Alexander Technique

Posture, such a confusing word!


Posture is a contentious word in the Alexander world, just like Marmite so love it, some hate it! I’ve been listening and agreeing to both sides.

Students come to Alexander Technique teachers because of;

  • poor posture,
  • wanting to improve posture,
  • their posture is giving them pain,
  • they know we can do something about posture.

The evidence is there in the writings and videos that Alexander Technique teachers have produced and what their friends and family have also said.

Conversely the argument is true, the Alexander Technique is nothing to do with posture, it is about how you choose to think;

  • having a great awareness of yourself and your surroundings,
  • with an intention to do something,
  • then you are available to move freely and life becomes freer by each second.

Being free by the second, pain can evaporate without you being aware that is has disappeared; this is what the Alexander Technique is without a mention of posture!

Free by the second

The catch with posture is that it can be a noun or a verb! Prefixing an adjective to ‘posture’ makes posture a noun, I believe this is where the trouble lies.
The noun definition from google is ‘the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting’. Clearly this fits in with the first argument; “my poor posture is the cause of my back pain”, there’s little thought of where poor posture comes from, this is because posture in this sense is a noun, it’s therefore a proper thing that other things can be attributed to it and posture gets the blame for your;

• lower back pain,
• frozen shoulder,
• neck pain
• etc.

The noun generates a vicious circle of posture and pain that is very difficult to get out of as it’s not postures fault!

The verb definition from google is ‘behave in a way that is intended to impress or mislead’. This clearly fits in with the second argument, behaviour comes from thought, whether it’s conscious or not.
People come for Alexander lessons to be free from pain, improve performance, to learn to cope with life and a host of other personal aspirations. We do look at their posture in the noun form and verb perspective.

The verb posture contributes to the noun posture.

Therefore working with then verb posture will effect the noun posture, this will lessen to side effects of both the verb and noun and pain will diminish, performance will improve, the student will move closer to their aspirations, dreams and intentions.

Behaving in a way that is intended to impress or mislead is, I believe, the crux of the Alexander Technique, having the time to pause and notice to either carry on to impress or mislead, or not to; these are your choices. This is not only when you interact with others, more importantly how you interact with yourself moment by moment, molecule by molecule. Of course you can impress and mislead if you want to however both of these need to be a considered decision.


My conclusion is posture is a good word to use in the Alexander world, it is in parlance with our students, normally as a noun.


Our role as an Alexander Technique teacher is to demonstrate freedom and aliveness without the need to impress nor mislead so that the student can develop these skills themselves.


They will then discover how powerful the opposite of verb ‘posture’ is ‘to neither behave in a way that is intended to impress nor mislead’.


This profound discovery that can be applied at any moment of your choosing.

Alexander Technique

The ticking clock


Have you ever noticed that sometimes you can hear the clock ticking and sometimes not!

It happens to me a lot, I can sit in the same rooms with the same clock, sometimes it ticks sometimes not, tick tick.

This is absolutely nothing to do with the clock, it is all to do with me! It happened this morning, I was texting a friend, we were both grumpy, they suggested why not do a Byron Katie? This is a method Byron created to turn the conversation around and check if it’s still true. If you want to know more there will be something out there on the internet.

The turnaround worked and suddenly the clock ticked!

I’d got out of my grumpiness instantly and the clocked ticked and kept ticking. Thank goodness I felt better, back in balance and the quiet presence I really like.

My interpretation to all this is that when your grumpy or in pain or stressed or anxious, to keep surviving and living everything is done using too much tension, I assume this includes hearing as when I’m present the clock ticks.

When was the last time you heard the clock tick, heard birdsong, heard the sounds of the forest? Give yourself time to listen, give yourself time to be present, give yourself time to be here.

The silly thing with your time is that it only exists in a moment, a moment you can’t hold on to, a moment you can’t wait for, a moment that is here now; the best moment you will ever have.

This is a message to you and equally to me, STOP waiting for the right moment because it is now!

Enjoy the tick of the clock❤️

Alexander Technique

How’s your toes?


We all constantly engage with people even thought we don’t notice it, for example having an emotional response when watching a movie, a play or listening to music; emotions rise, and you may have tears, or you may fight your hardest to stop your tears. This is the communication I mean.

Have you ever walked into a room; you can feel something has just happened; you can feel the mood of the room. Sometimes this feeling is not very nice or equally it may feel buoyant and good.

These senses are all communications, many of you have desensitised yourself to these senses not by choice but what through life’s stresses and strains.

During my Alexander Technique Teacher training I’ve learnt and am still learning is to strip back the effects of life’s stresses and strains so that I can regain my sensitivity to our numerous forms of communication so that I can accept your communications when you wish to converse. Your wish is ever so important, firstly for yourself; having the knowledge that I’m not prying and secondly for me, it’ll be shear overload for me if I accept everyone’s communications.

As an Alexander Technique teacher, I need this sensitivity to your communications, even to those as yet undefined methods of communication. This communication is enhanced by being aware of myself and my environment in each and every moment; a quiet listening. And equally a quiet talking, Listening implies hearing sounds, what I’m writing is not about just sounds but all the ways you are communicating, equally talking is not just about making verbal sound but all the ways I can communicate to you that you will receive information. We are constantly sending and receiving non-verbal information to each other, a smile, a connection eye to eye, the way you respond physically to stimuli, your response to touch. Alexander Technique Teachers do a lot of touch, normally somewhere on your back, it’s the easiest way to sense your kinaesthetic activity and also to allow you to get to notice your own kinaesthetic self.

There will be most likely a conversation to stimulate you to notice something. Perhaps you can experiment now;

“Do you notice what you are doing with your toes whilst reading this blog?”

Perhaps you stopped reading to wiggly your toes, that’s absolutely fine, now can you notice your toes, without wiggling them and continue reading? Does your sensation of yourself increase by this simple activity?

I’d love to read your comments.

Perhaps today, when you remember, notice your toes or any other part of your body you want. Does your awareness spread?

You are now in conversation with yourself.

Have fun experimenting.

happiness, mindfulness, present, wellbeing

The Outer Hebrides


The weather in the UK has been dreadful for June, inches of rain well above the average. But not where I was, I’ve just come back from a fortnight in the Outer Hebrides to the west of the Scottish mainland. The weather was very changeable and I would lie if I said it didn’t rain, it was mostly sunny with passing clouds. Each time we arrived at our destination the sun appeared. The main issue was the sun or rather daylight, in June the sun goes below the horizon for a few hours but there is still daylight a sort of bright dusk that then moves into a bright dawn. I’m not complaining as I’ve been this far north before in June; I enjoy it but it gets tiring, learning to sleep when light is burning through the curtains is an art.

Kentallen, south of Fort William

Changing sleeping habits is like any other change, firstly you need notice there is something to change and then it’s something you want to change.

Acceptance of the change will then naturally follow.

My difficulty was, I didn’t know what time it was, I haven’t worn a watch for quite some time and being on holiday there was no rigour of working. Normal things that communicate time where missing, we didn’t watch TV; well, just a bit at the end of the day. When travelling in the car we were listening to audio books most of the time instead of the radio so most of our time references had disappeared. Incidentally as I didn’t have a handle on time I enjoyed very long days of daylight.

Loch Seaforth, the view from our room!

Time could have been something I wanted to manage, become regimented and do particular things at particular times, I chose to ignore what time it was and enjoy each day as each moment appeared and moved on.

Be warned – cafes and restaurants do have opening and closing times, we nearly were too late a couple of times as we thought it was about 12:30 and it was just before 3pm!

It was my birthday whilst on at North Uist, yes another one!
My wife did her usual fantastic research and we had a delicious meal; we were on time for this, though Alistair our taxi driver for the evening took his time driving to and from the restaurant. The taxi journey is another story for another day.

oops all gone

As with everything, it is how I approach something will effect how I behave. I decided to


  • enjoy the weather as it changed, as they say where there is wet weather, there is nothing wrong with the weather but there is a problem with the clothes your are wearing.

  • Not to worry about not getting to sleep because it is still light.

  • Not to worry about time except when I needed to

I enjoyed my holiday, all in all a fantastic time in the Outer Hebrides. It felt like it was far longer then the two weeks perhaps that was because I hadn’t a care what time it was.

A special thanks to my wonderful wife who arranged everything.

and we saw Golden Eagles in flight
Alexander Technique

Being a human being not a human doing


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alexander Technique

Catching the ball


In many of my lessons I work with catching bean bags (they don’t roll under the furniture as balls tend to do).

Catching bean bags is a great stimulus for some, not so for others. A greater stimulus is not catching a bean bag and letting it fall by your feet.

We have had so much conditioning that letting something fall is a bad, even when there is permission to let it fall.

This conditioning has restricted your choices to only one;

CATCH THE BALL AT ALL COSTS. 

This single choice is not restricted to catching balls but to many other activities in your life. Simple things like not walking under ladders, using your dominant hand for many activities, what you do when you awake up in the morning, what you do in the evening, how you respond to people, sometimes in very different ways to different people. These are all yours and my habits; an easy way to move through life!

Sometimes the easy way to move through life isn’t always the best option for now, though it may have been in the past.

My thoughts about catching ball are that you were either great at catching or go into panic with the fear of dropping the ball; I was in the later group. The fear of missing the ball and wrecking the game for others in my team was my overriding thought, so like others I tried really hard to catch, however the more I tried the worse I got; how could that be!

Life moves on, team games with catching balls stay at school, I go to work, however trying too hard moved with me through work and leisure.

  • Trying too hard to please
  • Trying too hard to be successful
  • Trying too hard to be good

I’d been successfully conditioned at school, school was successful as I became an ace student at trying too hard and continued for most of my life.

However trying to hard has it’s limitations, there is

  • only one choice,
  • only one route
  • only one option

That is to work hard trying to achieve your goals.

I’ve since learnt that I don’t have to catch the ball, I can make another decision, one of many options! The strange thing is when there are options are I free up, as do whomever I’m working with. When they or I choose to catch the ball we pick the ball out of the air instead of trying to catch. There is a lightness and freedom in their movement, they become happy and joyful. I regularly hear comments about their pain disappearing.

You may be wondering what is happening, pain in many people is manifested by their habits, their habits sending messages to muscles to tighten and keep tightening, muscles tire and eventually send messages to stop in the form of a pain message. We get stuck in habitual behaviour, we don’t know how to get out of it hence we keep recreating and empowering a vicious cycle, it gets worse and worse, and if you are in pain then the pain may get worse.

Rediscovering that you have other options breaks the vicious cycle and for a few moment pain disappears, this is what happened when we played catch. Unfortunately our habits are well embedded and we quickly return to our vicious cycle of pain. That’s where my training helps, I’m trained to notice through observation and to instruct you that you have other options to lead your life, these options will lead you to rediscover your freedom and aliveness you used to have whilst making mature choices in the way you want to live you life.

If you want to know more, please contact me.

Alexander Technique

It’s all about love


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

There’s probably some truth in that.

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

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

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

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

  • expects something,
  • demands something
  • Controls someone.

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

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

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

  • No effort
  • No pain

Love in perception,

Perception is action,

Action is perception.

Therefore,

Action is love and love is action.

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

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

Alexander Technique, anxiety

The fools errand


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Alexander Technique

With freedom and ease, pain evaporates


What is the Alexander Technique?

When I first started with my first teacher, I wasn’t sure, after a break and then started with another teacher, I wasn’t sure, when I started with my teacher training, I wasn’t sure.

This was about six years in total that I wasn’t sure, I think thats long time not to be sure about something that I have stuck with and started to learn to teacher it!

What is the Alexander Technique?

  • most people think it is about fixing bad backs, or fixing shoulder pain or any other pain they have heard in conversation
  • those how have had lessons, again its about pain relief with the added bonus of the sense of lightness and lightness the teacher can give you.
  • for some teachers I’ve met it is about doing body work whilst being in balance.
  • for other teachers it is about teaching others to notice their habitual behaviours, inhibiting them and choosing something else or not.

The Alexander Technique isn’t for the faint hearted, it is challenging, very challenging. The objective of the teaching is to teach how to notice habits, those obvious habits and also those hidden and embedded habits within you and then choose what to do with them.

Of course with any training you can stop and start again when you are ready. Even one lesson will be enlightening. The more training you can afford and do, the greater the insight into how you live and react to your environment.

Many habits cannot be met head on as they will kick off and stand their ground, they need to be approached stealthily. That’s where the skills of the teacher come in, noticing and not approaching and sometimes not mentioning the habit. Engaging the client in an activity that circumvents the habit so to demonstrate the habit isn’t needed. This is the sense of lightness and freedom that is noticed that I mentioned above. This sense is fabulous but it doesn’t last very long after the session if you are reliant on the teacher. The art is to listen and learn what is being taught and then experiment as much as you can between lessons to bring about your own freedom and lightness.

The Alexander Technique is:

  • Discovering that there is a choice between a stimulus and your reaction that doesn’t have to rely on habits
  • Making the best choice for that moment brings freedom and aliveness to your live
  • You can use body work to discover your reaction to a stimulus and make a choice.
  • Making the best choice for a given stimulus generally releases muscle tension, with freedom and ease, pain evaporates.

Go find an Alexander Technique Teacher to get back your freedom and aliveness you once had.

Please read what others think about my work.

Alexander Technique

How to maintain your painful habits!


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

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

then the terrifying question arrives, what do you do!

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

We can move on.

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

The others want more information.

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

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

You may think that is impossible,

I’ll tell you it is not,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being 6 again is fantastic.

Happy experimenting.