Alexander Technique, Inhibition, stopping, Teacher Training

Floating on Air


Keeping my feet on the ground has been a little difficult over the last weekend. Being somewhere because it was the right and proper place to be and to be seen, but at the sometime really wanting not to be there. I felt I was floating on air, not being part of the event and had the feeling that I was observing from afar. Not a nice place to be but I needed to be there. I guess many of you have been to an event you really had to go to but didn’t want too.

It all started several weeks ago, I was told I wouldn’t be ready to qualify as this July as an Alexander Technique Teacher, I really didn’t believe it and still didn’t believe it until I didn’t sit at the front of the room with the rest of my year on graduation day.

I had a huge conflict going on in my head, I knew I wasn’t ready, I really knew that, but I secretly wished that I was wrong and my teachers where wrong and would see the errors of their ways, but I really knew I wasn’t ready. I’ve been torn apart by being rational and irrational at the same time. Now I’m a failure, well that’s what my irrational, needy half thinks, my rational side knows that I have to develop and really be myself. I have to be my real self without all the additional habits laid on top. I’ve got a lot of habits and they go a long way back.

My rational thoughts had maintained the upper ground until last weekend when irrationality struck, I wasn’t at the front with the others, why? It felt like I was floating in the air, I was there but not really there, a really strange sensation. I was a ballon trying to escape gravity, luckily there were plenty of Alexander Technique teachers who helped be to the ground, bringing me back to reality, being grounded, being present, being in the room, being with the graduates, being with the other students, teachers and families. I was still lonely in a room full of people, I felt like an outcast, these were my thoughts, it felt real, sore, a really deep sore, it really hurt, it still does but I was there in the room and I witnessed to graduation from afar, I really was at the back of the room. I felt a failure, not good enough, why go on, I’ll never make it, pack it all in and do something else. I know these thoughts are irrational but irrational thoughts really hurt, it hurts so it must be real. But I also know that I’m great and wonderful – I’ve been told by too many different people for it not to be true – I’m great at everything I put my heart into, including the Alexander Technique.

So why didn’t a graduate? My self-doubt gets in the way, bloody annoying habits from a long time ago, really pernicious habits that I will need to resolve, to let go somehow.

I’ve noticed them for a long time and sometimes I can inhibit them other times they win over. Knowing my habits is the first step and inhibiting the next. The secret with habits is that there aren’t any in the present, in the here and now. It’s only when I step out of the present and think about the future or past that habits appear.

Now back on to my journey with a whole summer to reflect on this experience and others, this experience though very sore at the moment will be a benefit to me later.

Well done to the graduates, and also my teachers for helping us all to deeply learn about ourselves, so we can all become teachers of the Alexander Technique, I’ll be a graduate when it’s my turn.

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, Asthma, breathing, End-gaining

Don’t try this at home


What a lovely Sunday morning, I like Sunday mornings; the doors and windows are open letting the cool fresh morning air into the house, a nice breakfast, tea maybe coffee later, it is quiet, I have room to reflect and think. I want to, have the need to, write but I haven’t a clue what to write, will it be about Jessica Wolf’s workshop at BAS, or further thoughts about how I feel about not being ready to qualify as an Alexander Technique teacher. The later I’m content with, so maybe this is could be about breathing, in fact about just a few moments during the workshop.

As you may be aware, I manage asthma with thought alone by using the Alexander Technique, no more inhalers for me I haven’t used one for a couple of years. This nearly changed on Friday. We were working though the various activities that Jessica was directing, silent ‘la’s’, whispered ‘ah’s’ and counting on our out breath, I’m not going to go in to detail here about these activities as I won’t give them justice. Jessica suggested that for a moment we imagine what poor breathing is like and perhaps attempt some poor breathing. I CAN DO THAT! I just thought of how I used to breathe and a little more poor use on top. It was a bad move, my chest tightened I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t count passed ONE , worst of all it was real and I was stuck with panic, fear and thoughts of how the hell can I get out of this breathing pattern. I didn’t have a clue what to do, I was really stuck in my thinking, old thoughts of trying to do something, just do anything so that I can breathe again. The panic was awful.

I don’t know how long it took, in reality probably a few moments. Luckily we were working in pairs, Jane had her hand on my chest and abdomen to notice my breathing during the various activities. I grabbed her hand, she stayed with me, my breathing returned to something like normal and I cried for a long time, tears are with me as I write. I’m not sure about the tears, are they about sorrow and loss of how I was for so many years, was it the panic I used to feel in just doing simple tasks, was it planning my life around an inhaler, ‘ooh thats’s going to be stressful so time for my inhaler’ My life was so reliant on inhalers, I feel depressed just thinking about is and it’s hard to see the screen with my tears.

Those moments of thought about my old bad use has taken me two days and a little more to get over. This has been a real lesson on the power of thought and how old habits can just reappear, it is also a really good lesson again on the power of thought, that’s conscious constructive control of thought, using indirect methods to help myself to breathe freely again.

The conscious constructive control I’ve learnt over the past few years during my Alexander Technique Lessons and my teacher training so I have the skill to return to breathing freely again. Don’t try this at home else you may be in trouble.

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, End-gaining, Inhibition, self-doubt, stopping, Teacher Training, trying

I should have been annoyed?


I must have changed, in the past if I was given bad news I would be annoyed especially if I was to blame.

An interesting sentence, bad news, blame, two things that seem to go together in many aspects of life. I was caught in an interesting state, I knew I was at fault but had to wait until someone told me.

My fault was being to reliant on my habits to float quietly through life. This may be fine for the vast majority of people throughout the world but for a certain type of people that’s Alexander Technique Teachers, there may be others, floating quietly through life just won’t do. In my last blog The perfect student or the Alexander Overcoat I’d discovered just this, discovery is one thing, but unwinding my habits are another. This takes guts and trust that my world won’t just crumble to dust if I let my well established beliefs and habit disappear.

You may be aware that I’ve been training to become an Alexander Technique Teacher, 1600 hours over three years, quite a commitment but seems quite easy, learn some procedures, read some books and do some writing, the usual for a training course. Alexander Technique Teacher Training has all those aspects but includes one other huge aspect, we need to get to know ourselves from the bottom up, this is the honest, truthful, beautiful self. As I mention in my previous blog I got somewhere in discovering myself but got stuck ‘doing the do’ instead of ‘being the be’. This has been a hard lesson to learn but essential for me to move on. Unfortunately my discovery is at the right time for me but not for my Alexander Technique Teacher Training so I’ll have to stay on longer than my expected 1600 hours.

When I was told, I was relieved as I knew I wasn’t ready. It would have been different if I was still wearing my Alexander Overcoat, blame and anger would have been to order of the day.

Acceptance of myself is a powerful tool that the Alexander Technique has given me, this only comes with practice and patience.

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, direction, Inhibition, intention, stopping, trying

The set point of Constructive Conscious Control


I’ve been thinking about homeostasis of constructive conscious control and how the set point changes over time.

My thinking is based on Alexander’s discovery of inhibition, direction and intent; through his discovery with eduction, encouragement and empowerment we can improve our constructive conscious control.

Several years ago I knew nothing about this discovery and it took me a while to cotton on to it’s wonderful benefits it brings; simply put, it makes me happy with my life and the choices I make.

But how? – By raising my awareness of my habits in activity, analysing what I’ve been doing and experimenting to see if there is an easier way.

You may have read my previous blog My Story that I’ve been in fright for years. When your in fright as I was/am some muscles shorten and stay there holding on for dear life, in my case for years, other muscles just atrophy through lack of use. It takes time to release from years of fright, Alexander’s discovery certainly helped me. Before I discovered the Alexander Technique my knowledge of constructive conscious control was minimal and set point (the mid point of a swinging pendulum) was low, though my Alexander Technique lessons and then becoming a student teacher, my knowledge of constructive conscious control has vastly increased hence my set point of constructive conscious control has increased. Through this time I’ve had ups and downs as the set point of knowledge of constructive conscious control improved. These ups and downs I see as the end points of a swinging pendulum or of the homeostasis. When an end point is reached something needs to happen, for example, for a central heating boiler it would either switch on or off to maintain the selected temperature. For constructive conscious control it’s inhibit, review why you’ve hit the limit, choose what action to take and then carry on with the intention, be happy if the action that was taken was wrong, if it’s wrong you’ve earned a learning point. This is true for both limits the good and bad, the happy and sad, whatever the ying and yang is.

Over the past months, I’ve certainly had my share of hitting both limits, it’s always good to come back to the set point to review options. I’ve found the set point is a safe comfortable place to be but being there too long may make me complacent so I need to keep the pendulum swinging to keep my set point moving in the right direction to improve my constructive conscious control.

 

 

Alexander Technique, Asthma, stopping, Teacher Training

My Story


I’ve been thinking that my story begins when I got asthma but it was way before that, years before but that may be another chapter when I’m ready to write it.

This part of my story starts a few hours after a cruise from Southampton to Spain and Portugal and return.

I was just leaving a supermarket, I thought I was relaxed but this woman, I never asked her, thought otherwise. She stopped me offered a sales pamphlet about her Alexander Technique practice and put her hand on my left shoulder. It was something to do with her touch, I immediately felt safe without judgement. She was offering a half price first lesson, the price didn’t matter, I wanted the safety of her hand, I would have paid double. I ended up going for lessons every Friday for over a year. I changed jobs to another area so my lessons stopped, she cried as I left my last lesson.

In hindsight she probably put a lot of emotion effort in to my lessons which I didn’t notice at the time. I guess I did learn a lot over that time as I was an emotionally wreck on the Saturday and happy happy happy on the Sunday after each lesson.

I took a year away from the Alexander Technique, I fought the urge to find another teacher for quite a while but gave in, I was intrigued and wanted to know more, so I found a local teacher and was with her for a few years. I was a reluctant learner, I must have been hard to teach but did recognise changes in me, I was becoming less anxious, my asthma was getting under control but I wanted more hence I started teacher training.

IMG_1901Reviewing my lessons that I had, I never really got that it was a teacher/pupil relationship until late on, I went for the therapeutic experience. I wasn’t ready to learn because I couldn’t stop I just got on and did, my habitual responses were extremely strong and only very recently and that’s into my third year of teacher training that I can control these habits, well most of the time.

I’ve very valid reasons for these habits, they have protected me from the grief of loss of my two children though divorce and very shortly afterward my mother who was the bedrock of my life. This was 17 years ago, I guess I was stuck in a state of fright for all that time. It hurts both mentally and physically and habits get well and truly stuck.

With Alexander’s discovery I’ve managed to get back on track without the need for medicine or counselling.

If you suffer with anxiety I would give Alexander technique a try, but remember it’s a teacher pupil relationship, you are there to learn, don’t waste your valuable time enjoying the therapeutic experience, use the teacher as a catalyst to your happiness. Hopefully you won’t take as long as me to find your freedom and happiness.

 

Alexander Technique, Alexander Technique Congress, self-doubt, stopping

Absolutely knackered


I’m on the train home after a couple of hectic days with AT Success. I don’t know if I’m coming or going, I’ve got brain ache on the train. I thought I should get some sleep on the train but with my buzzing brain I’ve got no chance. Jeremy’s ideas in running an Alexander Technique are inspirational. It’s all about getting people interested indirectly in Alexander’s discovery. Introducing the discovery to strangers of the discovery, is full of traps;  we speak a strange vocabulary and we put hands on people. To strangers this can be quite strange and abnormal in society.

Jeremy’s ideas, that’s from someone who in absolutely knackered, is to stand back a little and explain the discovery by vocalising and student participation. Getting the students involved from the start so that they can start their own voyage of discovery from the very beginning. Students can do a lot of things during the workshops without the involvement of the teachers hands. Getting students to work together in activity and then discussing their discoveries from the activity is empowering and they own experience and discovery, they can take it home and develop further.

Today we worked though how our ideal students would be, the simple answer is the ones that are seeking answers to what I was seeking answers for when I started my journey of discovery. To understand what I was seeking starts with writing my own story so far. Difficult to start but from a place of safety and me being present, it became quite easy and the words flowed, I was shocked and emotional at the outcome. Yes, there where tears.

The workshop on Sunday was about how to create my niche, I discovered that my niche is to release people from the constraints of anxiety and allow them to develop into happy wonderful people. Some may say that’s approaching a shrinks type of work; it may be if I approached their problems directed, but Alexander discovered that these problems can be approached indirectly  via their use; the way they move, the way they react to stimuli. By observing the way they move and asking them why they move that certain way will start a chain reaction that will release something in themselves and the problems that anxiety will be lessened. There is a caveat; they need to want to go on this voyage of change, I’m only the catalyst or facilitator, it is their journey of discovery. It all sound so simple, it is, but it’s not. To have any chance of working I need to be there in the room, not dreaming of being somewhere else. Then I can and only then invite them into the room with me; what I mean in the room is not physical, they already physically there with me, it’s not dreaming about somewhere else or worrying about what I’m going to say, what I’m going to ask them to do , etc. I just want them to be present in all ways in the room with me.

I’ve discovered that the only place worries can be resolved is in the present. It’s a bit difficult if you’re thinking is the past or future, these places don’t exist. You can’t address issues from a place that doesn’t exist. I’ve found it quite easy to get people to be present for a moment, anything longer takes practice and it takes energy and trust to stay there for any length of sometime.

  • It’s a place of vulnerability, people can see you for what you are.
  • It’s a place of strength, people can’t hurt you as they can’t reach you.
  • It’s a place where you are naked, your personas have been removed.
  • It’s a place of beauty, time slows down and you have time to enjoy every moment.
  • It’s a place of joy, peace and happiness just appear.

I normally like to have a flow and story to my blogs, tonight is just a rambling, I have an excuse I’m absolutely knackered.

Alexander Technique, congress

Behind the bike sheds


Ahh, it’s the end of term and the end of my second year, time for a rest from all that learning.

Let my neck be free so that etc etc. Will I stop thinking all those thoughts, not a chance. It’s now time to work on my own for the next eight weeks.

However

In a few weeks it’ll be time for Limerick and the Alexander Technique congress. I’m really looking forward to the week in Limerick putting faces to names, learning something different or something I know from a different perspective.

I guess I may get a bit overloaded with AT thoughts and activities, and nowhere to chill out. At school, many years ago, the place chill and have a crafty fag (cigarette for my US readers, apparently ‘fag’ has a completely different meaning in the US) was behind the bike sheds.

Perhaps in this new non-smoking world, I might be able to chill and have crafty slump behind the bike sheds instead. Any one else fancy a slump as well?

See you behind the bike sheds.

Alexander Technique, direction, Inhibition, Teacher Training

Down to one stabiliser


I’ve nearly completed my second year of Alexander Technique Teacher training, one more week to go, and time for the summer break.

It sounds like I’m looking forward to the break, I am but not. I think I need some time to reflect and absorb my training and personal changes over the past year. I need some rest as well. What I’ll miss is the contact and encouragement my teachers have given me over the past year.

I’m also looking forward to going to Limerick in a few weeks where I’ll meet loads of Alexander Teachers, if you want to meet and work together, please contact me.

Alexander Technique Teacher Training, is very much like learning to ride a bike. You can’t ride a bike unless you can, your need practice and hours and hours of practice to refine the art of riding a bike, just the same as the Alexander Technique.

If you just theorize about riding a bike you may become an expert in the observation of bike riding but if you try to ride a bike with just theory you will probably have a few falls and give up.

My learning journey has now past the theorizing stage, I finally realised a few weeks ago, that to understand the technique I have to be the technique; there’s no shortcuts, I was dearly hoping there was one somewhere!

I hung on there waiting for the shortcut until there was nowhere else to go, then I jumped or rather collapsed into a heap, confused but then I was free to move on.

At about this time my first stabiliser was removed, I’ve learnt in detail the various activities we practice on our own and working with other student and teachers however I still need one stabiliser and sometimes my teachers help to keep me balanced and to stop me falling off.

‘balanced’ in this context I mean; maintaining my thoughts and directions for myself and managing the volume of my thoughts and directions so others can sense them when needed.

Hopefully very soon I’ll be stabiliser free, then I can start learning the Alexander Technique for proper!

Alexander Technique, body mapping, HANDS, Inhibition

My Hand, My Hands


In the last two years my hands have changed shape, one of the many changes that have taken place within my body during my Alexander Technique Teacher Training. I’ve also become more bendy, that’s not my bones becoming flexible but my flex and extension range in my joints have increased; not bad for someone nearing state pensionable age.
If nothing else, this is a great reason for practicing the Alexander Technique.
But there is much more.
My hands, my hands, are far more sensing that they have ever been. It’s a skill, sensation that is available to all. It just needs time, patience and practicing my mind-body connection and just allowing the senses to work without interruption. The last two years I’ve been trying too hard to be good, it just doesn’t work, it just blocks senses, tightens inappropriate muscles, just doesn’t allow thing to be things.

Discovering that nothing is to be done, we have the capacity and skill within us, all takes time to realise and accept. The realisation is easy to grasp, it’s the acceptance that nothing is to be done is very difficult and even elusive; acceptance flies around like a butterfly, the more you try to catch it the more it moves, being still and waiting it may land near you and you can observe it’s beauty, Try to catch it again and it’s off.

My hands now have three roles;

  • normal working hands, writing, chopping vegetables, washing, lifting things
  • listening hands, just being quiet and observing by touch, there’s an awful lot of information to pick up and I guess my listening will improve with more practice
  • directing hands, giving my hands an intension with just a thought to move, with my hands on somebody and they will react to the intension and they will, say, stand up from sitting on a chair. For a newby this is just fantastic.

My perpetual pupil, my wife, gave me a back handed compliment by saying one day, will you please stop directing when you hold my hand. I didn’t know she could tell, i was so pleased 🙂

flu cold, running, swimming

Being ill brings back all the demons


There’s been a nasty cold going around the UK over the past few weeks I met up with it three weeks ago and still doesn’t want to leave me. When I went to the doctors last week, I got the news that this cold normally lasts around six weeks; so I’m only half way through.

Ugh.

I’ve been managing asthma quite happily for a few years using techniques I’ve learnt as a pupil and latterly as an Alexander Technique student teacher.

Then the cold struck and down I went and asthma rose, I reverted to what I used to like and I didn’t even notice! The asthma inhaler came out, feeling sorry for myself and couldn’t work out what to do. All I could do was to sit still.

For the first few days not a thought of semi-supine or a Whispered Ah; just feeling sorry for myself! Then the thoughts slowly filtered through; ah time for the Whispered Ah whilst lying down.

I got on the floor.

What a relief.

I quietened down and my breathing improved from very shallow breaths to lungs full of air, bliss.

I was shocked with myself how easy it was to revert to old habits when I got the cold, its got me wondering what other habits that I take for granted that are not so beneficial to me, I could do something else. It’s got me exploring, this morning on my Sunday morning swim I noticed that a gasp in air just before i put my  head under water to start swimming,  do I need this gasp, it’s not as if I’m racing, I swim just for fun, so why gasp?  It turns out that I don’t need to. Gasping is a pulling down so I’m starting my first stroke from a bad place. If I think forward and up with little care about my breath I seem to swim freer and I can always take a breath later on.

So my demons have helped me, why do I hold me breath when running?

I don’t run far!

Something else to explore and experiment with.