Tag Archives: #pain

It’s what people tell you!


How much control do we have over our life?

We live by our habits, if our habits say something we obey, that’s right or is it that our habits are fooling us.

I think our habits are fooling us, we listen to others, family, friends, acquaintances, the media. When we hear whatever, we process it and save it for a response for another day.

  • We get good news – let’s have a drink to celebrate
  • We get bad news – let’s have a drink to commiserate
  • A friend does something that someone you dislike does – you don’t like your friend anymore
  • The media divides people up in to groups – you only like particular groups and distrust the others

There are many more habits that quickly cut in when you meet a particular stimulus. Suddenly you realise you can’t understand why you dislike someone and didn’t previously. What happened, you probably don’t know but your subconscious habits do.

You may have been worrying or fretting about something, either reminiscing the past and worrying about the future, then all of a sudden a subconscious thought, triggered by you worrying or fretting, jumps in and decides because your friends behaviour to someone you dislike you shouldn’t like your friend. Doubtful thoughts about your friend manifest and quickly turn into a belief, then separation and your friend disappears.

This may happen to you, you may wonder why someone hasn’t contacted you for a long time, you’ve may have behaved like someone you don’t know. Of course there are many other reasons friends drift apart, some stay whatever the circumstances,

What I’ve discovered is that I can let these sub-conscious thoughts in (I want to say ‘when I let me guard down’) when I’m distracted with thinking too much about and going there in my thoughts. Instead of staying in balance with the here and now, allows these thoughts about the future come to me.

  • Being in balance I have choices in what I do,
  • Being in balance my old habits don’t seem to be able to get to me

If you were in balance and your friend did whatever it was, your would let it pass after all it was your friend that did it not someone else.

Being in balance is more than you think it is, however once your understand what it is, you will discover it is something you where born with, you have been hiding it with all your habits you have developed over time.

Go find an Alexander Technique teacher to rediscover your balance.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

Not trying too hard is overkill


This week, after I’d read Gary Ramsey’s book Bliss, One Hero’s Journey, my interest in what in balance means has changed. My thought’s had been about being in balance physically and with time.

Physically I mean being upright with little or no excessive holding up, allowing my postural muscles do their job without my superficial muscles working too much. If I tire when standing I’m using superficial muscles instead of my postural muscles, postural muscles have a very long endurance, superficial muscles don’t.

For time, in balance means to me is bringing in the here and now, not drifting off tot he past or working about the future.

However Gary introduced me to more dimensions of balance that I hadn’t really thought about, understanding these dimensions helped Gary stay alive even with cancer. That seems a very bold statement, read his book and you’ll understand.

The crux of balance is that I don’t need to try too hard to be in balance,

if fact, not trying to hard is overkill,

I just need to be to be in balance.

Do you ever have thoughts;

  • that I must try harder
  • that’s too difficult
  • I must fight that
  • it’s not worth the effort

These thoughts will push you of balance with yourself, you will lose the opportunity to be your authentic self as you energy and engagement is elsewhere.

It is equally with things you love

  • dreaming of the location you love
  • tending to the ones you love at the expense of yourself

These thoughts will again push you of balance.

All these thought are fine however the issue is if you get stuck with one of these thoughts you will lose your balance and you will have to compensate in some form. The compensation comes in many forms, tightening muscles to compensate, eventually resulting in muscle strain and pain.

A chemical imbalance due to being stuck in one of the fight, flight or freeze modes due to a stuck fear response, may lead to a serious illness

Perpetual eagerness to be busy, equally being a persistent sloth and reluctant to work, both these will eventually take their toll. Our bodies will do what it needs to, to establish to be in balance, until eventual burnout.

Find your balance but remember that not trying too much is overkill!

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.

 

 

I panic, I get breathless


I used to be really bad at breathing, just one thought that worried me and I was on my inhaler. Tight chest, panicking and couldn’t go anywhere, life was shit, if it wasn’t for my loving wife and support from friends I guess it would have even been worse, I definitely wouldn’t have been writing this now.

I’ve discovered that I wasn’t alone with these thoughts and the utter dependency on asthma inhalers. What really annoyed me then and still does is the reliance our doctors have on drugs to cure all. I didn’t need drugs to cure me as there is nothing to cure, I was panicking because that is what I’d learnt was the best thing in these situations. I panic, get breathless, get noticed then I get love and support. Unfortunately getting drugs is no replacement for getting love and support.

Perhaps a better medical workflow would be I get breathless, see the doctor and they proscribe drugs for the immediate problem and also help to identify the root cause.

I see the issue is that doctors are expertly trained however the training steers to a pharmaceutical solution to most issues the patients bring, I may be completely wrong in my understanding but it is very rare that when I see the doctor I need to call by the dispensary to pick something up. Perhaps many like myself as patients also expect to call by the dispensary to pick something up.

Unfortunately I’ve never had the support to identify the root cause, my meeting with various asthma nurses never went well, I didn’t believe what they said as they were employed independently from the surgery, I may have been cynical but they alway wanted to try another drug. I don’t see the asthma nurse anymore nor take asthma medication.

Someone noticed, I don’t know what they noticed, that I behaved in a certain way that suppressed my breathing when I became anxious. This was my habitual response to the stimulus, if you remember, if I suppressed my breathing I received love and support. As a very young child it was a win-win situation. However in the adult world the love and support isn’t always there, instead it is a lose-lose situation, once started it is very easy to spiral down to very dangerous place, the asthma drugs do slow or stop the spiral for a short time. Drug don’t address the root cause.

The art is to notice when the response to the stimulus starts or just before then you then have a very good chance of not starting the spiral, in fact with practice the habitual response changes to something else instead of I panic, I get breathless, my panic increases, I get more breathless… .

This skill takes a time to grasp, I’ve grasped it but not without having the support and love of others, I did seek professional help, they helped me to notice my response to the stimulus and that I could choose to do something else.

Please let me know if you want to know more.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When things are getting to you


You know I’ve never really liked dancing, just too many rules to obey, though I enjoy watching people dance. I mentioned this in my last blog Bliss!

To my surprise I’m enjoying learning to dance the Tango, I’m learning Argentine Tango which from what I understand is a social dance without many rules. What happens between my partner and myself is our business as long as we move counter clockwise around the dance floor. I have steps to learn or what I feel I’m learning are the various options my partner and I have when we make a step together.

You can to do a little experiment in a moment. The experiment is ‘when is the moment when your step is committed, i.e. you can’t pause and change your mind?”

Please take a few steps and experiment.

What did you notice?

I noticed that when my gait is wide, which is my norm, I committed my step very early, probably before I moved my foot. Closing my gait helped but I also support most of my weight in my heels, when I moved my weight forward I could remain in balance on my standing foot for a lot longer, I can move my other foot forward, pause and move it back again. My decision to transfer my weight to my other foot is now when my foot is in its new position.

Please take a few steps with a closer gait and you weight forward, now experiment.

What did you notice?

Each time I experiment with this, things quieten down and I become more aware of my surroundings, noticing when I can pause and change direction, I’ve found with practice, pausing and changing can happen at any moment.

This is a great skill for dancing, I also see it as a great skill for those moments when things are getting to you. Next time you have one of those moments, stand up, close your gait so there is 2-4 cms between your feet, move your balance to the soles of your feet and wait until you want to move, take a small step and tease yourself whether you are going to finish the step or not. You will commit to something wait until the intension rises, commit and move to your new step or you may have committed to returned to where you were. Have fun experimenting, if you live in the Forest of Dean you could come along and learn the Tango, or search for somewhere else. feet 013

You can practice these steps wherever you are, even on the beach!

Do let me know how you get on!

 

Something not quite right!


It’s one of those days plenty to do then it snowed. Living some way from a main road and  up a steep hill, snow and ice stops travel except for the hardy. So what to do when it snows, the natural thing is to hunker down and do very little. I hate doing very little so I potter, being busy doing very little. Start a job, it’s too hard because … . Start another, it’s too hard because … . Then the day is over, oh good, time to stop being busy and relax. I hate relaxing I like doing. So for the first time in weeks I’m here writing a blog that isn’t going anywhere.

It may not be going anywhere at the moment, that may change, I like to write without knowing the end, the middle of the sentence or the next sentence. I just follow my fingers and the words appear.

The big thing that has changed in me over the past few weeks is that my fretting and worrying has almost gone to zero, things will be things and I understand I have little control over them, It’s actually a relief that I don’t need to worry about things outside of my control, I can now get on about being here without fretting about the future, You should try it sometime.

There are many phrases about just being yourself, you may have heard “You are good enough”. This phrase in particular has been with me for a few years as someone said it to me to placate me, help me, guide me, however it was the wrong person for me who said it, I didn’t believe or trust their deep down authenticity. This observation has been with me for a few years, I spoke about it today to someone and the jigsaw started to fit.

Our work in the Alexander Technique world is a very fickle thing. We are connecting to people in a unique way which is vastly different way to other practices. It is not just the teacher reading the pupil, the pupil can also read the teacher through our connections of sight, hearing and touch. If the pupil can read something not quite right about the teacher, the relationship can breakdown and the learning may fail to progress. I believe this happened to me a few years ago.

This situation can be devastating for the student as I found out myself; I started to blame myself for my lack of progress. Equally the teacher couldn’t fathom out what the problem was. I believe it is the responsibility of the teacher to notice, fathom out and come up with an alternative way to teach. This didn’t happen in my experience though the teacher may had thought they used alternative methods. I was left banging my head against the metaphorical wall for quite some time. In fact it probably wasn’t the teaching methods that were holding me back, it was my a lack of trust in the teacher. This lack of trust wasn’t obvious, we talked and were sociable, it was a recurring deep down feeling that kept saying; “Be wary, step carefully, they are hiding something”. Of course I may have been creating these thoughts through transposition from someone I met in the past who had similar looks or behaviours to them however I doubt it as others have told me they had the same issues with this person.

This experience has taught me well, when we connect through our senses we give more that we think, if we are trying to hard our hands shake, if we hold back some thoughts we put doubt in our touch which may manifest as lack of trust in the one who is listening. On reflection I sense they may have not been in the here and now and allowed their ego to be with them when they taught me; I then started copying their way of working when I worked with other students as I thought this was the norm. Learning the Alexander Technique is learning empirically; learning through experience, my experience at that time was skewed, luckily I found someone else to teach me.

To truly learn from a teacher, the teacher must be utterly in the here and now whilst instructing the student to be in the here and now. From that position things change, from my experience; pain disappears, I’m more movable, I have sense of lightness with great clarity, my worries and troubles vaporise,  all this with freedom and aliveness. What a wonderful time and place to live in. It’s available to all, why choose anything else. The skeptics may have excuses not to be in the moment, those excuses are not valid. You can live in the moment and do normal things, working, going on holiday, watching TV etc.

We all have choices and I choose to be in here and now where everything I do has a vibrancy in the activity, even boring mundane stuff is fun.

Once you have learnt these skills you have power to choose the intensity of your own here and now, from gently simmering to full power, once learnt it is difficult to turn off and ignore or even turn the power down, why should you, isn’t being authentic, with your own freedom and aliveness what everyone really wants?

Life is good and you can have it as well.

PS.  You may be wondering about the teacher I mentioned, I was angry with them for sometime but not now.  I now realise it is their journey and when they are ready they will be able to let go of those emotional thoughts.

 

 

What a wonderful day


I’ve noticed something recently, I’ve been stuck in thinking for the past few years, the thinking has been thinking about how to learn the Alexander Technique. I’ve been thinking so long and so hard that things around me are starting to suffer from my thinking, I’ve been to busy thinking to care for the house; in four years the trees and shrubs have grown. Today I’ve been working in the garden cutting them back to some sembelance of order, I’ve cleared gutters, got muddy and dirty, then fell asleep in the bath.

What a wonderful day!

I was caught in one of the most addictive habits – thinking too much. My thinking had me frozen, I could hardly function for trying to think. The trouble with most additions, the addiction tells you that you are doing just fine and you also need the addiction to survive; your addiction has to tell you this to survive however it is a downright lie. Nobody needs addictions, we have everything we need without them. My turnaround was a reading Eckart Tolle’s books, something in his book got me thinkings, I was thinking too much and I didn’t need to do so much, if any at all.

If you don’t know what the Alexander Technique is, it is a collection of games, activities and techniques to help you rediscover your freedom and easy you had as a child. You will become more balanced in gravity and have greater presence in any activity you choose to do.

I wrote above I didn’t need to think; you and I don’t need to think to be in balance and have a strong presence, it comes naturally, let it happen and it will appear. I was thinking too much to achieve something that I didn’t need to think about, I was just being stupid but nobody told me in words that I could understand.

When you and I think we mix together thoughts of the past, dreams of the future, habits and beliefs that we hold. All these thoughts get in the way of being present in the NOW, they skew what we can achieve. These thoughts hold us back, make us clumsy, make us stutter, sing the wrong note, beliefs that we aren’t good enough, thoughts of ‘I can’t do that’. My ‘thinking too much’ stopped me doing any physical activity unless it was about thinking, my thinking was happy to walk the dogs then my thinking got some quiet time in the forest to do some thinking, if I went with someone my thinking didn’t like that, my thinking wanted solitude to think.

I’ve discovered I can think and do things at the same time, my thinking has been changing over the past week or two, I’ve been noticing when my ego has been strong this is when my habits and beliefs emerge, I then pause my thoughts for a moment or two and quietly notice my balance and presence, in a flash my ego disappears and I can carry on with what I’m doing.

My garden has been a really good experiment to try this thinking, I’ve surprised myself with the amount of work I’ve done, I’ve had many thoughts of ‘that’s tiring’ or ‘that’s too heavy’ or some other excuse, each time I’ve paused and quietly notice my balance and presence, each time my ego disappeared and I carried on, each time my ego remained silent for longer.

I think I deserved a hot bath after all that.

I’m looking forward to the next opportunity in the garden.

What is you additive habit, does it have you under its spell?

Who are you trying to please?


Keeping in line with my last few blogs

I’d thought I would keep the theme going for a little longer. We all have grand plans to change; cut down on the booze, coffee, sugar, cigarettes so we are healthier happier people. I know I’ve done these changes many times, some have been very successful but the vast majority eventually fail.

You don’t fail because of the books you’ve read about the change or the equipment you have bought to help you or the community you have joined to help you change, it is something else that forces the failure.

It is something in yourself that says: “Enough is enough, I like it how it was, lets stop this stupid change as you won’t like what you will turn into”. You can change these word to your own.

Everyone welcomes change as long it is someone else doing it!

We fail because we tell ourselves to fail, we may be encouraged to fail by someone else however it is your decision to listen and choose to fail. It is something in your ego that is stopping you make your choice to change. Your ego has many facets to defend, it may be ridicule, failing to change, fear of success, being noticed, not being noticed, loss of friendship, alienation by colleagues … .

I see many changes that we attempt as quite boolean, we are doing something we don’t like so we stop doing it, we instantly switch to on to off. Rather like the facets of your ego,  each facet has two sides. We have a difficult task trying to please our egos as our egos are always on the move. If you’re on a diet and lose a few pounds your ego is joyful and you have the will to carry on, then the following weight in you have gained a few pounds, it’s the end of the world, lets give up. It is the same you but your ego has switched sides. The problem seems to be the reaction to the weigh-in, one solution is not to weigh-in or another is not to react to the results of the weigh-in. I went to the slimming club once, it was all praise and blame; a perfect place to hone egos.

Not reacting probably needs more explaining, it how you react to news, you could be vengeful or joyous basically overdoing the emotional response. This triggers the thought to I must try harder or it’s not worth it anymore. Quietening down the response may be better and even better stopping your ego in its tracks. You can stop your ego in its tracks by being consciously present and in balance. It is hard at first, with practice it gets easier and will become part of your day, turning the power up when it is needed.

To start on this journey to quieten your ego, you first need to notice when your ego gets noisy and demanding, pause to really listen to what your ego is saying, quietly ask your ego “why” or “what” or “when” or “where’ or “how”. You should notice your ego quieten down, if your ego rises again ask the questions again. Whilst your ego is quiet you may discover what you really want.

For now, notice, pause and ask the questions. You may discover something wonderful.