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

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Magic Time Part 2 – Emerging from Stillness

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The other day, I watched a cat disturbed into a startle, run away, jerkily moving, panicked by the threat of having to move from their toilet, by someone who obviously preferred their garden to be left pristine in its manicured state. The cat’s movement interested me for being what it was;a flight from danger, an emergency response to a situation where the cat saw an impending confrontation with, what to it must be a large creature moving, gesturing, angrily and noisily towards them. Humans of course can react the same way.We share that in common, as we share the other way a cat moves, which is particularly obvious when it wishes to leap and you see it stop, look, focus and leap effortlessly on to a wall or into a tree. 


The thing is, humans who stop, give themselves time to look, see and move effortlessly, well, they are less common to the eye in our culture. Although they are there and I would normally refer to the beauty of an African mid-distance runner, as an illustration of what I mean. On this day that I write, with Prince’s death in the news, I will also refer to him. I never saw him perform live, which is a regret, he was someone I would very much like to have seen. Not just because he was such a fantastic musician, who had it all, or because he was such a showman, but also because he had a freedom and poise, in movement and music which, when I think about it seems unique. That does not mean he had these in all areas of his life, one thing we can be sure is that there will be a raking over of his life, with an attempt  by some to move  away from his music and musicianship. This may be the way of the tabloids but it obscures the stillness that he obviously could find and show in his music and performance, as can be seen in this one of the rare videos of him available in performance on YouTube. 



There he is a man in command of his performance, at the peak of his powers, in a creative relationship with himself and in that there is an obvious ability to find freedom through stillness, in the middle of everyone and everything around him. And in that capacity for stillness, that we all share, the thing is to hear our own sound, express our own note, through trusting its sound to show ourselves as we are, in all that we are, in our strength, vulnerability, and in our beauty, to live our lives as we are, who we are. It strikes me that Prince had an absolutely extraordinary sensitivity and talent for this, heightened and refined through the years, which he shared generously on disc and performance with us. If we attempt to do it as singularly as he did, to manifest our genius, in a god-like way, the end is often an isolation and sometimes tragedy that is not bridgeable by our very attempts to manifest our uniqueness. Where we manage that in relationships with others and ourselves, in our stories, then we are tempered, with the strength needed to be ourselves and live full productive and meaningful lives for ourselves, as ourselves.

Stilling is the way here, and gentling ourselves is the way to stillness through stopping by not fixing in alarm, that is just holding one's breath. But through being aware of the startle, the panic, the jerky movement and being gentle, not harsh, not critical until upward moving energy appears in balanced free flowing movements whether playing music or spending time with those we love. 

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.