stress the control on these muscles goes awry.  I found that when I had an asthma attack, it wasn’t that I couldn’t breathe in but I was full of air and couldn’t breathe out, inhalers eased the effect but did nothing in the long-term. I simply wasn’t using the array of muscles available for breathing as my thorax was locked in a fright, unwilling to move, not knowing how to move. I sort of breathed from my shoulders, sucking in air by scrunching up my shoulders. My shoulders felt like they were up near my ears. I was breathless if I did too much activity, I went in to panic mode if i did too much activity, a vicious circle with no escape if I didn’t have my inhaler to hand; well that’s what I thought.
I accidentally discovered the Alexander Technique 10-12 years after I started with asthma. It just made me feel good, I enjoyed the feeling of lightness, greater ease, I was happier. My inhaler use reduced but I didn’t put it down to the Alexander Technique; I’ve noticed that it’s always something other than the Alexander Technique that has improved what has improved.
I remembered the night in the ambulance; A needle in my hand connected to nothing and the symptoms stop! 
Perhaps the Alexander Technique can help me manage my asthma. I went on  a voyage of discovery, firstly I discovered that the Alexander Technique is not a therapy but training how to use myself efficiently and effectively, in fact efficaciously.
My asthma is the output of many habits I’ve developed over my lifetime; they were all valid when I developed them but may not be valid now. The Alexander Technique allows me to stop and choose how I want to approach stimuli, say a stressful situation, instead of my habitual tightening and resultant asthma, I can choose something else.  The Alexander Technique isn’t a quick or instant fix but I think well worth the effort, why be reliant on inhalers when I can consciously control my actions.
I now live an inhaler free life, when the asthma indicators arise, I can now stop, choose and get on with my life.

One year to go, well nearly


Two years in and one year to go. It takes a long time to train as an Alexander Technique Teacher, when I’ve finished my three years training I will probably recon I’ve just started my training.

When I started training, I thought three years was far to long, little did I know. Alexander Technique teacher training initially isn’t about teaching others, it’s learning the skills for myself, thats really learning, no skimping allowed, to just playing at it, giving it lip service. It is hard as you have to immerse yourself in the technique.

The learning the technique is an uphill struggle, some things are hard, others just plain difficult. Once these struggles are overcome more appear on the horizon.

Over the past two years I’ve tried to work out what the Alexander Technique is, I’ve had various definitions, todays is about being truthful with loving intent to myself first and these emotions will spill over to others.

If I don’t look after myself how can I look after others.

There is a larger overview on these thoughts in that I must give myself time to stop, reflect and choose what to do next in following my goals. I’m happy to let my goals evolve as time passes as who really wants to achieve their goals, there would be nothing to do when they are done.

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.