Tag Archives: trying

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.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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!

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.

 

 

Something happened out of the blue!


Somethings happen out of the blue.

It did for my this week.

As you may be aware, I’ve been training to become an Alexander Technique Teacher for more years than normal. It’s taken me long for various reasons, my hypothesis is that learning Alexanders discoveries takes longer the older you are, the more trauma you have met in your live this also adds time to discover his discoveries. There is another part of my hypothesis is that you also need to be trained by the teacher that understands you and has the patience to support you, I didn’t have this in my first part of my training so I moved training schools now hI have that support.

We meet monthly over an intensive weekend, though it is long days it isn’t tiring it is extremely stimulating and a fantastic place to learn. The training school doesn’t have a fixed time for the completion of your training, you are ready when your ready!

‘Being ready when you are ready’ initially I thought was a very strange concept to run a training establishment, it was difficult to take in when I started, I was in a rush to be certified and get teaching. Please find a teacher, I can’t justify in writing what Alexanders discoveries is about, the only way is to experience it.

Months went by I still was rushing to get teaching – people need to experience what I’m learning but they won’t give me a certificate. Slowly I came to the realisation Alexander Technique teachers don’t teach. A strange thing to realise after all the time and money I’ve spent.

I’ll explain.

It’s impossible to teach Alexander’s discoveries unless you let go of judgement to allow yourself to rediscover your freedom, easy and joy. This is what the training is all about, it is not about getting a teaching certificate, it about being your authentic self. From the outside I can see how this all seems upside down and topsy turvy, I had those thoughts once. A month or so I discovered that I didn’t care about certificates I was content to go to the school once month, infinitum. I love the contented, energetic, quite, challenging, easy, simple, joyous space the school is. I learn more and more about myself every time I visit. My last visit I left my usual hour early, I’ve a train journey to get me home that takes a few hours. The visiting teacher didn’t know I was leaving early, they wanted to sponsor me for my teaching certificate, but couldn’t as I’d left. When I was told I was initially annoyed, that passed very quickly to being overjoyed as someone who I’d never met until three days ago was willing to sponsor and support me on the next part of my journey. This was completely out if the blue, I’ve always thought I was not good enough, someone saying I’m good enough has turned my thinking on my head. Thank you.

This news has given me an awful lot of confidence in myself and a renewed contentment that I know who I am and for the next part of my journey of discovery.

Again please find an Alexander Technique teacher and discover what I’ve been going on about.

 

 

A pleasurable outcome that leads to other opportunities


Of course with all this contentment I’ve been writing about I still have to get on and do things; working, driving, keeping the house tidy, planning events and holidays, etc, etc; life still needs to go on whilst being contented and grounded. But these things are somehow easier, I don’t have, it does pop up occasionally, the doubt, worry and I’m not good enough thoughts. When they do pop up I know I’ve slipped out of balance somewhere and I bring my balance back and these thoughts just vaporise, some of these thought may be persistent then I pause for a longer moment, sometimes they don’t want to leave me, I then continue with the knowledge they are there with me, I may be doubting myself as I continue; at the moment I have this doubt, I guess I’m touching a nerve in that I am opening up to much to whoever is reading this blog.

Writing this blog is my choice and clicking on the ‘publish’ button is another choice, I’ve got plenty of blogs that haven’t been published for some reason or other.

Life is full of choices and they can be changed at any point, there are even more choices the more present you are, ugh you may be thinking, I’ve got enough choices already and why do I want to be conscious and get more. I’ve noticed that the choices are different, I’m not making choices that I don’t want to make, I’m not bending to someone else’s will. Sometimes life brings the inevitable, a flat car tyre, it will need to be fixed if you want to continue on your journey then acceptance can be brought into the activity. There’s no need for anger though you may be annoyed, there’s no need to be embarrassed for something that is out of your control. Being accepting of the situation you maintain your balance and contentment and you may find a more pleasurable outcome that leads to other opportunities.

How about noticing when you next get angry or annoyed let the vengefulness slide away and disappear. You can still be angry or annoyed and grounded and contented at the same time. I find at that moment there are plenty of more opportunities and choices to be made though your authentic self.

Please give it a go when you have the opportunity.

 

 

Go on, give it a go!


So how do you find contentment? It’s one of those very easy things to do be ever so hard to achieve, I think I’ve got a plan but have I?

It’s just one of those things.

If you think you have it, it just disappears in a puff of smoke. If it is so elusive why do people want it so much? Is it because of its scarcity, elusive or is it because you hear good things about contentment.

You can discover through various channels, yoga, meditation, reflexology, energy work, martial arts, mindfulness and for me it was via the Alexander Technique. As I’ve written before these channels or methods are just one of many ways to get you to notice what you are doing and then to invite a change, hopefully for the better.

What I like about the Alexander Technique is that it is sort of mindfulness in activity but it is a lot more than that. The Alexander Technique is choosing to be conscious in what you choose to do. You have options to choose, sometimes it is best to let your reactions take over, say, avoiding a speed car or something falling near you and you need to avoid it. However most of the time you could be more conscious in what you do, it is your choice. However being more conscious in what you do does lead you to being more content, I’ve noticed less things phase me, my anger and equally my joyfulness have lost their energies, of course if I choose to.

Many people think they know what the Alexander Technique is, isn’t about posture, something about a straight back? It is but it isn’t, it’s about thinking and allow yourself to be as it should be, then again it’s not about the thinking, or what I think you think thinking is.

The thinking I’m suggesting is akin to non-thinking but is more than non-thinking. If you are confused, join the club, I was confused for years.

My confusion was that I thought I had to do something to do this ‘more than non-thinking’ stuff, the secret is there is nothing to do as it is built into ourselves already.

If we take a moment or several moments for me, you may notice more things in your vicinity, noises may get louder, I notice that normally silent clocks get loader, my sight gets cleared and my peripheral vision increases, my sense of touch increases, these sensations only that if I stop fretting and worrying about things. All this can be achieved by using mindful techniques, what is different with the Alexander Technique is we practice this whilst in everyday activities. So you may find when you have an Alexander Technique lesson that the activities my seem a little contrived, for example moving from sitting to standing, if you think about it, how many times a day do you sit on a chair and how many times are you really conscious of sitting and standing or any other routine activity?

Experimenting with the routine everyday activities gives you plenty of homework to experiment with. How about experimenting now? When you next decide to move from sitting to standing start to notice things,

  • What are you thinking, if there is any judgement let it go and move to standing?
  • What limbs do you use, let any judgement go and move to standing?
  • What muscles do you need to use?
  • What happened with your breathe, did you hold your breath or gasp before you started the activity?
  • What happened when you reached your full height, was there any judgement?

You may have your own questions you want to ask yourself, please avoid being judgmental as judgement will mask your discoveries and also you’ll lose your presence.

What you may find is that you start the experiment and all of a sudden you are standing with no recollection of the questions or even moving from sitting to standing. What ever you notice is great, next time you experiment you will notice something else, keep experimenting and noticing the change. Of course you could seek out an Alexander Technique teacher or even me, you will get quicker results and a noticeable change in how you move in your daily activities and also in your contentment with life.

Go on, give it a go!

That’s not what I do, it’s not what I am!


It’s pretty hard to write about anything when I’m content with myself, strangely I have the urge to write, but what to write about!

I like this sense of calm, I’m aware of myself, what I’m doing and my environment, in my office on a rainy January Sunday. This sense of calm has taken some time to appear, over the past few years I’ve tried so hard to discover this calm, it has all ways been out of reach. I’ve been ill with what I guess was flu so I’ve had sometime to stop my normal busy life and do nothing. I started listening to people I trust, the common story was “you’re doing too much – stop it”. For some reason I listened, even took up the offer of some reflexology with Deborah. Whatever she did changed me in some way, I think there were also some other contributing factors as well, I stopped and listened to others and more importantly my body, I’ve also read two thought provoking books, Brene Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness” and Eckhart Tolle’s ” A New Earth”. I only decided the read ‘ A New World” as I saw a copy of one of Eckhart’s books in Deborah’s treatment room.

The books and my past Alexander Training have a common theme, bringing consciousness to the for, then you have the opportunity to be authentic if you want to.

My problem in the past has been ‘if I wanted to’; I’ve never really thought that I was worthy therefore I choose not to. I’ve had moments of a really strong sense of authenticity but never had the nerve to take it any further because of thoughts of “that’s not what I do, it’s not what I am”.

Being ill has given me the time to experiment without my normal external stimuli and also to quieten down my internal stimuli. Noticing when I measure things as good or bad, happy or sad; these measures are just thoughts that feed my ego. So instead I’ve been experimenting at noticing when I make a judgement, pausing for a moment, asking myself do I need to be judgmental about whatever it was, the answer has always been no. This is a slight lie as I never get to ask the question, pausing for a moment and reconnecting with the ground and space around me I become present, in the here and now. Being in the present the judgmental thought just evaporates hence the question disappears.

This all sounds like a lot of work and thinking, I thought that but you will find it is less thinking than second guessing others and building up negative energies by being judgmental.

If you have thoughts of “that’s not what I do, it’s not what I am” or you find that you keep making or taking sides in various situations, perhaps you could experiment with discovering your authenticity. It is such a contented space to be in, I was going to write ‘such a happy space’ but this isn’t true,  being contented could be happy or sad, however happy and sad are measurements of some sort that will break your contentment.

Have you ever found this contentment?

 

 

 

 

We sometimes think too much. 


You may have noticed that many of my blogs are about noticing our habits, more precisely the habits that stop you doing the thing you really want to do, this thing may be  your ambition; it may be singing solo in front of a huge audience, skydiving, running a marathon, reading aloud without stuttering or overcoming a phobia of some kind. Achieving your ambition is firstly to overcome your doubt.

You may have guessed what the first step is; noticing what happens when you think about your ambition. I guess it may feel overwhelming else you would have achieved it  already.  Again notice the thought, probably it was a thoughts of; “it’s impossible’, “I can’t work out the first step,” ” I don’t know where to start”, with all theses thoughts there will be some muscular tension somewhere; mine are butterflies in my stomach. You’ll have something somewhere, sometimes you need to be quiet to notice.

When I sense my butterflies it is time to act, I don’t think, “Oh those butterflies again I’m going to fail again” that was my old thought. I use my butterflies as a moment to pause and do something different from what I habitually want to do; this a hard to achieve as thoughts of “don’t be silly, that can’t possibly work” and other self sabotaging thoughts appear. The harder I try to do something different the louder these thoughts shout out. I’ve failed at this step many times and still do however there is a way to silence these thoughts instantly. It is being here in this very moment and understanding that this very moment can’t be held on to, you need to let go of every moment as you pass through it.

My current thinking is about balancing gravity, space and time; being in balance with all three. We are constantly working with gravity whether we are sitting, standing, lying down, in activity and when we are asleep, it never goes away. We use gravity all the time.   We sometimes sabotage ourselves and think gravity is against us, for one, gravity can’t think, it is our own thinking that is doing the sabotaging.

We sometimes think too much.

When I notice my butterflies, it is a prompt to think about how I am with gravity, I’m probably giving into gravity and letting my body crumble to the ground, even if it’s ever slight. I reverse my thoughts by pausing, noticing how I’m touching the ground is it though a chair or am I standing, then allow my legs and torso to move so my head and body are in balance with gravity. For me this has quietening effect on my thinking.

My butterflies are also a prompt to notice if I’m compressing myself, maybe I want to hide for some reason, and making myself small I might disappear or not be noticed. Again I pause for a moment and invite each molecule in my body to take up its own space and then expand my space into the room I’m in, then out to the local area and on and on into space, this also effects my thinking this time into space, now I’m in balance with gravity and space.

My butterflies are also a prompt to notice if I’m thinking into the future and worrying out the future. When I’m worrying or being anxious I have a sense of projecting my thoughts just in front of me, I pause again and have the same thoughts but this time I have the thought just behind my eyes, where my centre of gravity is. I find this quietens down my worry to nothing, now I’m in balance with gravity, space and time.

There is a catch to this, if you try to hold onto the sensation of being in balance with gravity, space and time you will get stuck and tighten up and loss the freedom, space and the time will return to anxiety. These thoughts only last for a moment, they need to be let go of as soon as they are thought and rethought again and let go again. With practice you will get quicker and quicker and then non-verbal. Then you can take the first steps to achieve your ambition.