Tag Archives: mindfulness in activity

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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My replacement salbutamol


That old friend, asthma came visiting this week. I met someone over the weekend, they said their cold was over and that it had laid them up for 3 days; thanks for the warning. What they had hit me on Monday, today is Thursday and I now feel like I can function now, their 3 days was spot on. Now my wife is enjoying the pleasure or not!

In the past, with a chest infection like I had and it’s still lingering, I would have used some salbutamol to ease my way. Instead I used some thoughts, very particular thoughts. Thoughts of freedom and aliveness with the possibility to move at any moment. This may read as crazy but these thoughts really worked. I did have rasping breath, I was dizzy when I changed from lying to standing, my temperature was hot and then cold however my breathing was free and alive.

I didn’t move my breathing to the top of my lungs like I would have done in the past.

So why is this? If you are like me, my asthmatic response is to really try to breathe with a belief that breathing is best done from the top of my lungs, this is a really bad way to breathe but in those moments it seems so true, it’s the only way.

It’s not!

I’ve had years believing this is the best way in moments of stress or anxiety,

It isn’t!

I know how to breathe without trying to breathe, I do it every night when I’m asleep, perhaps it could happen when I’m awake?

What I did, was to cut off my stimulus to a reaction at the pass. It was highly likely that asthma would visit again if got a chest infection, it did, but I didn’t react in my normal way, this time, I gave asthma space, aliveness with the opportunity of move at any moment.

This takes practice, a few years for me.

Don’t be without your inhaler when you need it.

The freedom and aliveness is not just for the asthma, it is for me firstly then anything want to use freedom and aliveness for. This week it has been for myself to help me breathe with freedom and aliveness. I must say, this is the first time for a heavy cold, it worked, it worked extremely well.

The freedom is trusting that my body will look after itself if I allow the freedom then my body can be alive to do whatever it needs to do. My asthmatic reaction is to tighten my chest and force my breathe, this time I chose my body to be free. This sounds trite but it really does work for me.

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P.S. I was going to put an image of an inhaler but my dogs look a lot better. Harry is the old boy, sadly gone a few years ago, Flint is now the old boy.

P.P.S My wife now knows what man flu is like. It’s real and hurts!

 

 

 

 

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.

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

Humans think too much


My last few blogs have been about the here and now and the habits that just love to hold me back from being in the here and now. You could say this is the mindfulness part of Alexander’s discovery, what makes Alexander’s discovery different to mindfulness is his discovery works on the whole psychophysical self; you can’t have one or the other. Splitting ourselves into parts, whatever the parts are, we lose the point of the self.

We are more than the sum of the parts.

What I’ve started to understand is that the less I try to do the better I can do the thing I was trying to do. Letting go of the need to achieve and I can easily achieve what ever it was doing.

When letting go using Alexanders discovery there’s more clarity of purpose, the intention I’ve written about is intense.

Alexanders discovery is about the head, neck and back relationship, how the head leads and the rest of your body follows, it’s as simple as that. Simple for fish, tigers, lions, dogs, cats, hamsters and maybe all other species to achieve naturally but for humans it seems  difficult to grasp.

Humans think too much.

For humans to move freely we need to let go of unnecessary and obstructive thoughts. In many cases it is these unnecessary and obstructive thoughts that give you pain somewhere in your body. Letting go whilst allowing your head lead so that my body can follow is a wonderful calming thought, it contains the mindfulness part ‘letting go’ with Alexanders discovery ‘head body relationship’; the psychophysical self.

Give it a go, gentle rock on your chair if you are sitting, can you notice a change in the quality of movement. Try walking allowing your head to lead. Be safe. Did you notice a quietness and a change in you movement. Perhaps you couldn’t or didn’t want to move because what I asked is so different to your normal habits. Whatever happens, it is observing what has happened psychophysically, observing without judgement.

Somethings are hard to spot by yourself even when watching yourself in a mirror or video, on many occasions it takes the trained observation senses of an Alexander Technique teacher to notice and offer  nonjudgmental observation.

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The crucible of failure


How many crucibles have you been in through your life?

I’ve been in loads, probably more than I can remember!

One of the big ones when I joined the Royal Navy, the UK had a lot of ships then.

I arrived at the new entry training establishment HMS Fisgard, where I started my training to become an artificer. An artificer is someone who can fix anything on a ship; as you may guess that’s a lot of knowledge to know. There were different branches, for weapons, electronics, aircraft, and for me marine engineering. I’m digressing.

We were driven though the main gates to the parade ground, we were all asked to disembark, straight into the crucible, the orders started, get in line, names where called and we put into groups, then the welcome and then off to our mess blocks. My crucible was getting filled with strange orders, new rules, new faces. If they were like me, they were being very brave but scared inside, these thoughts were also added to the crucible. We met our seniors, they had either been in the Navy of a whole 4 or 8 months, they felt so senior, they deserved respect, another thought for the crucible.

After the first scary night sleeping in a room with 30 or 40 others, time for breakfast, I didn’t have a uniform yet and still long hair, ridicule in the dining hall, more for the crucible. Time for a haircut, I liked my long hair, of all the things that changed in those first few weeks, the first haircut was the most shocking, it wasn’t a US Marine cut, it was short but not that short, it was succumbing to someone else’s rules, it felt like an assault on my personality; more for the crucible. Then I had to put a uniform on, more for the crucible.

As you may guess many things were added to my new entry crucible, as with all crucibles the ingredients are heated to extreme temperatures to form something else from the raw ingredients. If it all goes well something uniform will be produced, sometimes it doesn’t work and its discarded. My entry started with 273 young men, after the first year there was only 150 left, the others had decided to leave and pursue another life.

Perhaps another crucible stopped me from quitting, the one that contained the shame and ridicule of failure. I pushed on for 22 years, I was successful in the navy but never felt I really belonged there, that fear of failure crucible just kept me going.

These crucibles that I’m describing are the pivotal points in my life that make me what I am now. If I could revisit them now I guess I would do things differently. In many of these crucibles I did things that I didn’t really want to do, I went with the flow for an easy life so I didn’t get noticed, some never felt right. Unfortunately many need to do things they know are wrong in their societal rules just to survive another day, luckily I have never needed to do anything like that. Hopefully you haven’t either.

I’m now careful what I put in my crucible, in fact I don’t know if I have one at the moment. I guess they just happen without anyone noticing, it’s only on reflection that they can be identified at some pivotal point in your life.

My plan now is to take each moment at a time and be happy to say no if I don’t like or want to do something, be content that I don’t know what is going to happen but have a strong intention to enjoy life, have fun and let the crucible of failure go.

What’s your plan?

 

 

 

 

Quickly drifting into the past


I’ve really gone off the boil with writing blogs, I’m content with myself so I haven’t anything to say. However I feel the need to write, this will be one of my blogs that I don’t know where it will end, this isn’t so uncommon with my writing. Though it feels different today somehow.

I guess it is just letting things be, I don’t feel like pushing anymore, not trying to please others, just pleasing myself in a gentle sort of way, just being me without my old baggage.   I guess there is still some baggage that I still need to work with but only when if shows itself. I’m not seeking it.

What has changed is the need to sort things out, to try to fix things. Firstly they probably don’t need fixings, I’m was just changing them to suit my purpose, whatever my purpose was. Secondly I was interfering in things that don’t need my interference. I now can let all that energy go and be used elsewhere.

Do things that I want to do instead of trying to please others. This isn’t always true as sometimes it’s easier to be led and do what others want, for the sake of a peaceful life, but bear in mind that it was my conscious choice to be led in the first place.

These changes have manifested from working with my attention and my intension to do something.

My attention is where I am in time and space, I’ve mentioned these thoughts many times in my blogs, suddenly I understand what this really means. The thoughts are beyond verbal instructions, the thoughts are non-verbal, just an image, just a wish. An image of me sitting and writing and conscious of what is around me. Conscious of sitting on my chair, of the keyboard and the screen, my words appearing on the screen.

My intention is to do something, in this case writing using my computer whilst maintaining my attention to myself and my surroundings.

This all sounds quite simple, it is with practice, it’s been a long and torturous route to get here. The need to please others was hidden everywhere on the route, dragging my down blind alleys, tempting me with quick fixes, believing that I could understand accademacally and that would be enough. The practice is to discover I needed to be me and no one else, there are no shortcuts and no quick fixes.

Attention and intention are just first part of this discovery, the second is to understand that these thoughts cannot be held on to, they age off as soon as they are thought. If you hold on to them you are quickly drifting into the past and your present moments will pass you by.

You will be day dreaming.

Thats fine if you want to and there are plenty of times you may want to reflect on the past, however there are times that is it is crucial you are in the present.

I build up my attention and intention and when the thoughts are formed I let them go and start again, my attention may be similar but my intention has moved on. I’m typing  a new word, a sentence or a paragraph. I let go and start again, over and over again. This does sound tiresome, it is in the beginning, practice helps. I experimented with non-verbal thoughts, This is easier as my words didn’t get in the way.

How about practicing with your attention and intention, letting these thought go and starting again, let me know how you get on.