Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, Inhibition, present, self-doubt, stopping, trying

You, me and the dog makes three


To be content with life, there are at least two ways of doing this.

The first I’ve tried for many years, it seems to work, what do you think?

Here’s the plan, sit back observe everyone and get an idea how to please them. Work out a whole lot of what if’s and maybe’s and set the plan in motion, then things don’t seem to go to plan, so add a few more what if’s and maybe’s. I’ve done this for years, it can be effective but very tiring trying to second guess and please folk.

It works to a point but I didn’t put myself in place I should be, I’ve made myself a slave to everyone and everything else. If I’m at the service first to everyone and myself second I’m not looking after myself and I’ll eventually break.

The second method, you may have guessed, is to:

1.Put myself first,  not in a selfish way but self-full,

  • I care about myself,
  • I’m content with myself,
  • I’m conscious of what I do
  • I’m efficacious in what I do

2. However this isn’t really enough on its own, these on their own are just being selfish, bothers need to be included.

  • I’m observant of my friends and colleagues
  • I accept the support off my friends and colleagues
  • I trust my friends and colleagues

3. However this is still not enough, I interact with equipment and tools, to be inclusive these need to be considered.

  • I understand how to use the tools
  • I’m skilled at using the tools
  • I’m conscious of my use when a use the tools

4. However this is still not enough, I interact with other people and the environment, to be fully inclusive they need to be considered as well.

  • I recognise that I live with other people and the environment
  • I recognise the other people and the environment support me both directly and indirectly
  • I can accept the support of other people and the environment openly

There is a catch to all this, each of the above points need to be in balance with each other, if one has a greater pull then the others will suffer and contentment will suffer.

Here’s an example, I’m a singer with an orchestra, (if only)

  • Point 1 is about myself
  • Point 2 is about the members of the orchestra
  • Point 3 is about my body and voice
  • Point 4 is about the audience and the theatre.

Take a moment or a few moments each day to consider who and what are in your points and in your thoughts.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, Alexander Technique Congress, End-gaining, Inhibition, present, stopping, trying

Making considered choices


There’s something about blogging I quite like, I don’t know what is really is but it’s enjoyable, in the last blog I decided to write about what ever come to me whilst I was writing, I’m going to de the same again.

I do have a plan, well sort of, something about me and my journey with the Alexander Technique, the past couple of blogs have been about how I’m a specialist in end-gaining, I’ve had plenty of years to develop these skills. At the Bristol Alexander School I’ve read Alexanders four books and others, it was difficult to read and understand especially as I was reticent to fully engage with the technique whilst learning to be a teacher, not a very good admission, the thing is I didn’t know I was being like this, I was being normal; I mentioned this earlier in Touching reality. However recently I’ve dipped into CCCI and read a few pages about mind wandering, he gets the point across and I enjoyed and understood it a lot more this time, I guess this is the classic view of you can only understand something when your ready to understand it, something I’ve never really understood until recently. I thought I was always ready to understand and learn, I guess I was, well to a limit. If my learning hit my boundary I would stop and pretend to carry on, rather like Bryon Katie’s ‘judge your neighbour worksheet’, I’ve read her book and she say’s if you have any issues with anyone including yourself complete a worksheet, read it and then throw it away. I haven’t done a worksheet yet, that’s beyond my boundary, I might discover something unexpected, something I don’t like, something that may upset the dynamics of my boundaries hence something to avoid.

I’ve been experimenting with my boundaries recently or should they be my walls, noticing what I’m thinking and how the thoughts manifest physically, for example what makes me anxious, if I catch the thought early, I ask myself:

  • why am I having this thought, probably a response to some stimuli
  • why does this thought attach itself to a habit
  • why does the habit have a particular physical response
  • was the physical response helpful in this moment
  • can I soften the physical response?

If I miss my thoughts but notice my physical response:

  • was the physical response helpful in this moment
  • can I soften the physical response?

The answers to the questions above really don’t matter,the important act is to recognise that I can have these questions and they stimulate a response. If I have a response I can work with it. Working with a response using the Alexander Technique is pretty simple on the outset but quickly becomes complex as I will be asking myself to change, if you are anything like me that is hard. The Alexander principle I use is the 5 point plan, have a search on the internet for a fully definition and it’s in chapter 1 (page 46) of the The Use of the Self by FM Alexander.

My take on the 5 Point plan is

  • inhibit – i.e notice whats going on
  • work out what I want to do
  • maintain my intent to do, get on with the activity, if I notice I’m not following my intent, stop and back to step 1
  • check if I really want to do what I planned, if not, back to step 1

I’ve only 4 points to the 5 point plan and if you read the fully script I’ve also a lot of words missing.

Alexander based his plan around speaking but as you my guess, my thoughts are that it is about life. This plan can be used anywhere and at any time, in fact I believe if has an infinite timeframe sometimes in picoseconds, second, minutes and possibly years, the choice is mine and yours. The art of life is to realise that I’m the centre of my universe and you’re the centre of your universe, from our centres, that’s our real centres, we can make considered choices and also observe ourselves dispassionately and others dispassionately and allow your love to evolve for ourselves and then on to others.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, direction, Inhibition, intention, stopping, trying

The set point of Constructive Conscious Control


I’ve been thinking about homeostasis of constructive conscious control and how the set point changes over time.

My thinking is based on Alexander’s discovery of inhibition, direction and intent; through his discovery with eduction, encouragement and empowerment we can improve our constructive conscious control.

Several years ago I knew nothing about this discovery and it took me a while to cotton on to it’s wonderful benefits it brings; simply put, it makes me happy with my life and the choices I make.

But how? – By raising my awareness of my habits in activity, analysing what I’ve been doing and experimenting to see if there is an easier way.

You may have read my previous blog My Story that I’ve been in fright for years. When your in fright as I was/am some muscles shorten and stay there holding on for dear life, in my case for years, other muscles just atrophy through lack of use. It takes time to release from years of fright, Alexander’s discovery certainly helped me. Before I discovered the Alexander Technique my knowledge of constructive conscious control was minimal and set point (the mid point of a swinging pendulum) was low, though my Alexander Technique lessons and then becoming a student teacher, my knowledge of constructive conscious control has vastly increased hence my set point of constructive conscious control has increased. Through this time I’ve had ups and downs as the set point of knowledge of constructive conscious control improved. These ups and downs I see as the end points of a swinging pendulum or of the homeostasis. When an end point is reached something needs to happen, for example, for a central heating boiler it would either switch on or off to maintain the selected temperature. For constructive conscious control it’s inhibit, review why you’ve hit the limit, choose what action to take and then carry on with the intention, be happy if the action that was taken was wrong, if it’s wrong you’ve earned a learning point. This is true for both limits the good and bad, the happy and sad, whatever the ying and yang is.

Over the past months, I’ve certainly had my share of hitting both limits, it’s always good to come back to the set point to review options. I’ve found the set point is a safe comfortable place to be but being there too long may make me complacent so I need to keep the pendulum swinging to keep my set point moving in the right direction to improve my constructive conscious control.

 

 

Alexander Technique, present, trying

Loving on a knife edge


This blog was going to be Living on a knife edge but I like the typo!

I guess loving is more apt to what I’m about to write. I’ve been discovering what is being present. I’ve made guesses and forced myself into being present, that’s just cheating and I was just fooling myself though I didn’t know at the time, I thought I was doing it right; ‘doing’ is the problem word in that statement. You can’t do being present, or forcing and cajoling, presence just won’t play. I image that the relaxation brigade think presence is with your eyes shut and allowing your muscles to relax, they are far from the point; it’s pointless lying still with your eyes shut, there’s not much you can do but lie still with your eyes shut.

The real being present is being present in activity, I’d need my  eyes open for that.

Being present in activity is like having your stars aligned, having all your duck in a row. Difficult but not impossible, the ducks that help are;

  • having your head nicely balanced on the spine
  • your spine being supported by your pelvis
  • and your pelvis being support by the ground
    • either via you legs and feet or via the chair you’re sitting on

All this balancing and supporting is with freedom and no pain

That’s the physical bit, now for the hard bit, you need to be present in time and space as well. Allow any anxiety or stress to go and a sense of expansion into the space around you.

Simple.

Now you are present in activity, moving around and applying yourself to tasks become easy and free, time slows and you have time to think before acting. It’s a lovely place to be. It’s a place of ying and yang, it’s loving on a knife edge.

It may be simple but it has taken me several years of practice using Alexanders discovery just to be there on the knife edge for a few minutes.

If you ever fancy a challenge find an Alexander Teacher, warning there will be tears on the way even for grown men. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

 

Alexander Technique, Imagery

Imagery, Is it right or wrong for the Alexander Technique?


I’m in two minds when it comes to imagery and the Alexander Technique, could it be where I am with my training.

I’ve used imagery in my own thinking and some Alexander Technique teachers have offered words about imagery; a balloon above my head offering an upwards direction, wings from my shoulders that allow widening. I must admit they have been an aid to understand a direction but after a while they seemed to get in the way of my thinking.

I’d disregarded imagery for a while until I heard my favourite image mentioned in Limerick at the Alexander Technique Congress; having a kangaroo tail. I’d found this thought particularly, in my first year, to support my thoughts in allowing my spine to be supported by my pelvis and legs instead of my superficial back muscles.

Those words that I eaves dropped whilst walking though the work exchange room got me thinking.

Yes, imagery is very good to get to understand a concept but I’ve found imagery shouldn’t be totally relied upon. There’s a temptation to go and search for the sensation that we had the last time I had the thought of kangaroo tails instead of a fresh set  of thoughts about Inhibition and Direction.

There’s a fine line between imagery and doing, take the balloon floating above your head, what will be the student’s response, “oh there’s a balloon gently raising my head” or does the student lift their head and neck upwards chasing after the balloon, I guess in reality they will be probably pulling their neck back and down. Not the expected outcome.

So is imagery right for the Alexander Technique?

Yes, but be careful and in small doses.

What you say will probably get misinterpreted by the listener.

Images should have a short lifespan, don’t let them become a habit or a mantra

We can’t rely on sensations alone so be present, with conscious control and use the guidance that the Alexander Technique brings to your life.

Alexander Technique, Alexander Technique Congress

The temperature in the bus keeps going up up up


The other night, not just any night, it was on the bus to Limerick University after the 10th International Alexander Technique Gala Dinner; there was a lot of hot people on the bus. These people where all Alexander Technique Teachers and after dinner they just danced solidly for two hours. When the music finally stopped we all boarded the buses. My bus had a temperature display over the drive displaying 16 deg C. My group commented that it can’t be right, it’s far hotter than that.

Well the doors closed and the bus pulled off and the temperature display just kept rising and the AC started cooling my feet but had little immediate effect on the temperature display. It was a twenty minute or so journey back to the halls and I decided to get off at the first drop off and have a final walk over the bouncy bridge, sorry Limerick Uni but I can’t remember the bridge’s official name. On my walk, I wondered if the temperature display on the bus could be used for a business to sponsor the 11th International Alexander Technique Congress in Chicago in 2018?

  • I felt the band was amazed at the energy on the dance floor.
  • The dance floor was full of dancers from the very first note to the very last.
  • The average age on the dance floor, I guess, was in the low 50’s
  • I guess if the band played on the dancing would continue
  • The temperture in the bus kept going up!

My thought was; why can’t we harness this energy to display how everyone can have a wonderful life by harnessing their own powers via the Alexander Technique.

This lead too;

Why not find a sponsor who wants to do research on the energy of various professions.

Give every deligate at Chicago, who wants to be in the trial, a bio montor to record heart rate … .

Do the same at other professional conferences/congresses and to a trial group in the general population.

Get some results and hopefully the results say “Hey these Alexander folks know how to tap their own energy, they live longer, they are happier, they are content with what life brings, they use a lot less meds than the average for their age, gender, race, they are a lesser burden on the state etc etc”.

Then market the results.

Does anyone know anyone with the links an organistion with these sort of interests?

I my thought viable?

Does anyone want to take up the lead?

Alexander Technique, direction, Inhibition, Teacher Training

Down to one stabiliser


I’ve nearly completed my second year of Alexander Technique Teacher training, one more week to go, and time for the summer break.

It sounds like I’m looking forward to the break, I am but not. I think I need some time to reflect and absorb my training and personal changes over the past year. I need some rest as well. What I’ll miss is the contact and encouragement my teachers have given me over the past year.

I’m also looking forward to going to Limerick in a few weeks where I’ll meet loads of Alexander Teachers, if you want to meet and work together, please contact me.

Alexander Technique Teacher Training, is very much like learning to ride a bike. You can’t ride a bike unless you can, your need practice and hours and hours of practice to refine the art of riding a bike, just the same as the Alexander Technique.

If you just theorize about riding a bike you may become an expert in the observation of bike riding but if you try to ride a bike with just theory you will probably have a few falls and give up.

My learning journey has now past the theorizing stage, I finally realised a few weeks ago, that to understand the technique I have to be the technique; there’s no shortcuts, I was dearly hoping there was one somewhere!

I hung on there waiting for the shortcut until there was nowhere else to go, then I jumped or rather collapsed into a heap, confused but then I was free to move on.

At about this time my first stabiliser was removed, I’ve learnt in detail the various activities we practice on our own and working with other student and teachers however I still need one stabiliser and sometimes my teachers help to keep me balanced and to stop me falling off.

‘balanced’ in this context I mean; maintaining my thoughts and directions for myself and managing the volume of my thoughts and directions so others can sense them when needed.

Hopefully very soon I’ll be stabiliser free, then I can start learning the Alexander Technique for proper!

Alexander Technique, intention

JK got it wrong!


In the Harry Potter books, us mere mortals are named Muggles by the wizards. However in the Alexander world surely we should be called Muddles.

Let me explain, today at the Bristol Alexander School we had an away day at a stables, and we all had a chance to ride a horse. What I discovered is that the rider needs to communicate with the horse, not with heels, spurs, crop and reins but with just a thought.

What a terrible thought getting a horse to move, stop, turn with just a thought. Well, it really works, riders and horses have done it for millennia, I’ve just discovered it today.

When riding, the rider needs to give clear thoughts to the horse so he understands what to do. Any muddled thoughts and the horse will do something else of his choosing. Luckily for me my horse was held whilst he walked around the field, so no mishaps for me.

If horses are so sensitive to our thoughts and need a clear intent to do an activity, why don’t us mere mortal seem to survive with muddled thoughts.

Creatures of habit, leaps out from my mind. Perhaps a good thing if you just want to go with the flow and have a quiet life travelling on the glide slope to obscurity; just muddling on.

Or is there another way?

Stopping, inhibiting, observing the conditions present, deciding a means-whereby then with a clear intention commit to the intended thought; this seems to work for me. I’ve read about this somewhere!

So the wizards got it right for Muggles

Should AT folk start calling others Muddles?

Alexander Technique, body-mapping, direction, Inhibition

Between my hands and …?


Yesterday, I blogged about my hands, this isn’t the full story. There’s plenty between my hands and … .

There’s a whole body and mind; why do we always split ourselves up in to bits? We wouldn’t function if we didn’t have everything to survive! SO why can’t we have a word for the whole self?

Moan over, and now I’m going to do what I’ve moaned about!

Between my hands and … , there are several systems, skeletal, muscular and the nervous system for a start and several more that I don’t know about anatomically may effect my use of my hands.

So what is … ?

Is it;

  • my hands and my brain
  • my hands and the ground I’m standing on
  • my hands and the seat I’m sitting on
  • my hands and the person I’m working with
  • my hands and the ground the person I’m working is standing on

The list goes on

What system is doing what?

Is it my systems or my pupils, are the systems bigger than just two people.

I just don’t care, as I don’t have the brainpower to understand all the nuances of all the systems and more that I have listed.

I just need to be quiet, with an observing presence without judgement or malice, with loving intent.

Then I need is just a thought, a throw away thought, that has the intent to do something. Say “In a moment I’m going to increase my forward and up thoughts and move my hands so that my pupil will move from sitting on the chair to standing, my hands will remain with my pupil until then are standing at their full height and then I’ll remove my hands from my pupil; all the time maintaining my directions” That I guess, would take a millisecond or so to develop that thought.

Let the thought go, wait and be amazed as the pupil rises from the chair with ease that matched your ease.

I was! 🙂

So it is good to know anatomically what systems we have, as we need to discuss and explain to our pupils in an established language they are comfortable with; body mapping. I feel is the essential to Alexander Technique work as many pupils including myself have a faulty sensory perception about where their body bits are.

But for hands on work I’m not too sure an anatomical understanding is needed, I’m happy to be convinced either way.