Alexander Technique

Being a human being not a human doing


This week is Mental Health week, the hidden pandemic that we don’t like to talk about.

It is great that we can now speak about it but have we done enough, are some of the concerns just false platitudes of people stuck in their own mental health problems.

Suffering from mental health problems is shit; nobody really understands your own unique mental health problems.

There’s lots of help from lots of modalities, all trying to wedge your unique mental health problem into their niche. I may be hard on these wonderful people that have a deep urge to help others.

Remember this in my perspective and I may be completely delusional on this matter. I’m happy to be proved otherwise.

Many modalities are sticking plasters for a headache. They work for a while whilst you believe it is helping you. They add another layer to your thinking to smooth over and hide your personal unique problem. Your personal unique problem will break out of these layers when it needs to; like Dr Ford recently with Kavanaugh.

Plastering over things just postpones the problem, I know because that is what I do, but to a lesser extent now. Now if I feel shit I tell someone, I did this morning, hence this blog, thank you, you know who you are.

What has worked for me is instead of adding layers is removing the layers and meeting my problems naked and vulnerable. It sounds very, very scary; it is the first time and possibly the second time and the third. Now it is joyful, standing naked and vulnerable and letting my problems trying to get to me. (Standing naked is a metaphor; well most of the time, best not done in public!) Opening up to myself and braving my vulnerability is fantastic, terrifying, weird, freeing, stupid, enlightening; initially changing rapidly in the kaleidoscope of my thought. Slowly my thoughts slow to thoughts of freedom and joy, sometimes with tears of joy.
You may think this is mindfulness; it is but a whole lot more. We all have this within us, all we have to do is find it.

It has taken me, since the discovery that I have been suffering from anxiety, about ten years to write this. Some of these years I can’t remember. What I know is that I’ve been trying and trying to resolve and get over my unique personal problem.

Recently I’ve discovered, trying and trying to resolve and getting over my unique personal problem doesn’t work!

I wish I knew that earlier, the answer is not trying and not getting over my unique personal problem. Trying just adds layers to smoother the problem and the problem is me!  I’m trying to hide from myself.

The secret is to be; be yourself, be balanced with gravity, be now, be here, not drifting off somewhere in your thoughts. All this is easier to say than do but doing is the wrong approach, it is being, being a human being not a human doing.

I teach how to be an being, not using unnecessary energy and not being a human doing. The benefits are that life is freer, happier, joyous, loving, beautiful, plentiful, and peaceful. Life is like it is now, the same family and friends but much, much better.

My unique personal problem is still with me as it is me, now we live in harmony with each other. My problem does shout at times for me to do something, now I know how to return to a being.

Alexander Technique

Catching the ball


In many of my lessons I work with catching bean bags (they don’t roll under the furniture as balls tend to do).

Catching bean bags is a great stimulus for some, not so for others. A greater stimulus is not catching a bean bag and letting it fall by your feet.

We have had so much conditioning that letting something fall is a bad, even when there is permission to let it fall.

This conditioning has restricted your choices to only one;

CATCH THE BALL AT ALL COSTS. 

This single choice is not restricted to catching balls but to many other activities in your life. Simple things like not walking under ladders, using your dominant hand for many activities, what you do when you awake up in the morning, what you do in the evening, how you respond to people, sometimes in very different ways to different people. These are all yours and my habits; an easy way to move through life!

Sometimes the easy way to move through life isn’t always the best option for now, though it may have been in the past.

My thoughts about catching ball are that you were either great at catching or go into panic with the fear of dropping the ball; I was in the later group. The fear of missing the ball and wrecking the game for others in my team was my overriding thought, so like others I tried really hard to catch, however the more I tried the worse I got; how could that be!

Life moves on, team games with catching balls stay at school, I go to work, however trying too hard moved with me through work and leisure.

  • Trying too hard to please
  • Trying too hard to be successful
  • Trying too hard to be good

I’d been successfully conditioned at school, school was successful as I became an ace student at trying too hard and continued for most of my life.

However trying to hard has it’s limitations, there is

  • only one choice,
  • only one route
  • only one option

That is to work hard trying to achieve your goals.

I’ve since learnt that I don’t have to catch the ball, I can make another decision, one of many options! The strange thing is when there are options are I free up, as do whomever I’m working with. When they or I choose to catch the ball we pick the ball out of the air instead of trying to catch. There is a lightness and freedom in their movement, they become happy and joyful. I regularly hear comments about their pain disappearing.

You may be wondering what is happening, pain in many people is manifested by their habits, their habits sending messages to muscles to tighten and keep tightening, muscles tire and eventually send messages to stop in the form of a pain message. We get stuck in habitual behaviour, we don’t know how to get out of it hence we keep recreating and empowering a vicious cycle, it gets worse and worse, and if you are in pain then the pain may get worse.

Rediscovering that you have other options breaks the vicious cycle and for a few moment pain disappears, this is what happened when we played catch. Unfortunately our habits are well embedded and we quickly return to our vicious cycle of pain. That’s where my training helps, I’m trained to notice through observation and to instruct you that you have other options to lead your life, these options will lead you to rediscover your freedom and aliveness you used to have whilst making mature choices in the way you want to live you life.

If you want to know more, please contact me.

Alexander Technique

It’s all about love


I’ve been away in France on a residential training course learning more about the Alexander Technique; you know the modality that gets you to sit and stand through a session, it’s something to do with posture, but other modalities seem to do it better.

There’s probably some truth in that.

Nobody really tells you what the Alexander Technique is for, it seems to be for everything?

Surely there must be a modality for each pain and illness?

This week I discovered what the Alexander Technique is really about, you won’t find the answer directly in any of Alexander’s books, please prove me wrong. Not many teachers will say it directly but will display it.

The Alexander Technique is all about love, not the love that

  • expects something,
  • demands something
  • Controls someone.

This isn’t love, that’s something else.

It’s the love that totally and perfectly comprehends with total and perfect acceptance.

With this love, movement takes no obvious energy, there is

  • No effort
  • No pain

Love in perception,

Perception is action,

Action is perception.

Therefore,

Action is love and love is action.

It has taken me a long time to discover what I’ve been training for. My discovery is love, not to take love but to manifest and offer love to myself and to anyone who want to receive my love. If I accept love it is accepted with comprehension and acceptance.

The art of the Alexander Technique teacher is to guide others, if they so wish, to discover that they can have effortless activities in whatever they do.

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

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, attention

Waiting for the moment that doesn’t exist


Easter is here again, what are you doing?

I’m spring cleaning, well my garage, aka the junk store. I’ve collected some junk, kept just in case it’s needed someday. I’ve decided that day has passed. I’ve got parts for cars that have long gone, left over material from my various build projects and some just plain ordinary junk.

My head keeps saying “keep it just in case” and my heart says “get rid, IT IS junk”. This is really hard as my head keeps winning the argument over my heart even though I know my heart is right. I’ve tricked my head a little by offering some things free locally, but my head is hoping no-one will take up the offer I can keep them for that day I’ll need them.

These thoughts happen constantly in me and I guess in you as well. The constant battle of the head over the heart. I must say after a lifetime of my head winning, I’m starting to see my heart getting its way. The more I let my heart make the choice the better the choice is however heart choices are scary, they require courage and commitment as the head will try to butt in and return you to a place of safety, somewhere you have been before, somewhere amongst your junk. You can stay there amongst your junk, I have for years been waiting for the right day to use it; I’ll let you into a secret, that day doesn’t exist.

The truth is that this blog is part of my procrastination in avoiding my garage, making a coffee, disappearing into Facebook also make up my wonderful game of procrastination.

I find there is a different energy between a head thought and a heart thought,

Give it a go if you like!

Keep it simple, Think in your head about something needs to be done,  perhaps sorting out something that has you have put off for ages. Keep thinking what needs to be done, I find it slightly depressing and hard work to think that way but somehow comforting; I’m used to that way of thinking.

Now let’s think with our hearts, thinking with our hearts I found more open and giving also we can see the end, a junk free garage. It may be just me, my heart opens, I feel lighter and I’m smiling at the thought and the challenge. It feels a lot easier.

I hope that worked for you, I want to get on with my garage now, I’ll stay a little longer to finish this blog off, honest I’m thinking with my heart.

The way we think is one of the many choices we have in each moment of the day. We only ever have this moment and it only lasts for a moment and then gone forever. Please reread that sentence again. This is all we have however your head thinks otherwise, as your head loves to remember and use what is remembered and transpose it on to the future. The future doesn’t exist neither does the past, only this moment exists and only lasts for a moment.

I didn’t think I would get that deep though my heart thought differently.

Garage here I come!

 

Alexander Technique

What a wonderful day


I’ve noticed something recently, I’ve been stuck in thinking for the past few years, the thinking has been thinking about how to learn the Alexander Technique. I’ve been thinking so long and so hard that things around me are starting to suffer from my thinking, I’ve been to busy thinking to care for the house; in four years the trees and shrubs have grown. Today I’ve been working in the garden cutting them back to some sembelance of order, I’ve cleared gutters, got muddy and dirty, then fell asleep in the bath.

What a wonderful day!

I was caught in one of the most addictive habits – thinking too much. My thinking had me frozen, I could hardly function for trying to think. The trouble with most additions, the addiction tells you that you are doing just fine and you also need the addiction to survive; your addiction has to tell you this to survive however it is a downright lie. Nobody needs addictions, we have everything we need without them. My turnaround was a reading Eckart Tolle’s books, something in his book got me thinkings, I was thinking too much and I didn’t need to do so much, if any at all.

If you don’t know what the Alexander Technique is, it is a collection of games, activities and techniques to help you rediscover your freedom and easy you had as a child. You will become more balanced in gravity and have greater presence in any activity you choose to do.

I wrote above I didn’t need to think; you and I don’t need to think to be in balance and have a strong presence, it comes naturally, let it happen and it will appear. I was thinking too much to achieve something that I didn’t need to think about, I was just being stupid but nobody told me in words that I could understand.

When you and I think we mix together thoughts of the past, dreams of the future, habits and beliefs that we hold. All these thoughts get in the way of being present in the NOW, they skew what we can achieve. These thoughts hold us back, make us clumsy, make us stutter, sing the wrong note, beliefs that we aren’t good enough, thoughts of ‘I can’t do that’. My ‘thinking too much’ stopped me doing any physical activity unless it was about thinking, my thinking was happy to walk the dogs then my thinking got some quiet time in the forest to do some thinking, if I went with someone my thinking didn’t like that, my thinking wanted solitude to think.

I’ve discovered I can think and do things at the same time, my thinking has been changing over the past week or two, I’ve been noticing when my ego has been strong this is when my habits and beliefs emerge, I then pause my thoughts for a moment or two and quietly notice my balance and presence, in a flash my ego disappears and I can carry on with what I’m doing.

My garden has been a really good experiment to try this thinking, I’ve surprised myself with the amount of work I’ve done, I’ve had many thoughts of ‘that’s tiring’ or ‘that’s too heavy’ or some other excuse, each time I’ve paused and quietly notice my balance and presence, each time my ego disappeared and I carried on, each time my ego remained silent for longer.

I think I deserved a hot bath after all that.

I’m looking forward to the next opportunity in the garden.

What is you additive habit, does it have you under its spell?

Alexander Technique

Why hurt yourself because your angry with someone!


Do you ever get angry but just can’t let the anger drop, it just goes on for hours and hours?

I think this isn’t a very helpful response mainly because a recon you are, I am, hurting ourselves. These negative thoughts that keep going around in our heads, each time around the problem just gets worse and worse and before you know it you are in a vicious cycle that you simply can’t get out of. You are in a vortex anger, pulling you down in to dispair and desperation. Not only are you tightening your anger you will be tightening your muscles somewhere, probably where your normal pain is, your lower back, a shoulder perhaps and once the anger has subsided the physical pain remains, maybe for days.

Perhaps next time you have a real long lasting anger notice if you are hurting somewhere a few days afterwards.

We have a few cliches – calm down – don’t get angry and stay calm, there are more. When the moment hits you anger will appear so these calming thoughts just won’t work. Anger is healthy, you want someone to stop or someone has encroached your safety zone, you need to tell someone to desist quickly so they get the point and stop. It is when anger lingers on getting more and more vengeful were the problems start.

Why hurt yourself because your angry with someone!

The other day I caught myself doing all this. However I have a trick that helped let me be angry without the getting caught in the vortex of vengefulness, though I did start on the downward spiral. I paused a moment, not pausing in movement, pausing in my thinking so that I could come back into balance and recover my presence. I became an observer of my thoughts, I listened to my vortex of thoughts, and suddenly these thoughts went quiet, I got the feeling that these thoughts were embarrassed to be around, they were silly, they were overbearing, they were pointless. I was left with stillness even though I was angry, my head had cleared and I knew what to do: that was to let my anger go, it wasn’t needed and was also pointless.

A while ago I would have fumed for a long time, even breaking friendships that didn’t need to be broken just because of a stupid infantile action by either someone or myself. What has changed in me, is that when I notice a trigger, normal a tightening stomach, as I wrote above is, I pause my thoughts for a moment. This has taken some years to get to this point through my training to be an Alexander Technique Teacher and through practicing what I have learnt. In a nutshell, what I practice is noticing what I’m doing, noticing what I’m thinking and noticing where I am in relation to time and space. With this practice my life is more content and happier.

If you want to discover more, you can either wait for the my next blog or you can receive a copy of my blogs via email.