Alexander Technique in East Yorkshire

Anger and anxiety

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There is an interconnection which influences everything.

This is the last in series of interviews I carried out with people who have had Alexander Technique lessons. This interview is with Sandra who has had both individual lessons and been to group sessions.

Here are Sandra’s answers to a simple set of questions I asked her about her experience of having lessons:

 

What drew you to the Alexander Technique?

I was curious about the technique because I did little bits in a Yoga class and a friend found it useful.

 

What impact did you hope it would have/make?

I was a “head person” and thought my body carried my head around I realised it is not like that and I wanted to explore that.

 

Was there anything expected about learning the Alexander Technique? If so, what was it, and what impact did it have?

I knew it would be about sitting and standing & I did learn about things like that.

 

Was there anything unexpected about learning the Alexander Technique? If so, what was it?

I have discovered moving sometimes feels so right. It’s a feeling that “everything slots into place.”

I have been able to explore the whole idea of feeling which is quite distinct. Before feeling was a distraction, but not now.

I have learned how to move with the body.

Before I was doing something “out there” rather than something coming from inside. It is more mindful.


What impact did learning the Alexander Technique have?

At first stop (inhibition) felt negative, like I was being told STOP because I was doing something wrong. I needed to think about it and give it time, but at first I was avoiding it. It took a while to get to think of “stop” as “nice” not negative. Being in the moment is positive.

I discovered by doing stopping, that half the things I was going to do, I didn’t need to do them.

I was rushing, resenting doing things, and fighting myself whereas now, I can stop, take a deep breath, look out of the window, and actually enjoy what I am doing (even pot washing) and I notice things.


Was there anything else that was unexpected about learning the Alexander Technique? If so, what was it?

“All of it” was unexpected. The whole experience.

The feeling of relaxation is amazing.Anxiety drops away.

Stopping gives me time and space to enjoy being not doing. It feels nice, “like a deep breath and a sigh of release”

Of course I have got to remember to do it. Sometimes it goes out the window.

I did resist stop and semi-supine (I occasionally did it in yoga and AT lessons). I do it now whenever I think of it. “Let the neck be free” is really good. I do that in the car, at the shops. I need to remember my head, but when I think “Let the neck be free” then I feel a release, then it happens through my body “all at once.”

I thought the teacher was going to do it all for me, but discovered I had to do something. It’s a continuous process and I am continually learning.

 

What do you know now?

I can let go of things.

I am beginning to be aware of my body.

The anxiety and rushing are changing and I am enjoying the connection with the body. I was already able to move well, so I don’t think it’s as much about the movement, I don’t have anything wrong with me.

I notice my body affects my moods. That my body is tied into moods. That there is an interconnection which influences everything. That interconnection means I notice more things.


Anything else?

The body mapping (living anatomy about where the joints are) influenced my walking and how I move.

I’ve enjoyed the mixture of 1:1 lessons and group lessons.

In the 1:1 lessons I could explore personal/specific things but in a group I could learn from the experiences of others and from observing how other group members move. Plus, there are things that can be explored in a group that can’t be done on a 1:1, like when we explored what we might do habitually in a crowd/ on a crowded train and then explored how to do it when applying the Alexander Technique.

It’s more than mindful, it’s a feeling in the whole of the body. From feeling tension, to no tension, letting go, lighter and moving easier. I may be quicker too. I am more prepared.

 

If you would like to learn the Alexander Technique and find out how it might help for you, please contact me or give me a ring and book a lesson.

Jane Clappison

Alexander Technique Teacher

01759 307282

www.janeclappison.co.uk

 

Alexander Technique and Blood Pressure

I have no fuse. At least it feels that way. I imagine myself as a huge round black cartoon bomb but without a fuse. That’s me. I can be pushed and pushed and pushed…and then BOOM, I EXPLODE. I often feel shame when that happens. I learned that response from my childhood. I learned to suppress anger. My history informs me that anger brings rejection and calm doesn’t, so it’s understandable I have these habitual responses. I didn’t learn to use the feeling of anger effectively.

I’m learning to accept and embrace my anger. I am learning to be compassionate about it and be curious when it erupts. It’s a work in progress. Some of the process is about accepting what is and not changing it.

The Alexander Technique is about being in the present moment, accepting things as they are, releasing into it, and not “doing” something to change it. I like that it takes me into calm. However, I am using it to explore my anger. It doesn’t mean I have to explode, shout, scream, deny it, suppress it, just let it be what it is, a feeling that informs me. I can then choose what I do.

It’s coming in very handy whilst I wear a 24 hour blood pressure monitor. I want to rip it off my arm almost every time it beeps. That heralds the machine starting up. Frequently it pumps up, and fails, and starts again but with more pressure. It takes my breath away. My arm feels alien, like it’s turned into one of those rubberised fake arms. I think it might pop. I feel panic. I am irritated that I am having to go through this. My genetics are catching up with me despite years of healthy choices and oodles of relaxation and ways to find calm. Also, years of suppressing and denying anger and wanting to stay in a calm, peaceful state. My thoughts are wandering towards what the night is going to be like. Will I have bloodshot red eyes through lack of sleep in the morning?

I am observing what happens to me. How I tense up and brace. How the cuff restricts my movements which irritates me. How my thoughts are going towards tonight and the possibility of lack of sleep and the future possibility of medication. In this instance it’s not helpful. It will show higher readings as a result! I am choosing to stay in the present moment, notice my feet, stay grounded, notice my neck, invite it to have flow, notice my muscular response and choosing to invite ease and calm. I am not jumping over the reactions but I am responding to them appropriately.

The Alexander Technique is a tool. It can be a lifestyle as well. In this instance it is an extremely helpful tool. I am glad I can use it.

If you are interested in exploring how the Alexander Technique can help with anger, reactions you don’t know what to do with, overwhelm get in touch.

 

Jane Clappison MSTAT

Alexander Technique Teacher

01759 307282

www.janeclappison.co.uk

When storm fronts collide

 

“That mindfulness doesn’t work for me, my mind is too full already. I need mind-less-ness.”

Yes, sometimes life is just so overwhelming you want a way out. You want to stop the whole world and get off. It’s just too much. David Whyte, describes it as:

“the meeting of two immense storm fronts, the squally vulnerable edge between what overwhelms human beings from the inside and what overpowers them from the outside.”

You feel like you are having to run to keep up with your thoughts. They are insisting on a conversation that goes round and round and round whilst you compete in an extreme sports competition. You try to keep up because you don’t feel you have a choice, but you know your legs are going to give out any moment, and you will collapse.

Sometimes it’s not quite so extreme. You always ran on fumes, talked fast, been on the alert, perhaps you physically shake in most of what you do. You’ve maybe had two jobs so you can make finances spread further. You fill your evenings and weekends with things to do. A game of squash usually helps to bring calm, or a long walk in the woods. Then something, almost imperceptible comes along, and that way of being just doesn’t work. Something gives, perhaps you find work becomes stressful or you develop a physical illness, start with persistent pain or  simply you feel like your usual high energy approach just isn’t helpful any more. You crash and burn.

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Toothache, chicken little, anxiety and the Alexander Technique

I don’t know when I decided not take any notice of TV news. Nor do I remember when I consciously avoided reading the daily papers, but it was before the days of the internet. I imagine I was in my late teens. I just didn’t want to know how bad things were.

As I therefore knew less about the world at large, I marvelled at how my maternal Grandmother kept up with current affairs. One phone call got me up to speed. I am sure it kept her keenly aware into her 90’s and also extremely grumpy.

Despite an aversion to bad news, I did develop a liking for the Scottish Post as they seemed to be more about good-news stories. Their cartoons like the mischievous Oor Wullie and the family life of The Broons made for a  hilarious treat. I  now love a very un-PC paper for its brain teasers and TV guide, but my love of newspapers and bad news in general (isn’t it almost always bad now) and current affairs, ends there.

Maybe you feel this sense that most news reports are bad news?

Nowadays I can’t avoid death, destruction, vandalism, global warming, not global warming, air quality, plastic floating islands, mass extinctions, deforestation, wars, starvation, discrimination and on and on. As a result, I find myself being pulled into a state of irritation and anxiety. Like a nagging tooth pain, for which there is no cure. The internet, and particularly social media, seem to have got to me in ways my paper/TV news avoidance could not. Perhaps a remote cave might help, but I enjoy being in and of the world. So, I can’t avoid knowing some of the heartbreaking news we are bombarded with from all sides, today.

At times I feel like Chicken Little, crying out that the sky is falling in. Except he discovered it wasn’t falling in, and that all was well. My conclusion is that we are finely balanced at a point where we don’t know whether the sky will fall in or not.

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The Alexander Technique, mental movies, anger, stress…and change!

film-331553_1920 (Copy)For  years, mornings started with my own mental daily movie examining absolutely everything I had done the day before. I looked for mistakes rather than successes e.g. when I was dieting the movie was about food eaten, and spotting “mistakes” so I could lose more weight. Teaching session movies were about perceived faults and how I could improve them. Meetings with people were replayed to work out how I could do them “better!” This mental marathon happened before getting out of bed and meant I started off the day with an incredibly “wired” brain! It didn’t change anything that had happened and started the coming day with rules about how I should be different! No opportunity to be in the moment, flexible and go with the flow!

However, I have discovered a few Alexander Technique based steps which make these morning “replays” either non-existent or at least very much shorter and more positive! I’d like to share some of my experience with you!

“When you know better you do better.”  Maya Angelou

 

The change came in when I started to have Alexander Technique lessons. I learned to notice things in the present moment with no pressure. Over a few lessons I became less ridged in my thinking, less angry and anxious. I began to feel comfortable in my own skin, with my own emotions and thoughts. I began to know myself much more. I now understand that  I did my morning mental check (and maybe you do too) to “keep myself safe”. If you want to know more about struggling with unwanted thoughts, read The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris as he explains this kind of thinking in more detail.

Lessons taught me I didn’t, and don’t, have to vigilantly work out how to do things differently. I can make mistakes (and learn from them) and it’s ok. I can be loved for who I am exactly as I am! I am safe. This has not happened overnight. It has evolved over the last 27+ years! I learned to stop bracing myself and let my muscular armour soften and dissolve into a more fluid, responsive state.

However, old habits die hard! So, when I found myself replaying  the workshop I had taught at the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique AGM in 2016 I took a different approach to the one I might have done previously. I applied The Alexander Technique to it.

  • I noticed my thoughts from a place of curiosity –  “Oh, there are those thoughts again!”
  • I knew I didn’t have to change anything.
  • I became aware of where I was, what I was hearing, seeing and doing which released all sorts of tensions. I knew I was safe in that moment.
  • Knowing I didn’t have to change anything, and that I could just BE IN THE MOMENT also had the paradoxical effect of breaking the old pattern.
  • Then I applied further “Alexander Technique” in the form of invitation/s (directions) to my body – “Let my neck be free” and ” I invite my shoulders to do less and widen.”
  • Now I was feeling much more blissfully in the moment and could breath and know I didn’t need to change anything!

Joy (Copy)Some of these behaviours may be familiar? If you want to learn how to change tense muscles to responsive muscles, cyclical thoughts to ones that have choices, feel happier in your own skin being uniquely you…do get in touch! Contact me! Jane , Alexander Technique Teacher-  01759 307282