Tag Archives: space

With a side order of happiness


My last blog My lovely bubbly friend I mentioned about the importance of being grounded if and when anxiety or any trouble arises. The other important part was not to hold onto a thought but be happy to let the thought go and allow the next to arrive, it will, and then let that thought go as well. When I feeling anxious I find setting my attention on something real, in the last blog I wrote about giving my attention to my sit bones if I’m sitting or the weight in my feet when standing. It doesn’t matter which as the important thing is to experience the weight you are applying to support yourself from the ground. I find the sensation of my weight varies depending what mood I’m in.

In this blog I want to move up the spine to the top of the spine. Your spine may be longer than you think, it is from the top of your spine to the bottom, but where is the top and the bottom. Take a moment to think where each end is.

Lets start at the bottom, the bottom of your spine is somewhere very near your sit bones, the boney bits you may sit on. If you don’t know where your sit bones are then whilst sitting put your hands between the chair and your bottom, you should be able to feel two boney bits, they are your sit bones. They are like rocker on a rocking chair, they are something to sit on and balance. Thats the easy part, so where is the top of your spine.

Take a moment to work it out.

Time for a bit more pointing and prodding. Just below your ears there is a hollow between the back of your jaw and your skull, The top of your spine is pretty close to these points but obviously in the centre line of your body; how about putting a finger in each hollow and then nod your head then you will get the sense that your head actually can nod from the top of your spine.

That the top and bottom of your spine identified, there is a catch, you may know the top and bottom of your spine but your habits will deny this knowledge and you will continue to move from where your habits think is best. Change take time and belief in the new knowledge. I might be able to help but first a little more body mapping. Your spine is made up 33 vertebra, the top 24 vertebra are movable. For this blog the important thing to know is that the moveable vertebra are moveable. We have flexible spines, the flexibility is made up of bones, intervertebral disc, muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and most importantly how we think. If we think we have a stiff straight back, that is what we will have, if you think you have a bendy spine, you have a bendy spine.

Your body will obey your thinking.

Our thinking can make our movement in our daily lives tiresome or our thinking can make our movement in our daily lives free and easy. The choice is yours.

This is part of what I do to have free and easy movement with a side order of happiness which comes free with the order.

Gently rock on your sit bones, allow your spine to be connected altogether so it moves as one; not a rigid spine, your spine working in unison but in a thought could be free to some different movement. If you notice you have any excessive muscle strain, this experiment should be without staring muscles, pause a moment, perhaps you are holding on to a thought, let it go and another thought will appear let that thought go and the next one. Just give attention to rocking on your sit bones. Reduce your rocking to the point that feels like you are upright, you should now have your sit bones and top of your spine vertically aligned, don’t worry it they aren’t, we all suffer with faulty sensory perception, your habits want to tell you something else.

On top of your spine, you’ve guessed it, is your head. Put your fingers back in the hollow under your ears, nod your head. allow lightness in this movement, rotate your head a bit with the same lightness.

Now to experiment with this lightness, allow this lightness to cascade down your spine to  your sit bones, remember not to hold on to a thought, let them go, practice a few times.

Allow your sit bones to support the weight of your body and with the lightness allow your spine to lengthen away from your sit bones and allow your head to lightly sit on your top of your spine. Repeat this thinking, letting each thought go and be refreshed.

When things get tough experiment with this thinking, you will find that your troubles will lessen.

More to follow

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My lovely bubbly friend


Do you find that being happy, being a life and soul of the party tiring?

Do you ever wish for quiet but you too scared to go there? If you’re bubbly and loving then everyone will love you. If you stop being bubbly and lovely they won’t like you anymore.

I’ll let you in to a secret, your friends will love you for who you are and not what you are trying to be, trying to be lovely and bubbly is just a front, a front that hides a lovely bubbly person.

Trying just gets in the way of life, just STOP IT.

Stopping may be hard cruel thing to say; STOP IT.

Emotions can be like a pendulum, when with friends the trying starts and you are lovely and bubbly however when you are alone the pendulum swings the other way, the trying moves to an upsetting way, the opposite to my lovely bubbly friend.

STOP IT.

STOP IT doesn’t really work, STOP IT is the goal, the end state, there is a journey you need to travel on to reach your goal. This takes time and commitment, non-judgmental commitment.

With all journeys you need a plan on how you are going to get there with the acknowledgement that the journey may go down dead ends and detours until you reach your goal, oh the goal may change as well as you learn things along your journey.

Once you have your plan, the first activity you need to do is to notice what’s happening within you when you feel uneasy. Live with the unease for a few moments so that you can better notice it the next time it appears. My trigger is a tightening in my stomach, yours may be that, it may be something else, perhaps eyes glazing as you start thinking about what may happen in the future.

When you notice pause for a moment, and make a decision. The decision can be anything, carry on with thinking about the future, cuddle your dog, or something completely different.

You may need a distraction from your worry, you may need a distraction from trying to be lovely and bubbly, slowing you pendulum down so that all your trying slowly disappears, it’s scary but you will discover your authentic self; I know who you are, you are a lovely, bubbly fantastic person witha personality that just emits love to whoever you meet. You need to rediscover this person, your authentic self.

I have some ideas that may help you on your journey.

I want you to do nothing, there’s a lot to do to do nothing, I want you to notice any excessive muscular tension during these thoughts and ideas, if there is you’re are doing to much. Pause and restart the idea.

If you are sitting slide your hands between the chair and bottom, you have two boney bits, these are your sit bones, wobbly around so that you can notice and develop some feeling sensations around these bones, take you hands out and wobbly again on the chair, you should now be able to feel more weight going though your sit bones on to the chair.

You first activity when you notice your worry rising, find your sit bones, you don’t need to use your hands again just the contact with the chair will do, if you are standing wobble around so that you can notice your weight passing thought your feet to the ground.

Thoughts just last a moment then they are no use, they are history. Let the thought go and another will appear, let that one of again, keep your attention to your sit bones, if standing, your feet, let that thought go as well and the next thought and the next, just have your attention to where you are being supported by the ground, let that thought go as well. You may notice that your worries have disappear. There is no space or time from them, if they do arise go back to where you are being supported from the ground, let the thought go, let it go over and over again, faster and faster. I find I have greater clarity and authenticity in my thinking, how is it for you?

This is the first step in discovering your authentic self, my lovely bubbly friend.

Remember if a worry appears, focus your attention your sit bones and let the thoughts go over and over again.

More to follow.

With a side order of happiness

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Freedom and easy; psychophysical wellness


I’ve been thinking about what I’ve been training for over the past few years, I signed up for the training because after my many sessions I was free and at ease with myself each time, I wanted to pass this freedom and ease on to others, it is a wonderful skill we all have, some of us just need someone to show us where we hid this skill and let it blossom.

I’ve never been comfortable with the term Alexander Technique Teacher it either means nothing or something what it is not. In the Sun, a UK newspaper (the link goes to the article) it was stated as “a specific stretching programme called the Alexander Technique are all great ways to improve your posture”. From my view that is totally wrong however I understand where the writer is coming from, I surmising they had a session with a teacher and the teacher invited them to lengthen some muscles hence the stretching.

So if you want a good stretch find an Alexander Technique Teacher, perhaps some may get a referral from the newspaper article, what do you tell the client?

I didn’t know what the Alexander Technique was when I started my teacher training, I knew its output, which was freedom and ease. The process was a mystery and was for a few years of my training, lots of tools, games and techniques but it didn’t join together. I know now or I understand now, the Alexander Technique Teachers is to help people to improve their psychophysical wellbeing by helping them discover their hidden skill of being free and at ease with themselves hence with life.

A tall order, this is why there is a need for all the tools, games and techniques; we all learn in different ways. I guess it is easy for the client and the teacher to get stuck in the tools, games and techniques and lose the purpose of helping others to discover their psychophysical wellness.

We are all creatures of habit and Alexander Technique Teachers challenge the strong beliefs that have helped us to survive until now. The newspaper article got it the wrong way around, it’s nothing about stretching and everything about releasing,

Doing less so the right thing can take over.

During a session we can invite muscles to release, the feeling of freedom and ease appears but is quickly lost after the session, if this is repeated over several session I would suggest the benefit is only therapeutic and not a learning experience. The Alexander Technique is about learning to discover your own psychophysical wellness.

If you are stuck in this therapeutic cycle, you may be very happy to not explore, I was for years, it was very comfortable and nice.

A weekly top-up of niceness.

To learn anything there is a simple trilogy

  • Learning needs a learning plan and passion to achieve the learning plan.
  • Learning needs an observer to observe and ask non-judgmental questions about how you are executing your learning plan
  • Learning need trust and belief in what your are learning, the observer also needs trust and belief in what they are observing to achieve your learning plan

If any of these are missing then learning will be a struggle.

There’s many reasons to not to engage with this trilogy, I suspect the main reason is that you will need to step out of your comfort zone, stepping into the abyss, to make a change. It seems scary, it is but it is also wonderfully scary, opportunities just open up.

In the abyss there is time to choose, time to notice, time to say no to habits, time to do something else, time for contentment, time for psychophysical wellness.

Many people come to the Alexander Technique to discover how to control/manage pain somewhere in their body.

They have a passion with a plan to be pain free. They probably don’t know about the process but they trust the teacher knows and trusts the process.

Over sessions they develop more and more trust in the teacher with a few ahh moments, the ahh moments are when something changes, trust in the process starts. Real change happens regularly with your passion, with the aid of your teacher and trust in the process.

Freedom and easy is rediscovered; psychophysical wellness, ahh.

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My replacement salbutamol


That old friend, asthma came visiting this week. I met someone over the weekend, they said their cold was over and that it had laid them up for 3 days; thanks for the warning. What they had hit me on Monday, today is Thursday and I now feel like I can function now, their 3 days was spot on. Now my wife is enjoying the pleasure or not!

In the past, with a chest infection like I had and it’s still lingering, I would have used some salbutamol to ease my way. Instead I used some thoughts, very particular thoughts. Thoughts of freedom and aliveness with the possibility to move at any moment. This may read as crazy but these thoughts really worked. I did have rasping breath, I was dizzy when I changed from lying to standing, my temperature was hot and then cold however my breathing was free and alive.

I didn’t move my breathing to the top of my lungs like I would have done in the past.

So why is this? If you are like me, my asthmatic response is to really try to breathe with a belief that breathing is best done from the top of my lungs, this is a really bad way to breathe but in those moments it seems so true, it’s the only way.

It’s not!

I’ve had years believing this is the best way in moments of stress or anxiety,

It isn’t!

I know how to breathe without trying to breathe, I do it every night when I’m asleep, perhaps it could happen when I’m awake?

What I did, was to cut off my stimulus to a reaction at the pass. It was highly likely that asthma would visit again if got a chest infection, it did, but I didn’t react in my normal way, this time, I gave asthma space, aliveness with the opportunity of move at any moment.

This takes practice, a few years for me.

Don’t be without your inhaler when you need it.

The freedom and aliveness is not just for the asthma, it is for me firstly then anything want to use freedom and aliveness for. This week it has been for myself to help me breathe with freedom and aliveness. I must say, this is the first time for a heavy cold, it worked, it worked extremely well.

The freedom is trusting that my body will look after itself if I allow the freedom then my body can be alive to do whatever it needs to do. My asthmatic reaction is to tighten my chest and force my breathe, this time I chose my body to be free. This sounds trite but it really does work for me.

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P.S. I was going to put an image of an inhaler but my dogs look a lot better. Harry is the old boy, sadly gone a few years ago, Flint is now the old boy.

P.P.S My wife now knows what man flu is like. It’s real and hurts!

 

 

 

 

The missing elephant


I’ve been in the Alexander Technique community for over ten years, my question is “What is the Alexander Technique?”

Over the years I’ve thought I’d known what it is.

I thought it was moving in and out of a chair and somehow after I felt more at ease, sometimes I got a treat with some table work, I just laid there on the table and the teacher freed up my shoulders and hips. That was good.

The early years it was just a therapy, they loosened me up and I tightened myself up between the sessions.

I like what they did so;

I started my teacher training, I was taught sitting and standing, working with the other students on a table, oh of course the “monkey’ and hands on the back of the chair. We read Alexanders books, gave presentations, and a whole host of other activities. I really enjoyed my time at this school until the last two terms, however for me there was something fundamentally missing, non of it really joined up together, I felt we were skirting around the elephant in the room, It may have just been me, I was missing something,

I was missing the elephant.

I moved school.

I discovered that what was missing was psychophysical unity,

I read about it,

I understood it,

But I wasn’t it and didn’t want to be it!

I guess it was the approach the school went about it, their approach wasn’t for me, I just didn’t get it.

I get it now.

What has changed is that the Alexander Technique is about being your authentic self, it is not about chairs and tables. This is a huge difference, if you focus on chairs and tables you’ll just get good at chairs and tables, if you teach others to discover their authentic self, you may or may not need to use chairs and tables in this discovery.

The Alexander Technique is being your authentic self with psychophysical unity. You can replace psychophysical unity with freedom and aliveness.

If you want to learn the methods to rediscover your authentic self with all the freedom and aliveness you need, perhaps you can like this page so you will get a reminder when I next write.

My two big feet


I feel good today,

I’ve apologised,

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

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

It all happened over twenty years ago,

it only feels like yesterday.

I was in such a mess,

I thought my world was coming to the end,

I couldn’t,

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

I needed to change,

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

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

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

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

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

Birthdays and Christmas’s were when denial failed.

I got grumpy and angry.

I began to hate Christmas,

what’s the point without family!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Humans think too much


My last few blogs have been about the here and now and the habits that just love to hold me back from being in the here and now. You could say this is the mindfulness part of Alexander’s discovery, what makes Alexander’s discovery different to mindfulness is his discovery works on the whole psychophysical self; you can’t have one or the other. Splitting ourselves into parts, whatever the parts are, we lose the point of the self.

We are more than the sum of the parts.

What I’ve started to understand is that the less I try to do the better I can do the thing I was trying to do. Letting go of the need to achieve and I can easily achieve what ever it was doing.

When letting go using Alexanders discovery there’s more clarity of purpose, the intention I’ve written about is intense.

Alexanders discovery is about the head, neck and back relationship, how the head leads and the rest of your body follows, it’s as simple as that. Simple for fish, tigers, lions, dogs, cats, hamsters and maybe all other species to achieve naturally but for humans it seems  difficult to grasp.

Humans think too much.

For humans to move freely we need to let go of unnecessary and obstructive thoughts. In many cases it is these unnecessary and obstructive thoughts that give you pain somewhere in your body. Letting go whilst allowing your head lead so that my body can follow is a wonderful calming thought, it contains the mindfulness part ‘letting go’ with Alexanders discovery ‘head body relationship’; the psychophysical self.

Give it a go, gentle rock on your chair if you are sitting, can you notice a change in the quality of movement. Try walking allowing your head to lead. Be safe. Did you notice a quietness and a change in you movement. Perhaps you couldn’t or didn’t want to move because what I asked is so different to your normal habits. Whatever happens, it is observing what has happened psychophysically, observing without judgement.

Somethings are hard to spot by yourself even when watching yourself in a mirror or video, on many occasions it takes the trained observation senses of an Alexander Technique teacher to notice and offer  nonjudgmental observation.

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The crucible of failure


How many crucibles have you been in through your life?

I’ve been in loads, probably more than I can remember!

One of the big ones when I joined the Royal Navy, the UK had a lot of ships then.

I arrived at the new entry training establishment HMS Fisgard, where I started my training to become an artificer. An artificer is someone who can fix anything on a ship; as you may guess that’s a lot of knowledge to know. There were different branches, for weapons, electronics, aircraft, and for me marine engineering. I’m digressing.

We were driven though the main gates to the parade ground, we were all asked to disembark, straight into the crucible, the orders started, get in line, names where called and we put into groups, then the welcome and then off to our mess blocks. My crucible was getting filled with strange orders, new rules, new faces. If they were like me, they were being very brave but scared inside, these thoughts were also added to the crucible. We met our seniors, they had either been in the Navy of a whole 4 or 8 months, they felt so senior, they deserved respect, another thought for the crucible.

After the first scary night sleeping in a room with 30 or 40 others, time for breakfast, I didn’t have a uniform yet and still long hair, ridicule in the dining hall, more for the crucible. Time for a haircut, I liked my long hair, of all the things that changed in those first few weeks, the first haircut was the most shocking, it wasn’t a US Marine cut, it was short but not that short, it was succumbing to someone else’s rules, it felt like an assault on my personality; more for the crucible. Then I had to put a uniform on, more for the crucible.

As you may guess many things were added to my new entry crucible, as with all crucibles the ingredients are heated to extreme temperatures to form something else from the raw ingredients. If it all goes well something uniform will be produced, sometimes it doesn’t work and its discarded. My entry started with 273 young men, after the first year there was only 150 left, the others had decided to leave and pursue another life.

Perhaps another crucible stopped me from quitting, the one that contained the shame and ridicule of failure. I pushed on for 22 years, I was successful in the navy but never felt I really belonged there, that fear of failure crucible just kept me going.

These crucibles that I’m describing are the pivotal points in my life that make me what I am now. If I could revisit them now I guess I would do things differently. In many of these crucibles I did things that I didn’t really want to do, I went with the flow for an easy life so I didn’t get noticed, some never felt right. Unfortunately many need to do things they know are wrong in their societal rules just to survive another day, luckily I have never needed to do anything like that. Hopefully you haven’t either.

I’m now careful what I put in my crucible, in fact I don’t know if I have one at the moment. I guess they just happen without anyone noticing, it’s only on reflection that they can be identified at some pivotal point in your life.

My plan now is to take each moment at a time and be happy to say no if I don’t like or want to do something, be content that I don’t know what is going to happen but have a strong intention to enjoy life, have fun and let the crucible of failure go.

What’s your plan?

 

 

 

 

The power of intention


Someone asked me it if was back on track with my writing, I answered “well, yes and no. I’ll explain later.”

Both yes and no are correct but needed sometime to think.

Yes, I’m back with my writing but no, not the way I used to write, having the need to write for someone else, forcing myself to write. A few months ago you may remember I promised myself to write every day, the promise petered out after a few days, just like New Years resolutions, I set myself an impossible task to achieve with just willpower to be successful, unfortunately willpower will eventually run out of steam.

I was trying too hard to achieve my promise, when trying I lose my authenticity, you may do as well.  Then things don’t feel right, then willpower fades quickly, then followed by the promise.

So what’s different now?

I’ve changed my focus, I write for myself and you are welcomed to read what I write. I’ve eventually started to understand what looking after myself means. It’s being open with myself from a point of safety, observing and reacting to thing in a nonjudgmental way. This point of safety I find myself quiet and content. It’s a point where time and space converge. I know where I am physically and I’m not thinking ahead in time; I’m in the here and now. I’ve mentioned this point of safety in my last two blogs, though I described it in different ways each time.

From my point of safety I can choose to write or not to write, I can choose or not to do anything. That sounds a bit wishy washy, it is; I also need to add some energy to the decision. The energy needs to be authentic and honest, this is the intention I mentioned in my previous blogs. With this intention you can decide to do or not to do but if it’s authentic and honest for that moment it’s the right decision. And you can change your mind if the authenticity or honesty changes. These decision can be as small or as large as you want. Having the intention to travel to work may be a large intention, you choose which road to travel, a smaller intention, but you discover a problem with the road so you pause for a moment and choose another route. Life is a continual list of intentions that continually change thought your life.

Did you ever think years ago you would be doing what you do now?

I didn’t.

I now write because I want to write with the power of intention and I’m happy to pause to allow my thoughts to generate what I write. When I started this blog I only had the intension to write something, I didn’t know what the outcome was and I was content for the content to evolve to what is it is now.

Get writing with freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

Space is our power


What do you do when someone flicks your button, do you go in a blind rage of retribution?

Is there another way?

 

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. -Viktor Emil Frankl

 

Could we use that space that Viktor quotes?

Stop awhile, reflect and respond, you may find that your button didn’t work after all.