Tag Archives: mindfulness in activity

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.

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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.

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.

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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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.

 

 

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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That Friday Feeling


Yesterday was one of those days, it was Friday, the end of the week. I got home and it was time to say aaaah.

The weekend had begun.

All those tasks I’ve put off all week because I was too busy working can now be done, or is that a dream. Can I really do all those tasks and at the same time chill out over the weekend, it’s only two days no time at all.

What I’ve noticed that looking forward to Friday spoils the rest of the week, the rest of the week is sort of on hold whilst the clock ticks slowly, ever so slowly until Friday evening; the start of the weekend. Then the clock immediately speeds up to fast forward until the alarm goes off on Monday morning, where did my weekend go, I didn’t have time to get anything done, maybe next weekend.

The cycle begins again and again.

Looking forward to something is a good thing but if this a major thought you have every other thought will suffer, wanting something that is just out of reach is just dreaming.

There is an easy way to sort this out, stop dreaming of something better, you will never get there, it is all in your imagination. Start doing something to achieve your dream.

Sometimes the easiest things to do are the hardest to achieve, you may or will need help.

The first step is to get help, either from yourself or someone else. The help you can give yourself is pausing for moments and reflecting on what you are thinking, if you are dreaming change your thought to something you can see or touch, perhaps your feet contacting with the floor. Examine the contact with the floor, if you are wearing shoes the connection between your feet through your shoes to the floor.

Do you have the potential to move your ankles? Please don’t move them but be intrigued that you have the potential for your ankles to move if and when you have the intention to do so.

You may now be a little more in the moment, your dream is quietly waiting to be the centre of your thoughts again. Your dream may well contain an intention to achieve something, now take the opportunity to get on and do something that will eventually lead you to your dream. Perhaps slow the weekend clock down so you can do all this things you promised yourself.

Your dreams can be with you but not at full volume, turn the volume down and increase the volume of being in the present moment, you may discover your dreams are not to far away, they are with you now in this very moment.

Enjoy life now, don’t go looking for it or waiting for it.

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I’ll have a glass of wine instead


Have you ever thought that you need to do something, you put it off all day, then at a particular time of the day your can’t possibly start it because you won’t have time to complete it, the only decision now is to have a glass of wine instead or may be start it after a glass of wine and finish the job off in the morning.

I’ll start after I finish the first glass, I deserve the treat because I’ve been worrying all day about it and the wine will give me a bit of courage to start the job. The glass empties, maybe a top up then I’ll start?

Oops where has all that wine gone, I can’t start now as it would be irresponsible to do anything serious and important after a bottle of wine. I’ll do it in the morning, first thing – honest!

The next day comes, more immediate things crop up, they aren’t really important but they are better than doing this job, oops where has the day gone, I’ve been busy and productive, I’ll treat myself to a glass of wine.

Does this sound familiar, I’d be lying if I’ve never done this.

I remember writing to a solicitor many years ago and my first line of the letter was an apology “Sorry that I haven’t replied sooner but I’ve been procrastinating”

When do we procrastinate?

You will have your own reasons, here’s some reasons I’ve thought of:

  • They won’t like it
  • I’m not good enough
  • I won’t like their response

My reasons are not about the actual thing but about what I think the response will be, even not being good enough is about their response, they think I’m not good enough!

A glass of wine may help in the short term however some things just need to be done and I know I feel relieved once I get over my procrastination. One of the methods I use is to ask myself if the reason I’ve thought of is actually true. If it is not true then it must be something else. Remember that the vast majority of people as absolutely hopeless at mind reading so how do you know what another person is thinking.

Lets work on “They won’t like it” is it true (you’re not a mind reader) probably not.

If you answer is ‘probably not’ then it’s not true, so no; we only want yes and no as an answer.

How does that make you feel? For me it gives me an opportunity to get on with the job, I’ve lost the thought that they won’t like it.

Second guessing others thoughts is a fools errand, you may force them to change their ideas, if you think they won’t like it you may inadvertently force them to that decision. If you don’t know if they wont like it then you can approach the job honestly and without self judgement. You may be surprised at the positive remarks.

 

 

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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Freedom and easy; psychophysical wellness


I’ve been thinking about what I’ve been training for over the past few years, I signed up for the training because after my many sessions I was free and at ease with myself each time, I wanted to pass this freedom and ease on to others, it is a wonderful skill we all have, some of us just need someone to show us where we hid this skill and let it blossom.

I’ve never been comfortable with the term Alexander Technique Teacher it either means nothing or something what it is not. In the Sun, a UK newspaper (the link goes to the article) it was stated as “a specific stretching programme called the Alexander Technique are all great ways to improve your posture”. From my view that is totally wrong however I understand where the writer is coming from, I surmising they had a session with a teacher and the teacher invited them to lengthen some muscles hence the stretching.

So if you want a good stretch find an Alexander Technique Teacher, perhaps some may get a referral from the newspaper article, what do you tell the client?

I didn’t know what the Alexander Technique was when I started my teacher training, I knew its output, which was freedom and ease. The process was a mystery and was for a few years of my training, lots of tools, games and techniques but it didn’t join together. I know now or I understand now, the Alexander Technique Teachers is to help people to improve their psychophysical wellbeing by helping them discover their hidden skill of being free and at ease with themselves hence with life.

A tall order, this is why there is a need for all the tools, games and techniques; we all learn in different ways. I guess it is easy for the client and the teacher to get stuck in the tools, games and techniques and lose the purpose of helping others to discover their psychophysical wellness.

We are all creatures of habit and Alexander Technique Teachers challenge the strong beliefs that have helped us to survive until now. The newspaper article got it the wrong way around, it’s nothing about stretching and everything about releasing,

Doing less so the right thing can take over.

During a session we can invite muscles to release, the feeling of freedom and ease appears but is quickly lost after the session, if this is repeated over several session I would suggest the benefit is only therapeutic and not a learning experience. The Alexander Technique is about learning to discover your own psychophysical wellness.

If you are stuck in this therapeutic cycle, you may be very happy to not explore, I was for years, it was very comfortable and nice.

A weekly top-up of niceness.

To learn anything there is a simple trilogy

  • Learning needs a learning plan and passion to achieve the learning plan.
  • Learning needs an observer to observe and ask non-judgmental questions about how you are executing your learning plan
  • Learning need trust and belief in what your are learning, the observer also needs trust and belief in what they are observing to achieve your learning plan

If any of these are missing then learning will be a struggle.

There’s many reasons to not to engage with this trilogy, I suspect the main reason is that you will need to step out of your comfort zone, stepping into the abyss, to make a change. It seems scary, it is but it is also wonderfully scary, opportunities just open up.

In the abyss there is time to choose, time to notice, time to say no to habits, time to do something else, time for contentment, time for psychophysical wellness.

Many people come to the Alexander Technique to discover how to control/manage pain somewhere in their body.

They have a passion with a plan to be pain free. They probably don’t know about the process but they trust the teacher knows and trusts the process.

Over sessions they develop more and more trust in the teacher with a few ahh moments, the ahh moments are when something changes, trust in the process starts. Real change happens regularly with your passion, with the aid of your teacher and trust in the process.

Freedom and easy is rediscovered; psychophysical wellness, ahh.

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