Alexander Technique

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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Alexander Technique

When depression, anxiety and asthma disappeared!


As I have written earlier, I didn’t know I was depressed and anxious until I noticed, you may think that is pretty obvious, it is, but not when I was in the deep of it. It is hard to listen to others who may suggest or demand that I’m are depressed, how can that be possible, I’m just living my life as I’ve always done, I’ve just more to manage just now!

Salbutamol is just what I need to help me through the day, asthma is something that had just popped up; it’s nothing to do with divorce, separation from my children, trying to find a new job, trying to build my life up again. Trying to be stoic works for a while until exhaustion takes over, then stoicism crumbles into feelings of worthlessness and desperation, luckily I have friends and family to support me and I made it through those dark, dark days which at the moment are just fleeting images; it is only when someone reminds me of a holiday or meeting someone that I can remember those moments. I’ve locked my memories of those times deeply way in the depths of my consciousness, perhaps this is to protect me.

I did slip into the need for alcohol for a few years, this was easy as I’d had plenty of practice when I was in the navy, bars around the world were always welcoming and I believe it was a necessity to survive the stress of servicing at sea. I still drink but drink when I want not when alcohol dictates. I’m now such a lightweight when I go out.

What changed my decline was the discovery that I was in charge of my life, my destiny and I don’t need to rely on others, this was really hard to achieve, it is not the understanding that is hard, I found that relatively easy but it was the actual task of being in charge of myself.

I accidentally discovered what I needed to do through working with various people, some didn’t directly help, though they helped indirectly, in fact on reflection I think there was only two who have helped me directly; I know who they are, you may find out later.

I’ve written accidentally as I wasn’t my intention to discover that it was me who is in change of my destiny, I was content where I was. Hopefully I can accidentally change your view on life.

I’ve written many times the secret of my change, firstly it is honesty, authenticity with an openness to change. I know I’m not getting everything right, in fact I’m ecstatic that I get things wrong. If I have the openness to accept my errors then I can do something else next time, instead of what I did wrong last time.

The second part is that I’m seeking to be in balance, again I know I’m out of balance most of the time so I need to make adjustments, I need to keep moving. Balance has two meaning to me, there are probably more to discover. The easy one is being in balance with gravity, I understand this to mean using the appropriate muscles to be in balance, being efficacious, efficient and effective in how I move.

The second balance is being in balance with time, not worrying about the future or reminiscing about the past; there are times and places for those thoughts but not all the time.

Being in balance with time by being in the present, if a thought of doubt appears let it go. Being in balance with time is what really changed my life, depression, anxiety and asthma disappeared. They do reappear occasionally, I’ve now learnt how to keep then quiet.

I believe to relieve yourself of your doubts and worries the fundamental thought you need is being in balance in all the dimensions, the paradigms, you understand. Balancing with gravity and time are my first two paradigms, there may be more, I don’t know.

If you believe that you are the only one who can make the change for yourself but are stuck then perhaps you might what to read more of what I’m writing.

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Alexander Technique

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.

Alexander Technique, body mapping, body-mapping

Ahh, I never knew you had any pain!


The other day I was explaining what the Alexander Technique is about, it’s sometimes a challenge as I want to explain it for them to understand, this time I stuck to what I think it is about; A method to rediscover your inner freedom and aliveness then I explained further about by noticing your  balance with gravity and also noticing your balance with others.

He was in a typical sitting position, a bent back and sitting on his coccyx (the tail bone).

I asked him if he was thinking about how he was sitting, the answer was “Why”.

Time to get him thinking!

“Do you know you have sit bones” I asked

“What” was the reply

“Put your hand between the seat of the chair and bum and rock around, you should feel two boney bits, one on each side”

“Ahh”

“These are your sit bones, take your hands out and just rock on these bones.”

“Ahh”

We drank some more beer and later he said, ” You know what, the pain in my back that I have had for years has disappeared”

I replied “Ahh, I never knew you had any pain!”

I’d got him to notice how he moves even if it was only sitting. By noticing, he had rediscovered some of freedom and aliveness and was more in balance with gravity, his outcome was less or no back pain.

We drank more beer, he maintained his balance, well I was drinking beer, he was drinking coffee as he was driving later.

Just simple thoughts and ideas can help you rediscover your freedom and aliveness. Why not try it for yourself?

I’ve got loads more ideas.

Alexander Technique

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.

Alexander Technique

It takes a nanosecond


There’s something stopping me writing so I thought I should just start writing. Ready take aim and fire. Tonight it is ready fire and take aim; lets just see what where my words land!

Kindness seems to be the thought for the moment, being kind to someone is recognising that that person exists and your acceptance of who they are.

That’s simple isn’t it?

So why isn’t there more of it?

My guess is don’t allow enough kindness to ourselves, liking and loving ourselves is sort of taboo, it was true when and where I grew up. I was taught to love others before myself – a recipe for disaster.

How do you really know what love is if you can’t love yourself? The love I’m writing about is being authentic to yourself, you understand and manage your reactions to what life throws at you, you can be sad, annoyed, angry grumpy, happy, elated, allowing tears of joy or sadness, whatever your feel in any moment is authentic.  You are content within your body and your thoughts, kindness shines through, offering kindness to others is no effort at all, kindness emits from your authenticity.

I’m not there yet however I find it easier and easier as I practice the techniques I’ve been taught during my Alexander Technique training. Understanding that I can apply what I’ve learnt at any time and any where, the practice probably takes a nanosecond sometimes a little longer. This is not just about kindness, it about having a clear intension to do something whilst having a clear attention to how I’m achieving my intension. Kindness isn’t the only benefit from my practice, I’m also happy and pain free.

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Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique

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.

 

 

Alexander Technique

Oh, that empty feeling


Oh, I have that empty feeling, I’ve just completed a year long course about building a community around my passion. It’s my passion as it has helped my manage anxiety, asthma, depression; I didn’t even know I had depression and anxiety, I thought feeling worried and scared of my own image was normal. If you feel that way, this feeling is not normal and what I learnt should help you as well.

I discovered a way to get myself centred, thats in all dimensions, whatever these dimensions are. I discovered a way to improve my psychophysical wellbeing, a way to be happy when I’m happy and to be sad when I’m sad, a way to remove the multiple layers of self doubt, envy, trying and what ever to discover my authentic self.

The course I’ve just finished was about broadcasting about my discoveries and inviting other to experience what I’ve discovered. Now the course has finished I’m on my own for a moment whilst I discover my own path. This moment reminds me of when I passed my HGV driving test. I drove around Edinburgh with the examiner, I was driving an articulated lorry.

Success, I passed first time.

The examiner finally said “well done, you can now drive it back to Rosyth on your own.”

Oh, that empty feeling,

25 miles through Edinburgh across the Forth Road Bridge and on to Rosyth. AND on my own. I survived without a collision, I felt empowered when I got out of the cab, I was elated, I was trusted, I was one of the gang, I was special.

I suppose I’m still driving back from my examination, why not sign up to my mailing list and you will find out more about my passion.

Thank you Jeremy and Peter.

 

 

Alexander Technique

Life isn’t a piece of cake, or is it?


There’s been a post stream on Facebook on what the Alexander Technique, many AT teachers see that it is something to do with posture or poise, their websites read that way so you have no reason to think otherwise.  You may guess from what I’ve written in this blog already, I don’t agree with them. My view is that posture or poise is just a product of thinking.

What about the bones and muscles you may say!

Your bones and muscles have evolved with our thinking and all our organs for us to survive not only as a person but also as a species.

We’ve evolved to move to catch prey and breed, our bones and muscles allow us to move. I’m being very simplistic in my explanation, there’s much more to it then bones and muscle. We need our senses, we need to recognise what our senses are sensing, we need to convert our stored energy into movement, we need an intention and skill to catch out prey. Not just the skill of the kill but the dexterity, agility and intelligence to out flank our prey. Obviously not many of us now go out and hunt our prey, shopping for food is a lot easier but we still have the dexterity, agility and intelligence, we use these skills now in  different ways.

If the Alexander Technique is not about posture, what is it about?

It’s about what you are thinking, it’s about those thoughts you have when you are confronted by a stimulus. Or rather a technique that you can use to help you to discover those annoying habits that stop you in your tracks then you can let them go and get on with your life with the dexterity, agility and intelligence you were born with.

As the vast majority of thoughts produce a muscular reaction, some of your thoughts may restrict your dexterity and agility. Noticing these thoughts can only be a good thing, letting these thoughts go is even better, this is what you will learn from an Alexander Technique Teacher.

To become an Alexander Technique Teacher you will obviously have discovered the benefits in some way to understand that the technique really works. Many teachers meet the technique because of a physical pain, maybe something to do with their posture, perhaps lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain etc.. Once qualified they naturally gravitate to helping people with their old condition i.e. lower back pain. They are the experts in that field after all, as they have been through it already.

To teach people, the first action is to notice what is going on, notice the way they move, speak, mannerisms and the energy they are emitting or not. This energy comes in many forms;

  • they aren’t connected, their body is in automatic.
  • they are nervous
  • they are trying to please
  • they are trying to be nice
  • they are trying to understand – butting in, completing my conversation
  • they don’t want to be here
  • they have a resistance to change

If you are in a safe place then these thoughts may be mis-placed and can be let go of. If you are holding on to a desire or trying to achieve something then you are most probably not doing yourself any favours and inhibiting the desire you are trying to achieve.

This trying to achieve may be your belief of how your lower back works, your shoulder works and you trying to get rid of the pain.

The pain could also be your fear of performing, on the stage, in a meeting, meeting strangers.

The pain could also be your fear of:

  • heights,
  • driving a car,
  • reading aloud,
  • worrying about if what you write will be liked,
  • being liked,
  • being understood.

The list is endless

For a safe place these pains and fears can be experimented with, strategies developed and experimented with to find a new way of managing you fears and pains.

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Alexander Technique, Anger, anxiety, attention, body mapping, body-mapping

With a side order of happiness


My last blog My lovely bubbly friend I mentioned about the importance of being grounded if and when anxiety or any trouble arises. The other important part was not to hold onto a thought but be happy to let the thought go and allow the next to arrive, it will, and then let that thought go as well. When I feeling anxious I find setting my attention on something real, in the last blog I wrote about giving my attention to my sit bones if I’m sitting or the weight in my feet when standing. It doesn’t matter which as the important thing is to experience the weight you are applying to support yourself from the ground. I find the sensation of my weight varies depending what mood I’m in.

In this blog I want to move up the spine to the top of the spine. Your spine may be longer than you think, it is from the top of your spine to the bottom, but where is the top and the bottom. Take a moment to think where each end is.

Lets start at the bottom, the bottom of your spine is somewhere very near your sit bones, the boney bits you may sit on. If you don’t know where your sit bones are then whilst sitting put your hands between the chair and your bottom, you should be able to feel two boney bits, they are your sit bones. They are like rocker on a rocking chair, they are something to sit on and balance. Thats the easy part, so where is the top of your spine.

Take a moment to work it out.

Time for a bit more pointing and prodding. Just below your ears there is a hollow between the back of your jaw and your skull, The top of your spine is pretty close to these points but obviously in the centre line of your body; how about putting a finger in each hollow and then nod your head then you will get the sense that your head actually can nod from the top of your spine.

That the top and bottom of your spine identified, there is a catch, you may know the top and bottom of your spine but your habits will deny this knowledge and you will continue to move from where your habits think is best. Change take time and belief in the new knowledge. I might be able to help but first a little more body mapping. Your spine is made up 33 vertebra, the top 24 vertebra are movable. For this blog the important thing to know is that the moveable vertebra are moveable. We have flexible spines, the flexibility is made up of bones, intervertebral disc, muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and most importantly how we think. If we think we have a stiff straight back, that is what we will have, if you think you have a bendy spine, you have a bendy spine.

Your body will obey your thinking.

Our thinking can make our movement in our daily lives tiresome or our thinking can make our movement in our daily lives free and easy. The choice is yours.

This is part of what I do to have free and easy movement with a side order of happiness which comes free with the order.

Gently rock on your sit bones, allow your spine to be connected altogether so it moves as one; not a rigid spine, your spine working in unison but in a thought could be free to some different movement. If you notice you have any excessive muscle strain, this experiment should be without staring muscles, pause a moment, perhaps you are holding on to a thought, let it go and another thought will appear let that thought go and the next one. Just give attention to rocking on your sit bones. Reduce your rocking to the point that feels like you are upright, you should now have your sit bones and top of your spine vertically aligned, don’t worry it they aren’t, we all suffer with faulty sensory perception, your habits want to tell you something else.

On top of your spine, you’ve guessed it, is your head. Put your fingers back in the hollow under your ears, nod your head. allow lightness in this movement, rotate your head a bit with the same lightness.

Now to experiment with this lightness, allow this lightness to cascade down your spine to  your sit bones, remember not to hold on to a thought, let them go, practice a few times.

Allow your sit bones to support the weight of your body and with the lightness allow your spine to lengthen away from your sit bones and allow your head to lightly sit on your top of your spine. Repeat this thinking, letting each thought go and be refreshed.

When things get tough experiment with this thinking, you will find that your troubles will lessen.

More to follow

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