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.

Alexander Technique, body mapping, HANDS, Inhibition

My Hand, My Hands

In the last two years my hands have changed shape, one of the many changes that have taken place within my body during my Alexander Technique Teacher Training. I’ve also become more bendy, that’s not my bones becoming flexible but my flex and extension range in my joints have increased; not bad for someone nearing state pensionable age.
If nothing else, this is a great reason for practicing the Alexander Technique.
But there is much more.
My hands, my hands, are far more sensing that they have ever been. It’s a skill, sensation that is available to all. It just needs time, patience and practicing my mind-body connection and just allowing the senses to work without interruption. The last two years I’ve been trying too hard to be good, it just doesn’t work, it just blocks senses, tightens inappropriate muscles, just doesn’t allow thing to be things.

Discovering that nothing is to be done, we have the capacity and skill within us, all takes time to realise and accept. The realisation is easy to grasp, it’s the acceptance that nothing is to be done is very difficult and even elusive; acceptance flies around like a butterfly, the more you try to catch it the more it moves, being still and waiting it may land near you and you can observe it’s beauty, Try to catch it again and it’s off.

My hands now have three roles;

  • normal working hands, writing, chopping vegetables, washing, lifting things
  • listening hands, just being quiet and observing by touch, there’s an awful lot of information to pick up and I guess my listening will improve with more practice
  • directing hands, giving my hands an intension with just a thought to move, with my hands on somebody and they will react to the intension and they will, say, stand up from sitting on a chair. For a newby this is just fantastic.

My perpetual pupil, my wife, gave me a back handed compliment by saying one day, will you please stop directing when you hold my hand. I didn’t know she could tell, i was so pleased 🙂



Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another

So why self-empathy?

Yesterday I wrote the blog Being ill brings back all the demons, one of the comments I received was from Lynn Brice Rosen about Compassion for Self. This got me thinking; having had a career in marine engineering, the tendency was to push and push to get things done in time for the ship to sail.  Some deadlines where extremely tight, once I managed to get off a ship in the lock as it was about to set to sea and another I was stuck on a ship for a few days before they could land me. These instances sort of set your mind.

Get things done on time or else.

Not very Alexandrian!

I never considered myself first, the job came first, if i wore myself out i wasn’t trying hard enough. Alcohol certainly smoothed the edges.


I’m in the photo probably in both, top one in the engine room

and middle row in the centre

HMS Pollington M1173 Ships Company 1981 (1).galley_thumbHMS Pollington

I feel I’ve come along way since my days at sea. I served on ships as well as fixing them for others.

It’s taken me some time to understand that if I don’t look after myself I’m little help to anyone else. It’s the usual thing, knowing, understanding and doing are all miles apart, I’ve known and understood this concept but never done it, that’s until very recently.

I seem to have had different personalities, the knowledgable, the understanding and the accepting, The accepting never got look in, it’s easier to ponder and think than show the real me, nobody will like the real me, I even don’t know who he is, will I like him?

Probably not, I’ve never known him.

That’s where self-empathy helps, it allows the understanding and the knowledgable a chance to listen to the accepting and understand and share his feelings, and possibly give the accepting some space to grow and be an equal partner in my life. When it happened to me a few weeks ago it was utterly overwhelming, my friends really do love and care for me, they don’t play at it! I can be and am very content with myself and can allow compassion for myself and from my compassion I can pass it to others.

Unfortunately this self compassion is new to me and when I caught a cold i reverted to habit as I’ve written in my blog Being ill brings back all the demons. So thank you Lynn Brice Rosen for reminding about compassion for Self.

“And here’s where the Compassion for Self is so needed…. How often our AT awareness can pull us down [!!!] into self-criticism and judgment, when what’s most needed is the awareness & experiencing of both”

Does Compassion for Self = Self Empathy. 

flu cold, running, swimming

Being ill brings back all the demons

There’s been a nasty cold going around the UK over the past few weeks I met up with it three weeks ago and still doesn’t want to leave me. When I went to the doctors last week, I got the news that this cold normally lasts around six weeks; so I’m only half way through.


I’ve been managing asthma quite happily for a few years using techniques I’ve learnt as a pupil and latterly as an Alexander Technique student teacher.

Then the cold struck and down I went and asthma rose, I reverted to what I used to like and I didn’t even notice! The asthma inhaler came out, feeling sorry for myself and couldn’t work out what to do. All I could do was to sit still.

For the first few days not a thought of semi-supine or a Whispered Ah; just feeling sorry for myself! Then the thoughts slowly filtered through; ah time for the Whispered Ah whilst lying down.

I got on the floor.

What a relief.

I quietened down and my breathing improved from very shallow breaths to lungs full of air, bliss.

I was shocked with myself how easy it was to revert to old habits when I got the cold, its got me wondering what other habits that I take for granted that are not so beneficial to me, I could do something else. It’s got me exploring, this morning on my Sunday morning swim I noticed that a gasp in air just before i put my  head under water to start swimming,  do I need this gasp, it’s not as if I’m racing, I swim just for fun, so why gasp?  It turns out that I don’t need to. Gasping is a pulling down so I’m starting my first stroke from a bad place. If I think forward and up with little care about my breath I seem to swim freer and I can always take a breath later on.

So my demons have helped me, why do I hold me breath when running?

I don’t run far!

Something else to explore and experiment with.