Tag Archives: contentment

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?

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Who are you trying to please?


Keeping in line with my last few blogs

I’d thought I would keep the theme going for a little longer. We all have grand plans to change; cut down on the booze, coffee, sugar, cigarettes so we are healthier happier people. I know I’ve done these changes many times, some have been very successful but the vast majority eventually fail.

You don’t fail because of the books you’ve read about the change or the equipment you have bought to help you or the community you have joined to help you change, it is something else that forces the failure.

It is something in yourself that says: “Enough is enough, I like it how it was, lets stop this stupid change as you won’t like what you will turn into”. You can change these word to your own.

Everyone welcomes change as long it is someone else doing it!

We fail because we tell ourselves to fail, we may be encouraged to fail by someone else however it is your decision to listen and choose to fail. It is something in your ego that is stopping you make your choice to change. Your ego has many facets to defend, it may be ridicule, failing to change, fear of success, being noticed, not being noticed, loss of friendship, alienation by colleagues … .

I see many changes that we attempt as quite boolean, we are doing something we don’t like so we stop doing it, we instantly switch to on to off. Rather like the facets of your ego,  each facet has two sides. We have a difficult task trying to please our egos as our egos are always on the move. If you’re on a diet and lose a few pounds your ego is joyful and you have the will to carry on, then the following weight in you have gained a few pounds, it’s the end of the world, lets give up. It is the same you but your ego has switched sides. The problem seems to be the reaction to the weigh-in, one solution is not to weigh-in or another is not to react to the results of the weigh-in. I went to the slimming club once, it was all praise and blame; a perfect place to hone egos.

Not reacting probably needs more explaining, it how you react to news, you could be vengeful or joyous basically overdoing the emotional response. This triggers the thought to I must try harder or it’s not worth it anymore. Quietening down the response may be better and even better stopping your ego in its tracks. You can stop your ego in its tracks by being consciously present and in balance. It is hard at first, with practice it gets easier and will become part of your day, turning the power up when it is needed.

To start on this journey to quieten your ego, you first need to notice when your ego gets noisy and demanding, pause to really listen to what your ego is saying, quietly ask your ego “why” or “what” or “when” or “where’ or “how”. You should notice your ego quieten down, if your ego rises again ask the questions again. Whilst your ego is quiet you may discover what you really want.

For now, notice, pause and ask the questions. You may discover something wonderful.

 

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.

Two pints sober


The weekend is here, what shall I do?

There’s plenty to do but what do I want to do!

That’s the problem, I don’t know. My wife said; “why are you loitering around in the kitchen – go write a blog.”  So here is the blog. Now lets see where this leads?

I’ve decided to write a blog most days of this week, I’ve sort of been successful, well almost. I’ve done this loads of times, dieting, cutting out alcohol and coffee. I last for a few days then back to how I was. Recently somethings have been different, for the past few month I’ve lost the urge to drink alcohol, I do on occasion like when I was in Spain last week, I was enjoying the sun and the beer went well with the sun. Now back home the urge has gone.

I’ve got a few reasons,

  • I don’t like feeling drunk
  • I don’t like losing my freedom; can’t drive etc
  • I don’t like losing my freedom and aliveness; alcohol dulls this
  • I don’t like losing myself

In the past I used to like feeling drunk as I could lose myself, my freedom and aliveness and rediscover my drunken freedom and aliveness. My drunken freedom and aliveness was a reflection of myself without my fears and worries however it didn’t last. Years ago when I used to play snooker, I was Ok when I was sober, two pints I was fantastic, three pints started the rapid decline to hopelessness. Being two pints sober was enough to dampen my fears and worries, I had bravado, free from my inhibitions. I guess this is why I drank however I didn’t stop at two, three or four, as I drank more the more my inhibition reduced, however my moral compass reduced even more rapidly.

I initially stopped drinking a couple of years ago, probably teetotal for about a year, now I choose when I drink, just like Spain last week.

This wasn’t easy but I persisted. My tactics were very simple and easy, notice when I fancied a drink or when I met that habitual response for example not wanting a drink and going to a pub then the urge was huge. When I noticed the urge, I told myself not this time. Slowly the urges quietened down, the pub one is still there but manageable.

The reasons I mentioned above are my reasons now, I didn’t have a reason when I started, I’d set myself a challenge.

Of the reasons above it is ‘not losing myself’ that is the strongest, perhaps now that I’m more centred and balanced due to all the Alexander Technique training I’ve done I’m permanently two pints sober. Perhaps I should take up snooker again!

My next habit I’m playing with is drinking coffee, I really enjoy a Latte or an Americano however two or three a day they say isn’t healthy and they do eat into my wallet, it’s surprising how much they cost over a week. I’ve just finished week one with success, the plan is not to drink coffee when I’m at work, so I may relent tomorrow as it is Saturday. Again the same plan, notice the urge for coffee and say not this time. I now drink a lot more water to replace the trips to the coffee shop.

Me saying ‘not this time’ is a shortcut to noticing where I am in time and space and being very present. The urge then disappears as with other egoic thoughts.

If you want to learn how to be two pints sober without drinking a drop, why not contact me and I’ll tell you more.

I’ve decided, continue decluttering is this weekends job.

 

A pleasurable outcome that leads to other opportunities


Of course with all this contentment I’ve been writing about I still have to get on and do things; working, driving, keeping the house tidy, planning events and holidays, etc, etc; life still needs to go on whilst being contented and grounded. But these things are somehow easier, I don’t have, it does pop up occasionally, the doubt, worry and I’m not good enough thoughts. When they do pop up I know I’ve slipped out of balance somewhere and I bring my balance back and these thoughts just vaporise, some of these thought may be persistent then I pause for a longer moment, sometimes they don’t want to leave me, I then continue with the knowledge they are there with me, I may be doubting myself as I continue; at the moment I have this doubt, I guess I’m touching a nerve in that I am opening up to much to whoever is reading this blog.

Writing this blog is my choice and clicking on the ‘publish’ button is another choice, I’ve got plenty of blogs that haven’t been published for some reason or other.

Life is full of choices and they can be changed at any point, there are even more choices the more present you are, ugh you may be thinking, I’ve got enough choices already and why do I want to be conscious and get more. I’ve noticed that the choices are different, I’m not making choices that I don’t want to make, I’m not bending to someone else’s will. Sometimes life brings the inevitable, a flat car tyre, it will need to be fixed if you want to continue on your journey then acceptance can be brought into the activity. There’s no need for anger though you may be annoyed, there’s no need to be embarrassed for something that is out of your control. Being accepting of the situation you maintain your balance and contentment and you may find a more pleasurable outcome that leads to other opportunities.

How about noticing when you next get angry or annoyed let the vengefulness slide away and disappear. You can still be angry or annoyed and grounded and contented at the same time. I find at that moment there are plenty of more opportunities and choices to be made though your authentic self.

Please give it a go when you have the opportunity.

 

 

Go on, give it a go!


So how do you find contentment? It’s one of those very easy things to do be ever so hard to achieve, I think I’ve got a plan but have I?

It’s just one of those things.

If you think you have it, it just disappears in a puff of smoke. If it is so elusive why do people want it so much? Is it because of its scarcity, elusive or is it because you hear good things about contentment.

You can discover through various channels, yoga, meditation, reflexology, energy work, martial arts, mindfulness and for me it was via the Alexander Technique. As I’ve written before these channels or methods are just one of many ways to get you to notice what you are doing and then to invite a change, hopefully for the better.

What I like about the Alexander Technique is that it is sort of mindfulness in activity but it is a lot more than that. The Alexander Technique is choosing to be conscious in what you choose to do. You have options to choose, sometimes it is best to let your reactions take over, say, avoiding a speed car or something falling near you and you need to avoid it. However most of the time you could be more conscious in what you do, it is your choice. However being more conscious in what you do does lead you to being more content, I’ve noticed less things phase me, my anger and equally my joyfulness have lost their energies, of course if I choose to.

Many people think they know what the Alexander Technique is, isn’t about posture, something about a straight back? It is but it isn’t, it’s about thinking and allow yourself to be as it should be, then again it’s not about the thinking, or what I think you think thinking is.

The thinking I’m suggesting is akin to non-thinking but is more than non-thinking. If you are confused, join the club, I was confused for years.

My confusion was that I thought I had to do something to do this ‘more than non-thinking’ stuff, the secret is there is nothing to do as it is built into ourselves already.

If we take a moment or several moments for me, you may notice more things in your vicinity, noises may get louder, I notice that normally silent clocks get loader, my sight gets cleared and my peripheral vision increases, my sense of touch increases, these sensations only that if I stop fretting and worrying about things. All this can be achieved by using mindful techniques, what is different with the Alexander Technique is we practice this whilst in everyday activities. So you may find when you have an Alexander Technique lesson that the activities my seem a little contrived, for example moving from sitting to standing, if you think about it, how many times a day do you sit on a chair and how many times are you really conscious of sitting and standing or any other routine activity?

Experimenting with the routine everyday activities gives you plenty of homework to experiment with. How about experimenting now? When you next decide to move from sitting to standing start to notice things,

  • What are you thinking, if there is any judgement let it go and move to standing?
  • What limbs do you use, let any judgement go and move to standing?
  • What muscles do you need to use?
  • What happened with your breathe, did you hold your breath or gasp before you started the activity?
  • What happened when you reached your full height, was there any judgement?

You may have your own questions you want to ask yourself, please avoid being judgmental as judgement will mask your discoveries and also you’ll lose your presence.

What you may find is that you start the experiment and all of a sudden you are standing with no recollection of the questions or even moving from sitting to standing. What ever you notice is great, next time you experiment you will notice something else, keep experimenting and noticing the change. Of course you could seek out an Alexander Technique teacher or even me, you will get quicker results and a noticeable change in how you move in your daily activities and also in your contentment with life.

Go on, give it a go!

That’s not what I do, it’s not what I am!


It’s pretty hard to write about anything when I’m content with myself, strangely I have the urge to write, but what to write about!

I like this sense of calm, I’m aware of myself, what I’m doing and my environment, in my office on a rainy January Sunday. This sense of calm has taken some time to appear, over the past few years I’ve tried so hard to discover this calm, it has all ways been out of reach. I’ve been ill with what I guess was flu so I’ve had sometime to stop my normal busy life and do nothing. I started listening to people I trust, the common story was “you’re doing too much – stop it”. For some reason I listened, even took up the offer of some reflexology with Deborah. Whatever she did changed me in some way, I think there were also some other contributing factors as well, I stopped and listened to others and more importantly my body, I’ve also read two thought provoking books, Brene Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness” and Eckhart Tolle’s ” A New Earth”. I only decided the read ‘ A New World” as I saw a copy of one of Eckhart’s books in Deborah’s treatment room.

The books and my past Alexander Training have a common theme, bringing consciousness to the for, then you have the opportunity to be authentic if you want to.

My problem in the past has been ‘if I wanted to’; I’ve never really thought that I was worthy therefore I choose not to. I’ve had moments of a really strong sense of authenticity but never had the nerve to take it any further because of thoughts of “that’s not what I do, it’s not what I am”.

Being ill has given me the time to experiment without my normal external stimuli and also to quieten down my internal stimuli. Noticing when I measure things as good or bad, happy or sad; these measures are just thoughts that feed my ego. So instead I’ve been experimenting at noticing when I make a judgement, pausing for a moment, asking myself do I need to be judgmental about whatever it was, the answer has always been no. This is a slight lie as I never get to ask the question, pausing for a moment and reconnecting with the ground and space around me I become present, in the here and now. Being in the present the judgmental thought just evaporates hence the question disappears.

This all sounds like a lot of work and thinking, I thought that but you will find it is less thinking than second guessing others and building up negative energies by being judgmental.

If you have thoughts of “that’s not what I do, it’s not what I am” or you find that you keep making or taking sides in various situations, perhaps you could experiment with discovering your authenticity. It is such a contented space to be in, I was going to write ‘such a happy space’ but this isn’t true,  being contented could be happy or sad, however happy and sad are measurements of some sort that will break your contentment.

Have you ever found this contentment?

 

 

 

 

Write your own rules


I haven’t blogged for a while and I’m not sure if this blog will be published, however I have the intention to write it but I haven’t got much attention to write it. It may be because we have just returned from a break over Easter meeting old friends and new friends for the first time. It was something that someone said to me during the last week; “believe in myself because it is the right thought”. It was said when I was working with her in an Alexander Technique activity, my fingers where drawn to a point on her shoulder, a point where she was tense. My senses were accurate but I didn’t believe them  and it wasn’t Alexander Technique thinking!

I was holding myself back because of my beliefs, in hindsight I’ve been doing this for years, not believing what I was thinking. I probably need to add that these thoughts rise when I’m calm, content, in a safe place, a state of mindfulness with my senses enlightened with a very strong of presence. Having trained many hours in the  Alexander Technique, I think I’d developed a thought of what Alexander Technique Thinking is. These thoughts have constrained me, they are not real just something that I thought was true, perhaps I need a set of rules to work to, perhaps we all need rules to abide to or is it fail to.

Constraining my thoughts to imaginary rules just sets me out to fail and fail quickly.

What are your rules?

Wow, that got my attention, I write my own rules to fail to!

So why?

  • So I can under achieve
  • So I don’t exceed my limits
  • So people will like me
  • So I can hide in the middle
  • So I get pity
  • because I’ve been caught in some social conditioning
    • being British
    • keeping myself within my social standing
  • So I can be normal

It doesn’t really matter why, the important thing is to notice, pause and do something different, if I want to. I may want to seek pity, that’s fine if I know I’m doing that, the problem is when it become habitual.

The reasons why her point of tension was so important, firstly, she is an Alexander Technique Teacher with years of experience, secondly, I spoke to her about wanting to really push at her tense point and she told me I was correct in my thinking, thirdly, she told me to follow my senses and do what is needed. I instantly realised I had written myself my own rules of engagement for my Alexander Technique work, I let these rules go and the work just flowed.

If all this intrigues you, drop me a line and I’ll tell you more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop looking and it will appear


I’ve been studying Alexander’s discovery for a few years now, I’ve visited several schools and I have gotten a different definition of his discovery at each school. This is confusing and frustrating, each school appproaches the same thing from a different direction, but why.

The answer is quite simple, the discovery is very hard to verbalise so different metaphors and physical activities are used to explain this discovery. Some will work for me but not for you. I’ve found that if you go with someone’s definition and it doesn’t suit you will be led down a blind ally, you will pick up useful information on the way but you won’t discover the discovery. I know this as I did it. It’s frustrating, it’s time wasting, made me feel like a failure.

It is some of these but much more, learning that something isn’t for me is a very powerful learning point. I can choose to stop and change direction. I’m glad I did, then the thoughts that I should have stopped earlier arise, perhaps I should but was I in a position to notice that a change was available, probably not, I was thinking that the end of my journey was near and if I stuck with it, it would be over and then get on with the next part of my life.

So what is this discovery, well it’s a rediscovery of youthfulness. If you ever meet an Alexander Teacher, guess their age then add ten years to your guess and you will be pretty close, this discovery lets you look younger and physically fitter than the average for your age group especially as you get older.

So this discovery is the elixir of youth, perhaps it is but it is also the holy grail. If you seek it you won’t find it as it is with you all the time, stop looking and it will appear. The various teaching methods are just the way how someone discovered this discovery and they are telling their way to the discovery.

I’ve written around this discovery for many blogs, perhaps I didn’t know what it really is as I was trying to decipher somebody’s metaphor and it wasn’t working for me.

Unfortunately I’m going to state what the discovery is to me, this may not work for you.

This discovery is about me, and for you, to be the most important person in your universe, being conscious of the environment about you, that’s in the room and then beyond, as far as you can imagine. This thought will only last a moment, this moment can not be keeped or reused, a new thought needs to be generated and then again and again so there is a contiguous flow of thoughts without dwelling on the past nor trying to figure out the future.

This takes some practice, then applying it all the time is some feat. So these thoughts swing in and out. When they are needed I increase their frequency.

The next part is that we are continuously communicating with each other and animals. My dogs can read my mind and to some extent I can read theirs. Have you ever known who is calling you without looking at the caller display, or tried to call someone but they are engaged because they are calling you. This is our natural communications, this communication can be enhanced when we are near to each other and enhanced again by touch. Our communication drastically improves if we don’t dwell on the past nor figuring out the future.

The person we are closest to is ourself, we can communicate to ourselves as exceptionally well, we have the best communication within ourselves but we just don’t listen; we can tell ourselves so much to keep ourselves well and healthy but why don’t we listen?

The world is your oyster


In my previous blog A dog with a new bone I wrote about the shield I held in front of me, nobody saw it whether I was hold up or thrown it on the floor, my shield was pretty pointless, I know that now but for the past decade or so I thought it was very important to use, it protected me. In reality it stopped me from doing things I wanted, stopped me saying things I wanted to say, stifled my creativity and most important of all it stopped me from being the real me.

Have you ever thought that I could do that but decided not to because:

  • They won’t like what I say
  • It’s too hard for me to do
  • It’s out of my comfort zone
  • They don’t respect me so it’s not worth doing.

I have and now I regret things I haven’t done.

The thing is, these are your thoughts about whatever the topic is, no one else’s, they don’t know what you are thinking as you don’t know what they are thinking. These thoughts have been my shield, they prevent me from moving on.

What I did was experiment with these thoughts and turn the thoughts around by making them positive, for example ‘they will like what I say’ and get on and speak, notice their reaction, I’ve been pleasantly surprised, no bad remarks and thanks for honestly.

I’d got in the way of my own authenticity.

There is a little more to this, I NEEDED TO BE TRUTHFUL TO MYSELF, if I didn’t like what I was saying, it didn’t work; people know authenticity and they know the opposite.

What I’ve learnt and written in previous blogs is that these skills take time and determination to be developed, there is a shortcut, find someone to help you, I found the Alexander Technique and have since trained to teach the technique.

I learnt that the very first thing is to notice negative emotional and physical reactions to activities, once a reaction is noticed then the change can happen, perhaps turn the thought around to ‘they will like what I say’ then notice what happens. To start to notice things you need to know where you are in time and space, if you are too busy worrying about something else or hurting from physical pain then it will be very difficult to start noticing other things, I can help with this, part of the many hours of training over 3 years is to show people how to rediscover their capacity to be here in this very moment and also to enjoy their own space. From this point the world is your oyster.