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 .
If you have ever had to take “slippery elm” I believe you will have had an experience when drinking it somewhat like mine. I think that taking “complementary/herbal/remedies” is often unpleasant and that unpleasantness in itself means it must be doing something good. Perhaps it helps to ramp up any placebo effect! I totally believe that our inherent ability to heal is of supreme importance and I do not see placebo as a dirty word. However, my experience is that “nasty” tasting things go hand-in-hand with much medication we humans have. I also think that it is interesting because poisons are often bitter and so it takes faith and courage to drink/ingest these things!
Slippery elm, made from the bark of the tree is said to have “medicinal” properties and is fairly tasteless. However, a couple of months ago I bought 100 grammes of it to take for a gut problem. I dutifully took it 3 times a day before meals. I put the dosage in a cup, mixed it with water and drank it. Each day it got harder and harder to do and I found myself tensing up well before I was due to take it. Shoulders rising up round my ears and my chest tightening as I drank it as quick as I could to get it over with. Why? Well, it didn’t taste foul but it’s consistency is rather like drinking cold, thick gravy. It swells up in water and becomes like a thick jelly (which is an important benefit of the remedy). At times I had to work hard to get it out of the cup and actually drink it because it was so thick! I had all sorts of images of disgusting things that were jelly-like that I have ingested in the past and I developed a dislike of it in a big way.
About a week into taking the Slippery Elm I had a thought “What if I apply The Alexander Technique?” I had a number of options open to me and used them. I stopped “end gaining” i.e. trying to get the task finished in as short a time as possible. I began to think about the process, i.e. the “Means-whereby” and I got curious about each step of the task and how I moved and thought during it. The key element that helped the whole process become much easier was inhibition. I had already formed a habit of rushing and tensing before I prepared the drink so I “stopped” before I started the preparation and opened myself to a place of actionless action. I released all the unnecessary tension and that allowed my body to just be in a state of bliss poised before the task. From that place I moved with grace, calmly, consciously, and was able to “use” myself in a much more pleasurable way and drink the slippery elm without it being a perceived nightmare!
Would I take it again? If I had to! I’d rather have a good cup of tea or even a glass of wine and enjoy that process with a few more immediate benefits of look and taste and the “mmmmmmmmmmm” factor. I can’t say I got to that point with slippery elm. However, I did enjoy it much more because I felt so much better and was mindful throughout rather than wishing I was somewhere else! I also was free to breath easily and my shoulders were soft and released and I was grateful I had learned The Alexander Technique and had these skills to use.
What do you do in such situations? Do you want to find out how the Alexander Technique can help? Contact me?
Alexander Technique Teacher