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

Friday, 25 March 2016

Magic Time Part 1

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My mother loved food and cooking, it was one of her passions and she spent much of her retirement refining her skills, which gave her great pleasure. In some senses cooking was her religion, cook books were her bibles and, as  in a religious community, you could set your watch by the comings together for breakfast, morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and supper. It provided a daily rhythm to life at home, while her jam making and preparations for Christmas helped set the seasonal rhythm. 

Over morning coffee and afternoon tea there was a great deal of catching up as to each other’s days and wideranging discussions about what was happening in the world and in the family and, inevitably of course, food. The rhythm established would be hard today in a world which is ever more demanding of people’s time. Where smart phones intrude, for some families and couples, 'together time' is becoming a disappearing into different respective virtual worlds, diminishing the time for getting to know each other and impoverishing relationships.

Knowing each other is an ongoing process that can become fatally arrested in a couple, who after an initial bout of getting to know each other, settle into a routine of assumptions about the other, rather than a voyage of continuing discovery, as each changes through living what is hopefully  a meaningful life. Of course the former is all too easy with the increasing demands of work and if a couple has children then their needs are nature’s great diary organiser for life, making it hard is to put aside time for each other and for oneself.

Time for oneself to really stop and think, time for each other, including time for love making, are all too often what people sacrifice in the face of demands on their time. Such time is now often construed as a luxury rather than the necessity that it really is. When it comes to time for oneself, it is time to develop the relationship each of has with ourselves. The first step in this is to stop and not allow ourselves to get ‘distracted from distraction’ by flitting around online and frittering our time away. As we stop we can become aware of our habitual thoughts and attitudes and learn to separate from them, clearing a space for what is emergent of our selves. If we go deeper we find our own deep rhythms of muscle, air and fluid to discover a relationship with ourselves where can really start to learn to know ourselves.

I always come to this need to stop and have a relationship with myself in order to find my way forward. The practice of stopping is foundational to the Alexander Technique and is basic to all other approaches of developing and growing where there is an awareness of the need to breathe, be mindful, as well as coherent and thoughtful in living. Alexander Technique at this level is so basic that it can be taken into all other approaches, allied with them in ways that enhances them, illuminates them and allows them to be better explored and understood by their practitioners. This contention rests on the understanding of use, mechanics of co-ordination, movement, breathing and relationship that underpin the Alexander Technique and the development of constructive conscious control in our relationship with our selves and others. 

I will be elaborating Magic Time in a short series of blogs in order to look at how the small-scale actions that we take set up the conditions for how our lives unfold and carry implications that are of major significance years ahead, implications that we can miss in the moment when we take them and yet establish the habits that determine our lives. 

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.