Tag Archives: thinking

Slippy leaves and ice


It’s early December and we’re on a break near the top of Scotland, we’re at Eagle Brae near Inverness. A fantastic place to stay if you want a quiet remote break, the accommodation is fabulous, it is a collection of wooden cabins, not ordinary cabins, beautiful Canadian log cabins shipped to Scotland, there’s everything in the cabin to have a self sufficient break, it is warm, it was too warm so we turned the underfloor heating down. We have the wood-burning stove on this morning, it has gotten very windy with rain outside, Storm Caroline is here today with possible snow tomorrow, it is December and I’m in northern Scotland. The flames in the stove has made the cabin very snuggly, just what we need for a very stormy, wet day.

What is your thought when I mention snow, rain and cold winds, do you have a physical reaction to these thoughts, perhaps rolling your shoulders forward and rubbing your hands or perhaps scrunching your neck down and lifting your shoulders. Generally making yourself small to reduce your body surface area; these are all natural reactions to the cold but when you are in the cold. Do you or I really need to do all this when you are warm in your room and me warm in my log cabin? I answer is no, we are pre-empting something, we are pre-empting being outside in the rain and wind and also being cold. If we met the cold with what we are wearing now it would probably be advisable to scrunch up to reduce our body surface area.

We pre-empt a lot of things as we move though our day, wondering about what someone might say or do, rehearsing for situations that may never happen. All of these thoughts will produce some muscular action, remember when you thought of the cold. When we think of something we want to be prepared for, we generally tighten muscles or hold muscles so they don’t move. In the case of thinking of going out in the cold you may shrug and shorten various muscles and then hold these muscles.

Held muscles are fine if you aren’t going to do something, if you have plans to do something, held muscles may prevent or inhibit you from doing it with ease. For example, it’s cold outside, you put enough warm clothes on, you’re warm and protected from the cold but you still have the reaction to shrug down, there’s no need for this reaction as your clothes are protecting you from the cold, this reaction may be putting you at risk, your muscles are being held for something that you have already taken action to protect against; you’re wearing enough warm clothes.

With held muscles your body isn’t as free as it could be, so your pre-emptive thoughts may be putting you in danger. When it is cold, wet, in Scotland and in the winter, there may be rotting leaves turning to mulch, something to slip on, there could also be ice, again something else to slip on, having held muscles may be a hindrance. Perhaps another possibility is to notice if you are pulling down into a shrug and then invite a lightness over your body so that your head gentle balances on top of your spine; notice your feet and increase the thought of lightness from your toes to the top of your head.

When you have built up this thought, throw it away and start the thought again. The reason to throw the thought away is if you linger over a thought it will quickly goes into the past – time and tide waits for no man – refreshing brings the thought back to now.

It’s great to have this lightness that you may be experiencing, you need to be grounded as well, notice where you touch the ground, notice and throw away and notice again. These thoughts should help you to release some muscles, many others will be resistant, time and practicing lightness and being grounded will make these muscles less resistant.

Being aware of yourself and then extending your awareness to your immediate environment, you then have options when you encounter the mulched leaves or ice.

Stay safe this winter by being aware of yourself and your environment.

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Depression hides the years 


Sometimes it is hard to be a man, there is a lot of expectation from others.

  • Your reliable
  • The stalwart of …
  • The bread winner
  • Stoic
  • Trustworthy

All these things and more eventually get men down, they just want to be themselves but don’t know how to be themselves.

From a very early age they have learnt to be men;

  • they don’t cry
  • they are tough
  • nothing hurts them
  • they club together doing manly things

This is what separates men from women!

However all this trying to be something they are not eventually gets to much and something snaps. Then,

  • Divorce
  • Family separation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Physical Illness because of the above
  • Alienation from the manly clubs

All of a sudden the things that us men have been trying to achieve are now valueless, we are valueless, we are middle-aged with all our dreams broken. In the UK this is the point many men commit suicide; their dreams are shattered and there is nothing to live for.

I’ve survived and I’ve been through all this, it’s not nice but luckily I can’t remember much as depression hides the years.

One of the things that has helped my, especially in the last few years is that I am good enough as I am. A hard thing to grasp when self hatred is everywhere, please believe me, you are good enough. So you are good enough, so you don’t need a try.

I’ve discovered trying is such a no no, We are brought up to try at everything.

  • Trying to be reliable
  • Trying to be a stalwart
  • Trying to be the bread winner
  • Trying to be stoic
  • Trying to be trustworthy.

We can be all these things and more without trying. Life is easier without trying and life is fun, people treat you differently when you don’t try, they can see your authentic self without sifting though all the layers of trying. They smile at you, they are comfortable near your space, life is just happier.

Breaking the myths about men would be great, so men

  • can cry
  • are tough but also tender
  • things do hurt them
  • can club together doing manly and other things
  • can be their authentic selves

Changing the habit of trying is extremely difficult as we are deeply conditioned to try. It takes time but is achievable, I did it so it’s not impossible. Start at the small things, notice something that you do that annoys you, something that won’t change the world but you will be pleased as its one less thing that annoys you.

Notice when it happens and don’t do anything about it, just notice and observe. Notice and observe a few times, you should get better at noticing it and you may notice the urge before you do it. When you notice the urge perhaps sometimes do something different or don’t follow urge by doing it, you have given yourself choices , make the most appropriate one each time, you may want it scratch the itch or not. You now have options.

With practice you should be able to notice more and make more choices in what you want to do. As I wrote this takes time and you may discover that you are the one in control of your own life, you can make your life happy or sad, vengeful or forgiving, You have the choice.

This is my journey, if you want to know my, then please join my mailing list to find out more.

It is not just men who have these problems, women do as well.

Ahh, I never knew you had any pain!


The other day I was explaining what the Alexander Technique is about, it’s sometimes a challenge as I want to explain it for them to understand, this time I stuck to what I think it is about; A method to rediscover your inner freedom and aliveness then I explained further about by noticing your  balance with gravity and also noticing your balance with others.

He was in a typical sitting position, a bent back and sitting on his coccyx (the tail bone).

I asked him if he was thinking about how he was sitting, the answer was “Why”.

Time to get him thinking!

“Do you know you have sit bones” I asked

“What” was the reply

“Put your hand between the seat of the chair and bum and rock around, you should feel two boney bits, one on each side”

“Ahh”

“These are your sit bones, take your hands out and just rock on these bones.”

“Ahh”

We drank some more beer and later he said, ” You know what, the pain in my back that I have had for years has disappeared”

I replied “Ahh, I never knew you had any pain!”

I’d got him to notice how he moves even if it was only sitting. By noticing, he had rediscovered some of freedom and aliveness and was more in balance with gravity, his outcome was less or no back pain.

We drank more beer, he maintained his balance, well I was drinking beer, he was drinking coffee as he was driving later.

Just simple thoughts and ideas can help you rediscover your freedom and aliveness. Why not try it for yourself?

I’ve got loads more ideas.

It takes a nanosecond


There’s something stopping me writing so I thought I should just start writing. Ready take aim and fire. Tonight it is ready fire and take aim; lets just see what where my words land!

Kindness seems to be the thought for the moment, being kind to someone is recognising that that person exists and your acceptance of who they are.

That’s simple isn’t it?

So why isn’t there more of it?

My guess is don’t allow enough kindness to ourselves, liking and loving ourselves is sort of taboo, it was true when and where I grew up. I was taught to love others before myself – a recipe for disaster.

How do you really know what love is if you can’t love yourself? The love I’m writing about is being authentic to yourself, you understand and manage your reactions to what life throws at you, you can be sad, annoyed, angry grumpy, happy, elated, allowing tears of joy or sadness, whatever your feel in any moment is authentic.  You are content within your body and your thoughts, kindness shines through, offering kindness to others is no effort at all, kindness emits from your authenticity.

I’m not there yet however I find it easier and easier as I practice the techniques I’ve been taught during my Alexander Technique training. Understanding that I can apply what I’ve learnt at any time and any where, the practice probably takes a nanosecond sometimes a little longer. This is not just about kindness, it about having a clear intension to do something whilst having a clear attention to how I’m achieving my intension. Kindness isn’t the only benefit from my practice, I’m also happy and pain free.

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Getting caught out


I’ve just got back from my walk with our dogs, put the kettle on and my wife said, “I suppose your are going to write then” I was thinking it but I didn’t know I was so predictable.

I was tempted not to write as I’d been caught out, my wife noticed one of my habits before me. I expect she knows more of my habits than she lets on.

Habits sometimes have bad press, they get blamed for things, they can put me and you into danger, they can be annoying. However without habits;

  • I wouldn’t be writing this blog as I wouldn’t know where the key on the key board are,
  • I wouldn’t be able to read or write
  • I wouldn’t be able to walk to the computer
  • I wouldn’t be able to understand what is being said

I fact without habits I wouldn’t be able to function as a human being.

Habits aren’t so bad after all, but I guess if you are like me you also have good and bad habits.

The knack is recognising which habit is good and bad.

Unfortunately putting habits in the good or bad buckets just doesn’t work.

I created all my habits for a purpose, as did you. My assumption is that my habits were developed to help me to survive at a particular time of my life, the habit was successful so it is kept it to be used again at some point.

My thoughts on habits are that they are a series of shortcuts that can be automated to make life a little easier. If you search around you’ll find volumes of books describing what others think about habits.

The habit may remain but the situation and environment when it was useful will have disappeared or changed, the habit is stuck in the past and is no longer relevant. We just keep using these habits over and over again, I’ve a few, probably loads; writing after a walk, is one I’ve just been told about.

It is very hard to notice your own habits; biting nails, a nervous scratch, a stutter, lower back pain, anxiety, writing after a walk, … .

Noticing is the first step in observing your our habits, sometimes you may need a prompt from someone, but what next? If the habit is stopping you getting on with your life then perhaps you may need some help so you can learn some simple techniques to allow you to fulfil you dreams. If you may want to know more then why not join my mailing list and I’ll let you into some secrets.

 

 

I’ll have a glass of wine instead


Have you ever thought that you need to do something, you put it off all day, then at a particular time of the day your can’t possibly start it because you won’t have time to complete it, the only decision now is to have a glass of wine instead or may be start it after a glass of wine and finish the job off in the morning.

I’ll start after I finish the first glass, I deserve the treat because I’ve been worrying all day about it and the wine will give me a bit of courage to start the job. The glass empties, maybe a top up then I’ll start?

Oops where has all that wine gone, I can’t start now as it would be irresponsible to do anything serious and important after a bottle of wine. I’ll do it in the morning, first thing – honest!

The next day comes, more immediate things crop up, they aren’t really important but they are better than doing this job, oops where has the day gone, I’ve been busy and productive, I’ll treat myself to a glass of wine.

Does this sound familiar, I’d be lying if I’ve never done this.

I remember writing to a solicitor many years ago and my first line of the letter was an apology “Sorry that I haven’t replied sooner but I’ve been procrastinating”

When do we procrastinate?

You will have your own reasons, here’s some reasons I’ve thought of:

  • They won’t like it
  • I’m not good enough
  • I won’t like their response

My reasons are not about the actual thing but about what I think the response will be, even not being good enough is about their response, they think I’m not good enough!

A glass of wine may help in the short term however some things just need to be done and I know I feel relieved once I get over my procrastination. One of the methods I use is to ask myself if the reason I’ve thought of is actually true. If it is not true then it must be something else. Remember that the vast majority of people as absolutely hopeless at mind reading so how do you know what another person is thinking.

Lets work on “They won’t like it” is it true (you’re not a mind reader) probably not.

If you answer is ‘probably not’ then it’s not true, so no; we only want yes and no as an answer.

How does that make you feel? For me it gives me an opportunity to get on with the job, I’ve lost the thought that they won’t like it.

Second guessing others thoughts is a fools errand, you may force them to change their ideas, if you think they won’t like it you may inadvertently force them to that decision. If you don’t know if they wont like it then you can approach the job honestly and without self judgement. You may be surprised at the positive remarks.

 

 

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.

What’s the difference


I’ve been thinking, I’ve been writing about the Alexander Technique or Alexander’s discoveries for some time, you may be getting confused in what the difference is, I certainly do sometimes and I’m still not sure what the differences are.

Here are my 2nd July 2017 definitions. Be warned I will change my view on these definitions at a later date.

Alexander’s discoveries are the;

  • head spine relationship,
    • if we are balanced and free to about this vertical axis we have greater opportunity to be balanced and free in our limbs.
  • to be balanced and free we naturally rid ourselves of debilerating habits that prevent us from being balanced and free.

The Alexander Technique is a developed collection of activities for a person to undertake so that they can learn and enact Alexander’s discoveries.

These discoveries are within everyone if they choose to discover them and other modalities explain them in their own particular way.

The power of these discoveries is combining the two together as a whole in psychophysical unity.

If you are intrigued, go find an Alexander Technique teacher.

 

 

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?