Tag Archives: ease

Be your own Santa


It’s that time of the year that many fear, there is so much family pressure to perform family ceremonies that have been enacted over many years, Some of us have avoided these family ceremonies by going somewhere hot over the Christmas holidays to enjoy the winter sun where it is warmer, others have had duvet holidays and stayed at home. I’ve done all these over the years, they don’t feel exactly right, there is something missing, what is missing is my childhood dreams of what exactly Christmas is; unfortunately, reality has never achieved my childhood dream of Christmas.

I’ve had some fabulous gifts from my wife but they never touched my dream. My dream is an impossible dream as I need to be a very young boy, fresh snow in the morning and Santa listened to my dream and delivered the toy of the season to the bottom of my bed. Santa never quite listened, I got loads of presents but never the one I really wanted. Christmas became a time of quiet disappointment, lots of love, family all together, lots of fantastic food but Santa never quite listened. There was an empty space of ingratitude within me.

Over the years this quiet disappointment got louder until I avoided Christmas with excuses of holidays in the sun or having a quite one at home. This year is different, I’m looking forward to Christmas and I might even send some Christmas cards, they stopped years ago.

The change has been slowly forming over a few years and ever so quickly in the past few months, I’ve discovered that I’m my own Santa, nobody else’s. My dreams are my dreams, nobody else can see them, if I want something from somebody I need to ask them. They need to ask me if they want something from me, I can’t read their dreams. If I want the toy of the season at the bottom of my bed in the morning Santa needs to know.

My ingratitude to the gifts I received or to the gift I wanted but never got was of my making, I didn’t drop enough hints and clues, I kept my dreams to myself. Perhaps because I didn’t feel worthy of the gift or if I got what I wanted others wouldn’t get what they wanted or the family finances could be spent more wisely. All these thoughts are my thoughts that have never been expressed to anyone, so they never knew why I was ungrateful.

Being my own Santa I’ve discovered that I really don’t need much, that is materially, but what I need loads of, is my love and support for myself in every moment of every day. This isn’t a selfish love but a self-full love that emits from my core through me to others. Such a simple statement, such an impossible statement; it has taken me a long time to realise it, I’m still working on it and will for many years to come.

To be self-full I need to be honest with myself, to remove my armour that has protected me, or so I thought, so that I can be my authentic self. You and I are continually adding the our armour as we meet people, things and ideas each day. This reaction to daily situations is a natural response, however to make things easy we turn it into a habitual response, we do it without noticing and overtime we have added far too many layers of armour, many are just the same, the armour gets heavier and heavier until we can’t move. Then we crawl to a stop; we break.

There is a way to stop adding armour and even to start removing it. The only person who can do it for you is yourself, of course there are people you can use for support.

You need to have the willingness to help yourself and look after yourself, again many others can help but they don’t know your dreams. They many not give you want you want unless you tell them.

Be your own Santa and tell people about your dreams, they may have similar ones or they may have been waiting for you to say it, if that is too much, write your dreams down, keep what you have written or throw it away. What I would like you to do is to notice any tightening in your body when you do any of theses activities, the activity may be just thinking about doing one of them. My tightening is in my stomach; that butterfly feeling. I use my butterflies as a trigger to notice what I’m doing, I use my butterflies as a trigger to pause and possibly do something different. Using your butterflies to pause and possibly do something different is a very courageous and brave thing to do, you won’t succeed every time, don’t be hard on yourself, celebrate that you noticed and paused, celebrate that you noticed your butterflies, celebrate that you were willing to notice your butterflies.

Each time it will get easier,

each time you will notice more,

each time you will  get more choices,

each time you will be loosening your armour,

each time you will be rediscovering more of your authentic self.

This Christmas be your own Santa, perhaps your Christmas present from Santa is to loosen up your armour so you can rediscovery that wonderful person that has been shackled within your armour for far too long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Slippy leaves and ice


It’s early December and we’re on a break near the top of Scotland, we’re at Eagle Brae near Inverness. A fantastic place to stay if you want a quiet remote break, the accommodation is fabulous, it is a collection of wooden cabins, not ordinary cabins, beautiful Canadian log cabins shipped to Scotland, there’s everything in the cabin to have a self sufficient break, it is warm, it was too warm so we turned the underfloor heating down. We have the wood-burning stove on this morning, it has gotten very windy with rain outside, Storm Caroline is here today with possible snow tomorrow, it is December and I’m in northern Scotland. The flames in the stove has made the cabin very snuggly, just what we need for a very stormy, wet day.

What is your thought when I mention snow, rain and cold winds, do you have a physical reaction to these thoughts, perhaps rolling your shoulders forward and rubbing your hands or perhaps scrunching your neck down and lifting your shoulders. Generally making yourself small to reduce your body surface area; these are all natural reactions to the cold but when you are in the cold. Do you or I really need to do all this when you are warm in your room and me warm in my log cabin? I answer is no, we are pre-empting something, we are pre-empting being outside in the rain and wind and also being cold. If we met the cold with what we are wearing now it would probably be advisable to scrunch up to reduce our body surface area.

We pre-empt a lot of things as we move though our day, wondering about what someone might say or do, rehearsing for situations that may never happen. All of these thoughts will produce some muscular action, remember when you thought of the cold. When we think of something we want to be prepared for, we generally tighten muscles or hold muscles so they don’t move. In the case of thinking of going out in the cold you may shrug and shorten various muscles and then hold these muscles.

Held muscles are fine if you aren’t going to do something, if you have plans to do something, held muscles may prevent or inhibit you from doing it with ease. For example, it’s cold outside, you put enough warm clothes on, you’re warm and protected from the cold but you still have the reaction to shrug down, there’s no need for this reaction as your clothes are protecting you from the cold, this reaction may be putting you at risk, your muscles are being held for something that you have already taken action to protect against; you’re wearing enough warm clothes.

With held muscles your body isn’t as free as it could be, so your pre-emptive thoughts may be putting you in danger. When it is cold, wet, in Scotland and in the winter, there may be rotting leaves turning to mulch, something to slip on, there could also be ice, again something else to slip on, having held muscles may be a hindrance. Perhaps another possibility is to notice if you are pulling down into a shrug and then invite a lightness over your body so that your head gentle balances on top of your spine; notice your feet and increase the thought of lightness from your toes to the top of your head.

When you have built up this thought, throw it away and start the thought again. The reason to throw the thought away is if you linger over a thought it will quickly goes into the past – time and tide waits for no man – refreshing brings the thought back to now.

It’s great to have this lightness that you may be experiencing, you need to be grounded as well, notice where you touch the ground, notice and throw away and notice again. These thoughts should help you to release some muscles, many others will be resistant, time and practicing lightness and being grounded will make these muscles less resistant.

Being aware of yourself and then extending your awareness to your immediate environment, you then have options when you encounter the mulched leaves or ice.

Stay safe this winter by being aware of yourself and your environment.

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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.

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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Ah – The Whispered Ah the antidote to asthma


I’ve never felt so awkward and silly pulling a funny face, breathing out and making a strange gravelly noise.

That was my introduction to the Whispered Ah!

After my first few attempts my Alexander Technique teacher asked me how wide open I thought my mouth was. I answered “very wide”; so go and look in the mirror; to my surprise I’d barely opened my mouth. How could that be, the answer may be possibly in a later blog.

My Alexander Technique teacher was introducing me to an alternative way to breathe from my usual shallow gasping asthmatic breath. Little did I know that I couldn’t breath in as I hadn’t breathed out, so all I was doing was  trying to top up my lungs that were already full!

The Whispered Ah was developed before FM Alexander included in his repertoire but I believe he modified the activity to suit his technique.

The Whispered Ah is an activity to bring your breathing to your consciousness, namely the activity of breathing out, allowing your lungs to empty as your diaphragm rises and your ribs move together, then waiting for the in breath to happen and experience your diaphragm move and your ribs move outwards as your lungs fill.

There is a lot more detail in how to experiment with the Whispered Ah on YouTube and elsewhere, please search them out.

I’ve recently been experimenting with flaring my nostrils to initiate the in breath, I sense a reflex between my nostrils, sternum and ribs, do you have a sense of this reflex?Once you have experimented with the smiley face with soft eyes, tongue resting just behind your bottom teeth, jaw leading forward and down from the TMJ … then initiate the out breath you will have experienced the Whispered Ah, for an asthma sufferer it’s a breath of fresh air.

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