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I had expected similar experiences, from person to person, when I began interviewing Alexander Technique (AT) students. What I didn’t expect to find, however, was how wonderfully unique those experiences were, and how the technique influenced all elements of their lives.
What follows are highlights of the first interview.
I have changed some personal details for confidentiality reasons.
Sam is in her 50’s, lives with her husband and children and works in a listening profession. She enjoys being creative, and physical activity such as swimming, running and walking in the countryside.
Sam has had experience of the technique both in individual lessons and group sessions. She told me she sees the Alexander Technique as being about body mindfulness.
Having had her first AT lesson as a teenager she came back to it during a pregnancy. Wishing to improve her wellbeing, and apply AT to this specific event, she discovered it had a huge impact. She found it nourishing, allowing her to use her body in a different way. Also, during the birth she was able to move freely, see vividly, and be comfortable in her own body.
Sam continues to have the occasional individual lesson. She says the whole experience of a lesson is gorgeous, rather like going on a retreat. She leaves a lesson feeling freer, lighter and more present. But the benefit doesn’t end there. It’s like she takes a party bag away with her, which has little things inside, like, for example, scented hand lotion and little fortune cookies.
Between lessons, she can get a treat by taking things out of the party bag. She tunes into her body, opens up a fortune cookie, and reads the saying in it. Even one ‘saying’ helps. Sam feels tuning in and using these sayings are influential and pivotal moments, short cuts to enhance the impact of the lesson. One of her fortune cookie sayings is: let the neck be free.
Sam talked about her party bag analogy further and how she used the scented hand lotion on those occasions when she has stopped taking care of herself. Sam chooses one of the hand creams (from the lesson) which might be relaxing or stimulating and then massages it in to get the effect that is wanted. This supports her self-care between lessons.
From her experience, Sam sees that AT has multiple uses from specific events (like childbirth), or trauma (like a back injury or operation), to being in the moment. She told me she has learned helpful do-it-yourself, AT strategies, to use in all of these situations.
Sam says the overall, long term benefit of Alexander Technique lessons, is difficult to define, but she leads a richer life for it.
Fancy finding out about what might be in your goodie bag after an Alexander Technique lesson? Give me a ring or contact me!
Further individual interviews to follow in future blogs.
Alexander Technique Teacher
Writing my notes, late afternoon, low sun beaming into the clinic room, I noticed a brilliant star of light radiating from a glass on the window ledge. I marvelled at how beautiful it was. I appreciated how being in the moment, being present, via the Alexander Technique, gave me this gift.
A client recently told me how AT had helped them enjoy being in the moment, laying on the sofa, feeling ill, content, in awe at the amazing colours of their Christmas cards. These “present presents” are what I want to give to you!
Back to uncompleted tasks which in this case is my January 2018 newsletter and it’s blog which is now weighing heavily on my mind. This month, I have written loads of virtual blogs, and made many virtual videos but they have not yet made it into reality. I have been procrastinating!
- What pearls of wisdom can I offer you in the form of a blog?
- What would you want to know, that would be useful to know, that I can offer without us meeting face to face?
- What might entice you to want to know more about the Alexander Technique?
- Or if we have met before, what would encourage you into knowing more?
At the age of 13 I started working in the family antique clocks & jewellery business and continued there until I was 29. Back then we just had to show up at the shop although my Dad and Grandmother could sell ice to Eskimo’s, me not so much. There wasn’t the competition there is now. We didn’t need to think about advertising and internets. Blogs and online social media didn’t exist. The foot fall on the high street was sufficient to keep us in business. That, and lots of customer satisfaction and word of mouth. I helped customer satisfaction by expertly un-knotting chains and putting puzzle rings together for free!
Skip forward to my 60th year and the world, including advertising, has changed drastically and I am self-employed again and want to promote what I do. I don’t have a shop on the high street and mostly work from my clinic at home. There are many therapeutic approaches available so I want to help you choose the right one for you.
- How do you decide if Alexander Technique lessons are worth spending your hard earned cash on?
- How do you get to know me, to trust me, if you have never met me before?
- How do you find the path to my door? How do I make this so interesting you keep coming back?
- What’s the equivalent of a chain without knots and a puzzle ring you can put on your finger?
So, I wonder if you could help me? Please would you consider…
a) filling in a short questionnaire,
which should take no more than 2 minutes, about what you want to know about via my blogs/the newsletter HERE ?
b) write a review…
about your experiences with me. You can do that via…
- email me with a comment that you would be happy for me to use in advertising?
- Interview – I ask you a few questions over a cuppa. This takes up to an hour and can help your learning process of the technique. We can meet “virtually” too via skype or phone if face to face isn’t possible.
I look forward to your replies to set me up for blogs in 2018,
HAVE A SLUMP
“Have a slump” was something that Marjorie Barstow (an Alexander technique teacher trained by FM Alexander) used to advise her pupils did during her classes.
Sometimes we try too hard to “sit upright” and end up over using our back muscles to the point where they hurt. We think we are doing the right thing, but we are “doing”, and sitting does not need to be effortfull.
So…if you are sitting, stop everything. Don’t slump just yet. Don’t try to do anything. Just notice your body, notice your surroundings, and then let your body release into a slump! It might feel uncomfortable. It might be exactly what you do all the time. If it is, release into your slump! It might feel quite a relief! Do nothing except enjoy being in this position, breathing, noticing what is around you. Then…with the thought of flow through your neck, gradually allow your crown to move away from your feet, to move upwards, maybe just a couple of inches. Stop again, and release any tension that you notice has happened by doing that. Then repeat the process, little by little. If you notice your back muscles beginning to “do” then invite them to soften. Stop at a point that doesn’t feel effortful and doesn’t feel like you are having to do anything to be there. It might feel like you are not in a military upright position. However, your spine is designed for sitting to be easy and free from effort. You may also be aware of your sitting bones in this position. Let me know what happens if you have the occasional slump?
01759 307282 – Contact me if you want to learn how to sit with ease (and move and live with ease!).
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!
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 – 01759 307282