Tag Archives: mindfulness

My two big feet


I feel good today,

I’ve apologised,

I’ve apologised for something that I didn’t want to do in the first place,

I’ve apologised for a side effect that had happen because something else had to happen.

It all happened over twenty years ago,

it only feels like yesterday.

I was in such a mess,

I thought my world was coming to the end,

I couldn’t,

I didn’t want my life to follow what I thought was planned for me,

I needed to change,

I made a decision and jumped with that decision with gusto and my two big feet.

I knew there would be after effects  but I didn’t expect them to last this long.

Two decades and a bit, is a long, long time.

One way I found to cope was to just deny it ever happened,

that worked for a few years, may be a decade.

Birthdays and Christmas’s were when denial failed.

I got grumpy and angry.

I began to hate Christmas,

what’s the point without family!

You may have guessed, I forced a divorce, I could face living with my then wife another day, it very quickly became very acrimonious, I went into a melt down and for the sake of my children’s sanity I broke contact with them. They were getting a good strong dose of PAS parent alienation and with me sticking around it was only getting worse.  I paid for their support and for their university fees but never got a thank you or any recognition or any contact at all, they’ve married but I only heard that through the grapevine, now their children are being born, still no contact.

PAS lasts along time. Thankfully others have influenced my children and have discovered that what they have been told over the decades isn’t exactly true, most probably made up by a furtive mind trying to maintain their status quo.

I’ve was told they are just waiting for an apology, this morning I wrote and sent the apology via someone we both know.

Now I’m just waiting. It’s strange, I’ve tried to write and send letters before, they were never sent, there was too much anger in the words, now I’m quite content, the letter flowed, it was honest and truthful. I’m overjoyed by writing a letter so freely and open. This could have never happened in my days of denial and anger, angry that things didn’t happen in the utopian dream that I had. Life is real, life is in the moment, if you force things to happen then it just won’t go the way you planned; the end of utopia.

The best made plans never survive first contact with the enemy: Someone is quoted this or saying something like it.

The greatest influence in getting to this point is working with Alexanders discovery, in fact being aware where I am in time and space not only helped me with asthma, it’s now disappeared, anxiety depression and just living. I still have episodes of doubt but now I can catch them early, well most of the time by asking myself if my doubt is real or imaginary. The doubts are always imaginary therefore I don’t need them so I can let it go. As I’ve written in previous blogs, this isn’t a quick fix it takes time, don’t be hard on yourself. It has taken a several years to allow my anger to subside so that I can now write an apology. Also seek help from someone you trust, this is difficult to do on your own.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With just a thought


Do ever have those thoughts that someone is ganging up on you, do you ever feel that things aren’t worthwhile. I do sometimes but not as often as I used to, but then I would just deny it.

Feeling that everyone doesn’t like you isn’t very nice, in fact it’s utter shit. Everywhere you move there’s a challenge or obstacle, things just get harder and harder to do. I fact they are just plainly impossible. For me it was just because an event happened when I was already trying to hold it together. One of mine was when I was served notice for divorce, a knock at the door and an envelope was put in my hand. It was an utter shock and from that moment until very recently I was unable to open any letters delivered by post.

Just a simple thing that leads to a whole lot of hassle. Apparently opening mail is a difficult thing for many, they received distressing news once and they are forever waiting for the next one.

I overcame this problem, firstly because I wanted too, if I didn’t have the want I would never open another letter. We all need an intention if we want to move on and change.

The next is to get help, firstly someone to help, someone needs to open the letters, ensure the contents are safe for me to read. Unfortunately looking for an easy way out this remained the norm for several years. I then upped my intention and opened letters with support from my wife, I know it sounds stupid but then, letters were really scary.

I slowly realised that they don’t contain bad news, just bills, bank statements and mostly junk mail.

I was still stuck.

Then by magic opening letters stopped being a problem, well most o fate time.

The magic happened shortly after I started having Alexander Technique lessons, the irrational fear of letters slowly disappeared. During the lessons the teacher just worked on my movement, doing bends, sitting and standing, and asking me to allow my legs and arms to lengthen whilst she worked on my limbs.

It all felt a bit strange however I felt great after, I was taller, lighter, freer and strangely happier.

So what happened to me, she, slowly over a period of time, changed my thinking on how I move, as a result I became less anxious which allowed me to do things that anxiety prevented me from doing.

I now know how to manage my anxiety without medication and with just a thought.

The thought is Alexander’s discovery.

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Rediscover your ‘it’


I just come back from my Sunday morning walk with my dogs, now it is time for a coffee and write my daily blog.

Today I had an extra one today as well, some may say that four springer spaniels is too many for a walk, I’d agree if they were all on leads, fortunately they weren’t. They just run free in the forest, ranging around me as I walk. They do keep an eye on me to make sure that I don’t get too far away and I do the same.

I use my walking to reflect on things, today I did a voice recording of what I was thinking; I’ll listen to it later or not at all. The general gist was that I tend to write about how to become present in this moment, I’ve written plenty of blogs about this but have never really moved into what makes Alexander’s discovery so special.

To be fully content with life we need to know where we are in time and space, much of what I’ve written about is mindfulness, being present in this moment. Understanding where you are in space is a little more difficult. The difficultly is that our habits put us in various physical contortions. Just observe people, you may see some peoples heads jutting out in front of their torso, I guess this is tiring but is normal to them, if you ask them they will say they are perfectly upright and have a pretty good posture, you can clearly see this isn’t true. They have faulty sensory perception of their own body, as I do and most probably you do as well. It’s a global problem except for the fortunate few, normally the successful athletes, sportsmen and women and performers but not always.

head

Continue reading Rediscover your ‘it’

When things get tough


Sometimes I feel that things aren’t going my way, something is said, I hear something, I interrupt what I hear in a certain way, it may be put across a certain way to make me feel small, inferior, inadequate.

It hurts for a while and the pain can linger for a long, long time.

These are their views on life, they conflict with my views but it is all they have. Pushing bad vibes onto others can only mean one thing, they aren’t happy with their lives, they feel inadequate, things and people aren’t responding they way they want, so they are forcing their will; they have no right to do this as it is against my will, my beliefs, what I live for.

So what is to be done, simply nothing for them but offer kindness, support and time. For myself move away from feeling small, inferior and inadequate, booze could help for a few hours but those feelings will be even stronger when I wake up.

It’s the old classic, quieten myself down and think of things about the present, become interested in everything I do. Making a pot of tea, writing this blog, the ironing is to come later this morning, make the ironing a game for myself to enjoy.

Being interested in things when feeling inadequate I feel isn’t that authentic, it is just doing a diversion, so how do I bring authenticity to the party?

Authenticity comes with being present, that is in time and space, with an intention to do something, I’ve mentioned time and space in other blogs but I’ll mention it again. For time, I ask myself where is my thinking is, am I fretting about something other than what I intend to do; writing a blog about feeling inadequate. If and when the fretting rises I ask myself is it true in this very moment, I find the answer is always NO.

If it isn’t true then why am I fretting?

I find the fretting disappears and I can get on with writing, I notice some butterflies in my stomach just before doubt appears, I use the butterflies as a trigger to ask this question.

For the space part, this is thoughts about re-establishing my thoughts about head, neck, back relationship, my head gently supported on my neck, this support passes down my spine to the bottom of my pelvis where my sit bones are, I have thoughts that my torso is fully supported on my sit bones and I have loads of space between my sit bones and the top of my head. I used to get a bit rigid at this point of my thinking, I now have thoughts that my torso and head can move gently to and fro or sideways freely as I breathe and type this blog.

Whenever those butterflies rise I repeat my thoughts again, this does get better, honest.

I now have thoughts about my intention whilst being here in this moment and space. My inadequacy has disappeared.

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I was on holiday


Traveling overnight just makes a long day, up as usual in the morning, a full day making the most our last day on holiday, then flying home with a couple of hours back. Then I woke up at my usual UK time, why! Just a couple of hours sleep.

Ugh.

I suppose habits are usually helpful sometimes but not this morning, I noticed it was daylight so time to wake up, why!

It did give me time to put the holiday clothes in the washing machine and to weigh myself, obviously too much beer and baklava, don’t ask, I wondered why my trouser are tight.


Beer and baklava, another habit, go on holiday and let and other habit slip or is it a good old habit reemerge of when I was younger and fitter, I could eat and drink what I liked then and still be trim. The Mediterranean has so many good memories of good times, the heat of the sun, clear blue skies, the sea, food, beer and back then a lot of hard work. This time the hard work was missing perhaps my trousers were saying something.

But I was on holiday, time to relax and worry about things later, later is here this morning, now back on low/ no carb food without baklava and beer, I’ll miss them.

Allowing habits to take control may or may not be a conscious decision, I was in holiday mode and just ran with my habits, so I could claim that I consciously choose to revert to an old behaviour. It was good, I was on holiday!

It’s great to be home now, still on holiday but doing some things at home that need to be done during a weekday.

Some thoughts for you;

  • do you change to someone else when you go on holiday?
  • do you like your holiday persona?
  • Have you ever thought why you change?

FORWARD = INTENTION and UP = ATTENTION


I’ve been thinking what all my training has been about, its been about a paradigm shift in thinking and how the show others how to achieve this change in thought.

We normally rely on our habits to conduct our day to day activities, just doing things without much thinking, take driving a car, have you ever been shaken out of you routine when a hazard suddenly appears and you have thoughts of “that appeared from nowhere”.

Why does this happen?

I have an idea why, we reuse old habits over and over again, driving down the same old road every day, its safe and nothing ever happens, so you have time to daydream and reduce your awareness of your journey, then something appears from nowhere, it didn’t, it was there all the time but it wasn’t on your previous journeys. It was your lack of awareness that created the hazard, if you had seen it earlier you could have taken early action around the obstacle instead of turning it into a hazard.

Relying on our old habits we switch between relaxed to startle in a moment. This is our normal thinking paradigm, Our thinking is either on or off,  on the seesaw of life, happy or sad, swinging between the two with no apparent control. Some think alcohol or drugs will help, they do to a point, they mask things but they don’t go away. I’m including the prescribed ones as well. I’ve certainly been on the seesaw of happiness and hatred and alcohol does mask things until the next day.

What I’ve learnt in my training is to slow the seesaw down so that it doesn’t swing too far either way, a lot of the time it works but not always, as they say, ever day is a learning day.

My paradigm shift in my thinking has two aspects, the first one is being content with not knowing what is going to happen, the second is knowing where I am in this moment. This thinking needs to be renewed continually, this needs practice.

Both of these aspects have many layers and they interconnect with each other everywhere, it is too complicated to understand, so lets not, this is the paradigm shift in my thinking, I am me in this time and space.

To make this simple I use thoughts of attention and intention, I have attention of myself in time and space, remembering to renew continually and the intension to move to perform whatever activity I choose.

I see this as FM Alexanders forward and up

FORWARD = INTENTION, UP = ATTENTION

So instead of driving down the road using the same old habits, I enjoy the journey even in traffic jams. You may be thinking about the developed habits in controlling the car, of course I use them, as I use the habits in developed in walking. These habits are all tied up with thoughts of attention and intention at this very moment

 

 

You can have alacrity in everything you do


Understanding the Alexander Technique can be quite difficult, even Alexander Technique teachers have difficulty in explaining what it is, I find I look in their eyes and try to guess what they want to hear, the answer is normally garbled and unauthentic. It’s best not to look in to their eyes and guess what they want to hear, I’m not a mind reader

I could go on about psychophysical unity and looking into your eyes, your eyes may start to roll with a touch of glazing over. Alexander technique, psychophysical unity that’s enough big words, good day, perhaps could you explain another day or never.

So what is your elevator speech?

I don’t have one, I have many but I only want one, ugh.

The problem with elevator speeches is that they must work every time, or is it they must work when I want them to work, oh I don’t know, I have so much trying in me to force people to listen and understand, my authenticity disappears and I create an annoying noise until the elevator door opens and they can escape.

If you are still reading here’s todays elevator speech.

I guide you in making a paradigm shift in your thinking so that you become authentic and true to yourself. You still do the same things as you have always done, now with clarity and alacrity.

Did you try to escape the elevator or do you want to know more?

I hope it was the later.

Anyway add a comment to the blog to let me know either way; I’m looking forward to your comments.

John

 

 

STOP WORRYING; if it was that easy!


You may think what is the Alexander Technique is and what it is to do with your mental health, from my point of few quite a lot; the Alexander Technique saved me from living  the rest of my life in depression or popping antidepressants to keep me happy.

The Alexander Technique sort of works the opposite direction to other methods in helping you with your pain be it physical or mental. We tend to not worry about what has happened in the past or what is to happen, The Alexander Technique is an educational approach that teaches you how to live your life fully now.

From my experience of mental health, I worry, I’m anxious. Worrying puts me in a place that is in the future, when I’m in the future I have no control of anything as I’m in a place that doesn’t exist, I’m worrying about nothing, I use a lot of energy worrying about nothing.

That can’t be healthy!

There is a premise that every thought produces a muscular action, we can only tighten muscles, worrying is thinking hence I tighten muscles when I worry. Tightened muscles get tired and eventually start to produce pain signals to ask for a rest. Continually worrying uses a lot of energy and eventually a lot of pain. You may start to blame the environment, chairs, beds, shoes, clothes, the food you eat. You may start to blame friends, family, your boss at work.

Take a moment to think; are they doing the worrying, they may be, but they are not doing your worrying, YOU ARE!

There’s a simple answer “STOP WORRYING”. If it was that easy!

I’ve noticed that when I worry I need to think about something, something not about me, something in the future or something in the past but definitely not about now. If I try to think about NOT WORRYING I need to think about something else, probably promising to be better in the future. This doesn’t work it is just more worrying.

It sounds absolutely hopeless, I thought that; back to popping antidepressants. However if you just could be in the moment then worry disappears, it’s true, there’s plenty of mindfulness practices that can do that. However the Alexander Technique has the edge on mindfulness, it is mindfulness in activity; knowing where you are in time and space as you engage with your daily activities.

You can teach yourself mindfulness in activity but we have a very good knack of not seeing how we move in activity, just try looking in a mirror and if you are like I was, you will do plenty of avoidance and that’s just looking at your face. This is where you need a nonjudgmental teacher to encourage you to observe yourself without judgement; it takes time but worth it.

It all goes back to those muscles you tightened when you worried, they learnt to stay in tension, if you just engaged in mindfulness it would some time take time for these muscles to release their tension, release their pain. With the Alexander Technique your muscular tension you developed over time, can be released by encouraging you to think differently, thinking the way you used to when you were a child, thinking that allows easy and freedom so you can do the activities you want to.

It worked for me, I have written a lot about muscular tension, all tension is related; by releasing muscular tension worry and anxiety disappear. It they reappear I’ve got the tools to let my anxiety quieten and disappear.

The opposite direction I mentioned earlier is to approach the muscular reaction to a stimulus instead of working on the stimulus to minimise the muscular reaction.

Intrigued, then why not contact me for more details.