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The Edinburgh Alexander and Therapy Centre has been offering Alexander lessons and workshops since 1994.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

On the High Wire

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I was the boy who always failed to jump the stream when I was younger. I would watch other people leap across and be the one who could not quite make it – I began not only anticipate that I would not make it but to also dread having to be seen to fail. It was something to be expected.

That had started to change by the time I had qualified as an Alexander Technique teacher when I remember being able to run along a balancing log in a park. What made this memorable was my mother’s reaction of delight and wonder that my balance had improved so much – she appreciated in that moment just how powerful and life-changing Alexander Technique and Conscious Control were for me.

I literally took this a step further this month, walking the high wire for the first time at the tenth Alexander Technique International Congress. It was a great opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones, to work with one’s peers and generally marinate in Alexander work at all levels of ones being. There were many highlights and many fine, fine teachers, so in singling out Wolfgang Weiser here, it is as an exemplar of all the master teachers who I got to work with and all who were there.

Wolfgang is, as well as being an Alexander Technique teacher a balance artist who uses the high wire to help people achieve a new integration in their use. Hence, my first steps on to the wire, captured here and Wolfgang’s work with me to get a better integration while balancing on the wire.

What strikes me is the confidence I had in myself in stepping off here. Traditionally, I have been very afraid of heights and balancing. Here it was easy and while it helped that Wolfgang, from the moment we met him until the moment we finished, exuded a sense of safety and confidence that all would be well, I was also aware of making choices to inhibit and direct in anticipation for stepping forward. In this I put aside any residual fears that I might have brought along with me and allowed myself to just be aware and enjoy the experience – this is Conscious Control. And as I come up to having spent more than half my life using the Alexander Technique, developing Conscious Control, I realise how much my life has been enriched in so many ways from being the boy who failed to jump the stream, to being a well-coordinated man. And this says nothing of how it has helped me cope with whatever difficulties I have faced, as well as its help in developing rich relationships, not least with my fellow teachers who all were all so inspiring in the living practice of our work.

Richard Casebow

Back in the mid-1980s, I started to suffer from severe sciatica that often made walking and working difficult. At the time, I was training in London to become a Chartered Accountant and I left, as I was spending increasing amounts of time off waiting for the pain to subside. Around this time, I also became depressed, as my prospects seemed to darken with little hope of a normal life. In seeking help I found my way both to a psychotherapist and then to an Alexander Technique teacher, both of which helped enormously. The therapy with forming a life plan and understanding myself, encouraged me to dream of the life I have now. The Alexander Technique gave me the practical tool to help realise it and to allow me to rehabilitate myself to lead a full normal life.

The link between Alexander Technique, Psychotherapy and the art of living intelligently became something that has fascinated me ever since and is something I have continued to explore myself and with pupils and clients since. This blog is my attempt to elucidate the links, as well as to talk about Alexander Technique pure and simple and the benefits of therapy.

I founded the Edinburgh Alexander and Therapy Centre in 1994, Counselling Conversations came later after I became a practising therapist in 2003. Professionally I act as the Treasurer of the Personal Construct Psychology Association and sit on the board of the UKCP’s house magazine The Psychotherapist. When I am not to be found working, there is nothing better I like to be doing than spending time on a Scottish hillside, exploring the arts or just spending time with friends and family, including the family cat.