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Unwinding Pain - Memory & Movement

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At Alexander Technique workshops it is common that participants living with chronic pain speak about messages they have received from relatives or teachers. These messages have become part of who they are, and continue to exert an ever-present influence on how they hold and experience themselves. They speak of old messages, about sitting up ‘straight’,pulling back shoulders, and to stop slouching.
As parents and adults we often wish the best for our children and for those for whom we are responsible. While these messages are well-intentioned they can have long-lasting and sometimes, negative consequences. I myself remember being told as a young child, “You can’t sing”; I believed it and it deterred me from singing for a long time. (In recent years I have joined a choir.)
As my colleagues and I gently work with these participants, helping them to experience themselves in more balanced and easier ways, releasing excess effort, faces soften and pain decreases. Many experience hope that a n…

Unwinding Patterns - A Job for Life

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Many years ago I worked with a wonderful man who inspired me and many others. At his retirement he said something which at the time puzzled me. He went through his working history and as the story unfolded, he kept saying that each job was “the best job he had ever had”. I kept waiting for him to talk about the job which presented him with problems and disappointment. This never came, for each job he was deeply grateful and found many things to be grateful for.
It is only in recent years that I have come to understand how this can be so. It was an alien concept in my experience to that point and for a while to come. It was not that I did not have great experiences and work with lovely people but rather that I had learnt at a young age to focus on the difficulties, the problems, the people who “made life difficult or intimidating”.
I have come to see that it is the way that we understand ‘our world’ that creates harmony or disharmony with life around us; that it is our habits of thinking…

Seeing with New Eyes

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This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice. meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond. Jellaludin Rumi, (translation by Coleman Barks)

For many years this poem has provided insight and inspiration to me. It reminds me daily of the journey of acceptance. It also points clearly to the unseen potential in our responses which can open the way for sensing or seeing something new and sometimes, unexpected.
Some years ago a wise friend opened my eyes to this potential. During a period when I was quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) despairing of my pain sh…

Compassion, the Way to Healing

In order to live fully we may need to look deeply and respectfully at our own suffering and the suffering of others. In the depth of wounds we have survived is the strength we need to live. The wisdom our wounds can offer us is a place of refuge. Finding this is not for the faint of heart. But then, neither is life. [1]
Rachel Naomi Remen
My journey to a greater sense of wellbeing was made possible by compassion.  In my search for a way to understand and find a solution to my physical and emotional pain (read here for more about my journey), I learnt that the first step was to begin to meet myself in a more compassionate way. Through mindfulness meditation and the Alexander Technique I learnt to see my habitual responses to life and over time develop a more compassionate response which allowed me to move towards healing.
I was shown the way by one person in particular, a Feldenkrais practitioner, who met me at the depths of my pain, some years ago. She listened to my suffering and respon…

Finding Rhythm - The Dance Within

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Would you like to move more freely?
Would you like to explore dance or join a dance class but feel self-conscious, shy or unsure of your ability to move with rhythm?
Are you participating in a dance class and would like to move with greater ease?
If so, this workshop is for you. It will gently lead you through an exploration of a number of movement and dance practices to re-connect with your natural capacity to move with ease and joy.
The workshop will use the principles of the Alexander Technique to explore movement and find your unique rhythm.
You will develop your awareness of yourself in movement, the ability to move alone and with others in an easeful and expressive way. 
For more information or to book your place follow this link: Finding Rhythm - The Dance Within

A Unique Approach to releasing Pain and Injury

Anyone who has experienced acute or sudden pain in response to an accident or injury knows that it can be all consuming. The injured area is protected by altering our movements, we lean away from the site of injury. Thomas Hanna called this the “trauma reflex”[i] a built-in response of the nervous system that effectively splints the area through contraction of the surrounding muscles. This gives the injury time to heal.
The ‘trauma reflex’ is an important and necessary process, but what we often see is that once the injury heals, unless the pattern is consciously released, traces of it remain. You can probably call to mind friends or acquaintances that move stiffly or in a manner that suggests the holding of an old injury. This can mean that pain or discomfort is not fully released and can become habituated at the level of the brain, creating instability and a vulnerability to future injury or other health issues.
A large majority of the people who come to see Alexander Technique teach…

Just Listen

A few days ago I was on a tram heading for the city, sitting quietly with my thoughts and observing the different people around me. Some were engaged with their phones, others with their friends and some like me just sat quietly, heading to their destination.
Suddenly the young woman on the other side of the aisle said, “Excuse me” and began talking to me in an animated way about the trials she was facing with two people in her life. She was at pains to let me know that she always treats people well and had not done anything to these people, but they were not treating her with respect.
I experienced her urgency and anger, her need for someone to hear her case. I noticed my own anxiety about where this might be heading. As I listened I continued to pay attention to my own physical and emotional responses - to the thoughts arising and the fluttering of anxiety in my belly. At the same time in my mind I began to send her loving-kindness and compassion. After about five minutes of an intens…