Alexander Technique

It’s what people tell you!


How much control do we have over our life?

We live by our habits, if our habits say something we obey, that’s right or is it that our habits are fooling us.

I think our habits are fooling us, we listen to others, family, friends, acquaintances, the media. When we hear whatever, we process it and save it for a response for another day.

  • We get good news – let’s have a drink to celebrate
  • We get bad news – let’s have a drink to commiserate
  • A friend does something that someone you dislike does – you don’t like your friend anymore
  • The media divides people up in to groups – you only like particular groups and distrust the others

There are many more habits that quickly cut in when you meet a particular stimulus. Suddenly you realise you can’t understand why you dislike someone and didn’t previously. What happened, you probably don’t know but your subconscious habits do.

You may have been worrying or fretting about something, either reminiscing the past and worrying about the future, then all of a sudden a subconscious thought, triggered by you worrying or fretting, jumps in and decides because your friends behaviour to someone you dislike you shouldn’t like your friend. Doubtful thoughts about your friend manifest and quickly turn into a belief, then separation and your friend disappears.

This may happen to you, you may wonder why someone hasn’t contacted you for a long time, you’ve may have behaved like someone you don’t know. Of course there are many other reasons friends drift apart, some stay whatever the circumstances,

What I’ve discovered is that I can let these sub-conscious thoughts in (I want to say ‘when I let me guard down’) when I’m distracted with thinking too much about and going there in my thoughts. Instead of staying in balance with the here and now, allows these thoughts about the future come to me.

  • Being in balance I have choices in what I do,
  • Being in balance my old habits don’t seem to be able to get to me

If you were in balance and your friend did whatever it was, your would let it pass after all it was your friend that did it not someone else.

Being in balance is more than you think it is, however once your understand what it is, you will discover it is something you where born with, you have been hiding it with all your habits you have developed over time.

Go find an Alexander Technique teacher to rediscover your balance.

 

 

 

Alexander Technique, anxiety

The fools errand


Strange old week, was it the alignment of the planets with a lunar eclipse?

Or was it just a coincidence that I was stressed with work and other things were happening with my neighbours. This week has been turmoil for me, to top it off my doctor wants me to see a specialist at hospital.

Today I’ve been calm but earlier in the week not so. It’s taken a few people to say a few curt words from friends and colleagues for me to be to realise that I’m bringing the stress on myself. Keeping things bottled up and thinking the worst. I’m also regretting not going to the Alexander Technique Congress in Chicago this week, perhaps that was a good thing in hindsight.

The past few years I’ve been quite good at keeping myself grounded and centred, being in the here and now or near to it so that I can very quickly return back there. This week has been different, I’ve been anywhere but being grounded and centred. Worrying about the what if’s, I’m rubbish at my job, I’m a fraud, etcetera, etcetera.

Returning to the here and now has been difficult as my old habit of worrying had come to the fore and didn’t want to leave me. It felt awful, I was pulling down and was told that I looked tired. I was a tired in fact I was exhausted, though part of me was enjoying the depression and anxiety.

Falling into this trap has been an eye opener, worrying what others may be thinking is a fools errand, When I spoke to them – eventually – my worries evaporated and interestingly they had similar worries. Perhaps I was right to be concerned but should have broached the subject earlier to save my days of worry.

What I’ve learnt is sometimes it is not enough to be in the here and now on my lonesome, sharing ideas and troubles with others also helps, we then can get a common understanding and learn to work together openly.

 

 

 

 

Alexander Technique, Anger, breathing

Not trying too hard is overkill


This week, after I’d read Gary Ramsey’s book Bliss, One Hero’s Journey, my interest in what in balance means has changed. My thought’s had been about being in balance physically and with time.

Physically I mean being upright with little or no excessive holding up, allowing my postural muscles do their job without my superficial muscles working too much. If I tire when standing I’m using superficial muscles instead of my postural muscles, postural muscles have a very long endurance, superficial muscles don’t.

For time, in balance means to me is bringing in the here and now, not drifting off tot he past or working about the future.

However Gary introduced me to more dimensions of balance that I hadn’t really thought about, understanding these dimensions helped Gary stay alive even with cancer. That seems a very bold statement, read his book and you’ll understand.

The crux of balance is that I don’t need to try too hard to be in balance,

if fact, not trying to hard is overkill,

I just need to be to be in balance.

Do you ever have thoughts;

  • that I must try harder
  • that’s too difficult
  • I must fight that
  • it’s not worth the effort

These thoughts will push you of balance with yourself, you will lose the opportunity to be your authentic self as you energy and engagement is elsewhere.

It is equally with things you love

  • dreaming of the location you love
  • tending to the ones you love at the expense of yourself

These thoughts will again push you of balance.

All these thought are fine however the issue is if you get stuck with one of these thoughts you will lose your balance and you will have to compensate in some form. The compensation comes in many forms, tightening muscles to compensate, eventually resulting in muscle strain and pain.

A chemical imbalance due to being stuck in one of the fight, flight or freeze modes due to a stuck fear response, may lead to a serious illness

Perpetual eagerness to be busy, equally being a persistent sloth and reluctant to work, both these will eventually take their toll. Our bodies will do what it needs to, to establish to be in balance, until eventual burnout.

Find your balance but remember that not trying too much is overkill!

Alexander Technique

With freedom and ease, pain evaporates


What is the Alexander Technique?

When I first started with my first teacher, I wasn’t sure, after a break and then started with another teacher, I wasn’t sure, when I started with my teacher training, I wasn’t sure.

This was about six years in total that I wasn’t sure, I think thats long time not to be sure about something that I have stuck with and started to learn to teacher it!

What is the Alexander Technique?

  • most people think it is about fixing bad backs, or fixing shoulder pain or any other pain they have heard in conversation
  • those how have had lessons, again its about pain relief with the added bonus of the sense of lightness and lightness the teacher can give you.
  • for some teachers I’ve met it is about doing body work whilst being in balance.
  • for other teachers it is about teaching others to notice their habitual behaviours, inhibiting them and choosing something else or not.

The Alexander Technique isn’t for the faint hearted, it is challenging, very challenging. The objective of the teaching is to teach how to notice habits, those obvious habits and also those hidden and embedded habits within you and then choose what to do with them.

Of course with any training you can stop and start again when you are ready. Even one lesson will be enlightening. The more training you can afford and do, the greater the insight into how you live and react to your environment.

Many habits cannot be met head on as they will kick off and stand their ground, they need to be approached stealthily. That’s where the skills of the teacher come in, noticing and not approaching and sometimes not mentioning the habit. Engaging the client in an activity that circumvents the habit so to demonstrate the habit isn’t needed. This is the sense of lightness and freedom that is noticed that I mentioned above. This sense is fabulous but it doesn’t last very long after the session if you are reliant on the teacher. The art is to listen and learn what is being taught and then experiment as much as you can between lessons to bring about your own freedom and lightness.

The Alexander Technique is:

  • Discovering that there is a choice between a stimulus and your reaction that doesn’t have to rely on habits
  • Making the best choice for that moment brings freedom and aliveness to your live
  • You can use body work to discover your reaction to a stimulus and make a choice.
  • Making the best choice for a given stimulus generally releases muscle tension, with freedom and ease, pain evaporates.

Go find an Alexander Technique Teacher to get back your freedom and aliveness you once had.

Please read what others think about my work.

 

 

Alexander Technique

In Limbo


It’s been a long morning waiting.

I’ve been waiting quietly for a few days.

Earlier I hadn’t put things on hold by my waiting.

This morning I did.

I was waiting to do something that was completely out of my control!

I was waiting for a litter of puppies to be born.

I was stuck in limbo, waiting.

Scared to move in case I missed something.

Something I hoped I could help with.

I didn’t need to help

She knew what to do and this was her first time!

She learnt very quickly how to care for her puppies.

This strange place of being in limbo, I haven’t noticed it for a long time. It is the expectation of doing something that may be out of my control or understanding.

Giving in to someone else’s control isn’t something I normally do willing, there are exceptions.

We now have 8 puppies just a few hours old, some even less.

(not the ones in the photo)

The waiting is over, time to enjoy the puppies.

Time to stop waiting and get on with my life

 

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Alexander Technique, Asthma

I panic, I get breathless


I used to be really bad at breathing, just one thought that worried me and I was on my inhaler. Tight chest, panicking and couldn’t go anywhere, life was shit, if it wasn’t for my loving wife and support from friends I guess it would have even been worse, I definitely wouldn’t have been writing this now.

I’ve discovered that I wasn’t alone with these thoughts and the utter dependency on asthma inhalers. What really annoyed me then and still does is the reliance our doctors have on drugs to cure all. I didn’t need drugs to cure me as there is nothing to cure, I was panicking because that is what I’d learnt was the best thing in these situations. I panic, get breathless, get noticed then I get love and support. Unfortunately getting drugs is no replacement for getting love and support.

Perhaps a better medical workflow would be I get breathless, see the doctor and they proscribe drugs for the immediate problem and also help to identify the root cause.

I see the issue is that doctors are expertly trained however the training steers to a pharmaceutical solution to most issues the patients bring, I may be completely wrong in my understanding but it is very rare that when I see the doctor I need to call by the dispensary to pick something up. Perhaps many like myself as patients also expect to call by the dispensary to pick something up.

Unfortunately I’ve never had the support to identify the root cause, my meeting with various asthma nurses never went well, I didn’t believe what they said as they were employed independently from the surgery, I may have been cynical but they alway wanted to try another drug. I don’t see the asthma nurse anymore nor take asthma medication.

Someone noticed, I don’t know what they noticed, that I behaved in a certain way that suppressed my breathing when I became anxious. This was my habitual response to the stimulus, if you remember, if I suppressed my breathing I received love and support. As a very young child it was a win-win situation. However in the adult world the love and support isn’t always there, instead it is a lose-lose situation, once started it is very easy to spiral down to very dangerous place, the asthma drugs do slow or stop the spiral for a short time. Drug don’t address the root cause.

The art is to notice when the response to the stimulus starts or just before then you then have a very good chance of not starting the spiral, in fact with practice the habitual response changes to something else instead of I panic, I get breathless, my panic increases, I get more breathless… .

This skill takes a time to grasp, I’ve grasped it but not without having the support and love of others, I did seek professional help, they helped me to notice my response to the stimulus and that I could choose to do something else.

Please let me know if you want to know more.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique

Am I Bovvered?


Am I bovvered? (Am I bothered?)

I think it’s three weeks into this lovely sunny weather, I’d normally pay a lot of money for flights, hotels and restaurants for the experience instead I’m at home enjoying the sun and heat, with Wimbledon in full swing, the Football World Cup seems to be in Englands favour and the British Grand Prix is on today if I can be bovvered to watch it.

We all have choices whether we are bovvered or not, I wasn’t bovvered with the football but with a constant media overload I actually watched part of England’s quarter final with Sweden yesterday; I didn’t intend to I got caught up in the hysteria of the day but I did.  They played like a team, their composure was a joy to watch. Was I bovvered?

Is not being bothered a sort of being interested but not letting on to others and yourself. Surely by knowing about something I’m influenced by it wether I want to or not.

Is not being bothered a negative connection to whatever?

Do negative connections like to stick? I think they do, therefore if I’m not bovvered I will become more and more influenced by the whatever. Something that I say I’m not interested will start to control my life, this seems to be a lose-lose situation. Perhaps I could turn the statement to “I am bovvered!” then I can decide how to treat the whatever.

The whatever my never change because my responses to it will.

Have a play with something on your “Am I bovvered” list, keep it safe. Change the words to “I am bovvered” and see what happens. You may notice it change from a lose-lose to the win-win.  My I’m bovvered for sport this week is;

  • For the Grand prix today that will happen without me watching it, I’ll wait for the highlights later,
  • I’ll watch the Federer tennis games when I can because he is a joy to watch
  • For the World Cup semi final on Wednesday, I’ll make a decision to watch the England game on Wednesday.

Watching sport on TV are on the easy “Am I Bovvered’ list

Now to start some harder ones.

What’s on your easy list?

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander Technique

How to maintain your painful habits!


When I meet new people one of the many questions that are asked are;

  • Where do you live?
  • Questions about my family and relationships
  • Why are am I here
  • Of course the weather

then the terrifying question arrives, what do you do!

I do have two roles, I’m a business analyst, most guess what this is without asking too many questions – they probably don’t know but their guess will do and I’m happy with that.

We can move on.

My other role is an Alexander Technique Teacher, well I will be soon. People either know or think they know, they are the ones that tighten their back to become erect and tall or they mention that it is something about sitting and standing.

The others want more information.

I really don’t know which ones are worse to explain what the Alexander Technique is; those with preconceived ideas or those without a clue.

I’ve shuffled around many ideas on what to say at this point, my current words are about rediscovering your lost freedom and ease, changing your habits that give you pain to habits that allow you freedom and ease; regressing back to being an 6 year old.

You may think that is impossible,

I’ll tell you it is not,

it is only a choice like the choice you have to maintain your painful habits.

Changing habits is a little difficult as you have to go against your norm, your norm has helped you throughout your life, if you are not careful every time you choose to make a change your norm will be resistant and win over your well intentioned choice. If you are like me your norm will win every time. What needs to be done is approach change indirectly then your habit can claim it for itself. Your habits are like your manager at work that keeps stealing your ideas. If you know that they do this then you can steer them to what you want. Habits are the same.

You need to show your habit the benefit of the change so that your habit can steal your idea.

Do you ever get out of breathe when you do a particular activity, mine was walking up hill. I’d see a hill and get ready for the incline; hunker down and lean into the hill – this is absolutely stupid, it is making the incline even more onerous.

Being an engineer I have an understanding about levers and weights, leaning forward I need more energy to move myself than if I was upright therefore getting ready for a hill by leaning forward is a waste of effort and pretty stupid.

The other thing I noticed I was doing was making sure I lifted my knees higher than normal and putting more energy than I needed into moving my legs. Unless it is a very steep incline the height you normally lift your feet is enough to go up a hill.

I’ve almost forgot, not only did a get ready by leaning into the hill, I’d hold my breathe for some strange reason. I’d be breathless in a few steps.

Obviously something needs to change, being breathless did have it’s benefits I’d have to stop walking. I find working on breathing can be a difficult experiment as I get drawn into breathing, my view breathing should just happen so I avoid working on my breathing.

Going back to basics always works for me. whether it is a hill, or any other activity.

Get to know your environment, notice what you are touching, your feet on the ground,  your skin touching your clothes, the sense of the wind passing your skin, the heat of the sun. Be there with your environment. Allow yourself to receive whatever you can see, don’t go searching and focusing on anything. Keep refreshing these thoughts, these thought indirectly quieten down my breathing and magically I become more upright without any effort – remember in the beginning of this blog people tightened their back to become erect, there is no need for this, it happens naturally when you allow it to happen. Now I can carry on with my walk up hill. whenever the need to hunker down to get up the hill appears I can either stop for a moment to get to know my environment and refresh the thought on every step.  At some point awhile back my walking up hill habit changed from hunkering down to noticing the environment, walking up hill is now a breeze.

Perhaps you could experiment or find an Alexander Technique Teacher to help you to rediscover your 6 year old self again.

Being 6 again is fantastic.

Happy experimenting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander Technique

When things are getting to you


You know I’ve never really liked dancing, just too many rules to obey, though I enjoy watching people dance. I mentioned this in my last blog Bliss!

To my surprise I’m enjoying learning to dance the Tango, I’m learning Argentine Tango which from what I understand is a social dance without many rules. What happens between my partner and myself is our business as long as we move counter clockwise around the dance floor. I have steps to learn or what I feel I’m learning are the various options my partner and I have when we make a step together.

You can to do a little experiment in a moment. The experiment is ‘when is the moment when your step is committed, i.e. you can’t pause and change your mind?”

Please take a few steps and experiment.

What did you notice?

I noticed that when my gait is wide, which is my norm, I committed my step very early, probably before I moved my foot. Closing my gait helped but I also support most of my weight in my heels, when I moved my weight forward I could remain in balance on my standing foot for a lot longer, I can move my other foot forward, pause and move it back again. My decision to transfer my weight to my other foot is now when my foot is in its new position.

Please take a few steps with a closer gait and you weight forward, now experiment.

What did you notice?

Each time I experiment with this, things quieten down and I become more aware of my surroundings, noticing when I can pause and change direction, I’ve found with practice, pausing and changing can happen at any moment.

This is a great skill for dancing, I also see it as a great skill for those moments when things are getting to you. Next time you have one of those moments, stand up, close your gait so there is 2-4 cms between your feet, move your balance to the soles of your feet and wait until you want to move, take a small step and tease yourself whether you are going to finish the step or not. You will commit to something wait until the intension rises, commit and move to your new step or you may have committed to returned to where you were. Have fun experimenting, if you live in the Forest of Dean you could come along and learn the Tango, or search for somewhere else. feet 013

You can practice these steps wherever you are, even on the beach!

Do let me know how you get on!

 

Alexander Technique

Bliss!


argentine-tango-brussels-couple-358127It has been a while since I last wrote, unfortunately for you blogging hasn’t been my priority.

I’ve been enjoying life.

Seeing friends, travelling around and today enjoying the sun! They say this sunny days will last for several days.

Over the years I’ve been challenging myself with various topics, a few years a ago it was the belief I can’t sing. I’ve believed this because people I know and trust have told me so; they were wrong. I might not be the best singer in the world and lack confidence to perform solo, I can sing happily in a choir and I really enjoy singing there.

It’s surprising how many beliefs begin in childhood; one of my experiences was learning to dance in preparation for a school visit to Germany; put your left leg here and your right leg there, you’ll have probably experienced this for yourself. Very formulaic and BORING for a child forced to learn. I decided  as it was boring so I made a mess of it so I could prove I couldn’t dance. Bingo, I was deselected and didn’t do the performance. Deselection answered several of my fears and I could carry on with my boyish Peter Pan life, enjoying life, I am a Gemini after all!

Unfortunately we seem to be in a culture where dance is very important, many of us like to sit on the sidelines from the safety of our armchair watching more dancing than we think on TV, or dreading those events when we are expected to dance. I’ve found that beer really helps, when I lived in Scotland I really enjoyed Scottish Country Dancing, it was the beer that suppressed my fears of being watched and judged. If I was good it was luck, if I was bad it was the beer, it was never me!

A few weeks ago I decided to challenge my belief that I can’t dance without beer. I went for dance lessons not knowing what to expect. There was no now put your left foot here and right leg there.

Wow, I was in heaven.

It was ‘do a slight sway and when your weight is on one foot move your other foot’, apologies Bärbel you said a lot more than that.

All of a sudden it all made sense, attention to myself and then an intension to move however this time I have a partner to share our attention together and then share my intention to move. When our attention and intension jells magic happens.

So this is dancing!

I know I’m in my very early days and I have a lot to learn, yes there will be “put your left foot here” however I believe it won’t be like that. There will be no putting feet anywhere, we will have a shared attention of ourselves and I’ll share my intension to move and my partner will follow in anyway she chooses.

I can’t wait to learn more and get back on the dance floor. What Tango has taught me is that being in the moment and my partner is also in the moment, my body disappears as we meld together and move as one, it’s quite surreal, when the music ends there’s a sadness, loss and an embarrassment of the intimacy of the dance.

There is definitely a very strong cross over with the way I’ve learnt Alexander Technique and Tango; being in the moment, in balance with time and space, pausing for the right moment to take my partner and myself into movement. Neither of us not knowing what is going to happen next. Bliss!

Go try the Tango or the Alexander Technique or even better both.