Tag Archives: habits

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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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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Something snaps and anxiety appears


I’ve noticed that I’m drawn to people with anxiety, perhaps that is because I’ve been there, I may be still there, I now feel so much better and thats because I’ve found my here and now. Anxious thoughts can’t get me if I’m conscoiusly present, being in the here and now.

I’ve discovered that there is trying to be in the here and now and being in the here and now. They are totally different, one works for a time and is tiring, the other effortless and  continuously works.

Trying is tiring and being is effortless.

I’ve done loads of trying, it is hard work and develops muscular pain. Being is some much better.

Trying is desperately seeking the end goal at the detriment of the journey to get there.

Being is enjoying journey and noticing how the journey changes to get to your goal, sometimes the goal posts change as you discover what you are looking for wasn’t really for you.

When you finally notice that yo have anxiety, there may be years of not noticing, life was just getting more and more awkward, then something snaps and anxiety appears.

When the snap happened for me I immediately wanted to try and get rid of it, I tried and tried which compounded the anxiety, It wasn’t until very recently that I could be free of anxiety by trying to be in the here and now, it worked for a few hours then I tired and anxiety created back. I’d recommend trying to be in the here and now if only for a respite and the knowledge that you can control your anxiety. This could be a stepping stone to being free of anxiety. This takes practice and more practice, practice of noticing muscular tension and releasing the tension, when you start you will notice large areas of muscular tension and with practice you’ll notice the slight tightening of a muscle.

The muscular activity I’m referring to, is a tightening when something uncomfortable triggers anxiety. Noticing your reactions to a stimulus, and having techniques in improving your presence will mitigate your anxiety.

It has worked for me so why not you.

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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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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.

 

 

The missing elephant


I’ve been in the Alexander Technique community for over ten years, my question is “What is the Alexander Technique?”

Over the years I’ve thought I’d known what it is.

I thought it was moving in and out of a chair and somehow after I felt more at ease, sometimes I got a treat with some table work, I just laid there on the table and the teacher freed up my shoulders and hips. That was good.

The early years it was just a therapy, they loosened me up and I tightened myself up between the sessions.

I like what they did so;

I started my teacher training, I was taught sitting and standing, working with the other students on a table, oh of course the “monkey’ and hands on the back of the chair. We read Alexanders books, gave presentations, and a whole host of other activities. I really enjoyed my time at this school until the last two terms, however for me there was something fundamentally missing, non of it really joined up together, I felt we were skirting around the elephant in the room, It may have just been me, I was missing something,

I was missing the elephant.

I moved school.

I discovered that what was missing was psychophysical unity,

I read about it,

I understood it,

But I wasn’t it and didn’t want to be it!

I guess it was the approach the school went about it, their approach wasn’t for me, I just didn’t get it.

I get it now.

What has changed is that the Alexander Technique is about being your authentic self, it is not about chairs and tables. This is a huge difference, if you focus on chairs and tables you’ll just get good at chairs and tables, if you teach others to discover their authentic self, you may or may not need to use chairs and tables in this discovery.

The Alexander Technique is being your authentic self with psychophysical unity. You can replace psychophysical unity with freedom and aliveness.

If you want to learn the methods to rediscover your authentic self with all the freedom and aliveness you need, perhaps you can like this page so you will get a reminder when I next write.

I thought it was just chocolate


We’ve had a week of ups and downs and sometimes nothing, it’s been horrible, we have only just survived.

Luckily after several pleading phone calls to strangers it’s all sorted out.

What shocked me was I thought I could live without or live with it when it was in short supply.

I could understand if this was;

  • water
  • food
  • shelter from the weather
  • heating
  • transport
  • electricity

but

broadband!!!!

I struggled because of broadband, I couldn’t do things that I took for granted. I wasn’t just me it was my phone, my music;

  • they wouldn’t play my music
  • they wouldn’t connect to each other, I thought my wifi would look after that, obviously not, its broadband they need.

It was an annoying week but I got used to it, I started reading books made out of paper – whatever next!

Actually I read quite a lot of books print on paper, perhaps not as many as I could if the internet wasn’t so available.

The Internet has been with us for the past decade or so and is now so embedded in our lives it’s difficult to understand how we live without it. Just three or four days without it was initially difficult and annoying but I soon got used to it. I enjoyed not being pulled to my screen to check up on the world, I got a sense of freedom from the chains of the internet.

This did get me thinking about how we cope with change, firstly I was very annoyed and angry then I calmed down and developed a coping strategy. My coping strategy was to stop checking the latency, download and upload of my internet connection and get on with other things. I shed the need to check up on the world every few minutes and let it be.

My behaviour, I suspect, was normal but what I was doing was observing myself going thorough these emotions, where I felt it physically; my anger in my stomach and sensing lightheadedness because I wasn’t in control of my internet, my head pulling down with despair. I must say that these where quite subtile sensations but they were there all the same. When I changed my view and started doing other things these sensations diminished though there was a longing to use the internet again.

How about giving it a try, stop doing something that you habitual use or do for a couple of days, it could be not using the internet for a couple of days, or my other habits; chocolate and coffee.

You will have your own habit you could experiment with.

So to remind you, it is not about stopping whatever you choose to stop, it is noticing the thoughts and what happens in you physically when you can’t have what you want. It is best to note what you are feeling as and when they appear and also what you did when you noticed.

Please be safe and if gets too much, stop the experiment. I’d love to hear about your experience.

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