Tag Archives: Alexander Technique

Balanced Consciousness


It’s getting closer to Christmas, this year I’m looking forward to it, I normally want to ignore it, shy away from it. It’s just too commercialised, I still believe it is too commercialised but this year I’m looking forward to it.

The past years I’ve been waiting for resolutions to happen, I’ve been waiting for someone else to make these resolutions happen; things have changed over this year, I’ve changed. I’ve discovered that my resolutions are up to me, if I want them to happen it is solely up to me to discover ways to achieve my resolutions, this stuff has been lingering in my life for far to long.

I’m empowered and I have the authority to make these things happen: pussyfooting around just delays the things and they may never happen, I want these things to happen so I better get on with these things. I know what they are and I guess you have things you want to resolve and aren’t to eager to disclose.

What has changed this year is that I have my authority to do what I want and when, of course things that are within the law.

What has happened is that I have a constant sense of calm and if calm wanders a little I have the tools for my calm to return. I’ve had years of self doubt, not being good enough, being quiet, being in the middle so I don’t get noticed, you get the idea.

I’ve only achieved this by undertaking some very serious and difficult training in learning how to do nothing and to be me.  That is what I understand the Alexander Technique to be; learning how to remove the layers of worry and doubt that I’ve collected offer the years, I’ve been around for plenty of years so I’ve got a lot of worries.

What I mean by ‘to do nothing’ isn’t quite true, I still need to drive, walk, eat, work, sleep, etc, now I do all those things with less effort as I’m more conscious in what i’m doing.

Noticing annoying habits, the big one for me at the moment is getting ready for something, going into that holding position and locking my muscles at the moment they should be free to engage in an activity. Do you ever notice getting ready to catch a ball, your hands involuntary go forward and freeze waiting to receive the ball. I see this and preempting and it probably will increase the likelihood of you not catching the ball or even more seriously hurting yourself, perhaps pulling a muscle.

The simple act of catching a ball can be represented as how you respond to life, if you are tense and worried when responding to a particular situation like one of my resolutions I want to resolve things may not go to well. However if you are calm and conscious then making the decision will come from a point of freedom which will allow  freedom to respond more appropriately to the situation.

For this freedom to happen you need to be in balance, not just with gravity but also balanced consciousness. Being conscious for your surroundings, what is happening within you whilst responding to the situation and steering the situation for your satisfactory conclusion. Perhaps the definition of the Alexander Technique is a method to discover freedom and balance.

I’ve written a lot of words here but words will never beat the experience of what I’m trying to write about, it is amazing that why I keep going on about it; go seek me out or an Alexander Technique Teacher in your locality.

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FORWARD = INTENTION and UP = ATTENTION


I’ve been thinking what all my training has been about, its been about a paradigm shift in thinking and how the show others how to achieve this change in thought.

We normally rely on our habits to conduct our day to day activities, just doing things without much thinking, take driving a car, have you ever been shaken out of you routine when a hazard suddenly appears and you have thoughts of “that appeared from nowhere”.

Why does this happen?

I have an idea why, we reuse old habits over and over again, driving down the same old road every day, its safe and nothing ever happens, so you have time to daydream and reduce your awareness of your journey, then something appears from nowhere, it didn’t, it was there all the time but it wasn’t on your previous journeys. It was your lack of awareness that created the hazard, if you had seen it earlier you could have taken early action around the obstacle instead of turning it into a hazard.

Relying on our old habits we switch between relaxed to startle in a moment. This is our normal thinking paradigm, Our thinking is either on or off,  on the seesaw of life, happy or sad, swinging between the two with no apparent control. Some think alcohol or drugs will help, they do to a point, they mask things but they don’t go away. I’m including the prescribed ones as well. I’ve certainly been on the seesaw of happiness and hatred and alcohol does mask things until the next day.

What I’ve learnt in my training is to slow the seesaw down so that it doesn’t swing too far either way, a lot of the time it works but not always, as they say, ever day is a learning day.

My paradigm shift in my thinking has two aspects, the first one is being content with not knowing what is going to happen, the second is knowing where I am in this moment. This thinking needs to be renewed continually, this needs practice.

Both of these aspects have many layers and they interconnect with each other everywhere, it is too complicated to understand, so lets not, this is the paradigm shift in my thinking, I am me in this time and space.

To make this simple I use thoughts of attention and intention, I have attention of myself in time and space, remembering to renew continually and the intension to move to perform whatever activity I choose.

I see this as FM Alexanders forward and up

FORWARD = INTENTION, UP = ATTENTION

So instead of driving down the road using the same old habits, I enjoy the journey even in traffic jams. You may be thinking about the developed habits in controlling the car, of course I use them, as I use the habits in developed in walking. These habits are all tied up with thoughts of attention and intention at this very moment

 

 

STOP WORRYING; if it was that easy!


You may think what is the Alexander Technique is and what it is to do with your mental health, from my point of few quite a lot; the Alexander Technique saved me from living  the rest of my life in depression or popping antidepressants to keep me happy.

The Alexander Technique sort of works the opposite direction to other methods in helping you with your pain be it physical or mental. We tend to not worry about what has happened in the past or what is to happen, The Alexander Technique is an educational approach that teaches you how to live your life fully now.

From my experience of mental health, I worry, I’m anxious. Worrying puts me in a place that is in the future, when I’m in the future I have no control of anything as I’m in a place that doesn’t exist, I’m worrying about nothing, I use a lot of energy worrying about nothing.

That can’t be healthy!

There is a premise that every thought produces a muscular action, we can only tighten muscles, worrying is thinking hence I tighten muscles when I worry. Tightened muscles get tired and eventually start to produce pain signals to ask for a rest. Continually worrying uses a lot of energy and eventually a lot of pain. You may start to blame the environment, chairs, beds, shoes, clothes, the food you eat. You may start to blame friends, family, your boss at work.

Take a moment to think; are they doing the worrying, they may be, but they are not doing your worrying, YOU ARE!

There’s a simple answer “STOP WORRYING”. If it was that easy!

I’ve noticed that when I worry I need to think about something, something not about me, something in the future or something in the past but definitely not about now. If I try to think about NOT WORRYING I need to think about something else, probably promising to be better in the future. This doesn’t work it is just more worrying.

It sounds absolutely hopeless, I thought that; back to popping antidepressants. However if you just could be in the moment then worry disappears, it’s true, there’s plenty of mindfulness practices that can do that. However the Alexander Technique has the edge on mindfulness, it is mindfulness in activity; knowing where you are in time and space as you engage with your daily activities.

You can teach yourself mindfulness in activity but we have a very good knack of not seeing how we move in activity, just try looking in a mirror and if you are like I was, you will do plenty of avoidance and that’s just looking at your face. This is where you need a nonjudgmental teacher to encourage you to observe yourself without judgement; it takes time but worth it.

It all goes back to those muscles you tightened when you worried, they learnt to stay in tension, if you just engaged in mindfulness it would some time take time for these muscles to release their tension, release their pain. With the Alexander Technique your muscular tension you developed over time, can be released by encouraging you to think differently, thinking the way you used to when you were a child, thinking that allows easy and freedom so you can do the activities you want to.

It worked for me, I have written a lot about muscular tension, all tension is related; by releasing muscular tension worry and anxiety disappear. It they reappear I’ve got the tools to let my anxiety quieten and disappear.

The opposite direction I mentioned earlier is to approach the muscular reaction to a stimulus instead of working on the stimulus to minimise the muscular reaction.

Intrigued, then why not contact me for more details.

 

 

 

I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing


Now you understand where your sit bones are and also where your head neck joint is, if you  don’t then please read Your boney hollow and Acetabulum is one of those words I just love then you will discover where they are in your body and also what an acetabulum is.

What are your views and beliefs on how breathing happens and how does breathing happen within yourself.

Once I had some really skewed beliefs how I had to breathe, I thought I had to consciously breath when I did any strenuous activity and also I didn’t trust my breathing to happen on its own.

Unfortunately we can learn to control our breathing, this is necessary if you want to hold your breathe when hiding from someone and something or swimming under water. When stress and anxiety becomes a way of life, being conscious of your breathing becomes second nature.

Thoughts of:

  • He going to be angry with me – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • Thats a steep hill to walk up – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • I don’t want to face up to something – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • I need to go shopping – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing
  • I need to go to work – I’ll hold my breath so I can make sure I’m breathing

The list is endless and you may have other reasons to hold your own breath. This breath holding is the initiation of conscious breathing.

Conscious breathing with anxiety is not a very successful partnership. The anxiety sets your breathing to a quiet mode with minimal diaphragm and rib movement Breathing takes place just at the top of your lungs, you may notice short shallow breathing with some movement of the scapula, the scapula moving forward so the glenohumeral joint rolling forward in space into a shrug.

Conscious breathing with the smallest use of your lungs is not adequate in fact it’s hopeless but that is what may people with anxiety do.

I know I was one of them.

I changed my breathing with help from others and I learnt how my breathing happens and the anatomy involved in breathing. I found the anatomy so important for me as it dismissed the beliefs I had in how I breathed.

Did you know your ribs move up and down hinging about your vertebra and sternum as you breath, this was a shock to me. I thought my ribs were just there to contain my lungs and heart, they didn’t move. Discovering my ribs moved down on an out breathe and up on in breathe was hard discovery to make, first because my ribs moved and secondly the direction of movement was illogical to me and sometimes still is.

The curve of the ribs with their movement changes the volume of air in the lungs. The ribs go down the air is displaced out of the lung, when the ribs go up the volume increases causing a vacuum in the lungs, air is drawn in to the lungs to equalise the vacuum with atmosphere.

There are many muscles that are involved in breathing, if you want to know more then it time for your own research. I might do a later blog about them if you want to wait.

The important thing to know about breathing is that you can just let it happen, when you start interfering with it, you will mess it up. Knowing the physiology and anatomy gave the confidence to leave my breathing alone. I still have certain triggers that bring on an asthma event, instead of jumping to my old trusty inhaler, I use the knowledge of how my breathing happens, notice any rising anxiety, and consciously control the rising anxiety and allow my urge to control my breathing to diminish.

These skills didn’t happen over night, it was may months, in fact a couple of years, so don’t put your inhaler in the bin and do it my way, things my turn nasty for you. Gently, gently is the key.

If you want to know more if got a mailing list where you can receive my blogs via email.

 

 

 

 

Fancy a walk in the forest


I’ve been thinking for a while how I can help others with what I’ve learnt from Alexander’s discoveries. The truth is, it is probably everyone in the world, that is a little to big for one person – I’ll be worked off my feet!

So I best refine this down a little, my choices are, a geographical region perhaps near where I live or people who enjoy similar activities to me but are struggling to get about to enjoy it, or it could be both.

I love walking but not so long ago asthma restricted how far I could walk, I’m well now without the use of drugs to support me, it was Alexander’s discoveries that let me be free of my breathing difficulties. I don’t know how far I can walk now but I guess it’ll be exhaustion not asthma that will stop me.

Have I narrowed enough to a community that I can help, I don’t know but it would be fun to work with them. A couple of inside workshops and then out for a walk so that they can discover the discoveries in the safety of a room and then practice out in the wilds. Bring your dogs and have more fun, I’ll even supply the tea and coffee, anyone fancy bringing the biscuits?

I’ve identified a venue, the owners don’t know yet. I’ve got a good idea what I want to say for the workshops, I think dogs will have to stay at home for the first few of workshops  as this will give you time to discover a natural way to breathe, this type of breathing is a benefit to all, so if you just get out of breathe on hills it will as well, or out of breathe when running it will also help.

Now I just need to find people who want to come along.

  • Walking magazines
  • Walking Facebook groups
  • Local walking groups
  • Local advertising
  • Doctor referrals

I assume some of these will be better than others and there’s other things I could focus on, any ideas?

I’ll be taking the plunge soon on a series of workshops, anyone in the Forest of Dean interested? Please let me know.

Happy rambling

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Just being here


I did start a blog about Alexander’s secret weapon, but as I do I’ve lost the plot on that blog, so here I go again. Alexander discovered various things about how humans use and think how they use their bodies and there’s been a lot more studies that demonstrate the Alexander was on the right track, on some points he was spot on. So over hundred years have passed and some of us are still going on about what Alexander discovered. He may have borrowed, reused, rebadged someone else ideas but what is important is that he put these discoveries together in a usable package for all of us to use.

There are three main discoveries, I see his other discoveries as subsets of these three, please correct me otherwise.

The three are;

  1. The head neck back relationship
  2. Psycho-physical unity
  3. Touch

The head neck back relationship

My one sentence thought on this relationship is to imagine a garden hose, if it doesn’t have any kinks in it the water flows freely, the same can be said about the head neck back, if there’s no kinks in it, blood and nerve signals will flow freely. There is a warning here, if you have just pulled your head up you’ve just kinked your neck, I may explain in a future blog.

Psycho-physical unity

This seems rather grand so here is my one sentence. We are simply just one which includes the body and everything we think.

My one sentence just didn’t cut it as it’s a lot, lot more, here’s another try. The unity is a point in time when your psycho-physical reality is synchronised into unity. This takes practice as there are multiple dimensions to this unity. These dimensions are powerful and from my experience, they don’t like to be in unity, I get the feeling that they are like magnets, they just want to repel each other. The repelling is self-doubt, thoughts of not good enough and the myriad of other negative thoughts. The secret is to quieten these negative thoughts by doing nothing, allow these thoughts to rise and allow them to pass. Perhaps querying these thoughts by asking if they are true. My guess is that they aren’t true.

There’s even more nothing to do, that is to do nothing about your head neck back relationship, if you notice any muscle tension you are doing too much, just think about your head going up which allows your back to lengthen. Remember it is a thought, if there is any muscular tension you are doing something that you don’t need to do.

Touch

Alexander Teachers are trained to use their hands as another sense so they can notice what is going on with others, they can also use touch to help others to notice and sense what thoughts are like when your head is going up that allow your back to lengthen, perhaps another blog needs to be written.

This blog was intended to write briefly about being here, psycho-physical unity, the sweet spot to life. This unity doesn’t last long but can be continually refreshed by doing nothing, noticing what’s going on and having an intension to achieve something. My intension was to maintain my psycho-physical unity whilst writing this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

When the dog howls


Have you ever walked down a road or in the woods and a dog comes out from somewhere looking menacing and barking. Perhaps they are worried about you, they don’t understand your motives, they may sense your fear so they feel they have the upper hand so they become threatening. I’m only guessing what the dog is thinking but it is responding to its immediate environment and you are in the immediate environment.

Could you make the immediate environment feel safer for the dog and hence yourself, my assumption is that you can. My dogs pick up what I’m thinking and respond appropriately,  other dogs surely must do the same. If you are walking around worrying about things or not being aware of your environment, dogs may see you as an easy target for their aggression.

So the easy answer is to stop worrying about things and being unaware of your environment if you are likely to met a dog when you are out walking. I’m being a bit flippant with that thought but I think you can change your thinking, here’s an idea to practice.

Breaking these habits is a tough nut to crack but is achievable. The answer is in You, me and the dog makes three. Take your time about it, to achieve good results the work and time has to be done. Using the ideas in that blog I would add the thought of being observant whilst I’m walking. When it is safe to do so, I change how I am looking; instead of seeking to see things I just allow light into my eyes, this softens my vision, the muscles of my eyes release and my vision changes, my depth of field increases, colours become more intense and things on the periphery of my vision appear to move as I walk, rather like watching a 3D movie. Surprisingly my hearing becomes more crisp with more clarity but also it appears the local environment seems to quite down, there seems to be more presence around me.

With my softer vision, walking seems to be easy. With lightness in my walking, the worries of yesterday and the anxiety of the future seems to melt away. It’s quite blissful and serene. My dogs also seem to sense the serenity, though they are ranging around me in and out of the trees and undergrowth they seem to be more at easy and just enjoying themselves.

So perhaps when you next notice you are tense or worried about something, soften your eyes and enjoy the freedom that it brings. Perhaps you’ll notice all the dogs that meet you have happy faces and very waggy tails.

Dogs are just humans too, they have feeling but are often mistreated. With love and encouragement they can become mans’ best friend again.

This blog was written for Stefanie a fellow Alexander Technique Teacher.

 

10 things that may indicate you have anxiety


10 things that might indicate that you have anxiety in your life. These are just my thoughts and I’m sure somewhere someone has done an experiment or survey to find these indicators

  1. Worried to go back to work after a holiday
  2. Worried that people won’t like you
  3. Constantly second guessing so that you can smooth the way ahead
  4. Trying too hard
  5. Trying to be someone who you aren’t
  6. Not being truthful to yourself
  7. Loving others before yourself
  8. Giving in to others when you really don’t want too
  9. Saying “OK”or “I’m fine” to avoid what you are really feeling
  10. Worrying about things that are beyond your control.

There must be more as they only took me a minute or so the write. If your notice that you have these thought regularly then perhaps you should read You, me and the dog makes three.

These are natural reactions to life and are habits that you have developed to protect yourself, perhaps it is time to review how you respond to the stimulus in your life.

The first part to manage these reactions is to stop and observe yourself, do you really need to respond that way, perhaps there’s another way.

I know I sometimes is my triggers but when I notice I stop and choose something different.

I’ll explain the something different on another blog.

Happy stopping

You, me and the dog makes three


To be content with life, there are at least two ways of doing this.

The first I’ve tried for many years, it seems to work, what do you think?

Here’s the plan, sit back observe everyone and get an idea how to please them. Work out a whole lot of what if’s and maybe’s and set the plan in motion, then things don’t seem to go to plan, so add a few more what if’s and maybe’s. I’ve done this for years, it can be effective but very tiring trying to second guess and please folk.

It works to a point but I didn’t put myself in place I should be, I’ve made myself a slave to everyone and everything else. If I’m at the service first to everyone and myself second I’m not looking after myself and I’ll eventually break.

The second method, you may have guessed, is to:

1.Put myself first,  not in a selfish way but self-full,

  • I care about myself,
  • I’m content with myself,
  • I’m conscious of what I do
  • I’m efficacious in what I do

2. However this isn’t really enough on its own, these on their own are just being selfish, bothers need to be included.

  • I’m observant of my friends and colleagues
  • I accept the support off my friends and colleagues
  • I trust my friends and colleagues

3. However this is still not enough, I interact with equipment and tools, to be inclusive these need to be considered.

  • I understand how to use the tools
  • I’m skilled at using the tools
  • I’m conscious of my use when a use the tools

4. However this is still not enough, I interact with other people and the environment, to be fully inclusive they need to be considered as well.

  • I recognise that I live with other people and the environment
  • I recognise the other people and the environment support me both directly and indirectly
  • I can accept the support of other people and the environment openly

There is a catch to all this, each of the above points need to be in balance with each other, if one has a greater pull then the others will suffer and contentment will suffer.

Here’s an example, I’m a singer with an orchestra, (if only)

  • Point 1 is about myself
  • Point 2 is about the members of the orchestra
  • Point 3 is about my body and voice
  • Point 4 is about the audience and the theatre.

Take a moment or a few moments each day to consider who and what are in your points and in your thoughts.

The first 5 steps to managing asthma


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I probably do but manage it without medication, so do I really do have asthma?

I don’t really know but I do know that when I get stresses or anxious I notice my chest tightening and I have a shortness of breathe.

Is that asthma, is that like your asthma?  My doctor seems to think so!

I never thought of having asthma, I really didn’t want it; are you like that?

If you’re interested this is what I’ve learnt about managing asthma, this took me a few years, it’s a slow process with many hour practice, keep taking the inhalers.

1. Stop and notice when your asthma rises

Just let it happen as it normally does and take you medication as you normally do, but notice what your thoughts were when you notice your asthma rising.

  • Was something bothering you?
  • Were you about to do something you didn’t want to do?
  • Was something getting awkward?

For the first few times this is probably enough. Remember not to rush, noticing is important, perhaps write a diary of what you were feeling, you may be able to notice a pattern.

2. Do something different

Hopefully you have noticed a pattern; something has bothered you, you have reacted which resulted in your asthma rising. Perhaps you could react differently, not getting vexed or angry, what about having the opposite reaction or just notice you’re being bothered and not reacting, staying neutral. Maybe its worth an experiment to see what happens, remember your inhaler is always available so use it when you need it.

As with step 1, this will take time and you will get it wrong, remember getting thing wrong is a learning experience that you can learn from.

Remember this takes time so don’t rush or put yourself in danger.

3. What are you thinking

Where are you when your asthma rises? This is a time question.

Was it just the thought of doing something stressful. Perhaps you notice that you were thinking into the future, instead could you think about now instead. The future may be less stressful if you think about what is happening now.

This does take practice, notice your surroundings, become interested in something you can  see, hear, smell or touch, just enjoy being here now. Did you notice a change in your asthma rising. Don’t rush anything, and be safe.

4. Let the ground support you

I noticed with my asthma attacks I don’t really know where I was, sort of floating around in a panic and not feeling to well. Perhaps ask yourself if the ground is supporting you, it could be a chair or bed, the thought is that I can feel my weight being supported from the ground, feel nice and heavy.

5. Let my head be light on top of my spine

Now that you can feel your weight being support by the ground perhaps you could have the opposite thought that my head is free to move on top of my neck. This will activate your postural reflex, you may notice a lightness in yourself and your breathing may become a little easier. Remember this all times time and you need to keep working thought the steps starting at 1.

Only practice these steps when it is save to do so and always use your medicine as prescribed.

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