now browsing by category
I know I am not on my own in often feeling like I need to get a job done as quickly as possible. When I need to rest, I don’t, and I tell myself “I’ve started so I’ll finish”. Even when I’m tired or aching and I know I should stop, I keep going. Often it is so that I get it over with and can do things I’d rather be doing. I’m pressurising myself to go faster, do it quicker, get it finished. I promise myself I will have a break afterwards or do the thing I really want to do later. I do this far less nowadays, but the habit, the possibility, is always there. My clients nod when I talk about it. It has become almost universal. Plus, no one has ever said to me “are you chilling out and relaxing?” No, they say “are you busy?” to which I say (nowadays), “No, and I don’t want to be.” I often get a rather strange look when I say that because it’s going against what is normally acceptable! However, I think we need to do things differently.
This pushing ourselves beyond tired and feeling like it’s important to cram in as much as possible is taking us away from ourselves. It’s become a bit too engrained and we humans are suffering for it. We are losing touch with the present moment, the joy of doing a task mindfully and discovering the ease with which our bodies can do things if we give it the opportunity. There’s no noticeable change in the speed with which the task is completed either, and all things become enjoyable.
There’s a simple Alexander principle which stops all of that pressure in its tracks. This process is so simple and so profound and all it requires is stopping! Stop your usual habit of rushing through a task and instead make a choice to regularly take time out from it! There’s more layers to it than that, but this is a way into it.
When I do this, the job becomes so much more joyful, richer and fulfilling. Recently, when I was washing the pots, I stopped and stood with my hands in the hot water, looking out at dawn breaking over my garden. I gave my body permission to release all the unnecessary effort I was making to wash the pots as quickly as possible and I just stood there with no agenda. Firstly I experienced that joyful effortless “physical” experience of releasing my habitual muscular tensions but secondly I got to experience the most fantastic dawn breaking across my garden and watched an Acer tree become a ball of fire.
I know I would have missed that moment had I been in my usual mode of “starting so I’ll finish” and instead I witnessed a breath taking event! I continued washing the pots with far more ease as I wasn’t trying to finish the job but take pleasure in every moment.
With practising the Alexander Technique I continue to experience these mindful events much of the time and it enhances my experience of life. I often see things I would otherwise miss in “rush” mode. I experience much more ease of movement and overall life is much more enjoyable and all I need to do is STOP. Why not book a lesson to learn how to bring these kinds of experiences into your life? Contact me?
Alexander Technique Teacher
The instructions said the cream would take 30 seconds to absorb. The way I was doing it, you would think I was determined to get that time down. If I had entered a fire lighting competition, I am sure I would have won.
Then I remembered, I had time. I could take all the time I wanted. I had nowhere to be, in any rush. I was probably going to be doing this every day for much if not all of my life. Perhaps there was another way of getting the medication into my system other than creating excess friction between my fingers and thigh?
I stopped what I was doing. I left my foot on the stool. I noticed the foot that I was standing on, was gripping the floor. I let go of that grip. The foot on the stool was poised and I let the weight of my leg release to the chair, my hip area dropped. My arms that had been in “get the cream in quick” mode transformed softly into rest and my shoulders dropped, shoulder blades sliding down my back. My neck released and chin dropped.
Ahh! Much more delicious a state to be in.
I remembered I knew many, many massage techniques and I could try a few to see what I enjoyed the most. Turned out just gently stroking, using my full hand, softly, in big circles was what was needed. Simple, meditative.
I took in the room, the sounds, the sensation of the massage, the ease I could do it with and I enjoyed the thought that this pace felt right. I felt right. No rushing, no stressing, no force. I discovered a delightful space that I rejoice in, every day.
What if every time you applied any cream you lovingly take time to apply it with all the time in the world? Perhaps you will find a pace that turns out to be calm, gentle and mindful?
It’s very easy and learning the Alexander Technique will help you chose how you do it. I would love to share my thoughts with you? Try a lesson?
Alexander Technique Teacher
Pandemic focus purchasing: Order completed over the phone. Smart walk into town, mask on, quick flash of my card to buy the flowers and a swift hand over of two huge bouquets.
I hadn’t expected them to be so big.
After about 5 minutes of brisk walking I realised I needed to carry these bouquets for at least another 10-15 minutes and I predicted my arms would probably ache. I was tightly gripping them in front of me, elbows at 90 degrees. I had hoped to put them in a large carrier bag I had brought with me. They were far too big to fit into it. I remembered I had studied the Alexander Technique for over 30 years and smiled.
What if these bouquets were actually two huge balloons and they weighed nothing, in fact they were holding my arms up? Immediately I let go of the strangled grip I had on all the flower stems. My hands felt so much better! My wrists and arms released, my neck and jaw released. I looked around me as I walked. I had a spring in my step. I enjoyed the mass of colour in those bouquets in front of me. I revelled in the late autumn air. The walk was a pleasure.
Read the rest of this page »
My place of refuge, for many years, was snuggled up on my grandparent’s high backed two seater sofa between nanny and either the dog, Tiny (who wasn’t that tiny) or my granddad Joe (when he was home from sea).
The sofa would be pulled in front of the glowing fire on these occasions. We would be waiting for bread dough to do it’s magic. It’s receptacle, the wide mouthed red clay earthenware pot, would be sat on the hearth. The inner yellow glaze hidden by a damp white tea towel. I still have that vintage pot and I have made bread with it many times.
Nanny always gently patted the yeasty white mound, as if that sealed a secret agreement to rise, just before covering it in the towel. The memory is extremely clear in my mind, as are her gnarled hands which she believed resulted from stretching material over wings of planes during the first world war.
Read the rest of this page »
As you know I write a blog a couple of times a month.
It has been very difficult to find the appropriate words for the second one of the month. So I did a video and wrote some of my thoughts around why I did a video:
I can’t say it will be alright due to the coronavirus. I can’t say I am coping amazingly well despite all my expertise of relaxation, meditation, Alexander Technique and so on.
What I can say is that I have been anxious, distressed, frightened, calm, peaceful, happy and every other emotion possible. It feels my life was thrown up in the air like confetti and it’s falling down around me. I’m watching it land. Some bits are blowing away. Some bits I have already picked up again and hold close. Some bits I hope I find even though they are out of sight.
Read the rest of this page »
They were on the way to a match. The car was full of excited people all chattering away. They were on the way to a new venue so the driver was using their phone as a satnav. It wasn’t on the dashboard but propped up on the handbrake between the two front seats. The screen could be seen at a pinch but the verbal directions were being followed. Unfortunately due to the noise of the passengers the driver was having trouble hearing those directions. That wasn’t a problem at first.
As the journey progressed they moved into unfamiliar territory so the driver looked at his phone to see what was coming up. It was only for a second or two perhaps. Suddenly there was a scream which made the driver look up. They were within yards of the back end of a bus which had stopped. The car driver banged their foot down hard, but in their panic missed the brake pedal. Their only option was to swerve, out into the oncoming lane. Luck was definitely on their side as no cars were in that lane and disaster was averted. The shock and the thought of what might have been reverberated for a long while.
Oprah Winfrey talks about life’s lessons starting off as a little nudge and then becoming a huge boulder thrown at you calling you to pay attention. I often think about that. The driver who told me about their shocking car journey reminded me about how life keeps calling to us to wake up and pay attention, and it also reminded me about my work.
So many of my clients spend a lot of their life going from task to task, head down, failing to see the full picture, failing to smell the roses. They ignore the many messages their body is giving them and only begin to listen when it becomes a problem. They plough on with stress and pain, and push it out the way to get on with life’s tasks. I think life is too short to to be like that. A treadmill, never stopping.
I don’t think life is about crossing off jobs on a list. Lurching from one thing to another, mind on the next job, not the one you are doing, but sometimes that is what life becomes. It loses it’s sparkle.
The Alexander Technique is often what people turn to when they get a huge wake-up call, when stress and pain get too much. They realise that they need to do things differently. I often see people when their message to look up and take stock has become like a boulder, not a nudge.
Some of my greatest joys are found in moments, when a client realises that slowing down is a good thing. I love it when they tell me they stopped and noticed the present moment. Stopping is an essential part of learning the technique.
Last week a client talked about stopping to look at the snowdrops in the garden when normally they only realise they have gone when the daffodils are in bloom. Actually they usually miss the daffodils too. It made my day. I felt their life was well on the way to being richer.
Perhaps you recognise yourself in this? Perhaps you know you have a tendency to push on. What would it be like to learn to stop and be at ease in the present moment. Easy body, easy mind? Give it a try for the next hour? Stop every 10 minutes and just notice one thing. What’s around you and within you? What can you see, hear or feel?
I’d love to work with you if life is calling to you to stop and discover what it’s like to enjoy being in a body and in the present moment. Get in touch?
Alexander Technique Teacher
Image by Hans Brexmeier, Pixabay
Santa didn’t leave a sack at the end of my bed! He had always left the sack at the end of the bed. Was I that bad this year? I was panic stricken and so was my sister who I shared the room with. We rushed out of the bedroom, meeting our brother on the way towards “the front bedroom” i.e. Mummy & Daddy’s room. The tsunami of us anxious kids shot into their room and almost all at once we began a traumatised chorus of “Santa hasn’t been”. Fortunately panic was soon over when we discovered he had “been” and left our sacks with Mummy and Daddy.
We were not the only one’s affected as years later my Mum still tells us about that day and the “hasn’t been” chorus which happened because they wanted to see us opening our presents. She doesn’t recount or remember my other traumatic experience on the same day which was the Land Rover.
One of the presents in my sack was a toy Land Rover. I was over the moon. It would pull an imaginary horse box for my herd of plastic horses. I can remember the tyres to this day. Big, knobbly, black tyres, white centres and the grey and green paint job. I zoomed it round my other presents and our slowly emptying sacks…until my Mum & Dad realised the toy I was playing with actually belonged to my brother, who was looking on enviously. I don’t remember how they explained it to me, or the way I parted company with it. I am fairly certain I won’t have given it up without a fight and it would have involved tears, and most likely not all mine. I have never forgotten the toy that I wasn’t actually given.
Christmas and the festive season can be overwhelming for many reasons, for all ages and all walks of life. It can be overwhelming in a pleasurable way as well as painful. A mixture of emotions, highs and lows and challenges of all kinds. From what I have heard in the last couple of days, food shopping is currently high on the list of people’s challenges, for those lucky enough to be able to afford that.
This year has held quite a number of challenges for me, especially latterly. Sometimes with all the wisdom I imagine I must have gathered over the years, including my Alexander Technique skills, I struggle to hold onto what might bring some calm and peace. Latterly, all I can offer myself, and perhaps you, is to come into the present moment by focussing on one thing. Hands, jaw, breathing, whatever takes your attention. My feet are often my “go to” place for that. I reconnect with my feet and the earth. I notice everything I can about the sensations coming from them. They ground me. Maybe they will you too? A moment of centering in the whirlwind of life events.
Jane Clappison MSTAT
Alexander Technique Teacher