Tag Archives: contentment mindfulness

Depression hides the years 


Sometimes it is hard to be a man, there is a lot of expectation from others.

  • Your reliable
  • The stalwart of …
  • The bread winner
  • Stoic
  • Trustworthy

All these things and more eventually get men down, they just want to be themselves but don’t know how to be themselves.

From a very early age they have learnt to be men;

  • they don’t cry
  • they are tough
  • nothing hurts them
  • they club together doing manly things

This is what separates men from women!

However all this trying to be something they are not eventually gets to much and something snaps. Then,

  • Divorce
  • Family separation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Physical Illness because of the above
  • Alienation from the manly clubs

All of a sudden the things that us men have been trying to achieve are now valueless, we are valueless, we are middle-aged with all our dreams broken. In the UK this is the point many men commit suicide; their dreams are shattered and there is nothing to live for.

I’ve survived and I’ve been through all this, it’s not nice but luckily I can’t remember much as depression hides the years.

One of the things that has helped my, especially in the last few years is that I am good enough as I am. A hard thing to grasp when self hatred is everywhere, please believe me, you are good enough. So you are good enough, so you don’t need a try.

I’ve discovered trying is such a no no, We are brought up to try at everything.

  • Trying to be reliable
  • Trying to be a stalwart
  • Trying to be the bread winner
  • Trying to be stoic
  • Trying to be trustworthy.

We can be all these things and more without trying. Life is easier without trying and life is fun, people treat you differently when you don’t try, they can see your authentic self without sifting though all the layers of trying. They smile at you, they are comfortable near your space, life is just happier.

Breaking the myths about men would be great, so men

  • can cry
  • are tough but also tender
  • things do hurt them
  • can club together doing manly and other things
  • can be their authentic selves

Changing the habit of trying is extremely difficult as we are deeply conditioned to try. It takes time but is achievable, I did it so it’s not impossible. Start at the small things, notice something that you do that annoys you, something that won’t change the world but you will be pleased as its one less thing that annoys you.

Notice when it happens and don’t do anything about it, just notice and observe. Notice and observe a few times, you should get better at noticing it and you may notice the urge before you do it. When you notice the urge perhaps sometimes do something different or don’t follow urge by doing it, you have given yourself choices , make the most appropriate one each time, you may want it scratch the itch or not. You now have options.

With practice you should be able to notice more and make more choices in what you want to do. As I wrote this takes time and you may discover that you are the one in control of your own life, you can make your life happy or sad, vengeful or forgiving, You have the choice.

This is my journey, if you want to know my, then please join my mailing list to find out more.

It is not just men who have these problems, women do as well.

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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.

Something snaps and anxiety appears


I’ve noticed that I’m drawn to people with anxiety, perhaps that is because I’ve been there, I may be still there, I now feel so much better and thats because I’ve found my here and now. Anxious thoughts can’t get me if I’m conscoiusly present, being in the here and now.

I’ve discovered that there is trying to be in the here and now and being in the here and now. They are totally different, one works for a time and is tiring, the other effortless and  continuously works.

Trying is tiring and being is effortless.

I’ve done loads of trying, it is hard work and develops muscular pain. Being is some much better.

Trying is desperately seeking the end goal at the detriment of the journey to get there.

Being is enjoying journey and noticing how the journey changes to get to your goal, sometimes the goal posts change as you discover what you are looking for wasn’t really for you.

When you finally notice that yo have anxiety, there may be years of not noticing, life was just getting more and more awkward, then something snaps and anxiety appears.

When the snap happened for me I immediately wanted to try and get rid of it, I tried and tried which compounded the anxiety, It wasn’t until very recently that I could be free of anxiety by trying to be in the here and now, it worked for a few hours then I tired and anxiety created back. I’d recommend trying to be in the here and now if only for a respite and the knowledge that you can control your anxiety. This could be a stepping stone to being free of anxiety. This takes practice and more practice, practice of noticing muscular tension and releasing the tension, when you start you will notice large areas of muscular tension and with practice you’ll notice the slight tightening of a muscle.

The muscular activity I’m referring to, is a tightening when something uncomfortable triggers anxiety. Noticing your reactions to a stimulus, and having techniques in improving your presence will mitigate your anxiety.

It has worked for me so why not you.

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Getting caught out


I’ve just got back from my walk with our dogs, put the kettle on and my wife said, “I suppose your are going to write then” I was thinking it but I didn’t know I was so predictable.

I was tempted not to write as I’d been caught out, my wife noticed one of my habits before me. I expect she knows more of my habits than she lets on.

Habits sometimes have bad press, they get blamed for things, they can put me and you into danger, they can be annoying. However without habits;

  • I wouldn’t be writing this blog as I wouldn’t know where the key on the key board are,
  • I wouldn’t be able to read or write
  • I wouldn’t be able to walk to the computer
  • I wouldn’t be able to understand what is being said

I fact without habits I wouldn’t be able to function as a human being.

Habits aren’t so bad after all, but I guess if you are like me you also have good and bad habits.

The knack is recognising which habit is good and bad.

Unfortunately putting habits in the good or bad buckets just doesn’t work.

I created all my habits for a purpose, as did you. My assumption is that my habits were developed to help me to survive at a particular time of my life, the habit was successful so it is kept it to be used again at some point.

My thoughts on habits are that they are a series of shortcuts that can be automated to make life a little easier. If you search around you’ll find volumes of books describing what others think about habits.

The habit may remain but the situation and environment when it was useful will have disappeared or changed, the habit is stuck in the past and is no longer relevant. We just keep using these habits over and over again, I’ve a few, probably loads; writing after a walk, is one I’ve just been told about.

It is very hard to notice your own habits; biting nails, a nervous scratch, a stutter, lower back pain, anxiety, writing after a walk, … .

Noticing is the first step in observing your our habits, sometimes you may need a prompt from someone, but what next? If the habit is stopping you getting on with your life then perhaps you may need some help so you can learn some simple techniques to allow you to fulfil you dreams. If you may want to know more then why not join my mailing list and I’ll let you into some secrets.

 

 

Freedom and easy; psychophysical wellness


I’ve been thinking about what I’ve been training for over the past few years, I signed up for the training because after my many sessions I was free and at ease with myself each time, I wanted to pass this freedom and ease on to others, it is a wonderful skill we all have, some of us just need someone to show us where we hid this skill and let it blossom.

I’ve never been comfortable with the term Alexander Technique Teacher it either means nothing or something what it is not. In the Sun, a UK newspaper (the link goes to the article) it was stated as “a specific stretching programme called the Alexander Technique are all great ways to improve your posture”. From my view that is totally wrong however I understand where the writer is coming from, I surmising they had a session with a teacher and the teacher invited them to lengthen some muscles hence the stretching.

So if you want a good stretch find an Alexander Technique Teacher, perhaps some may get a referral from the newspaper article, what do you tell the client?

I didn’t know what the Alexander Technique was when I started my teacher training, I knew its output, which was freedom and ease. The process was a mystery and was for a few years of my training, lots of tools, games and techniques but it didn’t join together. I know now or I understand now, the Alexander Technique Teachers is to help people to improve their psychophysical wellbeing by helping them discover their hidden skill of being free and at ease with themselves hence with life.

A tall order, this is why there is a need for all the tools, games and techniques; we all learn in different ways. I guess it is easy for the client and the teacher to get stuck in the tools, games and techniques and lose the purpose of helping others to discover their psychophysical wellness.

We are all creatures of habit and Alexander Technique Teachers challenge the strong beliefs that have helped us to survive until now. The newspaper article got it the wrong way around, it’s nothing about stretching and everything about releasing,

Doing less so the right thing can take over.

During a session we can invite muscles to release, the feeling of freedom and ease appears but is quickly lost after the session, if this is repeated over several session I would suggest the benefit is only therapeutic and not a learning experience. The Alexander Technique is about learning to discover your own psychophysical wellness.

If you are stuck in this therapeutic cycle, you may be very happy to not explore, I was for years, it was very comfortable and nice.

A weekly top-up of niceness.

To learn anything there is a simple trilogy

  • Learning needs a learning plan and passion to achieve the learning plan.
  • Learning needs an observer to observe and ask non-judgmental questions about how you are executing your learning plan
  • Learning need trust and belief in what your are learning, the observer also needs trust and belief in what they are observing to achieve your learning plan

If any of these are missing then learning will be a struggle.

There’s many reasons to not to engage with this trilogy, I suspect the main reason is that you will need to step out of your comfort zone, stepping into the abyss, to make a change. It seems scary, it is but it is also wonderfully scary, opportunities just open up.

In the abyss there is time to choose, time to notice, time to say no to habits, time to do something else, time for contentment, time for psychophysical wellness.

Many people come to the Alexander Technique to discover how to control/manage pain somewhere in their body.

They have a passion with a plan to be pain free. They probably don’t know about the process but they trust the teacher knows and trusts the process.

Over sessions they develop more and more trust in the teacher with a few ahh moments, the ahh moments are when something changes, trust in the process starts. Real change happens regularly with your passion, with the aid of your teacher and trust in the process.

Freedom and easy is rediscovered; psychophysical wellness, ahh.

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My replacement salbutamol


That old friend, asthma came visiting this week. I met someone over the weekend, they said their cold was over and that it had laid them up for 3 days; thanks for the warning. What they had hit me on Monday, today is Thursday and I now feel like I can function now, their 3 days was spot on. Now my wife is enjoying the pleasure or not!

In the past, with a chest infection like I had and it’s still lingering, I would have used some salbutamol to ease my way. Instead I used some thoughts, very particular thoughts. Thoughts of freedom and aliveness with the possibility to move at any moment. This may read as crazy but these thoughts really worked. I did have rasping breath, I was dizzy when I changed from lying to standing, my temperature was hot and then cold however my breathing was free and alive.

I didn’t move my breathing to the top of my lungs like I would have done in the past.

So why is this? If you are like me, my asthmatic response is to really try to breathe with a belief that breathing is best done from the top of my lungs, this is a really bad way to breathe but in those moments it seems so true, it’s the only way.

It’s not!

I’ve had years believing this is the best way in moments of stress or anxiety,

It isn’t!

I know how to breathe without trying to breathe, I do it every night when I’m asleep, perhaps it could happen when I’m awake?

What I did, was to cut off my stimulus to a reaction at the pass. It was highly likely that asthma would visit again if got a chest infection, it did, but I didn’t react in my normal way, this time, I gave asthma space, aliveness with the opportunity of move at any moment.

This takes practice, a few years for me.

Don’t be without your inhaler when you need it.

The freedom and aliveness is not just for the asthma, it is for me firstly then anything want to use freedom and aliveness for. This week it has been for myself to help me breathe with freedom and aliveness. I must say, this is the first time for a heavy cold, it worked, it worked extremely well.

The freedom is trusting that my body will look after itself if I allow the freedom then my body can be alive to do whatever it needs to do. My asthmatic reaction is to tighten my chest and force my breathe, this time I chose my body to be free. This sounds trite but it really does work for me.

If you want know more then please join my mailing list.

P.S. I was going to put an image of an inhaler but my dogs look a lot better. Harry is the old boy, sadly gone a few years ago, Flint is now the old boy.

P.P.S My wife now knows what man flu is like. It’s real and hurts!

 

 

 

 

The missing elephant


I’ve been in the Alexander Technique community for over ten years, my question is “What is the Alexander Technique?”

Over the years I’ve thought I’d known what it is.

I thought it was moving in and out of a chair and somehow after I felt more at ease, sometimes I got a treat with some table work, I just laid there on the table and the teacher freed up my shoulders and hips. That was good.

The early years it was just a therapy, they loosened me up and I tightened myself up between the sessions.

I like what they did so;

I started my teacher training, I was taught sitting and standing, working with the other students on a table, oh of course the “monkey’ and hands on the back of the chair. We read Alexanders books, gave presentations, and a whole host of other activities. I really enjoyed my time at this school until the last two terms, however for me there was something fundamentally missing, non of it really joined up together, I felt we were skirting around the elephant in the room, It may have just been me, I was missing something,

I was missing the elephant.

I moved school.

I discovered that what was missing was psychophysical unity,

I read about it,

I understood it,

But I wasn’t it and didn’t want to be it!

I guess it was the approach the school went about it, their approach wasn’t for me, I just didn’t get it.

I get it now.

What has changed is that the Alexander Technique is about being your authentic self, it is not about chairs and tables. This is a huge difference, if you focus on chairs and tables you’ll just get good at chairs and tables, if you teach others to discover their authentic self, you may or may not need to use chairs and tables in this discovery.

The Alexander Technique is being your authentic self with psychophysical unity. You can replace psychophysical unity with freedom and aliveness.

If you want to learn the methods to rediscover your authentic self with all the freedom and aliveness you need, perhaps you can like this page so you will get a reminder when I next write.

Rediscover your elegance


When I go to London, I sometimes meet a woman sometimes I don’t; Last night I did. She was doing her usual thing being very busy, being very efficient. She always stops what she’s doing and we have a chat and a catch up from last time we met.

This blog is about her.

What I see is a very capable woman however she doesn’t know how capable she is;

  • she tries to hard,
  • she works too hard,
  • she tries to please to hard.

Her trying stops her true potential to shine through, I’m just the same as are many others.

Trying is a vicious circle which is maintained by the doubt of not being good enough, not being good enough make you want to try harder and harder, becoming a slave to your own self doubt.

Once stuck in this circle of trying and doubting it is very hard to see a way out, some may want you to stay in it as become a reliable employee or so they think!

Trying and doubting are exhausting, wouldn’t it be better to be good at what you do without all that effort!

The first thought is to notice your surroundings whilst going about what you are doing, you may have an intention to get somewhere but enjoy the journey. It probably won’t take anymore time and you maybe quicker however you’ll get there happy, contented and more at ease.

Enjoy the space that you are in, we all occupy space as we move around, have a thought about how eligant you are as you move around in your space. However don’t float around in your elegance, you need to use the support from the ground, enjoy the touch of the ground with your feet as you elegantly move in your space.

Now include your surroundings with your elegance, so your space now includes the room you are in, the people, table, chairs, just everything. There is a catch however, if you feel doubt then you are holding on to a thought. Thoughts are like a film reel with on image for each frame. If the projector stops on a frame the projected image will freeze

My two big feet


I feel good today,

I’ve apologised,

I’ve apologised for something that I didn’t want to do in the first place,

I’ve apologised for a side effect that had happen because something else had to happen.

It all happened over twenty years ago,

it only feels like yesterday.

I was in such a mess,

I thought my world was coming to the end,

I couldn’t,

I didn’t want my life to follow what I thought was planned for me,

I needed to change,

I made a decision and jumped with that decision with gusto and my two big feet.

I knew there would be after effects  but I didn’t expect them to last this long.

Two decades and a bit, is a long, long time.

One way I found to cope was to just deny it ever happened,

that worked for a few years, may be a decade.

Birthdays and Christmas’s were when denial failed.

I got grumpy and angry.

I began to hate Christmas,

what’s the point without family!

You may have guessed, I forced a divorce, I could face living with my then wife another day, it very quickly became very acrimonious, I went into a melt down and for the sake of my children’s sanity I broke contact with them. They were getting a good strong dose of PAS parent alienation and with me sticking around it was only getting worse.  I paid for their support and for their university fees but never got a thank you or any recognition or any contact at all, they’ve married but I only heard that through the grapevine, now their children are being born, still no contact.

PAS lasts along time. Thankfully others have influenced my children and have discovered that what they have been told over the decades isn’t exactly true, most probably made up by a furtive mind trying to maintain their status quo.

I’ve was told they are just waiting for an apology, this morning I wrote and sent the apology via someone we both know.

Now I’m just waiting. It’s strange, I’ve tried to write and send letters before, they were never sent, there was too much anger in the words, now I’m quite content, the letter flowed, it was honest and truthful. I’m overjoyed by writing a letter so freely and open. This could have never happened in my days of denial and anger, angry that things didn’t happen in the utopian dream that I had. Life is real, life is in the moment, if you force things to happen then it just won’t go the way you planned; the end of utopia.

The best made plans never survive first contact with the enemy: Someone is quoted this or saying something like it.

The greatest influence in getting to this point is working with Alexanders discovery, in fact being aware where I am in time and space not only helped me with asthma, it’s now disappeared, anxiety depression and just living. I still have episodes of doubt but now I can catch them early, well most of the time by asking myself if my doubt is real or imaginary. The doubts are always imaginary therefore I don’t need them so I can let it go. As I’ve written in previous blogs, this isn’t a quick fix it takes time, don’t be hard on yourself. It has taken a several years to allow my anger to subside so that I can now write an apology. Also seek help from someone you trust, this is difficult to do on your own.

If you want to know what happens next, you could like my blog and you will get a notification when I publish next.

 

Humans think too much


My last few blogs have been about the here and now and the habits that just love to hold me back from being in the here and now. You could say this is the mindfulness part of Alexander’s discovery, what makes Alexander’s discovery different to mindfulness is his discovery works on the whole psychophysical self; you can’t have one or the other. Splitting ourselves into parts, whatever the parts are, we lose the point of the self.

We are more than the sum of the parts.

What I’ve started to understand is that the less I try to do the better I can do the thing I was trying to do. Letting go of the need to achieve and I can easily achieve what ever it was doing.

When letting go using Alexanders discovery there’s more clarity of purpose, the intention I’ve written about is intense.

Alexanders discovery is about the head, neck and back relationship, how the head leads and the rest of your body follows, it’s as simple as that. Simple for fish, tigers, lions, dogs, cats, hamsters and maybe all other species to achieve naturally but for humans it seems  difficult to grasp.

Humans think too much.

For humans to move freely we need to let go of unnecessary and obstructive thoughts. In many cases it is these unnecessary and obstructive thoughts that give you pain somewhere in your body. Letting go whilst allowing your head lead so that my body can follow is a wonderful calming thought, it contains the mindfulness part ‘letting go’ with Alexanders discovery ‘head body relationship’; the psychophysical self.

Give it a go, gentle rock on your chair if you are sitting, can you notice a change in the quality of movement. Try walking allowing your head to lead. Be safe. Did you notice a quietness and a change in you movement. Perhaps you couldn’t or didn’t want to move because what I asked is so different to your normal habits. Whatever happens, it is observing what has happened psychophysically, observing without judgement.

Somethings are hard to spot by yourself even when watching yourself in a mirror or video, on many occasions it takes the trained observation senses of an Alexander Technique teacher to notice and offer  nonjudgmental observation.

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