Popping your Knuckles and other Unconscious Habits

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.  

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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?

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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….

 

 

 

20-20-20 Practice to Avoid Aging

Aster DaisiesI 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.

AND…

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/

 

Where do I find “patience”?

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”.

Detail of a cherry tree --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

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.

 

 

Accepting and Adapting – the Weather?

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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!!

The Alexander Technique and the Oscars!

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:

http://www.bodyproject.us/wp/spotted-lupita-nyongo-actor-trained-in-alexander-technique/

 

NYTimes article link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/23/movies/awardsseason/lupita-nyongo-is-red-carpet-savvy-and-has-awards-to-match.html?_r=0

 

How Does CranioSacral Therapy relate to the Alexander Technique?

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!

 

Melinda

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.

 

 

React/Unaware – Respond/ Aware?

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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!!❄️❄️❄️

Benefits more than the physical stress of back pain

“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:

http://issuu.com/backcare/docs/backcare_talkback_autumn_2013/6

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I smile like a flower, not only with my lips

but with my whole being!

…Rumi

New moon…new year…

What does “new” mean? Something you haven’t seen or experienced before in your life, it reminds me of a blank canvas, a coating of fresh snow on a field, clear and uncluttered; waiting for creativity , movement to come forth. A new year brings forth our desire to move, create and discover more about our “newness”.
REJOICE in 2014!

Sensing the seasons changing, and ourselves…

Our actions affect the whole

The Tree of Life
CELEBRATE THE WINTER SOLSTICE WITH PEACE IN YOUR HEART

I love how are senses take in the seasons and how accustomed we are to the changes…in fact, when we have a 70 degree day in January we are excited, but a bit uneasy because our bodies are “accustomed” to winter temperatures.  I remember that warm spell we had back in the Fall, and my sense were so confused, it was gorgeous and warm however, as I took in the natural world around me, everything had gone dormant for the winter, the plants, trees, bugs (except the stink bugs!), it wasn’t green which is the color and sense that goes with 70+ temperatures.  My senses were confused!

I feel the same way when I have a new sensation in moving; this week all my clients and I are exploring how to let go of our “tail” or coccyx (more anatomical), and what amazing things happen.  We felt our knees unlock, our neck become easy and free, and we felt more aware of what was around us. However, we were confused, because it didn’t feel or we didn’t sense ourselves the same way and we actually felt better.  So the word “accustomed” as I used above for the changes in weather could also be called “habits” which is more appropriate for how we sense our bodies or not…habit often times means we aren’t aware at all, we are going through our daily activites just like we always have without noticing ourselves in a conscious way; we are on automatic pilot!

During this busy time find a time to lie down, put your legs up, slide a few books under your head and just be…noticing your sensations without any expectations or judgement…it is challenging, but oh so rewarding.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS – blessings of good health, peace and joy all around!