Tag Archives: mindfulness

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.

 

 

 

Grumpy, miserable and sad


There’s plenty of words that describe people with mental health issues, I was going to write some but I’m not, as they are generally defamatory and demeaning. You also have your own list.

I’m really pleased that the Heads Together charity is the lead charity for this week’s London Marathon. It’s about time mental health is accepted and spoke about in public, I have a view that we all suffer from bouts of mental health issues, some are like a runny nose, some like flu and in some cases like pneumonia. My assumption is that we have all had the runny nose version and the runny nose can last for years and years. We just live with it because it feels normal.

I’ll let you into a secret, once upon a time I thought grumpy, miserable and sad was normal.

I was wrong, if you feel like that then you are also wrong.

My normal now is being happy (I do sometimes do get the runny nose but I have tools for me to return to happy).

Happy is a great place to be, I learnt this skill to be happy instead of learning the skill to being grumpy, miserable and sad.

Why is it so easy to be grumpy, miserable and sad? My answer is that where others want you to be because they don’t have the secret of not being grumpy, miserable and sad. The lowest common denominator is grumpy, miserable and sad.

I guess you want to know what tools I use to be happy, if you have read any of my blogs you probably know.

I’ve trained to teach the Alexander Technique, (a lot of hours over 4 years) you may already have heard about this, posture and reducing lower back pain may come to mind. It sort of is but the Alexander Technique is so much more, posture and reducing pain are just the sideshows that people can see, measure and brag about. What the technique is about is to change how you think during your everyday activities. If you are a stressed Eric as I was, full of anxiety, I was so anxious I couldn’t breathe without an inhaler, the inhaler ruled my life, ooh, I hated those years.

Learning to identify my anxious responses to everyday stimulus was the first step and then doing some different, even if the different thing was to do nothing, things started to change, I became less dependent in my inhaler. It took a long time, I’m inhaler free now.

The Alexander technique is many things to many people, it reduces physical pain, it reduces mental pain, I see anxiety as mental pain. It’s all this but what I understand the Alexander Technique to be is training on how to love yourself. If you love yourself from a safe authentic space then you can love others. Judgement of yourself dissipates as does judgement of others. Mindfulness is fine but mindfulness in activity is the key to this love and happiness; this is what the Alexander Technique is. My training as a teacher has taught me how to notice others and offer techniques and ideas to others, many of these ideas are indirect, this is an important aspect of the training as it helps you to notice your habits from a safe indirect perspective. Observing yourself, as I have written before it the first step.

If you are intrigued or want to get rid of your grumpiness give me a call.

 

Write your own rules


I haven’t blogged for a while and I’m not sure if this blog will be published, however I have the intention to write it but I haven’t got much attention to write it. It may be because we have just returned from a break over Easter meeting old friends and new friends for the first time. It was something that someone said to me during the last week; “believe in myself because it is the right thought”. It was said when I was working with her in an Alexander Technique activity, my fingers where drawn to a point on her shoulder, a point where she was tense. My senses were accurate but I didn’t believe them  and it wasn’t Alexander Technique thinking!

I was holding myself back because of my beliefs, in hindsight I’ve been doing this for years, not believing what I was thinking. I probably need to add that these thoughts rise when I’m calm, content, in a safe place, a state of mindfulness with my senses enlightened with a very strong of presence. Having trained many hours in the  Alexander Technique, I think I’d developed a thought of what Alexander Technique Thinking is. These thoughts have constrained me, they are not real just something that I thought was true, perhaps I need a set of rules to work to, perhaps we all need rules to abide to or is it fail to.

Constraining my thoughts to imaginary rules just sets me out to fail and fail quickly.

What are your rules?

Wow, that got my attention, I write my own rules to fail to!

So why?

  • So I can under achieve
  • So I don’t exceed my limits
  • So people will like me
  • So I can hide in the middle
  • So I get pity
  • because I’ve been caught in some social conditioning
    • being British
    • keeping myself within my social standing
  • So I can be normal

It doesn’t really matter why, the important thing is to notice, pause and do something different, if I want to. I may want to seek pity, that’s fine if I know I’m doing that, the problem is when it become habitual.

The reasons why her point of tension was so important, firstly, she is an Alexander Technique Teacher with years of experience, secondly, I spoke to her about wanting to really push at her tense point and she told me I was correct in my thinking, thirdly, she told me to follow my senses and do what is needed. I instantly realised I had written myself my own rules of engagement for my Alexander Technique work, I let these rules go and the work just flowed.

If all this intrigues you, drop me a line and I’ll tell you more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop looking and it will appear


I’ve been studying Alexander’s discovery for a few years now, I’ve visited several schools and I have gotten a different definition of his discovery at each school. This is confusing and frustrating, each school appproaches the same thing from a different direction, but why.

The answer is quite simple, the discovery is very hard to verbalise so different metaphors and physical activities are used to explain this discovery. Some will work for me but not for you. I’ve found that if you go with someone’s definition and it doesn’t suit you will be led down a blind ally, you will pick up useful information on the way but you won’t discover the discovery. I know this as I did it. It’s frustrating, it’s time wasting, made me feel like a failure.

It is some of these but much more, learning that something isn’t for me is a very powerful learning point. I can choose to stop and change direction. I’m glad I did, then the thoughts that I should have stopped earlier arise, perhaps I should but was I in a position to notice that a change was available, probably not, I was thinking that the end of my journey was near and if I stuck with it, it would be over and then get on with the next part of my life.

So what is this discovery, well it’s a rediscovery of youthfulness. If you ever meet an Alexander Teacher, guess their age then add ten years to your guess and you will be pretty close, this discovery lets you look younger and physically fitter than the average for your age group especially as you get older.

So this discovery is the elixir of youth, perhaps it is but it is also the holy grail. If you seek it you won’t find it as it is with you all the time, stop looking and it will appear. The various teaching methods are just the way how someone discovered this discovery and they are telling their way to the discovery.

I’ve written around this discovery for many blogs, perhaps I didn’t know what it really is as I was trying to decipher somebody’s metaphor and it wasn’t working for me.

Unfortunately I’m going to state what the discovery is to me, this may not work for you.

This discovery is about me, and for you, to be the most important person in your universe, being conscious of the environment about you, that’s in the room and then beyond, as far as you can imagine. This thought will only last a moment, this moment can not be keeped or reused, a new thought needs to be generated and then again and again so there is a contiguous flow of thoughts without dwelling on the past nor trying to figure out the future.

This takes some practice, then applying it all the time is some feat. So these thoughts swing in and out. When they are needed I increase their frequency.

The next part is that we are continuously communicating with each other and animals. My dogs can read my mind and to some extent I can read theirs. Have you ever known who is calling you without looking at the caller display, or tried to call someone but they are engaged because they are calling you. This is our natural communications, this communication can be enhanced when we are near to each other and enhanced again by touch. Our communication drastically improves if we don’t dwell on the past nor figuring out the future.

The person we are closest to is ourself, we can communicate to ourselves as exceptionally well, we have the best communication within ourselves but we just don’t listen; we can tell ourselves so much to keep ourselves well and healthy but why don’t we listen?