Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, End-gaining, self-doubt, Teacher Training

A bucket of troubles


Over the past few years I’ve been troubled with what end-gaining is. End-gaining is the habitual response to astimuli without any conscious thought or control. I’ve until now thought this was mostly about physical activity, how I walk, speak, run, stand; yes standing is an activity. These and many more physical activities can be sabotaged by how we think we should do the activity; “do” is the key word here, by doing we are not allowing ourselves to use ourselves appropriately. 

There’s another layer to all this end-gaining and that is stress, anxiety, stage fright, thoughts of not good enough, etc have a part to play in the end-gaining game. This was my discovery this week during my Alexander training; it’s taken a long time to realise that I’ve been sabotaging myself in my training with negative thoughts of ‘I’m not good enough’ and a host of varieties of self doubt. 

If you’re like me,  when I have a doubt about something I get the sense that the back of my neck is tightening, a handy indicator for me at the moment, this gives me the opportunity to do something about the anxious thought.

I like visual thoughts, I know not everyone does, but I have an imaginary bucket that I put these anxious thoughts in and then treat them in the same manner. I’ve experimented with various thoughts on how to treat the anxious thoughts in my bucket. Having aggressive thoughts makes them more aggressive and they fight back, it’s not very nice vicious circle. Being kind, thanking the thought and deciding not to use the anxious thought really works for me, it releases me from my habitual end-gaining response and now I have constructive conscious control of what ever activity I decide to undertake.   

So be kind to yourself, if and when your form of self doubt, self worth raises its head, thank the thought, be kind to it; you did create it sometime ago when you needed it. Tell it that it’s not needed at the moment and let it go.

Enjoy the freedom this brings.

 

Now this is a rather large bucket, any ideas what it is?

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, Inhibition, self-doubt, stopping, trying

It’s Sunday and I’m procrastinating


At the Bristol Alexander School, we third years need to produce and submit an Alexander Technique related project between 6000 and 9000 words, I’m half way there and only a few weeks to complete. Procrastination in the word of the day, well it is Valentine’s Day so we going for lunch, I do have time before lunch – this time now, but I’m doing a procrastination blog about procrastination about not doing my project. This is a common issue with me, all keen at the beginning but getting to the end of things my interest wains and thoughts of ‘that I’m not good enough’; ‘my work is rubbish’; etc manifests itself.

I’m now stuck in a rut, a vicious circle, this feeling appears all too often, a pulling down, strangling with a pulling up of my shoulders. My breathing changes, it shortens and is tighter.

But what to do?

I know what to do to get out of this rut, but it feels so familiar and comfortable in a strange uncomfortable way.

I want to stay here in my procrastination but I don’t at the same time, I want to be free to get on with my project, the rest of my life including a joyous Valentine’s Day lunch with my lovely wife.

I know what to do and that is do nothing. A strange statement if you are not aware of Alexander’s discovery.

Alexander’s inhibition (not Freud’s inhibition) but it is the first step.

Thats better, time for a lovely lunch.

I may explain my version of Alexander’s inhibition later or not.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, direction, Inhibition, intention, stopping, trying

The set point of Constructive Conscious Control


I’ve been thinking about homeostasis of constructive conscious control and how the set point changes over time.

My thinking is based on Alexander’s discovery of inhibition, direction and intent; through his discovery with eduction, encouragement and empowerment we can improve our constructive conscious control.

Several years ago I knew nothing about this discovery and it took me a while to cotton on to it’s wonderful benefits it brings; simply put, it makes me happy with my life and the choices I make.

But how? – By raising my awareness of my habits in activity, analysing what I’ve been doing and experimenting to see if there is an easier way.

You may have read my previous blog My Story that I’ve been in fright for years. When your in fright as I was/am some muscles shorten and stay there holding on for dear life, in my case for years, other muscles just atrophy through lack of use. It takes time to release from years of fright, Alexander’s discovery certainly helped me. Before I discovered the Alexander Technique my knowledge of constructive conscious control was minimal and set point (the mid point of a swinging pendulum) was low, though my Alexander Technique lessons and then becoming a student teacher, my knowledge of constructive conscious control has vastly increased hence my set point of constructive conscious control has increased. Through this time I’ve had ups and downs as the set point of knowledge of constructive conscious control improved. These ups and downs I see as the end points of a swinging pendulum or of the homeostasis. When an end point is reached something needs to happen, for example, for a central heating boiler it would either switch on or off to maintain the selected temperature. For constructive conscious control it’s inhibit, review why you’ve hit the limit, choose what action to take and then carry on with the intention, be happy if the action that was taken was wrong, if it’s wrong you’ve earned a learning point. This is true for both limits the good and bad, the happy and sad, whatever the ying and yang is.

Over the past months, I’ve certainly had my share of hitting both limits, it’s always good to come back to the set point to review options. I’ve found the set point is a safe comfortable place to be but being there too long may make me complacent so I need to keep the pendulum swinging to keep my set point moving in the right direction to improve my constructive conscious control.

 

 

Alexander Technique, Asthma, stopping, Teacher Training

My Story


I’ve been thinking that my story begins when I got asthma but it was way before that, years before but that may be another chapter when I’m ready to write it.

This part of my story starts a few hours after a cruise from Southampton to Spain and Portugal and return.

I was just leaving a supermarket, I thought I was relaxed but this woman, I never asked her, thought otherwise. She stopped me offered a sales pamphlet about her Alexander Technique practice and put her hand on my left shoulder. It was something to do with her touch, I immediately felt safe without judgement. She was offering a half price first lesson, the price didn’t matter, I wanted the safety of her hand, I would have paid double. I ended up going for lessons every Friday for over a year. I changed jobs to another area so my lessons stopped, she cried as I left my last lesson.

In hindsight she probably put a lot of emotion effort in to my lessons which I didn’t notice at the time. I guess I did learn a lot over that time as I was an emotionally wreck on the Saturday and happy happy happy on the Sunday after each lesson.

I took a year away from the Alexander Technique, I fought the urge to find another teacher for quite a while but gave in, I was intrigued and wanted to know more, so I found a local teacher and was with her for a few years. I was a reluctant learner, I must have been hard to teach but did recognise changes in me, I was becoming less anxious, my asthma was getting under control but I wanted more hence I started teacher training.

IMG_1901Reviewing my lessons that I had, I never really got that it was a teacher/pupil relationship until late on, I went for the therapeutic experience. I wasn’t ready to learn because I couldn’t stop I just got on and did, my habitual responses were extremely strong and only very recently and that’s into my third year of teacher training that I can control these habits, well most of the time.

I’ve very valid reasons for these habits, they have protected me from the grief of loss of my two children though divorce and very shortly afterward my mother who was the bedrock of my life. This was 17 years ago, I guess I was stuck in a state of fright for all that time. It hurts both mentally and physically and habits get well and truly stuck.

With Alexander’s discovery I’ve managed to get back on track without the need for medicine or counselling.

If you suffer with anxiety I would give Alexander technique a try, but remember it’s a teacher pupil relationship, you are there to learn, don’t waste your valuable time enjoying the therapeutic experience, use the teacher as a catalyst to your happiness. Hopefully you won’t take as long as me to find your freedom and happiness.

 

Alexander Technique, present, trying

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.

 

Alexander Technique, Alexander Technique Congress, self-doubt, stopping

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.

Alexander Technique, Uncategorized

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

self-doubt

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.