Alexander Technique

Life can be a breeze; the choice is yours.


One of the activities I really hate but secretly love is running, it is one of those activities that I used to hold my breathe as I prepared to run hence I didn’t get far before I was out of breath!

A pretty obvious outcome but I couldn’t understand why I was always out off breath; it has only been in the recent years that I worked out that I do hold my breath, in fact I hold my breath to start most activities.

You may think this is a strange thing to do, I do now, and many of us have particular foibles when we start an activity. For strenuous activities including running I held my breath.

In fact, I held my breath to start any activity! I wonder what you do?

Now lets turn this around.

From my perspective, getting ready to do something is your ego getting ready by calling up its favourite but not so useful habits; my habit of breathe holding. If I quieten my ego then I’m ready to run and I don’t need to hold my breath, things just happen.

Being ready is a completely different sensation to getting ready.

Being ready I feel light and buoyant, all my joints have the freedom to move, my thinking is livelier and brighter.

Getting ready I feel heavy and locked, my joints are tight and reluctant to move, my thinking is wondering what is going to happen, as I write and experiment with my thoughts, my breath is becoming laboured, butterflies are appearing in my stomach.

Being ready and getting ready are both thoughts generated from my mind and I can choose which thought, I much prefer ‘being ready’ to ‘getting ready’ it is a much happier place however I still have a lingering habit of not choosing and going straight for ‘getting ready’.

The trick is to notice, pause for a moment and then choose. How to choose takes skill and plenty of practice; this is what I teach. We all have the capacity to be ready, with lightness, buoyancy with freedom to move; we just don’t choose it.

Most of our life we have been cajoled, bullied, taught, encouraged to get ready for things by holding, hunkering down, freezing, grimacing so we can demonstrate to others that we are getting ready; I was like that with running.

Last week I decided to take up running again, I joined a 0 to 5 km club, it was into the 6thweek of training, my first for several years. I choose to ‘be ready’, no ‘getting ready’, no holding my breath; it was a breeze. I really enjoyed the run, the circuit we ran was about 3.5 km, dispersed with periods of running and walking. The moments when I noticed I was starting to try harder because of a hill or I was drifting away from the pack, I refreshed on thoughts of being ready and my lightness and buoyancy returned; the gradient became easier and I floated closer to the pack.

We all have this power to choose but many think that life must be hard and difficult if it is to be at all successful, in fact the opposite is true!

Life can be a breeze; the choice is yours.

Alexander Technique, anxiety

1am


It’s 1am in the morning,

a time I like to be asleep,

I like my 8 hours of sleep a night,

tonight it isn’t going to happen,

I suddenly woke up,

so time for a cup of tea on my own,

even my dogs didn’t stir,

they like their sleep

so do I!

worrying about things wakes me up,

why tonight?

I know why, you don’t need to know.

You need to know this is what anxiety is like

waking up suddenly for no apparent reason

waking up suddenly for a reason I can’t tell you

waking up worried

when the best thing is to sleep

so I’m refreshed to face the worry,

not blurry in the morning

Oh the joys of life when your anxious.

I have tools to help me

But

Sometimes it is best to let anxiety run

The best tool is to talk to someone,

to let it all out

But

At 1am all is peaceful

Except

For me!!!!

Another way is to write about it

So here I am

And

You are here reading my story

Suddenly my stomach pain has subsided

You did that

Thank you.

I’m breathing again

I’m calming down

Time for more tea

My anxiety is calming

So

I can find my balance with gravity

I can find my balance with time

I can let go and be here

so

I can be at one with myself and not thinking ahead of time

That’s what I think anxiety is

Thinking ahead of time.

Thinking ahead of time is a fiction

It’s a waste of time

Being awake at 1am is a waste of sleep

Except for the lovely cup of tea.

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, anxiety, attention, breathing

Life becomes a whole lot better. 


We all love getting ready for something,

  • getting ready for friends coming round
  • getting ready for dinner
  • getting ready to catch a ball
  • getting ready to run
  • getting ready to stand
  • getting ready to sit

You probably know even more.

Some activities of getting ready do need some preparation, like making dinner, preparing for friends how will visit. However some things we get ready for there is no point is getting ready as we are ready already. These activities are generally when we move from one activity to another.

  • from sitting to standing
  • from walking to running
  • from observing to catching a ball

We all tend prepare for the change in activity by getting ready, the getting ready is a tightening of muscles in preparation for something we are already prepared for. We overthink things so we think we need to do something to get ready. Maybe grimacing your face to lift a heavy weight, if you think about it, we don’t tend to lift things with our facial muscles so why all this extra effort?

It is not just our facial muscles that we tense to get ready, it may be holding your breathe,   tightening your shoulders, we all have our favourite tightening for our own way of getting ready.

What’s yours?

The difficult bit is noticing your own getting ready patterns, that’s where I come in, my years of Alexander Technique training and practice, I notice these things in people and can offer you a different plan for getting ready where you don’t grimace to lift heavy weights or don’t hold your breathe when you decide the run or don’t tightened your arm just before you catch a ball.

I’ll introduce you to rediscovering your freedom and aliveness you once had, then life becomes a whole lot better.

If you want to know more, drop me a line or two.

 

 

Alexander Technique, Asthma

I panic, I get breathless


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please let me know if you want to know more.

Alexander Technique

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander Technique

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!

 

Alexander Discovery, Alexander Technique, anxiety, Asthma, depression

95% done


What’s happening to me?

It may not be quite Alexander Technique but then again it is?

I’ve done things over the last couple of weeks that I haven’t done willingly for over two decades, that’s quite a long time and for some reading this you may have just been your mothers dream when I stopped doing these things. I didn’t know at the time but when I received a letter from the court my anxiety shot up to full power, this was the start of my divorce. With anxiety I became asthmatic and I guess depressed as well. I manned up to the anxiety and depression and fought on but I could escape my breathing, I could go anywhere without my trusty inhaler. Looking back I wasn’t in a very good state.

Then I accidentally found an Alexander Technique Teacher or perhaps the teacher found me or I was ready to listen and learn. I really don’t know how it happened but it happened.

I believe I now have anxiety, depression and asthma under control by how and what I think about. Thoughts of being in balance with time and space are the keys for me to release my anxiety and depression however some things may remain hidden, these are the things that you and I just don’t want to do due to some irrational fear.

My fear is criticism, I felt I got a lot of criticism when I was a child, I felt I wasn’t good enough, anything I did I thought I was told I could do better, I’m sure these were supportive and constructive comments, however I received them as criticism and I wasn’t good enough. Through this I created a strategy of doing 95% really well and knowing what 5% I didn’t do. Then I was ready when the criticism came as I had a retort for the 5%, I had a good answer why I hadn’t done it, it wasn’t the real answer, it was a staged and planned answer. Pretty cunning ah. Win, win, I did things to my satisfaction and other could criticise.

However the habit of not fully completing, whilst doesn’t really matter for say 95% of the things that you and I do, there are 5% of things that only 100% is good enough. I spoke to someone recently about this, it was the right time, place and person for me. It was a revelation just explaining this lifelong strategy, talking about it made it childish, it was a childish plan after all. It is now a redundant plan. This could not have happened without me being honest with myself to tell my story to someone and also having another plan ready. My new plan is being honest with myself, making conscious decisions and being content that I may make mistakes. This new plan has certainly shifted things, I’m doing things that I’ve put off for a generation!

What are you putting off for another day?