Alexander Technique

Being a human being not a human doing


This week is Mental Health week, the hidden pandemic that we don’t like to talk about.

It is great that we can now speak about it but have we done enough, are some of the concerns just false platitudes of people stuck in their own mental health problems.

Suffering from mental health problems is shit; nobody really understands your own unique mental health problems.

There’s lots of help from lots of modalities, all trying to wedge your unique mental health problem into their niche. I may be hard on these wonderful people that have a deep urge to help others.

Remember this in my perspective and I may be completely delusional on this matter. I’m happy to be proved otherwise.

Many modalities are sticking plasters for a headache. They work for a while whilst you believe it is helping you. They add another layer to your thinking to smooth over and hide your personal unique problem. Your personal unique problem will break out of these layers when it needs to; like Dr Ford recently with Kavanaugh.

Plastering over things just postpones the problem, I know because that is what I do, but to a lesser extent now. Now if I feel shit I tell someone, I did this morning, hence this blog, thank you, you know who you are.

What has worked for me is instead of adding layers is removing the layers and meeting my problems naked and vulnerable. It sounds very, very scary; it is the first time and possibly the second time and the third. Now it is joyful, standing naked and vulnerable and letting my problems trying to get to me. (Standing naked is a metaphor; well most of the time, best not done in public!) Opening up to myself and braving my vulnerability is fantastic, terrifying, weird, freeing, stupid, enlightening; initially changing rapidly in the kaleidoscope of my thought. Slowly my thoughts slow to thoughts of freedom and joy, sometimes with tears of joy.
You may think this is mindfulness; it is but a whole lot more. We all have this within us, all we have to do is find it.

It has taken me, since the discovery that I have been suffering from anxiety, about ten years to write this. Some of these years I can’t remember. What I know is that I’ve been trying and trying to resolve and get over my unique personal problem.

Recently I’ve discovered, trying and trying to resolve and getting over my unique personal problem doesn’t work!

I wish I knew that earlier, the answer is not trying and not getting over my unique personal problem. Trying just adds layers to smoother the problem and the problem is me!  I’m trying to hide from myself.

The secret is to be; be yourself, be balanced with gravity, be now, be here, not drifting off somewhere in your thoughts. All this is easier to say than do but doing is the wrong approach, it is being, being a human being not a human doing.

I teach how to be an being, not using unnecessary energy and not being a human doing. The benefits are that life is freer, happier, joyous, loving, beautiful, plentiful, and peaceful. Life is like it is now, the same family and friends but much, much better.

My unique personal problem is still with me as it is me, now we live in harmony with each other. My problem does shout at times for me to do something, now I know how to return to a being.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, anxiety, attention, breathing

Life becomes a whole lot better. 


We all love getting ready for something,

  • getting ready for friends coming round
  • getting ready for dinner
  • getting ready to catch a ball
  • getting ready to run
  • getting ready to stand
  • getting ready to sit

You probably know even more.

Some activities of getting ready do need some preparation, like making dinner, preparing for friends how will visit. However some things we get ready for there is no point is getting ready as we are ready already. These activities are generally when we move from one activity to another.

  • from sitting to standing
  • from walking to running
  • from observing to catching a ball

We all tend prepare for the change in activity by getting ready, the getting ready is a tightening of muscles in preparation for something we are already prepared for. We overthink things so we think we need to do something to get ready. Maybe grimacing your face to lift a heavy weight, if you think about it, we don’t tend to lift things with our facial muscles so why all this extra effort?

It is not just our facial muscles that we tense to get ready, it may be holding your breathe,   tightening your shoulders, we all have our favourite tightening for our own way of getting ready.

What’s yours?

The difficult bit is noticing your own getting ready patterns, that’s where I come in, my years of Alexander Technique training and practice, I notice these things in people and can offer you a different plan for getting ready where you don’t grimace to lift heavy weights or don’t hold your breathe when you decide the run or don’t tightened your arm just before you catch a ball.

I’ll introduce you to rediscovering your freedom and aliveness you once had, then life becomes a whole lot better.

If you want to know more, drop me a line or two.

 

 

Alexander Technique

This is better then smoking dope


The other day I went to pick up one of our dogs from the vets, I went with the vet nurse to the treatment room, she explained what I need to do post operation, during our conversation she asked what do I do. I told her that I’m an Alexander Technique teacher, she said the usual, “What’s that?”. My description that morning was, I teach people to be in balance, that’s with gravity and also with time and space.

She replied: “oh!”

We walked to the get my dog from the kennels. I asked here if she wanted to experience what I teach? Yes please.

I explained it’s firstly about noticing things and just observing. (if you want, please play along with what I told her)

The first thing to notice is yourself, notice your feet touching the ground as you walk, then notice your body from the top of your head to the soles of your feet.

We arrived at the kennels, she let my dog from the crate, lots of fussing and then we tried to get his body sock on to protect his stitches.

He wasn’t having any of it.

I suggested that we can calm him easily by simply noticing ourselves like I just mentioned, if that doesn’t work then notice the space around you. It worked and he immediately went quiet, she was amazed! We put his body sock on.

There was only one other dog in the kennels, he was panting and very stressed. Our thinking wasn’t working on him. I said lets see if we can calm him down. Again notice yourself and the space around you and include the dog in your space. The panting slowed but he still wanted to pant.  She commented that the energy in the room had changed it was now calm.

I challenged her to experiment again, same routine with another extra. Notice yourself, the space around you and this time you have the freedom to leave the room whenever you want to. The panting stopped! He still had his head up. She commented the energy in the room has changed again, it was still very calm but now more crisp and energetic.

One last experiment, repeat your thoughts without words, over and over again. The dog rested his head on his front paws. We both sat on the floor of the kennels with my dog lying on his back, the other dog quiet in his crate.

She said she wanted to stay here all day, she’s never been so chilled and energised at the same time.

She said this is better then smoking dope!

You can have this experience if you want.

I have the experience most of the time and can show you how.

This is being present in the here and now, it is available to all.

Veterinary nurses love it, well the one I was with.

Dogs love it, definitely my dogs.

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YOU can love it to

It is your life but a whole lot better.

Alexander Technique

It’s all about love


I’ve been away in France on a residential training course learning more about the Alexander Technique; you know the modality that gets you to sit and stand through a session, it’s something to do with posture, but other modalities seem to do it better.

There’s probably some truth in that.

Nobody really tells you what the Alexander Technique is for, it seems to be for everything?

Surely there must be a modality for each pain and illness?

This week I discovered what the Alexander Technique is really about, you won’t find the answer directly in any of Alexander’s books, please prove me wrong. Not many teachers will say it directly but will display it.

The Alexander Technique is all about love, not the love that

  • expects something,
  • demands something
  • Controls someone.

This isn’t love, that’s something else.

It’s the love that totally and perfectly comprehends with total and perfect acceptance.

With this love, movement takes no obvious energy, there is

  • No effort
  • No pain

Love in perception,

Perception is action,

Action is perception.

Therefore,

Action is love and love is action.

It has taken me a long time to discover what I’ve been training for. My discovery is love, not to take love but to manifest and offer love to myself and to anyone who want to receive my love. If I accept love it is accepted with comprehension and acceptance.

The art of the Alexander Technique teacher is to guide others, if they so wish, to discover that they can have effortless activities in whatever they do.

Alexander Technique, anxiety

The fools errand


Strange old week, was it the alignment of the planets with a lunar eclipse?

Or was it just a coincidence that I was stressed with work and other things were happening with my neighbours. This week has been turmoil for me, to top it off my doctor wants me to see a specialist at hospital.

Today I’ve been calm but earlier in the week not so. It’s taken a few people to say a few curt words from friends and colleagues for me to be to realise that I’m bringing the stress on myself. Keeping things bottled up and thinking the worst. I’m also regretting not going to the Alexander Technique Congress in Chicago this week, perhaps that was a good thing in hindsight.

The past few years I’ve been quite good at keeping myself grounded and centred, being in the here and now or near to it so that I can very quickly return back there. This week has been different, I’ve been anywhere but being grounded and centred. Worrying about the what if’s, I’m rubbish at my job, I’m a fraud, etcetera, etcetera.

Returning to the here and now has been difficult as my old habit of worrying had come to the fore and didn’t want to leave me. It felt awful, I was pulling down and was told that I looked tired. I was a tired in fact I was exhausted, though part of me was enjoying the depression and anxiety.

Falling into this trap has been an eye opener, worrying what others may be thinking is a fools errand, When I spoke to them – eventually – my worries evaporated and interestingly they had similar worries. Perhaps I was right to be concerned but should have broached the subject earlier to save my days of worry.

What I’ve learnt is sometimes it is not enough to be in the here and now on my lonesome, sharing ideas and troubles with others also helps, we then can get a common understanding and learn to work together openly.

 

 

 

 

Alexander Technique, Anger, breathing

Not trying too hard is overkill


This week, after I’d read Gary Ramsey’s book Bliss, One Hero’s Journey, my interest in what in balance means has changed. My thought’s had been about being in balance physically and with time.

Physically I mean being upright with little or no excessive holding up, allowing my postural muscles do their job without my superficial muscles working too much. If I tire when standing I’m using superficial muscles instead of my postural muscles, postural muscles have a very long endurance, superficial muscles don’t.

For time, in balance means to me is bringing in the here and now, not drifting off tot he past or working about the future.

However Gary introduced me to more dimensions of balance that I hadn’t really thought about, understanding these dimensions helped Gary stay alive even with cancer. That seems a very bold statement, read his book and you’ll understand.

The crux of balance is that I don’t need to try too hard to be in balance,

if fact, not trying to hard is overkill,

I just need to be to be in balance.

Do you ever have thoughts;

  • that I must try harder
  • that’s too difficult
  • I must fight that
  • it’s not worth the effort

These thoughts will push you of balance with yourself, you will lose the opportunity to be your authentic self as you energy and engagement is elsewhere.

It is equally with things you love

  • dreaming of the location you love
  • tending to the ones you love at the expense of yourself

These thoughts will again push you of balance.

All these thought are fine however the issue is if you get stuck with one of these thoughts you will lose your balance and you will have to compensate in some form. The compensation comes in many forms, tightening muscles to compensate, eventually resulting in muscle strain and pain.

A chemical imbalance due to being stuck in one of the fight, flight or freeze modes due to a stuck fear response, may lead to a serious illness

Perpetual eagerness to be busy, equally being a persistent sloth and reluctant to work, both these will eventually take their toll. Our bodies will do what it needs to, to establish to be in balance, until eventual burnout.

Find your balance but remember that not trying too much is overkill!

Alexander Technique

How to maintain your painful habits!


When I meet new people one of the many questions that are asked are;

  • Where do you live?
  • Questions about my family and relationships
  • Why are am I here
  • Of course the weather

then the terrifying question arrives, what do you do!

I do have two roles, I’m a business analyst, most guess what this is without asking too many questions – they probably don’t know but their guess will do and I’m happy with that.

We can move on.

My other role is an Alexander Technique Teacher, well I will be soon. People either know or think they know, they are the ones that tighten their back to become erect and tall or they mention that it is something about sitting and standing.

The others want more information.

I really don’t know which ones are worse to explain what the Alexander Technique is; those with preconceived ideas or those without a clue.

I’ve shuffled around many ideas on what to say at this point, my current words are about rediscovering your lost freedom and ease, changing your habits that give you pain to habits that allow you freedom and ease; regressing back to being an 6 year old.

You may think that is impossible,

I’ll tell you it is not,

it is only a choice like the choice you have to maintain your painful habits.

Changing habits is a little difficult as you have to go against your norm, your norm has helped you throughout your life, if you are not careful every time you choose to make a change your norm will be resistant and win over your well intentioned choice. If you are like me your norm will win every time. What needs to be done is approach change indirectly then your habit can claim it for itself. Your habits are like your manager at work that keeps stealing your ideas. If you know that they do this then you can steer them to what you want. Habits are the same.

You need to show your habit the benefit of the change so that your habit can steal your idea.

Do you ever get out of breathe when you do a particular activity, mine was walking up hill. I’d see a hill and get ready for the incline; hunker down and lean into the hill – this is absolutely stupid, it is making the incline even more onerous.

Being an engineer I have an understanding about levers and weights, leaning forward I need more energy to move myself than if I was upright therefore getting ready for a hill by leaning forward is a waste of effort and pretty stupid.

The other thing I noticed I was doing was making sure I lifted my knees higher than normal and putting more energy than I needed into moving my legs. Unless it is a very steep incline the height you normally lift your feet is enough to go up a hill.

I’ve almost forgot, not only did a get ready by leaning into the hill, I’d hold my breathe for some strange reason. I’d be breathless in a few steps.

Obviously something needs to change, being breathless did have it’s benefits I’d have to stop walking. I find working on breathing can be a difficult experiment as I get drawn into breathing, my view breathing should just happen so I avoid working on my breathing.

Going back to basics always works for me. whether it is a hill, or any other activity.

Get to know your environment, notice what you are touching, your feet on the ground,  your skin touching your clothes, the sense of the wind passing your skin, the heat of the sun. Be there with your environment. Allow yourself to receive whatever you can see, don’t go searching and focusing on anything. Keep refreshing these thoughts, these thought indirectly quieten down my breathing and magically I become more upright without any effort – remember in the beginning of this blog people tightened their back to become erect, there is no need for this, it happens naturally when you allow it to happen. Now I can carry on with my walk up hill. whenever the need to hunker down to get up the hill appears I can either stop for a moment to get to know my environment and refresh the thought on every step.  At some point awhile back my walking up hill habit changed from hunkering down to noticing the environment, walking up hill is now a breeze.

Perhaps you could experiment or find an Alexander Technique Teacher to help you to rediscover your 6 year old self again.

Being 6 again is fantastic.

Happy experimenting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander Technique

When things are getting to you


You know I’ve never really liked dancing, just too many rules to obey, though I enjoy watching people dance. I mentioned this in my last blog Bliss!

To my surprise I’m enjoying learning to dance the Tango, I’m learning Argentine Tango which from what I understand is a social dance without many rules. What happens between my partner and myself is our business as long as we move counter clockwise around the dance floor. I have steps to learn or what I feel I’m learning are the various options my partner and I have when we make a step together.

You can to do a little experiment in a moment. The experiment is ‘when is the moment when your step is committed, i.e. you can’t pause and change your mind?”

Please take a few steps and experiment.

What did you notice?

I noticed that when my gait is wide, which is my norm, I committed my step very early, probably before I moved my foot. Closing my gait helped but I also support most of my weight in my heels, when I moved my weight forward I could remain in balance on my standing foot for a lot longer, I can move my other foot forward, pause and move it back again. My decision to transfer my weight to my other foot is now when my foot is in its new position.

Please take a few steps with a closer gait and you weight forward, now experiment.

What did you notice?

Each time I experiment with this, things quieten down and I become more aware of my surroundings, noticing when I can pause and change direction, I’ve found with practice, pausing and changing can happen at any moment.

This is a great skill for dancing, I also see it as a great skill for those moments when things are getting to you. Next time you have one of those moments, stand up, close your gait so there is 2-4 cms between your feet, move your balance to the soles of your feet and wait until you want to move, take a small step and tease yourself whether you are going to finish the step or not. You will commit to something wait until the intension rises, commit and move to your new step or you may have committed to returned to where you were. Have fun experimenting, if you live in the Forest of Dean you could come along and learn the Tango, or search for somewhere else. feet 013

You can practice these steps wherever you are, even on the beach!

Do let me know how you get on!

 

Alexander Technique, attention

Waiting for the moment that doesn’t exist


Easter is here again, what are you doing?

I’m spring cleaning, well my garage, aka the junk store. I’ve collected some junk, kept just in case it’s needed someday. I’ve decided that day has passed. I’ve got parts for cars that have long gone, left over material from my various build projects and some just plain ordinary junk.

My head keeps saying “keep it just in case” and my heart says “get rid, IT IS junk”. This is really hard as my head keeps winning the argument over my heart even though I know my heart is right. I’ve tricked my head a little by offering some things free locally, but my head is hoping no-one will take up the offer I can keep them for that day I’ll need them.

These thoughts happen constantly in me and I guess in you as well. The constant battle of the head over the heart. I must say after a lifetime of my head winning, I’m starting to see my heart getting its way. The more I let my heart make the choice the better the choice is however heart choices are scary, they require courage and commitment as the head will try to butt in and return you to a place of safety, somewhere you have been before, somewhere amongst your junk. You can stay there amongst your junk, I have for years been waiting for the right day to use it; I’ll let you into a secret, that day doesn’t exist.

The truth is that this blog is part of my procrastination in avoiding my garage, making a coffee, disappearing into Facebook also make up my wonderful game of procrastination.

I find there is a different energy between a head thought and a heart thought,

Give it a go if you like!

Keep it simple, Think in your head about something needs to be done,  perhaps sorting out something that has you have put off for ages. Keep thinking what needs to be done, I find it slightly depressing and hard work to think that way but somehow comforting; I’m used to that way of thinking.

Now let’s think with our hearts, thinking with our hearts I found more open and giving also we can see the end, a junk free garage. It may be just me, my heart opens, I feel lighter and I’m smiling at the thought and the challenge. It feels a lot easier.

I hope that worked for you, I want to get on with my garage now, I’ll stay a little longer to finish this blog off, honest I’m thinking with my heart.

The way we think is one of the many choices we have in each moment of the day. We only ever have this moment and it only lasts for a moment and then gone forever. Please reread that sentence again. This is all we have however your head thinks otherwise, as your head loves to remember and use what is remembered and transpose it on to the future. The future doesn’t exist neither does the past, only this moment exists and only lasts for a moment.

I didn’t think I would get that deep though my heart thought differently.

Garage here I come!

 

Alexander Technique

Something not quite right!


It’s one of those days plenty to do then it snowed. Living some way from a main road and  up a steep hill, snow and ice stops travel except for the hardy. So what to do when it snows, the natural thing is to hunker down and do very little. I hate doing very little so I potter, being busy doing very little. Start a job, it’s too hard because … . Start another, it’s too hard because … . Then the day is over, oh good, time to stop being busy and relax. I hate relaxing I like doing. So for the first time in weeks I’m here writing a blog that isn’t going anywhere.

It may not be going anywhere at the moment, that may change, I like to write without knowing the end, the middle of the sentence or the next sentence. I just follow my fingers and the words appear.

The big thing that has changed in me over the past few weeks is that my fretting and worrying has almost gone to zero, things will be things and I understand I have little control over them, It’s actually a relief that I don’t need to worry about things outside of my control, I can now get on about being here without fretting about the future, You should try it sometime.

There are many phrases about just being yourself, you may have heard “You are good enough”. This phrase in particular has been with me for a few years as someone said it to me to placate me, help me, guide me, however it was the wrong person for me who said it, I didn’t believe or trust their deep down authenticity. This observation has been with me for a few years, I spoke about it today to someone and the jigsaw started to fit.

Our work in the Alexander Technique world is a very fickle thing. We are connecting to people in a unique way which is vastly different way to other practices. It is not just the teacher reading the pupil, the pupil can also read the teacher through our connections of sight, hearing and touch. If the pupil can read something not quite right about the teacher, the relationship can breakdown and the learning may fail to progress. I believe this happened to me a few years ago.

This situation can be devastating for the student as I found out myself; I started to blame myself for my lack of progress. Equally the teacher couldn’t fathom out what the problem was. I believe it is the responsibility of the teacher to notice, fathom out and come up with an alternative way to teach. This didn’t happen in my experience though the teacher may had thought they used alternative methods. I was left banging my head against the metaphorical wall for quite some time. In fact it probably wasn’t the teaching methods that were holding me back, it was my a lack of trust in the teacher. This lack of trust wasn’t obvious, we talked and were sociable, it was a recurring deep down feeling that kept saying; “Be wary, step carefully, they are hiding something”. Of course I may have been creating these thoughts through transposition from someone I met in the past who had similar looks or behaviours to them however I doubt it as others have told me they had the same issues with this person.

This experience has taught me well, when we connect through our senses we give more that we think, if we are trying to hard our hands shake, if we hold back some thoughts we put doubt in our touch which may manifest as lack of trust in the one who is listening. On reflection I sense they may have not been in the here and now and allowed their ego to be with them when they taught me; I then started copying their way of working when I worked with other students as I thought this was the norm. Learning the Alexander Technique is learning empirically; learning through experience, my experience at that time was skewed, luckily I found someone else to teach me.

To truly learn from a teacher, the teacher must be utterly in the here and now whilst instructing the student to be in the here and now. From that position things change, from my experience; pain disappears, I’m more movable, I have sense of lightness with great clarity, my worries and troubles vaporise,  all this with freedom and aliveness. What a wonderful time and place to live in. It’s available to all, why choose anything else. The skeptics may have excuses not to be in the moment, those excuses are not valid. You can live in the moment and do normal things, working, going on holiday, watching TV etc.

We all have choices and I choose to be in here and now where everything I do has a vibrancy in the activity, even boring mundane stuff is fun.

Once you have learnt these skills you have power to choose the intensity of your own here and now, from gently simmering to full power, once learnt it is difficult to turn off and ignore or even turn the power down, why should you, isn’t being authentic, with your own freedom and aliveness what everyone really wants?

Life is good and you can have it as well.

PS.  You may be wondering about the teacher I mentioned, I was angry with them for sometime but not now.  I now realise it is their journey and when they are ready they will be able to let go of those emotional thoughts.