Tag Archives: 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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.

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