I had a great discovery this morning as I was taking my daily run. I know that our head moves forward and up as we walk and run, my Alexander training has instilled that in my kinesthetic awareness. However, I know this learning about my body through movement and discovering ease, flexibility and balance is a “practice” and just when we think we “have it”, we realize that the process is just evolving. I think the awareness of my body as being in layers, and as I come to notice and be deeply connected to that layer, I learn something profound in how it relates to the whole and my movement; it then becomes my own. This morning when I let my head fall forward in this sort of relaxed way my pace picked up I became so much lighter my joints were open, my breath was easier…what a revelation!
So now I have uncovered another layer to help me be more balanced in all that I do. I could say it was unconscious and now is conscious and available to me. These layers of deep tension and tightness come forward into your awareness over time, because they are unconscious habits, they hide below our consciousness until we decide to embark on the curiosity of discovering and changing. For me, there was an emotional piece, that somewhere in my psyche I thought if my head came forward that much (which was a miniscule amount), that I would fall forward, so I unknowingly tightened my neck muscles to keep from falling…what an absurd thought!
As FM Alexander would say we don’t really know where we are in space we don’t know what our body is doing, this really gave me that awareness in a very deep way.
I am beginning to think that the headrest in my new car may have given me a new awareness of the position of my head on my spine. So change is good in that it brought me to a new way of relating my head to my spine, and that what I thought I knew was taking me to another layer of consciousness; and it showed up in my running. I love this work, and being in my body with enhanced awareness of how I move in relation to the whole body is profound!
Comment from a workshop participant in Montana:
“Also, (wish I would have thought of this in class), last spring when I was in Tucson I went to my granddaughter’s violin lesson. (she’s just beginning). She was “sawing” away at the song. Her teacher said “Operate the bow from your whole arm, not just from your elbow.” What a difference in sound. Sound went from flat to full.
Free your bow arm
I took violin as a child and must have learned that because when playing her violin it was natural for me to bow with my whole arm. I noticed her father, also, when helping her with her lesson bowed from the elbow. When I pointed that out he immediately picked up on doing it differently – it was harder for my granddaughter to “get” the difference. I would suppose a violinist who used the bow from the elbow would eventually develop an injury. In other words “tennis elbow”??
When we ask our body to perform an action w/o the full repertoire of joints and muscles and tendons intended to perform that action then we create wear and tear and eventually injury, I would guess. Very interesting.
Thank you for the class. It was enlightening. It’s very comforting being around you.”
C.Collins, Montana (2013)
While traveling last month and taking various forms of public transportation which required me to share a seat with other travelers, I became curious about unconscious habits. Do we all have unconscious habits that occur when we are otherwise focused; for instance, while reading or watching a movie? And because we are so drawn into the entertainment through our eyes, and our hands being free; that we do some unconscious movement with our hand.
I experienced on these trips the following unconscious habits as nail biting, knuckle cracking or popping and nose picking, all being done very unconsciously as the person was reading and/or watching something on their ipad or iPhone. It was very distracting to me, that in one instance I asked to be moved to another seat.
So I thought, what habits do I have? We really can’t see ourselves, and the habit isn’t in our awareness. So I decided to watch a movie on my ipad so I could really become aware of what I do, it was so hard since I was so drawn into the story. I had to divide my attention between two things, and probably more if I heard a noise or my phone rang.
WOW, could I do it?
This is what FM Alexander explored 103 years ago, when he lost his voice when performing. When he watched in the mirror that he tightened his neck, shoulders and ribs, he knew that tension made his voice scratchy and hoarse. However he wasn’t aware at all of the bracing and tightening he was doing “unconsciously”. He realized that we do have a choice on how we use our attention. What is our body doing, what are we thinking, what is around us, and then to practice being attentive to your self and your surroundings. This new way of being allows you to change the unconscious habits that may be affecting your voice, breathing, joint pain.
My habit? I am still exploring, and I know there is one, I am finding that what I think I am doing isn’t necessarily what I AM DOING! Better pull out a mirror, and try Mr. Alexander’s way of seeing himself and find out what i can’t sense in myself. To be continued….
I was just remembering a little practice that is so helpful when I am sitting in front of a computer or driving for an extended time. My eyes dry out and I start squinting and rubbing them, creating redness and perhaps wrinkles.
The 20-20-20 practice is to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. It is amazing (BTW, if driving, wait until you stop!). I feel like if you can look out in nature it’s even more rewarding, the expansiveness creates an expanse in my framework, my joints open, my breath becomes slow and meditative.
Try it and let me know what you think. And please pass this interesting little tidbit on to others you may think could benefit.
For other ways to keep from aging and bring some calmness in your life…try our Fall Group Class: “Finding Unexpected Ease in How We Do Anything” Thursdays, 10-12 pm – Starting September 11. For more information: http://karenloving.com/group-classes-moving-medicine/
The challenge of patience; I’ve been exploring the places where I notice patience in my life. Patience, to me, means a time to discover where I have choices. A pause in my daily activities where I can be quiet and listen to what would be the most healthy and loving choice I could make for myself and for others.
Being patient with myself first, and pausing to realize I have a choice in all that I do, and in every word I say. This quiet patient listening to all that is around me and going inside to reflect on how to move forward with kindness and service.
I notice when I’m in Montana where the energy is very calm; people are not rushed. There is a very strong connection to the natural world in a very accepting way. This responsibility to the natural world teaches us to pause and be patient. To be patient as the seasons change, as the leaves and flowers unfold. In the natural world, there is only “patience”.
This inquiry into my world of “patience” reminds me of the work and discovery that F. M. Alexander embarked on 103 + years ago. He quietly watched the way he moved his body to see what could help him alleviate his problem of being hoarse when he spoke. He realized that a more natural way of moving, breathing, speaking could create more ease in his whole musculoskeletal system, and that he might be doing more or creating more effort than was natural. He didn’t intend to create this amazing method of self-care, now known as The Alexander Technique. He was discovering that when he became present, patient and quiet enough with himself; he became more aware of his very fine movements of breathing, standing, seeing, bending, and he discovered that when he paused and was patient with how he made these choices there was ease in his body and improvement in his voice and speaking.
My wish is that we can all find periods of quiet presence and patience in our days that sometimes feel more rushed than is healthy; however, knowing we have a choice gives us hope of remembering our natural movement, our connection to the natural world where we can always experience “patience”.
Come explore the Alexander Technique principles that can take you deeper into your own sense of awareness and conscious choice.
Have you noticed that in this “Winter of 2014″, that most of the snows have showed up on Monday evenings or Tuesdays?
I have especially been aware of this because I travel on Tuesdays to my office in Warrenton. My clients and I talk or email (every week):
what to do next, travel, not travel? Reschedule, what day, time?
Last week, we just ignored the snow and met as if it was a warm sunny day. My plan according to the weather last night was, snow showers and then rain, not so – we couldn’t pretend today….so another day to reschedule and hope that this is the last “Tuesday snow” of the “Winter of 2014″.
I was remembering how it is in Montana, where we travel quite often. They get snow starting in October and sometimes in the higher elevations, into June. That is a long time to have snow on the ground. My observation is that they accept the weather as it is and very seldom close schools, reschedule appointments, open late. You see the children playing outside when it’s 30 or below and snowing. I guess your entire way of thinking about the winter weather is adapting and accepting.
Will we adapt to winter in a new way? I wonder? Our experiences go deep if we have always lived in a moderate climate, it starts at an early age, and you anticipate the seasons to be the way they have always been. Can we accept the changes?
The weather is a great teacher in learning acceptance, (side story), we used to fly a hot air balloon and if the wind was blowing a certain speed we didn’t fly, period! This is a true example of acceptance of the weather and what is. The reality of being in the air and at the mercy of the weather was much more extreme than your car sliding off the road in snow.
How much will we remember about the “Winter of 2014″ that will still be held in our experience when we go into the “Winter of 2015″?
Hope they come on Fridays!!
I am sure you all have had some exposure to the beautiful young actress, Lupita Nyong’o who won best supporting actress for the movie, ’12 Years a Slave’.
Lupita was trained by my dear friend and colleague at the Yale Drama School. The Body Project link below are excerpts from the most informative NYTimes article (second link below).
Lupita shows off her hard work and how she integrates the Alexander Technique principles of poise with inner and outer beauty in her acting, her speaking and presence as an incredible soul. Thank you Lupita, for being an example for us all!
The Body Project article, quotes from NYTimes:
NYTimes article link:
My clients often ask what is the difference between CranioSacral therapy and the Alexander Technique. I discovered CranioSacral therapy about 20 years ago. I had no clue about my body at the time and being still wasn’t something I felt was necessary, it wasn’t productive; and isn’t that how we show our value?
After several CranioSacral sessions I began to experience my body in very profound and subtle ways. I was experiencing a state of meditation or stillness inspired by the listening, nurturing touch of the CranioSacral practitioner. I was releasing deeply held tension. I felt less anxious and stressed; and I was more present with my family and coworkers in my daily activities. I discovered stillness was productive!
As for the Alexander Technique, after experiencing the subtle qualities of stillness through my CranioSacral therapy, I could be more deeply aware of my daily activities. I felt CranioSacral was a very necessary resource to move from and then acknowledge my moving habits and how to change them with the Alexander Technique principles.
F. M. Alexander, founder of the Alexander Technique, referred to his work as psychophysical, and I feel that CranioSacral therapy enhances the psychological piece through stillness, and acts as a resource to enhance the reeducation of the physical components of the Alexander Technique.
I was sitting here waiting for the big snowstorm to arrive and noticed how my stress of anticipated “perceived” events or situations created a bodily reaction. It seemed almost fearful as my belly tightened, I held my breath and started running around very unfocused or unaware.
I felt I had to prepare in some way for the storm.
I started thinking about other situations where I anticipate an event and the thought of “what will be” creates an anxiety in my body and it says you must prepare. I don’t want to ignore it and suppress my emotional “reaction” which would just lodge in my tissue to come out at a later time. So what if I acknowledged the reaction and changed with “responding”. In the Alexander Technique principles we call that “pausing to give yourself time” to become conscious, aware, present in where you are and what choices you have.
Doesn’t this evoke a calmness, clarity and inner peacefulness that says I have time to make a choice that is healthy and productive? Changing anxiety to inner calm.
Sometimes our unwarranted perceptions and assumptions teach us about ourselves, we grow in that awareness of realizing our truth…
❄️❄️❄️Who knows if it’s going to snow or not!!❄️❄️❄️
“Talkback” magazine written for those who are interested in ways to relieve back pain conducted interviews with people who had experienced the Alexander Technique. They were surprised at how not only was their pain reduced or alleviated but their lives changed in ways they weren’t expecting. They had increased energy and did not feel as depressed. Our emotional health cannot be separated from our physical health. The Alexander Technique addresses the whole body, emotional and physical and therefore is more long-term and unitary.
Read the whole article here:
I smile like a flower, not only with my lips
but with my whole being!