freedom for life

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

Saturday, 05 April 2014 17:38

Surfing Spontaneity

March has been a demanding month for me, including the death of my father, with whom I was lucky enough to be able to spend a considerable amount of time with as he was dying. It was a time of being present to him, his breathing, of being emotionally available to him and finding a way to help him die peacefully. I found myself drawing on all my experience and relying on conscious control and the Alexander Technique to help me achieve an occurrence of being where we were both at peace with what was happening. The following is a short reflection on the structure of the process of becoming present through the use of inhibition at its deepest, most profound level both to myself and others.

Standing on the edge, the precipice of the unknown, waiting to see the unknown, to step forward, to speak if required is the gathering place of thought. Being there is a finding in itself, that comes with the ceasing of mental chattering, the monkeys of my mind fall silent, leaving a space, a stillness, time, where I clear the gathering place of my expression. Before I hear myself, before I speak, I experience my spontaneity of expression in my visage. I reveal myself not just to others but to myself. The normal masks of concealment drop for a moment in an occurrence of being, where I truly am myself, empty, moving in response with others and the situation, true to possibilities that glint and shimmer in presentation.

This requires courage, an opening, the achievement of balance on the precipice, the letting go of stability into uncertainty and anxiety, that ends with being and seeing, poise and balance and the courage to step into the unknown, the mysteries and uncertainties of life. It is the beginning of an adventure whose character is determined by the situation and the freedom of expression that I am able to achieve not by doing, but by non-doing, not by striving but by following the spirit of trust in being, my self, my spontaneity, my creativity. 

This spirit of trust, this need to find the edge, to find the way forward, through opening; this surfing of spontaneity becomes possible, through ceasing to follow the path of distraction from distraction, by stopping and being - is for me the mark of an intelligent life, a good life. Conscious control through the application of the Alexander Technique, is the foundation of this not as a philosophy but as tools towards the final destination of a life lived to the full, intelligently and hopefully to the integrity of one’s self and for my father, hopefully his soul.

Published in Lessons from the Chair
Friday, 05 July 2013 15:35

Relax Can Equal Collapse

Relax Can Equal Collapse It is holiday time and people are heading off for what they are hoping to be a relaxing break. It is often at this point that newer pupils often think they can take a holiday from the Alexander Technique, which they have been learning to apply in their daily life. What then happens is that they fall back on habits for relaxing which are really habits for collapsing. The equating of relaxing and collapsing, while culturally re-enforced, emerges, I think, from the fact that if you have been over tensing and clenching everything up, a jolly good slump and collapse initially feels great. It comes at a price though, of less energy, poor organisation and poor preparation for action. These often bring with them the return of various symptoms that had brought people for Alexander lessons in the first place.

In learning new habits of coordination, it often takes time and this experience of discomfort to bring people to the point of reconstruing their habits for resting and relaxation. Alexander Technique is as much concerned with this, as with the active phase of action. If we are poised and balanced while at rest, then we are well organised to act dynamically, we do not need to brace ourselves for action. Both phases of the movement between action and resting can and should be done without disturbing poise and balance, otherwise we move between excess tension and collapsing as a matter of course.

Semi-supine is a great way to learn about the resting phase. It makes all the difference and with it, one learns that you properly relax by allowing yourself to expand through lengthening and widening. You also learn that proper relaxation ends with a feeling of being lightly energised, ready to do the next thing rather than sleepy relaxed. Learning this involves not just understanding the mechanics of action through how you use yourself, but breaking out of cultural norms that equate collapsing with relaxing. If you do both, then an active or restful holiday, depending on your choice, becomes possible that leaves you poised and balanced, as well as relaxed and refreshed for the return home and the return to normal everyday life.

Published in Lessons from the Chair