Alexander Technique in East Yorkshire

inhibition

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Jane’s April 2020 Alexander Technique Project: using screens

Two people looking at screen with poor postureThe coronavirus has meant that much of the world is operating far more online and that includes many Alexander technique teachers. For some of them, online work has been their main source of income. For some, like me, the virus has meant my face to face work has had to stop and I have needed to do some training to grow my online work.  Mio Morales and Jennifer Roig-Francoli generously provided this training.

In the process of exploring online work, I have been practicing giving online lessons with a fellow AT teacher. This month’s  project emerged out of that.

When I use “screens” I tend to, very slowly, inexorably, get drawn into the screen. I hinge at the hips and move my throat towards the screen, lift my chin, and look down my nose. My shoulders and shoulder blades move backwards and together! It is an old habit. I have shared a very old photo of my Dad and I peering at a computer screen screen of his newly purchased BBC machine (very old computer from the 1980’s) to show you how bad it can get. So I know it’s always there if I don’t engage some other strategy. I also get visual and vestibular migraine (strange gorgeous zig zags before my eyes and feeling dizzy) if I use a screen too much.

This habit is not the only one! There are so many ways to lose sight of “good use” when looking at a screen. My version might be like yours, but it may be very different. My colleague noticed they have a similar tendency but the emphasis for them is on the upper chest moving towards the screen and tightening in the lower back.

The project began by reminding myself

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Under pressure & the Alexander Technique

Light bulb being plugged into socketJane’s December 2019 Alexander Technique Project

Mio Morales, Alexander Teacher, posted a quote, on Facebook, this month. It was about inhibition written by Marjorie Barlow. It reminded me of the ideal way I might have tackled a project, but didn’t. Never-the-less, I did survive the project with inhibition and the Alexander Technique:

 

Inhibition

 

It’s a very active thing! Very, very, active. When you’re passive, nothing’s happening.

No, you’ve got to be very much on the spot to inhibit. For one thing you’ve got to be sufficiently awake to see the stimulus coming. Otherwise it’s too late and you’ve reacted.

Inhibition is further back than people think. Everybody thinks they are inhibiting getting out of a chair or going into monkey or making a movement of some kind.

It isn’t. It’s inhibiting your first reaction to that idea, whatever it is. Whether it comes from within or without. And you’ve got to be all present and correct to be able to do that, to be able to catch it.

 

Marjory Barlow

An Examined Life

 

 

The stimulus, that I wasn’t on the spot to inhibit was the effect of a very small house fire/explosion. It kicked off a huge chain of events that have recently culminated, satisfactorily, in the rewire of a large Victorian house.

The biggest task was clearing and sorting 56 years of “stuff” there through keeping every sentimental object from a family of six and everything that might “come in handy” (broken or not).

It was a huge stimulus. A mental and physical challenge. My days and dreams were full of moving items. I felt like I was in a nightmare. A real life game of Tetris.

The job started off quite calm and measured. However, even though many things went to plan, some things did not. We realised we needed to spend much more time clearing the house. It made me try to do things even faster. Pushing myself to physical and emotional exhaustion. The sleepless nights, full of worrying about the job, just made it all worse.

I felt like a hamster on a wheel. I couldn’t stop. The stimulus, that I didn’t spot too well, that I didn’t catch because I had my eye on the end, whipped me along towards completing the first part of the project in time for the electricians arrival.

Paradoxically I had to stop and apply the process of inhibition. It’s the most fundamental element of the Alexander Technique. It felt extremely counter intuitive because my habit is to fire-fight and to push myself to keep going.

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Alexander Technique, present moment and feet

Finding the present moment
through your feet!

I made my feet, especially my toes, a project this week. Can my feet bring me back to the present moment? It’s a kind of thinking to bring about non doing.

In The Use of the Self, F. M. Alexander talks about taking hold of the floor with his feet. He explains that that habit was part of a bigger picture. It sure is.

During this project I noticed I often try to grip the floor with my toes, sometimes I have a lot of weight on my heels, especially when walking. I got to be re-acquainted with some of the unhelpful habits I have, like standing on the outside of my foot when I dry my other foot. Doing that gives me less stability and area to balance on.

Does all that matter as feet are constantly adapting? What I do know is that I don’t have to do any of that extra stuff. I can do nothing instead. I can let my feet do what they are designed to do. It’s much easier and I get some amazing feedback through my feet for all the movements I do, if I leave them alone.

I was pleasantly surprised as I noticed the sensation of the bedroom carpet in the morning. I am always amazed at finding something new in ordinary, everyday activities. I enjoyed spotting the texture and temperature contrast between the carpet and the wood of the floor in the bathroom.

When I invite my feet to rest on the floor, and release to the floor, everything I do, because it’s part of a whole pattern, becomes easier. It also instantly takes me into the present moment.

Maybe you might like to make your feet a project too? Could be a 5 minute project as you do an activity or a longer term project.

You could focus just on noticing your feet in the moment, notice what happens if you invite them to release.

Notice what around you as you do all of that. Let the images come to you rather than forcing it.

If it seems your feet are illusive – try waking them up with massage, or giving them a wash and dry every nook and cranny, or roll your foot over a tennis ball. There are so many ways, and we do these kinds of things in Alexander Lessons.

If you know about the primary directions like “let the neck be free” add your feet into the picture. Can your feet be free to rest?

Let me know if you have any questions/how you get on?

Jane Clappison
Alexander Technique Teacher

01759 307282

Alexander technique, gemmology and afternoon tea

Nowadays we might call it abuse, but back in the mid 70’s I didn’t question it. I was told to drink tea by my teacher Ken Parkinson (Fellow of the Gemmological Association) so I did.

Ken was already in his 70’s when I went to him to learn about gemmology. He was always smartly dressed in a brown tweed suit (including waistcoat) and was mercurial in the way he moved around his office.

Ken usually rang me up before a lesson to get me to bring him some Erinmore tobacco and moustache wax. I suspect Ken must have been a regular at the corner store as they sold both those things.

Our lessons would start with tea. As a coffee drinker that was abhorrent, but Ken insisted as I was British, I had to drink tea. The tea arrived on a tray, with matching tea pot, china cups and saucers, milk jug and sugar bowl. I had to drink it with lots of sugar at first to get it down, but that’s no longer the case.

During the tea pouring ceremony (because it was a ceremony with Ken) he also started to fill his pipe with the tobacco I had brought. Padding it down, sucking on the pipe, and taking great care with this ritual. The fact his handlebar moustache was ginger in the middle and white on the ends reflected the years of pipe smoking.

I loved those lessons, surrounded by cases of gemstones, sourced from around the world by Ken. Learning to open gemstone packages and Ken’s rather un- PC mnemonics for Mohs scale of hardness, getting to grips with spectroscopes and refractometers, filters, microscopes and the names and beautiful shapes in which gems grow. It was fascinating. My love of tea began then too.

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Jane’s weekly Alexander Technique project: Changing thoughts into awareness

Jane’s weekly project.

  1. 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.

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The Alexander Technique and Slippery Elm!

I recently discovered with delight how one of the main principles of The Alexander Technique i.e. inhibition, became a godsend to me in relation to taking a herbal remedy .

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The Alexander Technique, plastic bags and inhibition!

14th, October, 2013

What does enjoyment of life, plastic bags and inhibition have in common? A hippie of course that loves her dog and uses the Alexander Technique…and let me tell you a little more about that!

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