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Jane’s weekly project.
- Changing thoughts into awareness
I have been noticing a “buzziness” in my body these last few days. It’s my system’s way of saying “There’s something I have to do today. What is it?” Then I gently remind myself that this feeling and these thoughts are as a result of the deadline of writing a blog every day for 21 days. It is a product of busy-ness.
Along with all of that I was thinking “I need to resist the urge to do something”.
I told my husband I felt like I needed to do something and he reeled off a long list of things I could be doing. I thanked him and said I have a similar list. I will always have a “to do” list but some things will have a higher priority than others.
I realised that starting to address those “to do” lists, wasn’t what I needed. Nor is resisting the urge to “do” the way. That’s doing.
So I have been noticing my urge to do. Saying “Ah, there it is again.” but not going for a conversation with it. My priority at the moment is rest and non-doing.
If you are human, you will have busy thoughts from time to time. The skills you learn via the Alexander Technique are a good way into the present moment, stopping those kinds of thoughts and finding out what is your priority.
Eckhart Tolle talks about the quickest way out of your head and to presence is through awareness of the body. The Alexander Technique is very much about thinking, yet is a mind-body process.
You might like to give the following a go when you find thoughts are going round and round or you are having a long conversation in your head:
Notice your thoughts, acknowledge them. Accept them. Thank them for being there.
Open your awareness to your body. All of it or any part will do. I have been taking my attention to my feet (more on that soon). Be kind about what you notice. No need to judge it. Just notice the sensations.
Some practices invite you to notice your breathing, or notice one of the senses. What you notice is going to be unique whatever route you choose.
Obviously you don’t have to link this to busy thoughts. You can do it any time.
Simply being aware of my body, I have to come into the present moment! I often find I sigh and take a deeper breath at that moment. Perhaps that’s because I have been restricting my breathing but unaware that I was. It’s often the first response.
The amount you do it is up to you. My experience is the more you do it, the more you notice your busy thoughts, the longer you remain in the present moment.
Let me know if you give it a go, what happens to you? What happens to the thoughts?
Jane Clappison, Alexander Technique Teacher
“We learn from failure, not from success!”
Dear Alexander Technique students,
I want you to drop your standards (and me, mine). Here’s why:
I was sat in a great cafe, here in Pocklington. They have a tiny table, just for people like me. It’s right next to the cakes, so I can enjoy all their gorgeousness without taking on a single calorie (could inhaling the smell do that?). I was sipping my cappuccino, trying not to get a “joker” smile from the chocolate. I was also writing about my challenges to simply sit down and play my harp.
In came a young woman wrestling with a huge guitar case (you know, the type that withstands almost everything), music books and full hessian bags. Before she sat down at a table, the guitar reverently went on the seat next to her, one of her bags got another seat and the floor and table the rest. She gave her order and proceeded to open up a music book and play the air with her fingers. She was humming in her head (I could tell) and tapping her foot too. I knew she was playing that piece, I could almost hear it. Here was a musician, through and through.
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My Dad had quite a few “War stories” he told but the one that I want to tell today is about when he stuck his head above the parapet. A parapet is a low protective wall for concealing troops. It’s a very short story and involves my Dad behind a parapet, his commanding officer, and a random third party doing shooting practice. Apparently his commanding officer bellowed out “Clappison” and my Dad lifted his head up above the parapet, and said “Yes, Sir” and got shot! Fortunately it hit him at the very edge of his forehead. All his kids, and anyone else listening, got to feel the dent in his skull, and the outline of the bullet underneath his skin every time he told the story. He carried the bullet for the rest of his life. I’m guessing it wasn’t a live bullet but a practice round.
My best friend also has a very similar wound from sticking his head above the parapet, but this one happened at school. It happened when he was very young, but he didn’t ever forget it. His body tries to protect him from ever being wounded again, every time he is in company.
Apparently, when he was at school, the teacher decided to tell the class about penguins. As my friend had been reading about penguins, with his mum, the night before, he got really excited. He knew all about penguins and they were from the south west coast of Africa, and even had islands named after them: the Penguin Islands. Unfortunately the teacher had only read about penguins from Antarctica. So when the teacher asked “Where do Penguins come from?” and my friend shot up his hand quicker than anyone else in the class, he got picked to answer the question. The answer made the teacher, and then the whole class, laugh. That bullet landed very deeply and is still felt: everywhere.
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Entrance swipe card poised in my hand, dressed in perfunctory work out gear, terrified, heart thumping, on the edge of the abyss…I swiped! It didn’t work! Failed at the first hurdle. Panic now rising because I couldn’t even get through the door. If that was difficult then how would I manage whatever awaited me in the gym?
I did get in when someone else came out. I felt helpless, floundering like a fish out of water and yet gyms, just like this one, had been my working environment (my pond) for many years as a Physiotherapist. On this day, I was attending the gym (and still am attending regularly) because I had developed a persistent problem with my right knee and had requested an “exercise on prescription” course which my GP had agreed to.
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