Posts for Tag : Kirsten Harris Art

The Weird Wonderful World of Alexander Technique 

‘Trust, The Gold Thread’ by Kirsten Harris

Gold, Copper and Oil on Canvas, 100 x 150 cm

 

I thought about calling this blog ‘Why the Alexander Technique is Weird’ or ‘Are Alexander Teachers Weirdos?’ Both titles make me smile!  Before you think I am completely weird I do have some thoughts on the use of the word for our wonderful work. So here goes – some musings on the weird wonderful world of Alexander Technique …

 

The word weird’s modern meaning is quite recent and is very different from it’s original Old English meaning. Weird or Wyrd originally meant fate, fortune, chance, destiny, literally that which comes into being.  

 

It referred to the Fates of Greek and Roman myths, three Goddess spinners. These three sisters had different tasks, Clotho spun the thread of life, Lachesis measured its allotted length and Atropos cut if off with her shears. They are the Goddesses of our destiny.

 

The change of meaning of weird, to strange, odd, different, supernatural, spooky came about when Shakespeare picked up on this wyrd word, that had fallen out of use in England but was still used in Scotland, naming the three witches in Macbeth, The Weird Sisters.

 

So why is Alexander Technique weird?

 

If we take the original meaning of the word weird then the Alexander Technique is indeed weird. I believe Alexander Technique has a great influence on our destiny, our fate and that which comes into being in our lives. To me Alexander Technique is all about fully embodying our own being and deepening our understanding of our own unique weird wonderful selves, whilst allowing that which is the destiny of our balance to operate for us.  

 

When we are in balance, life simply goes better! Weird but true! 

 

I think it is why Alexander Technique teachers may occasionally seem like weirdos to the outside world! We get really excited about the discovery that Alexander called ‘primary control’. It is perhaps a bit weird to be so excited about the head, neck, back relationship, but we are!  Dressage riders will understand our fascination.

(Do book a lesson with a teacher and find out why we are so passionate!)

 

So, as we learn to pay attention to how we do what we do, especially in relationship to the balance of our heads, we learn to be more ‘at one’ with our own life, more at ease with ourselves. This in turn I believe effects our destiny – our responses change, allowing balance to emerge and thus what happens to us changes too.  

 

Life in it’s originality is very weird and very wonderful. It is forever coming into being. 

 

Learning the paradigms contained within the Alexander Technique we start to become the conscious spinners and weavers of our own cloth, our own matter, the material that is out body and our life on earth.

 

We learn to untangle the knotted threads of our life within and without to weave a more beautiful harmonious flowing ‘silken pattern’ for ourselves to live in.

 

We find we are connected to the whole, the elements. We learn to get out of our way to let our individual thread of experience be a connection to a truth that is greater than ourselves.  Alexander Technique is I believe one path to enlightenment. It is both simple and difficult at the same time.

 

The fabric of our life spirals within the structure of the mobile muscly body suit in which we live and move and breathe. 

 

Learning the Universal Truths taught through the Alexander Technique we learn to stand in our own nakedness. No need to hide ourselves in a clumsy mantle, a cloak of doubt or fear.

 

The way we use our entire selves effects our functioning. As we open and free ourselves, we unravel a magic carpet on which to fly, a beautiful tapestry unfolds spreading out before us.  We learn how to be in the great spinning wheel of movement. The art of many things is revealed to us. We learn to trust ourselves and be open to the vulnerability and aliveness of our being. In the vulnerability of our innate balance we find an inner strength that we can call home.

 

Our vulnerability becomes our strength. That is a bit weird in itself, but oh so amazing!

We learn to spin our cloth of gold through our thoughts, awareness and direction. 

 

In learning to change our habits and let go of that which is tangled, atrophied or stuck, we sometimes, like the goddess Atropos, need to pick up the metaphorical shears and cut the chains that bind and hold us.  We learn to simply stop in order to let go!  You could say that weirdly, learning the Alexander Technique helps us learn to cut the crap!

 

We all live in a weird world these days. A world where the world wide web weaves us into connections and relationships hitherto impossible.  It is a fabric of unwoven and interwoven possibility.

 

We can embrace the weirdness of wonderful relationships with people whom we have never met and may never meet and who none the less bring threads of pure gold into our lives. We learn to stand tall owning a voice in the (virtual) world so we can learn and grow together, connecting with each other, being the change, looking after what matters! 

 

In many ways the web has let us as a population become more in charge of our own destiny than ever before. We hopefully can learn how to use it well and make a difference. I have heard it said that people who use social media a lot are weird. I disagree. If connecting across the planet in an instant is weird then weird is great. Weird is coming into being. Weird is being open to chance, synchronicity and connections from all over the world. 

 

One could argue another weird aspect of the Alexander Technique is that it impassions people from so many different walks of life – scientists, doctors, musicians, actors, athletes, equestrians, dancers, sufferers of pain conditions, educationalists, entrepreneurs, mathematicians, self improvers and like me artists …

 

I would argue that this is because fate and destiny are interwoven in the teachings of the Alexander Technique, a learning which is on the one hand down to earth, bony, structural, a scientifically quantifiable technique endorsed by the British Medical Journal and on the other other hand invites us into the world of the mysterious, spiritual, psychic and intuitive. A world of possibilities.

So here’s a big thumbs up to the wonderful weird Alexander Technique! I love it!

 

(Big thank you to Devon based Alexander Technique teacher Jenny Quick, whom I have only met via the weird wise web but feel a lovely sense of connection to. Thank you Jenny for telling me you were ‘celebrating weird’ with your student. This led me to look up the etymology of the word and inspired a blog.)

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From Gratitude to Grrr-Attitude!

From Gratitude to Grrr – attitude!

 

Inhibition in the Alexander Technique sense doesn’t mean not reacting but pausing before reacting habitually to take a moment to decide how you want to react. For many of us that can be taking a moment to choose not to ‘be nice’ or ‘do nothing’ but to be truthful and take action. To have a bit of grrr – attitude. 

 

I know my habitual reaction to things can be to smile, be nice, try to stay positive and not speak up for myself.

 

I was bought up to be grateful. ‘There are starving people in the world you know’ as a reason for me not to have an opinion about anything. I was also brought up to be nice, sent to a convent school where niceness was valued above all things – ‘You won’t find a husband if you are not nice.’ (Whoops!)

 

Believe me I am grateful and it is nice to be nice. But in all this gratitude and niceness the lesson for me has been to develop a bit of grrrr! 

 

So here is a blog about developing some grrrr-attitude, which for me is an empowered version of gratitude and a valuable self-development tool for pulling the lessons out of experiences so you can move forwards and upwards in life, rather than get stuck in startle pattern. 

 

My dog has grrrr-attitude – I am a great believer that animals have a lot to teach us dumb human beings!  For her grrr-attitude is about looking after herself and achieving her passionate love for having her ball thrown. A little bit of grrr in her soul makes her an excellent communicator and trainer of humans. As I am interested in both self care and developing and following creative passions here are few thoughts about grrr-attitude.

 

Grrrr-attitude gives you healthier boundaries. Sometimes we need a bit of grrr to stick up for ourselves rather than be walked over, bullied or disempowered in ways where we end up seething inside but incapable of doing anything about it. Healthy boundaries are something to be grateful for. Heathy boundaries give you a healthy ‘yes’ and a healthy ‘no’, the first two movements of the spine! A healthy yes and a healthy no and you are free to move!

 

Grrr-attitude gives you a voice and a viewpoint. I am grateful that my voice is developing and hope that in my teaching of the Alexander Technique, particularly at school, I teach my students to have a voice too, their own voice not just a people/teacher pleasing voice.  I aim to teach them to have the courage to speak up – 

 

“Sometimes I see people who are doing speeches or presentations and I wish they had Alexander Techniques lessons. It is a simple thing to do and it helps you be more confident especially as a lot of things at school are about doing things in front of people” Lucy, age 14.

 

I believe Grrr-attitude develops your gratitude – your ability to love, your integrity and your connection to the beauty of the world and your own true nature. A little bit of grrr gives you the ability to stick up for the things you believe in at your core with more courage and strength.

 

Grrr-attitude is about acknowledging when something has got under your skin and having the wherewithal to do something about it.

 

Grrr-attitude also gives you the energy to keep doing what you want to do, to follow your passion without necessarily following the crowd or getting fearful and tense. I wanted to be an artist and an Alexander Technique teacher, two things that are apparently hard to make a living doing! Well, with a bit of grrr-attitude you CAN make a living.  Don’t believe anyone who tells you that you can’t!

 

I could go on and on… and maybe I will at a later date …

But for now wishing you an attitude of grrr-attitude if you need it and I am truly grateful for you reading thus far. 

 

(Tempted to say Amen, but that is the ex convent girl sense of humour taking over!) 

 

With love

Kirsten

‘If you have an Itch…’

Oil painting by Kirsten Harris

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How do you make decisions?

How do you make decisions?

 

Ever since I started working with the Alexander Technique as a stressed out ex art student, I realised that this technique is an amazing tool for decision making. It is a tool that I have used ever since that has not only informed my art but made my life better too.

 

Yesterday in a conversation with a friend, who seems to have been going round and round in circles over-analysing the same situation for months but never making a decision, I shared my process in the hope that it might give her a useful tool, and so I share it here curious if this works for you too.

 

The wonderful life transforming direction ‘I let my neck be free’ is a barometer for me. If my neck is not free, why not? What is it about the situation, thought, person etc that my ‘true’ self is not happy with. An instant neck tightening (a bit like a dog putting his hackles up) is giving me information about my emotional (psychco-physical) reaction to a situation.  My job is to notice. If I ignore and proceed anyway it usually takes me out of the flow and gets me into trouble in some form or another!

 

If my neck is free I am in the flow and I can proceed.

If my neck is not free, it is like an amber light, slow down, stop, recalibrate the thinking. Notice what I am thinking and feeling.

 

If I need a yes/no answer I ask my heart – ‘Is it in my/the highest interest to do this?’

If the answer is ‘Yes’ I get a nice warm melty feel in my neck and heart area.  If the answer is ‘No’, my body hardens or tightens in some way. Easy peasy. Decision made. My response – ability allows me to take responsibility for my decision and my choices.

 

Of course I am not discounting analysing data and facts etc, I just know for me I would get stuck in my head doing that as my only way to move forward. I have to feel whether something is right. If my neck is tight it is not right, If my heart is soft and my neck is free and easy, decision made … forward flow.

Horsemanship has a word for it – Feel.

 

When I am in the flow there are no wrong decisions, just a life lived with an open heart.

 

How about you? How do you make decisions?

 

‘If Wishes Were Horses’

by Kirsten Harris

 

This drawing and others in the series exploring lightness and freedom are available as Limited Edition hand signed, titled and numbered black and white prints via my website www.kirstenharrisart.com

A4 £20 / $28

A3 £30 / $48

Free postage worldwide if you purchase more than one print.

 

 

 

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Horse

Horses are light on their feet … light beings  … graceful creatures.

Here are two beautiful anonymous quotes about horses –

 

‘To Ride a Horse is to Ride the Sky’

 

and an American Indian Proverb

 

‘The horses are mystery beings’

 

Anyone who has ever ridden or owned a horse will know that horses are amazing teachers. They reveal to us our habits, fears and imbalances and show us how they can read our minds and feel our thinking.  They are trusting, forgiving and understanding and teach us to experience the world lightly and feel deeply.

 

This drawing is a visual reminder to riders to take the time to think as lightly as a dandelion clock when you are with your horse, letting your thoughts float forward and up on the breeze so your body can follow. In turn your horses will follow and he will give you his lightness. He will show you how to float. He will give you his back and his mind.

 

It will take you practise and awareness to keep letting your thoughts float in the breeze and is a totally worthwhile ongoing lesson in thinking that will develop you connection with your horse. Of course it is not the whole picture but it is a major key to the whole picture.

 

How do I know this?

Not because I am the worlds greatest rider, but because I understand Alexander’s discoveries and have applied and taught the work to my riding and teaching others on their horses for a long time.

 

So why the title the unbearable lightness of being a horse?

I can’t help but feel it must be somewhat unbearable for sensitive horses who can feel a fly on their flanks to have us ride them when our energy is heavy, our thinking mundane and our bodies pulled down. It is testament to how wonderful they are that they put up with it!

 

When you understand how your anatomy and thinking work together on and with your horse, change occurs, instantly and easily. It is not rocket science! Or maybe it is?! Your horse is showing you every day what you are doing, and how you are. Being interested in how you are getting in the way of your horses lightness,  is perhaps being the rocket scientist or an alchemist, certainly an experimenter … entering the world of the mystery being.

 

‘The wind of Heaven is that which blows between the horses ears.

Arabian Proverb

 

Learning about the Alexander Technique discoveries is not so much about getting it right, but more getting interested and aware in how we are doing altogether. This opens our minds, changes our thinking and lets something else happens … something mysterious and light. We can’t change and stay the same, we have to enter the mysterious and the unknown to experience something different, which includes developing our connection with our horses.

 

Alexander Technique is a great thing to learn to illuminate the way. Riders are great people to learn Alexander’s discoveries as they are so linked to horsemanship and riders are, on the whole, motivated in wanting to make life as good as possible for their horses, as custodians of these mystery beings!

 

If you want to know more Alexander Technique why not check out the media download on my website here   – Walking with your Horse, Lessons in the Alexander Technique

 

For more horsy cartoons (commissions undertaken for birthday pressies etc) here is a link to my website www.kirstenharrisart.com.

 

Lessons and workshops by arrangement. I am based in central Scotland.

 

 

 

 

And if you like my Alexander Technique inspired drawings check out my colouring book.

The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods Here

I had a lot of fun making it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Why the Alexander Technique can be Likened to Farting!

OMG!’ Oil on Canvas, by Kirsten Harris

 

Apologies to the easily offended, but I am likening the Alexander Technique to farting in this blog. Call it British humour or bad humour, but a girls gotta amuse herself somehow! Anyway, I am not talking about bad smells or feeling embarrassed, I am talking about something that is entirely natural. Farting is natural. No one choses to fart or makes themselves fart, it just happens. Or as we say in Britain ‘Even the Queen farts!’

 

So, this blog is about natural freedom, the bodies natural abilities. The poise that Alexander Technique seeks is a natural state. A state of suspended animation a bit like floating in water. It is not something you do or make happen.

 

You can not hold onto water to float in it. You can’t grab at the water or put yourself into a posture to find buoyancy. You will drown if you do this. You have to let go. You have to trust. Let yourself breathe out. Allow. Let go and go for it. Float. Go with the flow. Know that the next breath will find you.

 

Poise is letting our predominantly watery bodies float in space, so that we are free to move and live with ease and balance. Poise is a natural state of being. Poise is as illusive as it is addictive! We happen upon it, and we lose it again. Poise is a life times adventure in being.

 

Too often for my liking the word posture is associated with the Alexander Technique. Truthfully I think it is a misleading and inaccurate word. Posture suggests a position, something you do and hold, somewhat forced. Posture is like grabbing at the water. That is never going to work. As soon as you try to hold onto water it’s essence will slip through your fingers. You are just left with wet hands, a surface experience of what is.

 

Why would Alexander Technique teachers be so passionate about this job with a strange name if we were teaching posture?  Boring!

 

We are seekers of something mysterious, eternal and natural – a freedom that is, in it’s essence, nothing. Like water, you can’t hold onto that freedom. This is why it is hard to explain the wonders of the Alexander Technique. It is why people say you have to experience it. Alexander Technique takes us closer to the mysteries of being. It is just one way to seek truth, a rather wonderful way.

 

You can’t really explain floating in water. You have to be in the water, be of the water. You have to find the state of mind – let go of fear of drowning, that allows you to let go and trust the water will support you. Trust that floating and moving in water or up into space on dry land is a natural state of being. Perhaps it really is letting go of a fear of death that allows us to live freely.

(Ah, the inadequacy of words! So much to say so hard to say it!)

 

So on that note, I will raise the tone and share a verse my late, much loved Uncle Ken of Worsall Farm in Wiltshire, used to say to us as children to make us laugh! This is best read in the broadest of broad Wiltshire accents –

 

‘Where ever you be

Let your farts go free

For the want of a fart

Was the death of me!’

 

     

OMG … Kirsten Harris, I can’t believe you wrote about farting!

 

 

 

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