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
Thursday, 13 December 2012 18:33

The Bliss of An Infant

The bliss of an infant can haunt a life, casting long shadows over a life-time of regret, for time passed with a life not lived. Perplexing its central character, this tragedy passes, hidden away, leaving its few spectators confused, angry and disappointed. The visible human dimensions of talent wasted, dissipated in fragmentation, hide the real confusion of anxiety and most of all rage. That rage is so often turned against a self that, otherwise might been real, imaginative and loved. 


This bliss of an infant lies in its perfection, which is always imagined, yet compellingly necessary for its survival and growth. Hopefully it comes from the mother for whom this baby is the most perfect, at its moment of arrival, its moment of welcome. Mother and baby both need this, the mother for the sacrifices that lie ahead, the baby to be assured of its welcome. Perfection is a transitory experience for both, one to be returned to in its bliss, in the initial stages of adjustment. When things fail to fit, when they go wrong, where disappointment lurks, it is the bliss of perfection that soothes and eases the path and ways of early life. 


Without the bliss of perfection, terror of abandonment and obliteration freeze the baby in a perpetual terror and search for safety, the glance is always backwards to an imagined garden into which they were never welcomed. For those who entered the garden but were ejected too early, into a world that was harsh, unwelcoming and without respect, life can become the perpetual journey backwards, forever seeking what has been lost. The safety and surety of love and perfection predominates and obscures the possibility of being able to ‘follow one’s bliss,’ in Joseph Campbell’s phrase, by finding purpose and living so fully, that they know they have been alive.

To search for perfection, is really to look backwards for what has been or might have been, to have purpose in contrast is to turn one’s aim to the future, to look forward to what might be and will be. To have purpose requires the preparation of learning to stop, look and face the unknown, until the possible paths of venturing forward clear, and we can step into the unknown prepared for what ever uncertainties, we will certainly meet.

Published in Lessons from the Chair