Alexander Technique, reading aloud, self-doubt, trying

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.

Alexander Technique, Imagery

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.

Alexander Technique, Alexander Technique Congress

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?

Alexander Technique, congress

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.


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.



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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Alexander Technique, 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.

Alexander Technique, direction, Inhibition, Teacher Training

Down to one stabiliser

I’ve nearly completed my second year of Alexander Technique Teacher training, one more week to go, and time for the summer break.

It sounds like I’m looking forward to the break, I am but not. I think I need some time to reflect and absorb my training and personal changes over the past year. I need some rest as well. What I’ll miss is the contact and encouragement my teachers have given me over the past year.

I’m also looking forward to going to Limerick in a few weeks where I’ll meet loads of Alexander Teachers, if you want to meet and work together, please contact me.

Alexander Technique Teacher Training, is very much like learning to ride a bike. You can’t ride a bike unless you can, your need practice and hours and hours of practice to refine the art of riding a bike, just the same as the Alexander Technique.

If you just theorize about riding a bike you may become an expert in the observation of bike riding but if you try to ride a bike with just theory you will probably have a few falls and give up.

My learning journey has now past the theorizing stage, I finally realised a few weeks ago, that to understand the technique I have to be the technique; there’s no shortcuts, I was dearly hoping there was one somewhere!

I hung on there waiting for the shortcut until there was nowhere else to go, then I jumped or rather collapsed into a heap, confused but then I was free to move on.

At about this time my first stabiliser was removed, I’ve learnt in detail the various activities we practice on our own and working with other student and teachers however I still need one stabiliser and sometimes my teachers help to keep me balanced and to stop me falling off.

‘balanced’ in this context I mean; maintaining my thoughts and directions for myself and managing the volume of my thoughts and directions so others can sense them when needed.

Hopefully very soon I’ll be stabiliser free, then I can start learning the Alexander Technique for proper!

Alexander Technique, intention

JK got it wrong!

In the Harry Potter books, us mere mortals are named Muggles by the wizards. However in the Alexander world surely we should be called Muddles.

Let me explain, today at the Bristol Alexander School we had an away day at a stables, and we all had a chance to ride a horse. What I discovered is that the rider needs to communicate with the horse, not with heels, spurs, crop and reins but with just a thought.

What a terrible thought getting a horse to move, stop, turn with just a thought. Well, it really works, riders and horses have done it for millennia, I’ve just discovered it today.

When riding, the rider needs to give clear thoughts to the horse so he understands what to do. Any muddled thoughts and the horse will do something else of his choosing. Luckily for me my horse was held whilst he walked around the field, so no mishaps for me.

If horses are so sensitive to our thoughts and need a clear intent to do an activity, why don’t us mere mortal seem to survive with muddled thoughts.

Creatures of habit, leaps out from my mind. Perhaps a good thing if you just want to go with the flow and have a quiet life travelling on the glide slope to obscurity; just muddling on.

Or is there another way?

Stopping, inhibiting, observing the conditions present, deciding a means-whereby then with a clear intention commit to the intended thought; this seems to work for me. I’ve read about this somewhere!

So the wizards got it right for Muggles

Should AT folk start calling others Muddles?

Alexander Technique, body-mapping, direction, Inhibition

Between my hands and …?

Yesterday, I blogged about my hands, this isn’t the full story. There’s plenty between my hands and … .

There’s a whole body and mind; why do we always split ourselves up in to bits? We wouldn’t function if we didn’t have everything to survive! SO why can’t we have a word for the whole self?

Moan over, and now I’m going to do what I’ve moaned about!

Between my hands and … , there are several systems, skeletal, muscular and the nervous system for a start and several more that I don’t know about anatomically may effect my use of my hands.

So what is … ?

Is it;

  • my hands and my brain
  • my hands and the ground I’m standing on
  • my hands and the seat I’m sitting on
  • my hands and the person I’m working with
  • my hands and the ground the person I’m working is standing on

The list goes on

What system is doing what?

Is it my systems or my pupils, are the systems bigger than just two people.

I just don’t care, as I don’t have the brainpower to understand all the nuances of all the systems and more that I have listed.

I just need to be quiet, with an observing presence without judgement or malice, with loving intent.

Then I need is just a thought, a throw away thought, that has the intent to do something. Say “In a moment I’m going to increase my forward and up thoughts and move my hands so that my pupil will move from sitting on the chair to standing, my hands will remain with my pupil until then are standing at their full height and then I’ll remove my hands from my pupil; all the time maintaining my directions” That I guess, would take a millisecond or so to develop that thought.

Let the thought go, wait and be amazed as the pupil rises from the chair with ease that matched your ease.

I was! 🙂

So it is good to know anatomically what systems we have, as we need to discuss and explain to our pupils in an established language they are comfortable with; body mapping. I feel is the essential to Alexander Technique work as many pupils including myself have a faulty sensory perception about where their body bits are.

But for hands on work I’m not too sure an anatomical understanding is needed, I’m happy to be convinced either way.