Post by Category : Letting Go

Rampage of Appreciation – Training to be an Alexander Technique Teacher

RAMPAGE OF APPRECIATION – TRAINING TO BE AN ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE TEACHER

 

At the age of 24 the Alexander Technique changed my life! That first hands-on lesson with it’s gently encouraging profound words from my first teacher, Astrid Cox, are moments I will never forget. Light bulbs switched on in my mind like a Disney cartoon with heavenly choirs of birds and angels rejoicing! It was a visual wonder movie in my mind’s eye and a giant relief to my entire being. I knew in that first lesson that, not only was I going to be OK from the incredibly painful spasms that I was experiencing in my neck, but that I wanted to learn to teach The Alexander Technique. I had found my calling.

 

It took another few years of thinking about and practicing the Alexander Technique and having lessons before I started my training with the late, great Don Burton. It was the most wonderful three years of my life. 1600 hours of experiential bliss! I loved my fellow trainees with all my heart. Our year group was nicknamed the The Fellside Pack of Dogs with our one for all and all for one love for each other, and the teachers were fantastic and inspiring. The three years worth of hands-on work and all that went with it, quite simply transformed everything. Alexander Technique hands-on work is like no other that I have experienced and will always open doors of perception and increase one’s knowledge on many levels.

 

Over the 3 years my artwork blossomed. Some evenings I would stay late at the school, alone in the movement studio, and by morning the whole studio would be filled with a new exhibition of art work. My creativity was releasing along with everything else. That was over twenty years ago. Since then I have worked as an Alexander Technique teacher and artist in equal measures, and for me, one would not have been possible without the other. It has been a lot of fun and moved me forward in ways I could never have imagined.

(Jamie McDowell recently sent me a photo of this art piece that I made at the time. So brilliant that he kept it. Thank you Jamie!)

 

What I love about the Alexander Technique is it opens doors – one gets the chance to work with all sorts of amazing people in all sorts of amazing places. What a joy. What an adventure. But what I most love is that at the heart of the work is a principle, a truth, a paradigm, that is as simple as it is profound, and works. Truly works. The word art is often used with Alexander Technique because one’s understanding and skills deepen and reveal more and more over time. As the saying goes, you get better at getting better. It is why people become passionate about it, or perhaps Alexander Technique opens up peoples passion. When you do start to find the lessons of the Alexander Technique, and that can start to happen in the first lesson, it reveals all. Alexander Technique is, I believe one way to the truth – a practical, loving, principled way, that sits well with all sorts of other disciplines such as music, the equestrian arts and dancing.

 

The reason I am writing all this is that I truly believe that training to be an Alexander Technique teacher with the rigours of a 1600 hour hands-on, in person training, is truly worthwhile. In this age of quick fixes and online courses I want to give a big cheer for a personal training that is life changing, educational, encourages responsibility, deepens ones awareness and self knowledge and has a principle at the heart of it that is both reliable, time tested and endorsed by the British Medical Journal.

 

Committing to an Alexander Technique Teacher training course was both the hardest and best choice I ever made. All other choices have just got easier!

 

So to all the people who I have ever worked with … a massive thank you and a big recommendation to anyone considering committing to a training course – yes, it is a three years of your life, but you will LOVE it.

‘Letting Go’

Cartoon by Kirsten Harris

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On Being Wiggly

On Being Wiggly
(Notes from teaching 12 – 14 year olds)

 

‘Is anything in you body straight?’
‘Er … No!?’
‘That’s right your body wiggles and spirals, curves and flows, it is living and isn’t straight.

Is anything in nature, the natural world, straight or is it wiggly?’

‘It’s wiggly’

‘How about this school?’
‘This school is straight!’

‘Yes, people seem to enjoy constructing flat, straight buildings don’t they!’

‘How about music, is it straight or wiggly?’
‘Wiggly!’

‘So you are wiggly children in a flat school doing a wiggly thing, music.’

 

‘Let’s go for a wiggly walk around the room, let’s let go of your straight morning in a straight classroom on a hard chair and all the straight thinking you have been doing and enjoy a good wiggly walk.

They loosen up quickly and easily!

 

‘Now what happens if you think about walking straight?’

Everyone slows down and stiffens straight away!

‘Can you wiggle your walk even more? Can you keep the feel of the wiggly walk when you walk in an everyday, forward and up way?’

 

I wiggly walk with them, talking about the body as we go. One boy want to get on the floor and demonstrates The Worm! A brilliant wave like motion though the body.

 

I ask them to play the piano in a wiggly way, not to worry about getting it right or what it sounds like. To give themselves wiggle room to make mistakes and have fun. To wiggle and enjoy.

Result – instant amazing fluidity and ease of playing.

 

We talk about the flow of thought to piano and piano back to person as sound, as a figure of 8, a loop, waves travelling; not a one way thing, not a linear activity from brain to hands to piano in an upright ‘sit up straight’ posture!

I ask them to receive the flow of sound back, feel the actual reverberation of the piano through their hands, their spines to their ears. ‘Aha’ moments emerge.

 

They wiggly think as they play allowing movement and it sounds great. They can all hear and feel the difference. They experiment with changing their thinking to straight thinking and them back to wiggly.

 

Now it is really easy to see when unhelpful habits emerge – thinking habits.

 

They start to see in each other the instant connection between how they think and how the body responds and how that in turn effects the sound of their playing and can observe the changes in each other with no problem by noticing changes in sound and their level of interest in what the other is playing.

 

They give each other great feedback –

‘Your thinking has gone straight, stop trying so hard,’ one girl says to a boy, ‘be yourself, stop performing and showing off, just be in the music. That’s better, you look much more you now and it sounds much more dynamic!’

 

 

‘What happened there?

‘I was worrying about getting it right!’

‘Is that straight thinking or wiggly thinking?’

‘Straight!’

What would be a better thought?

‘I could think that I am exploring the music, I could just have fun experimenting. I could play with the music and just enjoy it.’

 

(We did a class last week all about the word play versus practise – they play instruments after all!)

 

Aha! He makes a connection between his creative mind that doesn’t worry about not getting things right and can explore and his school mind that thinks he HAS to get things right.

 

‘Great, that’s wiggly thinking. Can you feel and hear the difference?’

 

We listen and we notice how the sound of the piano reverberates long after the music has stopped. The children notice in each other how many of them slump the moment they stop playing, as though defeated and awaiting criticism, and realise that the music hasn’t stopped and stay with the travelling sound waves, their listening taking them into an easy poise as the sound becomes quieter and quieter finally fading to nothing. They let themselves receive the sound waves.

 

Now they are owning their playing and their habits!

It is so unbelievably simple to teach and so effective.

 

A bell goes for the next class, they all react!

‘Did you notice your reaction to the sound of the bell?’ I ask.

(It is a hideous jangly synthetic noise.)
‘Yes it was straight thinking wasn’t it miss! We all stiffened and panicked a bit.’

‘Yes the bell ringing is straight isn’t it, a line to tell you the class is ended. I think my job is to keep you wiggly as you travel through your years here at school so you can keep your music flowing, don’t you.’

‘Ha Ha! Yes! Bye Miss, Thank you! Have a good Easter.’

 

Do you give yourself wiggle room to play in your life? And if you did, what would change?

 

Quotes from 12 year olds on this class – 

 

‘Alexander Technique helps me to see music in a different way, and find ways to make music really fun and not just see it as work. If you look at it as work you get really bored, but since last week I’ve really enjoyed playing music, because I saw it as play and not practise. I have really enjoyed sitting at the piano.’ Elian

 

‘Since Alexander Technique I’ve properly enjoyed work because I started to see it positively instead of in a bad way, by opening up and thinking forward and up. It is a lot more jolly to feel what you are playing, to be in the world of music, to feel the nice sound in your heart and in your surroundings’ Sid

 

‘If it is straight thinking then you just play and get the notes right, if it is wiggly you play it how you are feeling and get the dynamics better, you play it more emotionally.’ Scott

 

‘When I smile and think forward and up I felt happier and could put more emotion into the music.’ Amalie

 

(These classes are short, 25 minute, small group classes, the students have Alexander Technique every week as part of their ‘Curriculum of Excellence.’)

 

On Being Wiggly Part 2 here

 

*****

Art work from The Daily Ease, Alexander Technique colouring story book

link here to The Daily Ease book

available at  www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

For media downloads on Alexander Technique www.kirstenharris.co.uk

Or check out my free creativity course link below

Or subscribe for more blogs …

 

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Is it useful learning Alexander Technique at School and if so, why?

Every now and then I check in with the school children I teach to find out what they are learning from Alexander Technique. Here are some answers from class –

 

‘It is useful learning Alexander Technique at school because it teaches me how to go from really hyper to really relaxed quickly. It helps me stay calm and not react. When I do sports and things it helps me not get aches and pains. It also keeps me calm for exams, because I can switch off nervousness and get focussed instead.’ Alisia, age 13

 

‘My mum’s started to say my posture is better and I notice in the mirror I am not slouching.’ Josie, age 13

 

‘It trains your mind whilst you are still learning so you can get into good habits while you are still young.’ Anna, age 13

 

‘It’s changing habits for the younger generation, so that they don’t inherit the previous generations flaws. It is good to start at a young age at high school because we then have guidance as to what will benefit you most, what is right for you, which makes it easier to live a day to day life.’ Josie, age 13

 

‘Alexander Technique helps you let go. It gives you another perspective. So it is not so stressful dealing with annoying people at school, or people who find you annoying.’ Josie, age 13

 

‘It slows everything down and helps you appreciate every second. You notice everything, all the senses and sounds. Maisie, age 14

 

‘School is stressful and when you do Alexander Technique it helps you remember how calm and open you can be.’  Esme, age 13

 

‘If you have done Alexander Technque in a room in the school and then you go back into it another time the room reminds you to feel calm. That is why it is good doing it in school.’ Josie, age 13

 

‘You feel more responsible for your body and you get the gist of how it works more. That makes you feel safer and more comfortable.’ Marie age 14

 

‘I find I concentrate more after Alexander Technique and stay focussed in class. I find  am kinder and nicer to people after doing Alexander Technique.’ Xander age 13

 

‘It is tiring and busy at school. Alexander Technique gives you half a period to put things into perspective and think about keeping yourself healthy. It doesn’t take long in Alexander Technique but it helps it make possible all the things we have to do. I get better results when I take a break and gather my thoughts.  Xander age 13

 

‘It helps you concentrate. It helps you learn a different way of learning.’ Mika, age 14

 

‘It’s fun learning about your body.’ Lucy, age 14

 

‘It teaches you awareness, it helps you pay attention and listen to your body and be in the moment. It helps you let go and unwind.’ Dominic, age 14

 

‘It makes me think about things I’ve never thought about before about my body. It makes me aware of myself which is useful because it makes me more interested in how I am.’ Stephanie, age 15

 

‘I think Alexander Technique helps you mentally and physically. For example, if you have aches – people don’t realise that it is yourself that is making it happen!

It makes you self aware with your interactions with other people and your interactions with yourself. It makes you strong minded or strong willed enough to stand your ground when you are confronted with people or situations that can be tricky or difficult to deal with, especially at school when there is the stress of peer pressure.’ Hannah, age 16

 

‘It helps me be less reactive. You become more open minded to new ideas and different ideas, rather than saying ‘no that won’t work.’ You don’t jump to conclusions as easily. Esme, age 13

 

‘It helps you be more comfortable with your decisions.’ Dominic, age 14

 

‘I helps with your confidence speaking to people, you look and feel more confident.’ Mika, age 15

 

‘When I open up my body, I open up my mind’ Xander, age 13

 

If you are interested in Alexander Technique for your children, here are two things that I have produced that may be of interest

 

Body Magic, audio download for semi supine

The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods, a colouring story book

 

 

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Ki – How I Discovered Alexander Technique

Ki

 

Here’s a girl, nick-name Ki

Yup, a verse, all about me

A teenager who slumped and slouched

Growled and groaned, and then BIG OUCH!

My back packed up, could take no more

Age 24, in pain on the floor

 

It happened quite out of the blue

While turning for paper on the loo

That little twist, the final straw

My slumped tight muscles finally swore

 

Muscle spasm, extreme pain

The doctor came, but nothing gained

The collar to hold my neck was thick

The pills he gave me made me sick

Puking with a neck in spasm

My brain to body, there was a chasm

 

One day, a visiting friend, an actor

Showed me what was the matter

‘At drama college we learned Alexander Technique

So simple, profound, amazing, unique’

 

‘Let me show you how to lie

Your head on books, knees to the sky …

Just rest … let your mind begin to go …

Into your body, let it flow … ‘

 

‘The pain is your body shouting ‘KI LISTEN!’

There is no need to stay in prison

For that is what your body’s become

You’re stuck in your head, it’s really quite dumb!’

 

From that moment I could see

That Alexander Technique was for me

‘Let it go!’ I’d found a key

To learn to let my neck be free

 

Opening my thinking as I go

Not to arrive or be perfect, just to flow

To let my life a journey unravel

As freely forward and up I can travel

Noticing habits that put me wrong

Like a clamped up, held tight tongue

 

I’ve learnt this technique bit by bit

And am still learning, come to think of it

For there is no destination, perfect or right

It’s a moving journey, travelling light!

 

That was 30 years ago and I still LOVE Alexander Technique. If you would like o find out more why not check out my download BODY MAGIC here. 2 x 25 minute lessons for semi supine aka constructive rest.

BodyMagic_mobile

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Mind the Gap!

Mind the gap!

What does that mean to you?

 

I have been thinking about the gap, that space between one phase and another.

A place to fall or a place to float?

Actors call it ‘resting’ or ‘taking time out.’

From an Alexander Technique perspective that is constructive, but often the space between things, the gap, is an uncomfortable place for folk.

 

‘Mind the gap!’ The announcer says as you board the train about to embark on your journey to your next destination, the next commitment.

‘Mind the gap!’ In other words don’t fall into the space between where you are and where you want to go – stretch your self a little and take a purposeful step forward and up and onto the train, into the flow of your next direction. Be aware there is a space that you can fall into and it can hurt.

 

Mind the gap …

Think about the space between things …

The space between you and another, you and the environment, your thoughts and your movement …

(In horsemanship it is called the float. Floating in water aka Art of Swimming reveals the space in amazing ways too.)

 

There is a big gap above your head, the big up, the up that is up there, the up that takes us up, the space that supports us and eases us … Do you mind that gap?

There is magic there!

 

Folk often fall into the gap when something finishes.

One thing ends another has not started, a gap, OMG what am I going to do next? Scary Mary!

Suddenly there is no distraction, no other to bounce off. What is left is Me!

Oh! Now what?

Oh, I am not happy ..

Oh, I don’t like this …

Oh, this is boring …

Oh, um I have nothing to do ..

I am lonely …

 

The gap is vulnerable and about vulnerability.

I believe consciously allowing the gap transforms vulnerability to strength …

Inner Strength

Psycho-physical strength

It is anatomical

It is Alexander Technique

It is art

It is perhaps The Art!

 

My musician friend and I talked about the gap as the space between the in breath and the out breath

The moment of nothing

The pause

Conscious intention … Breathe …Flow

One creative project finishes another has not started. Mind the gap. A breather. You have given out,  pause,  it will flow in again.

 

My spiritual healer friend talked about the gap as meaning

Remember to Ground And Protect

 

Translated thus – Remember (mind – air) to ground (earth) and protect (fire and water).

Remember earth, air fire and water.

Mind the gap – good plan for planet earth methinks!

Look after you and the earth! It is the only thing to do.

Be in your element in the elements.

 

Do you mind the gap daily – the space between the ground and the top of your head, do you mind where you are in space so you don’t just get pulled down into the gap, the slump?

Do you regularly take moments to just be in the nothing, a dot in the void expanding.

 

As an artist minding the gap is to be aware of the space between me and the canvas ..

Between the intention and the artwork …

Between the idea and the blog …

An unknown series of events flowing when I commit to the journey unfolding …

Good, surprising, exhilarating, disastrous …Who knows?

Commit and find out … allowing a gap, space in your life to create, the paintbrush taking you forward …

 

The gap is the space between you and me aka the relationship, the us.

Do we need someone else to fill the gap or can we allow space?

What is happening in the gap? Is it a sweet spot or toxic?

 

How do we bridge the gap individually, at one, our awareness keen to the known and the unknown?

There are always pitfalls … face the fear and jump … let go and let god … let go and let good …. the sayings are many.

 

Letting go in semi supine, consciously resting, allowing bridges of consciousness to build is profound.

Stopping this way lets magical amazing planet earth help us find psycho – physical unity, our unique at oneness.

 

So, your intuition is saying, mind the gap, and you don’t!?

 

Falling into the gap can be disastrous and painful.

We can have an expectation that someone else is going to support us, love us, stop us falling through the gap, and they let us down, intentionally so sometimes.

We thought that we were on the same train and they railroad us.

Our expectation and reality did not match. There is a gap.

The man falls into a hole story comes to mind. We will fall into the same hole more than once.

So what?!

We learn eventually to make another choice.

 

And if it is disastrous and hurts, then definitely mind the gap. Ground and protect. Semi supine and recalibrate. Breathe. Create lush space for you, no invaders. Don’t fall deeper into the hole with thoughts like ‘I am not good enough, worthy enough, talented enough, likeable enough, no one cares anyway …’

 

Planet Earth supports us if we let it! The gap closes. Time heals. Stopping is wonderful. Wait a while on the platform another train will come along. This time you have more awareness.

 

The gap then becomes a positive resting place between the action.

A place to look after ourselves.

A gap year, a gap second ….  a gap 20 minutes?

Mind the gap, a conscious constructive pause in which to think, intend, move forward, direct your thinking, ease into the space all around ….

Time to chose, time to change.

Time to say No for a while to all that chatter ‘n’ stuff.

You can’t change and stay the same.

So you consciously Mind the Gap instead.

 

The gap can be an uncomfortable place mentally and physically. Not just falling into the gap – trust is required to jump over the gap onto the train and into the new journey and trust is also required to find the way into our inner glorious space radiating too.

Our space on this fine earth is a vulnerable place, but it is also a magical space.

 

We fill our space with so much stuffy stuff maybe because we don’t want to feel the space, be in the unknown, listen to the mysterious, feel the enormity, so stuff feels better than the gap. Chatty chatty busy busy human doings bumping into each other and falling into holes all over the place. Not just being OK right here right now. Resting in respect and awe.

Ease the Day more regularly … a practise for life. It’s body magic.

A bit of time out to learn to fall onto the ground consciously …aha, softer landings.

Falling and floating.

 

Easing out in our own amazing body magical and enjoy finding and filling the gaps and spaces so that when tricky sticky life circumstances, verbal attacks, harsh words, unmet expectations arrive, which they will, our innate balance and understanding of ease stops us tripping and frightened, falling quite so painfully into the gap.BodyMagic_mobile

 

Transformation is available –  recalibrate and mind the gap …with conscious light, illuminating magic.

 

More Body Magic click here

 

 

 

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The Naughty Step!

 

I had to share this insight from a teenager …..

 

Yesterday, during a constructive rest session requested by one of the teenage boys at the high school where I teach Alexander Technique, 17 year old Harry quipped-

 

‘Semi-supine is like a productive version of the naughty step!

When I was little I would be made to sit on the naughty step … I was always all hunched up, elbows on my knee, in a rage … ‘

 

‘Lying down doing Alexander Technique is giving me time out to think about what I have done during the day, the bad decisions I have made and let them go. Yup, it is like the productive version of the naughty step!’

 

He continued –

 

‘I have had some great epiphanies in semi-supine – like where I have been going wrong and just by taking time out I get an idea about how to do it and when I go back to it it works … like learning a difficult piece on the guitar, suddenly I can do it… You wouldn’t think time out this way would be productive, but it really is!’

 

Out of the mouth of babes!

Constructive rest – the productive naughty step!

 

Here is a link to a constructive rest download – enjoy time out on the ‘productive naughty step!’ CLICK NOW

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Semi Supine – Quite Simply Divine!

Semi Supine – Quite Simply Divine

by Kirsten Harris

 

Taking the time

To lie in semi supine

Is good for the spine

And helps me feel fine

 

17 minutes of time

On the floor is sublime

Let go to align

My bodies design

 

Think into my outline

Long and wide from my centreline

Radiating inner sunshine

To find balance’s forward and upward refine

 

Intelligent as  Einstein

A refreshment in time

Rejuvenating the discs of my spine

And it doesn’t cost a dime

 

Alexander Technique semi supine

Easy DIY self care guideline

Releases holding from my lifeline

It’s quite simply divine!

 

MAY DOC002(23)

 

Image and words from The Daily Ease 2017 Calendar

AVAILABLE HERE AND NOW Click

 

The Daily Ease 2017 Calendar –

A bit of Alexander Technique fun for your teaching room or students…

I LOVE THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE : ) <3

 

 

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I Feel Like I am Floating

MAY DOC002(23)

 

Taking the time

To lie in semi supine

Is good for my spine

And helps me feel fine

 

17 minutes of time

On the floor is sublime

Let go to align

My bodies design

 

Think into my outline

Contemplate widening from my centreline

Radiating inner sunshine

To find balance’s forward and upward refine

 

Intelligent as Einstein

As refreshing as wine

Rejuvenating the discs of my spine

And it doesn’t cost me a dime

 

Alexander Technique semi supine

Easy DIY self care guideline

Release holding my lifeline

It’s quite simply divine!

 

The drawing is from the  2017 Daily Ease Calendar Available to pre-order now.

A fun reminder to bring Alexander Technique into your daily life every day.

http://www.kirstenharris.co.uk/calendar.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

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