Sunday, 9 August 2009

filling up on good energy

With the sun in my natal sun sign, I almost always get a surge of energy and this year I'm using it to spend time in a beautiful place filling up with friendship, fresh air, fire light, non chlorinated freshly filtered water, fresh organic food, and all the creative fun and goodness that comes from being among permacultury minded people.

I'm hoping for a bright late summer and autumn and trying hard to store in my cells enough good feelings/energy and (vitamin D) to see me through the dark days of winter. Looking for a way to tincture the good times.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

stopping, paying attention and doing nothing

"The starting point of the Alexander Technique is stopping" Glen Park

The practise of deliberately stopping by lying down semi-supine for 20 minutes a day is probably the central activity of AT. It's the one thing that an outside observer could point to as you "doing your Alexandering". And its not as easy as it seems.

There are all sorts of reasons why its not easy an easy habit to get into. When I'm out of the habit of doing it, 20 minutes seems a very long time. If I'm struggling to stay still for that long I listen to guided meditations like Glen's accompaniment to the "The Art of Changing".
It brings me back to the first principles of the technique and why this practise of lying down is so essential.

Being still and deliberately allowing the time for tension to leave the body, and for the mind to quiet, is what allows space for the directions to begin working. It allows you to become aware of the thoughts, emotions and physical tensions that form the backdrop of your daily "doings". You need to be aware of something to change it.

Moshe Feldenkrais has a famous quote "When you know what you are doing, you can do what you want". Stopping long enough to observe your habits is the AT way of getting to know what you are doing.

We stop and observe while semi-supine, and we also try to stop or "inhibit" any preparatory or parasitic movements that we make before acting. Stopping the old habit, in order to make way for the new way of doing things that we are directing.

Since I'm lucky enough to have Glen as my real life teacher, I get the extra benefit of a familiar voice transporting me back to previous "lying downs".

Monday, 30 March 2009

Alexander- Endgaining and the Means Whereby

Endgaining, in Alexander terms is focusing on achieving a goal at the expense of paying attention to the "means whereby" one accomplishes it. Endgaining is probably the default setting for most tasks for the majority of people.
You can take any task, and choose to try to do it in a way that focuses on the means whereby.
Focussing on the "means whereby" means being aware of how you are doing it. Using inhibition and direction while doing it.
Individual lessons usually focus on simple small activities, like sitting or standing. Gradually over the years I've been "Alexandering" I've increased the number of activities that I apply the technique in. I now more often than not remember to Alexander while I'm driving.
Mirror, signal, allow the neck to be free, manoever, in such a way that the torso widens and lengthens and sending the knees out and away.
It's combined so seamlessly into some of my yoga poses that I couldn't not do it.
Learning a new pose, then end gaining creeps in again.
Too many people about, or too much stimulation in general makes applying the technique difficult for me. Feeling rushed or hurried or desperate to finish the task in hand, is pretty much a dictionary definition of endgaining.
Some tasks are more amenable to the "means whereby" than others.
For me I think I will have reached a sort of Zen type mastery when I can manage a large supermarket shopping trip while concentrating on the means whereby rather than "get me out of here".
Or dig up couch grass without getting as much root as possible pulled out becoming more important than not clenching my jaw or hurting my hands and back while doing it.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Equinox -balance and stillness

I always think the equinoxes are a time to balance - take a breath - pause and take in the scenery before the wheel plunges on with its relentless forward motion. There always seems so much to do around this time - the sap is rising in us and everything around us, the decks need cleared, the seeds planted, houses spring cleaned.

I have only barely paused long enough this year to acknowledge that searching for a brief moment of stillness is a worthwhile goal. Today I didn't even stop long enough for twenty minutes of being time --much too busy being a human-doing.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

pausing, stopping, paying attention

The starting point of the Alexander Technique is stopping. And stopping, doing nothing is not as easy as it seems. This is a quote from a guided meditiation tape by my teacher, Glen Park ( author of The Art of Changing).

I have gotten out of the habit of lying semi-supine. I have all sorts of excuses, the floors are too cold in winter, and often there isn't room to put up the massage bed, which is the most unportable portable thing ever, and I can't manage to put it up without help.

And now I really struggle to lie still and quiet for more than five minutes before the ants in my pants make me get up again.

Hence going back to first principles and listening to Glen's tape. The very fact that I'm finding it so hard to do means that it really is what I need to do most.

That and go for a top up lesson.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

self portrait

This self portrait was done after a body-scanning exercise during a very painful bout of TMJ.
The doctor offered anti-inflammatories and the suggestion " I don't do NLP, but if I did I'd try re-drawing it smaller, rounder and in pink "

I now use a combination of techniques to keep this "pattern" at bay which includes NLP, Cranial Osteopathy, Accupuncture and Alexander Technique.
It doesn't include anti-inflammatories at all since I discovered MSM, though I used to take one or two if I had a severe attack.