Tag Archives: habit

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.

 

 

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My lovely bubbly friend


Do you find that being happy, being a life and soul of the party tiring?

Do you ever wish for quiet but you too scared to go there? If you’re bubbly and loving then everyone will love you. If you stop being bubbly and lovely they won’t like you anymore.

I’ll let you in to a secret, your friends will love you for who you are and not what you are trying to be, trying to be lovely and bubbly is just a front, a front that hides a lovely bubbly person.

Trying just gets in the way of life, just STOP IT.

Stopping may be hard cruel thing to say; STOP IT.

Emotions can be like a pendulum, when with friends the trying starts and you are lovely and bubbly however when you are alone the pendulum swings the other way, the trying moves to an upsetting way, the opposite to my lovely bubbly friend.

STOP IT.

STOP IT doesn’t really work, STOP IT is the goal, the end state, there is a journey you need to travel on to reach your goal. This takes time and commitment, non-judgmental commitment.

With all journeys you need a plan on how you are going to get there with the acknowledgement that the journey may go down dead ends and detours until you reach your goal, oh the goal may change as well as you learn things along your journey.

Once you have your plan, the first activity you need to do is to notice what’s happening within you when you feel uneasy. Live with the unease for a few moments so that you can better notice it the next time it appears. My trigger is a tightening in my stomach, yours may be that, it may be something else, perhaps eyes glazing as you start thinking about what may happen in the future.

When you notice pause for a moment, and make a decision. The decision can be anything, carry on with thinking about the future, cuddle your dog, or something completely different.

You may need a distraction from your worry, you may need a distraction from trying to be lovely and bubbly, slowing you pendulum down so that all your trying slowly disappears, it’s scary but you will discover your authentic self; I know who you are, you are a lovely, bubbly fantastic person witha personality that just emits love to whoever you meet. You need to rediscover this person, your authentic self.

I have some ideas that may help you on your journey.

I want you to do nothing, there’s a lot to do to do nothing, I want you to notice any excessive muscular tension during these thoughts and ideas, if there is you’re are doing to much. Pause and restart the idea.

If you are sitting slide your hands between the chair and bottom, you have two boney bits, these are your sit bones, wobbly around so that you can notice and develop some feeling sensations around these bones, take you hands out and wobbly again on the chair, you should now be able to feel more weight going though your sit bones on to the chair.

You first activity when you notice your worry rising, find your sit bones, you don’t need to use your hands again just the contact with the chair will do, if you are standing wobble around so that you can notice your weight passing thought your feet to the ground.

Thoughts just last a moment then they are no use, they are history. Let the thought go and another will appear, let that one of again, keep your attention to your sit bones, if standing, your feet, let that thought go as well and the next thought and the next, just have your attention to where you are being supported by the ground, let that thought go as well. You may notice that your worries have disappear. There is no space or time from them, if they do arise go back to where you are being supported from the ground, let the thought go, let it go over and over again, faster and faster. I find I have greater clarity and authenticity in my thinking, how is it for you?

This is the first step in discovering your authentic self, my lovely bubbly friend.

Remember if a worry appears, focus your attention your sit bones and let the thoughts go over and over again.

More to follow.

With a side order of happiness

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Rediscover your elegance


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

This blog is about her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something new for the better


It’s nearly the end of the year, so perhaps it is time to ponder.

What I’ve realised this year is that I have for many many years wanted to please others, even when it felt wrong, awkward, something that is not useful to myself.

I have a worry alarm in my stomach, a sensation that makes me more aware if something feels wrong or awkward or strange. Unfortunately it is very close to the ‘something new for the better’ warning they both have very similar sensations but there is a subtly; this subtly is easily missed and the wrong choice could be made.

Like making a purchase, say a car. You go into the showroom, you know what you want but as you discover more the worry alarm switches on, it doesn’t feel right so its time to stop and leave, however you’re caught by the sales person who explains why you need this car and it does have an easy payment plan. Little do you know that the sales person has the skill to move your worry button over to the ‘something new for the better’ warning and your hooked with a car you nearly wanted but didn’t, you now own a car you but you didn’t really want it.

This happened to me this year except I didn’t buy, left the showroom really tempted. I thought for a while in fact a couple of days, I needed time to reset my worry button. In hindsight my worry button was correct and I’m still looking for a replacement car.

Our feelings are emotive and sometimes don’t reflect reality, we all know this and some use this knowledge for their own benefit, the benefit of their employers and sometimes to the detriment of the customer.

It can happen the other way as well, the ‘something new for the better’ warning can start flashing, so you go with the opportunity, really enjoy the opportunity but something changes over time and the worry alarm starts, firstly there is denial as I know this opportunity is right so the worry alarm is just plain wrong. Then just persisting in suppressing the worry alarm until eventually it just gets too loud.

Time to change tack and do something else.

This also happened to me as well, I left the Alexander Technique Training school I was training in to seek another, my worry alarm was persistently ringing that something wasn’t right with my relationship with the school, I’d become stuck in the habits of the relationship between the school and myself. This is a difficult worry alarm to accept but once accepted it’s a great release.

The art of identifying the difference between the alarm and warning is to turn off all the  hype, bling and noise associated with whatever sets the alarm or warning off, if the alarm is still ringing walk away, if the warning is still there you now have the choice to go with it or not.

So whats happened to me this year is that I’ve started to listen to myself, my worry alarm and my ‘something new for the better’ warning. In the past I just ignored the warnings and just got on with doing what I was being told to do by others. Stopping and reflecting give me time and opportunity to do what I want to achieve, it is very empowering and freeing. Being my authentic self really helps, thought it is taking time for my family and friends to come to terms with the new me as I now say  what I think, well most of the time.

Have a great 2017.

It’s so so simple


I had trouble sleeping last night, I was too buoyant and happy to sleep.

I had a very busy day yesterday, a very busy day being me (most of the time). I went to London to visit an Alexander School to see if I liked the school so I could finish off my training.

I liked it

It was different

It was modern but ancient, it wasn’t the bit in the middle; it wasn’t body work, it was about thinking,

it is about understanding I have choices and I can change my choice at any point

it is about realising that we shorten and tighten as the responses to life, I have the choice to do something else. I have the choice to react differently and not let myself to shorten and tighten into pain, I can choose to do the opposite, to find space within myself; that is physically and mindfully.

Finding and going into my space makes me happy, very happy and very buoyant, in fact annoyingly buoyant and happy.

SO SO simple, so simple to understand, so simple to be there for a moment, so difficult to maintain, life has so many tricks to pull me away. Thoughts flash around to tempt me away from being myself, the art is to notice and not be tempted. Mythology has at least two temptations I can remember, there will be more, the Gorgons and the Sirens they both draw people away from their intention and goal, my thoughts are like these mythical beings, extremely strong when they come near. As with the myths, I need to notice my thoughts and be prepared with a countermeasure not to be drawn in and act my thoughts, not being smashed on to the rocks or turned to stone. The myths say that these temptations need to be met but you have to be prepared to overcome them, there may be casualties but the hero will win if they follow the instructions, put wax in your ears to safely pass the coast of the sirens or use your shield as a mirror to overcome the Gorgons.

So what to do with my thoughts?

Wax and shiny shields probably won’t work so I need another plan. Thinking about it, my thoughts spin around trying to avoid the real plan, that’s proper deflection of the problem. The real answer is being authentic, being real and being here and in the present. Thinking about what could work is being somewhere else in the future, projecting myself  somewhere.

It is so so easy but thoughts drag me away. I’ve played and tested lots of methods trying to discover my way of being here and in the now, they work to some point but are complicated hence difficult to maintain.

It needs to be so so simple.

So the simple plan is a couple of thoughts, a thought of connecting myself with gravity, I go up as gravity goes down, we have evolved to stand on two feet so let our evolved postural reflex work. That’s the first thought.

The second thought is including myself wherever I am, at the moment I’m in my office looking at the screen and  typing, there’s a wall in front of me, a window to the side, a door behind me, the sun is on my arm, and my dogs are lying close by.  I sense a quite contentment rising.

So these are my two thoughts, give it a go.

The next step is to repeat the two steps again and again, slowly increasing the tempo as you repeat the thoughts. With practice these thoughts just become a blurr and a wonderful quiet presence rises but beware of the Gorgons and Sirens they will be waiting in their lairs to catch you out, when they come close increase the tempo.

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It’s nearly Christmas, why a Christmas tree?


Sunday again, that sounds like I don’t like Sundays. That’s not so, Sunday is my favourite day as I choose to do what I want. I wake up late, breakfast and then do whatever. I do plan to write a blog every Sunday as well, if you want to keep up to date with them click here.

Today as it is nearly Christmas, we went to buy a Christmas tree, I do have thoughts about bringing in a tree to my house to decorate it whilst it slowly dies so we always buy one planted and with roots, at least on has survived and is now living in my garden, others haven’t been so lucky.

Is it lucky or is it the opportunities that we gave it, kept it watered, not too hot and not in the house too long.

We all have these opportunities but the secret is to firstly notice them then take the opportunity the opportunity offers. Trees will take the opportunity when it is presented for water and nourishment out of the earth and air, us humans sometimes rationalise and generally think too much and then miss the opportunity. We have loads of names for missing opportunities,

  • deflection – changing the subject because current subject doesn’t feel comfortable
  • blame – blaming others and not realising there’s an opportunity hiding in the blame
  • shame – feeling that the opportunity is outside the comfort zone or norm and the opportunity make you feel ashamed of yourself
  • anxiety – my personal favourite, worrying about the bad things that could happen if I took the opportunity
  • Its not for me – the opportunity will push me and I can’t possibly take this opportunity because … (add your own words)

The list is probably endless, most of us like to live in our own little bubble, I’ve written about that a few times, here’s one that you may want to read.

It’s safe in our bubble, we know what’s going on in our bubble, things and people can’t hurt us or so we belief in our bubble.

What our bubble doesn’t allow is any change, we don’t develop. There’s plenty of good reasons to live in your own bubble, it was right once but life and time moves on, if you’re stuck in the past in your bubble for some reason

  1. you haven’t resolved the reason you found it safe in your bubble
  2. you may feel that one or more of the points above are valid for you
  3. you haven’t discovered that
    1. you are in a bubble
    2. you know you’re in a bubble but you can’t find a way out

As I wrote above, the first thing to happen is to stop and notice, you may need some help in that, everything will be normal to you, that’s what happens you your bubble. You sometimes need someone to prod and poke you, that’s the job I do; get you to notice things you know about but you deny their existence. It’s challenging to discover that you have avoided and squandered many opportunities over the year and it was your beliefs that held you back.

I still miss opportunities and I still use those listed above but I’m getting better at noticing the urge to stay in my bubble. This work is continual and we all need someone to talk about ‘the elephant in the room’.

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I hope it will be forgotten


I’ve been procrastinating about this blog, lots of things going on socially and in my thoughts. It’s the procrastinating that’s interesting me, why do I procrastinate?

I get a voice in my ear saying; “don’t do it yet”, ” you don’t want to do that” and a host of other reasons why I should procrastinate.

I guess my reasoning is that if I don’t do what ever with the hope that it will be forgotten and I don’t need to do it.

But why do I do it, my guess is at sometime somebody criticised me about something I did, I don’t know what it was and who it was, but I’ve developed the need to procrastinate on somethings I do but not everything.

There’s a couple of things if been deliberately procrastinating with this week to observe how I feel when the procrastinating thoughts rise.  For me I get a tightness in my stomach and some light headedness, it feels comforting and familiar with a touch of anguish. It feels nice but with an imminent threat of failure. It heightens my awareness with a sense that I need to do something.

I have a sense of driving with the handbrake on.

Something is holding me back, a fear of failure, criticism, shame, I’m not good enough etc.

I’ve developed a strategy to combat these thoughts and with a bit of practice you may become proficient.

The first step is the hardest, notice when it happens and stop. Sometimes it is just too hard to stop, if that happen just notice what happens and don’t be hard on yourself. Perhaps reflect on why you had to carry on, again don’t be hard on yourself.

When you do notice the need to procrastinate and can stop, ask yourself what would it be it a just didn’t complete the task. I’m guessing you may feel that you are in a better place because you have stopped. Now play a game with yourself, plan what you need to do for this task, now break the task into smaller tasks that are real and achievable in a very short time, if the task can have an identified measure of success all the better. The measure of success is your own measure, nobody else needs to know.

Decide when to start and get on with the first smaller task, once you have completed it stop and reflect.

Was the task successful, did you achieve your measure of success, was the task too big or scary for you. If it was too big perhaps you may notice some other future tasks are big as well.

With you knowledge of the first task, reflect and adjust your measure of success, stop for a moment to review your plan and when your ready get on with he next task.

Again stop, reflect, adjust the plan, ask yourself if you are still meeting the original goal. Has your original goal changed, do you need to modify your tasks?

Stop, reflect and start on the next task, continue working thought your tasks to meet your goal.

Once you have time to reflect and consider what is going on, you are bringing out your authenticity, with your authenticity you may notice changes in yourself and how other respond to you. Be content if you find the original goal you were procrastinating on has changed, that is the power of authenticity.

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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.

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?