Have you ever noticed that sometimes you can hear the clock ticking and sometimes not!
It happens to me a lot, I can sit in the same rooms with the same clock, sometimes it ticks sometimes not, tick tick.
This is absolutely nothing to do with the clock, it is all to do with me! It happened this morning, I was texting a friend, we were both grumpy, they suggested why not do a Byron Katie? This is a method Byron created to turn the conversation around and check if it’s still true. If you want to know more there will be something out there on the internet.
The turnaround worked and suddenly the clock ticked!
I’d got out of my grumpiness instantly and the clocked ticked and kept ticking. Thank goodness I felt better, back in balance and the quiet presence I really like.
My interpretation to all this is that when your grumpy or in pain or stressed or anxious, to keep surviving and living everything is done using too much tension, I assume this includes hearing as when I’m present the clock ticks.
When was the last time you heard the clock tick, heard birdsong, heard the sounds of the forest? Give yourself time to listen, give yourself time to be present, give yourself time to be here.
The silly thing with your time is that it only exists in a moment, a moment you can’t hold on to, a moment you can’t wait for, a moment that is here now; the best moment you will ever have.
This is a message to you and equally to me, STOP waiting for the right moment because it is now!
Again I’ve not been writing, this time it has been deliberate, I needed time to reflect and also to great some inspiration from somewhere or someone. Last week they arrived at the same time.
I was at the ATI (Alexander Technique International) conference in Ennis in Ireland and Megan Macedo presented for a couple of hours, she’s the story writer.
I’ve been stuck in not writing as I don’t want to write about my troubles and how the Alexander Technique helped me in that particular trouble, the Alexander Technique did, that’s not my problem, I was bored of writing the same sort of thing.
My problem was what to write instead?
The Alexander Technique works for all; it raises your consciousness and awareness in how you move and life your life. Some people have problems raising their consciousness and awareness without loving support. I’ll put my hand up to this.
The Alexander Technique is seen as something to do with posture, a good straight back, sorting lower back pain out; physical sort of stuff. The secret it isn’t any of that stuff, the side effects are those things. The Alexander Technique is about thinking, non- thinking thinking.
Confused, let me explain.
To do something, like writing this blog, there is a series of thoughts I have to generate to build this sentence and then turn this sentence into keystrokes to make it visible on my screen.
Writing this blog starts way before I get to my keyboard, I need an intention to write using my learnt skills to form sentences in English and manual skills to touch the correct keys. There is also emotions that generate intention, in the past I wouldn’t be writing as my emotions would be saying NO WAY! I’ve agreed to differ with that emotion that I’m rubbish at writing, and even more rubbish at writing from the heart, the emotion hasn’t gone, i choose not to engage with it. This week I stood and recited in front of an audience, again I choose not to engage with the emotion that was saying I’ll be rubbish at that. Emotions get empowered by other people agreeing with them, again I can choose not to engage with their comments. The crux of the Alexander Technique is that you can empower your power of choice.
You may be thinking what is choice to do with non-thinking thinking.
There is a point of balance with everything, thinking included, in fact thinking is the heart of our balance. If we try we over balance our thinking and force something to happen you may get away with it in the short term but it won’t be your best option.
There’s a sweet spot in our balance where no effort is required, just like balancing a fork across your finger, too much one way our another and the fork will fall off.
Emotions are the same, there need to be some energy in the emotion but not to much, enough energy with start the flow of emotion > feeling > thought > then into the conscious realm > behaviour > activity. If an inappropriate emotion starts this flow, the behaviour and activity may well be inappropriate or sub optimal.
So how do you stop your emotions running away with you?
From the Alexander Technique view, it is about the teacher being in balance observing in a non-doing non-judgmental way on what you are doing, noticing the critical point when your activity starts to go awry, pause at this moment and work out an alternative indirect way to achieve the activity.
These Alexander skills don’t come cheap, it is many hundreds of hours of practice, more like several thousand hours of practice to develop the skill to notice and understand what is noticed, learning how to be fully aware of yourself and what’s happening around you in each moment are skills needed to help others to develop their consciousness and ability to choose.
Don’t underestimate the skills of an Alexander Technique teacher, that may appear to the quiet and keep to themselves, that is because they respect your space and energy and will not trespass across your boundaries. This makes it very difficult as we can see your pain and troubles, your hubristic way hiding your difficulties. Why not be brave and discover what we have to offer.
One of the activities I really hate but secretly love is running, it is one of those activities that I used to hold my breathe as I prepared to run hence I didn’t get far before I was out of breath!
A pretty obvious outcome but I couldn’t understand why I was always out off breath; it has only been in the recent years that I worked out that I do hold my breath, in fact I hold my breath to start most activities.
You may think this is a strange thing to do, I do now, and many of us have particular foibles when we start an activity. For strenuous activities including running I held my breath.
In fact, I held my breath to start any activity! I wonder what you do?
Now lets turn this around.
From my perspective, getting ready to do something is your ego getting ready by calling up its favourite but not so useful habits; my habit of breathe holding. If I quieten my ego then I’m ready to run and I don’t need to hold my breath, things just happen.
Being ready is a completely different sensation to getting ready.
Being ready I feel light and buoyant, all my joints have the freedom to move, my thinking is livelier and brighter.
Getting ready I feel heavy and locked, my joints are tight and reluctant to move, my thinking is wondering what is going to happen, as I write and experiment with my thoughts, my breath is becoming laboured, butterflies are appearing in my stomach.
Being ready and getting ready are both thoughts generated from my mind and I can choose which thought, I much prefer ‘being ready’ to ‘getting ready’ it is a much happier place however I still have a lingering habit of not choosing and going straight for ‘getting ready’.
The trick is to notice, pause for a moment and then choose. How to choose takes skill and plenty of practice; this is what I teach. We all have the capacity to be ready, with lightness, buoyancy with freedom to move; we just don’t choose it.
Most of our life we have been cajoled, bullied, taught, encouraged to get ready for things by holding, hunkering down, freezing, grimacing so we can demonstrate to others that we are getting ready; I was like that with running.
Last week I decided to take up running again, I joined a 0 to 5 km club, it was into the 6thweek of training, my first for several years. I choose to ‘be ready’, no ‘getting ready’, no holding my breath; it was a breeze. I really enjoyed the run, the circuit we ran was about 3.5 km, dispersed with periods of running and walking. The moments when I noticed I was starting to try harder because of a hill or I was drifting away from the pack, I refreshed on thoughts of being ready and my lightness and buoyancy returned; the gradient became easier and I floated closer to the pack.
We all have this power to choose but many think that life must be hard and difficult if it is to be at all successful, in fact the opposite is true!
I’ve been writing blogs about my Alexander Technique discoveries for a few years, my discovery is how the Alexander Technique has helped me with firstly asthma, which I can say has completely disappeared; if there are any signs I use the Alexander Technique to quieten down and allow any signs of asthma to vaporise.
Secondly to manage anxiety, the Alexander technique is a wonderful tool to help with anxiety, I’ve had plenty of triggers recently to fire up anxiety however I now have the tools to help me quieten down anxiety and get on with my life.
I’ve very rarely had the typical problems that many people discover the Alexander Technique for, namely;
lower back pain,
carpel tunnel syndrome
in fact almost any type of physical pain.
To make things clear the Alexander Technique doesn’t fix anything, it is training that teaches you how to think differently.
A friend of mine eventually came to me recently as the wanted to reduce the number of pain killers; they have had lower back pain for longer than I can remember. They’d taken up previous offers of my help sort of reluctantly so recently I’d decided that I’d wait to be asked for help. Their request eventually came, I helped them and their pain mitigated for a while.
The Alexander Technique has many facets that can be investigated and experimented with. The base of all these facets is constructive conscious control of yourself. This needs practice, like learning to dance, sing, read, write, etc. When I helped my friend, they with my help switched on their constructive conscious control and their pain mitigated however has soon as I stopped working with them their pain slowly reappeared. As I wrote above, this is training and sometimes it takes awhile to cope on your own with new thoughts and ideas, just like speaking a foreign language.
It takes practice and sometimes lots of it especially if something is deeply embedded in your habits. The Alexander Technique is training where you learn how to return to how nature intended, being in balance with gravity and time. Where you are not leaning forward, backward and to the side fighting gravity, you are in balance with gravity. You are not guessing about the future or blaming the past, you are here balanced with time.
Achieving this balance doesn’t happen over night, it will take a while to slowly make small changes that will manifest in huge positive changes to your life. It has for me so I don’t see why can’t for you.
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.
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
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
Love in perception,
Perception is action,
Action is perception.
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.
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.
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!
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.