With lockdown I chose to allow myself to embrace the opportunity to switch off rather than zoom in. A conscious decision to see if allowing space and stopping really does allow balance and something extraordinary to happen, as we teach in the Alexander Technique.
Some days it’s a challenge to keep coming back to allowing myself to dwell peacefully and simply be at home to my life in space. Being at ease with one’s self is not always easy, is it?
Isolation seemed like an unbidden yet unique opportunity to deepen into an understanding of ‘I am what I am!’
Yesterday came chicken inspiration – Jinty chicken has been sitting on 5 eggs for the last two weeks. Once a day she eats, drinks and bathes her feathers in the dirt. Other than that she sits alone, serenely on her nest, incubating.
Yesterday it stuck me – isolating and incubating, that’s what I (and many others) have been doing.
And then came a wonderful ‘aha’ moment. What came first, the chicken or the egg? The answer is both! They both co-exist because the important factor for creation and renewal are not simply the chicken or the egg but the right conditions – time, space, patience, trust….
One more week to go and hopefully there will be 5 healthy chicks. She doesn’t know, and neither do I, whether they will hatch and survive. I sincerely hope they do! Her Buddha- like patience and quiet fortitude was my teacher yesterday. A little bit of chicken wisdom that incubation is sometimes necessary if you want to avoid becoming scrambled!
I have failed as a teacher to do lockdown! A daft thought of course but I haven’t taught anyone on zoom. I haven’t learned online. I haven’t been to a zoom party. I’ve barely turned on the TV to watch marvellous inspiring people be marvellous and inspire and as for the news, thats a no from me! It’s been my choice to minimise engaging with life through a screen.
But during the storm last weekend I put on Talking Pictures TV to watch old black and white movies whilst drawing and realised why I had made this choice as I found myself shouting at Steven Fry’s asking for money, many times repeated MIND advert, telling us that we are all going to have long term mental health problems!
‘No we are bleeping not! Stop casting a ridiculous negative spell on the entire nation you fool! I thought you were intelligent, don’t you know anything about thinking?!’ Sounding of course vaguely bonkers yelling at the TV, but the dog didn’t seem to mind!
I was telling the telly off because I truly believe it is essential to not tune into a negative or fearful consciousness. We are sold fear all over the place.
It strikes me, that this is where the Alexander Technique is particularly brilliant.
It teaches us to be able to separate our thinking to notice what is fear, with its accompanying turmoil and tension; what is love, with its accompanying joy and ease and what is creativity with it’s accompanying potential and beckoning journey.
At the beginning of this a friend said to me ‘I’m feeling frightened.’ My spontaneous response was ‘I’m feeling chickens.’ My creative voice took charge. I wasn’t about to buy into her fear to empathise and console and I wasn’t feeling love so I chose creativity instead. The creative voice said chickens, so chickens it was. When we listen to the creative voice it has an amazing tendency to surprise and delight.
I believe in life we always have this choice available! Creativity is a voice that lands unbidden and surprises us, ideas that arrive unannounced and waken us up. Inspiration is like breath, nourishing.
I believe if we allow ourselves to be fearful or absorb other peoples fear, we can’t hear the whispers of our own creativity. We get blocked. And sometimes stretching to loving a challenging situation can be difficult, but creativity is always there waiting. Can you imagine how brilliant it would be if we all believed in the magic and power of creativity? If we all learned to listen to our inner creative genius?
For me, lying in semi-supine aka constructive rest for a few minutes a day, and particularly in the vague moments, the unsure moments, the tired times to give time and space for a rest, allows not only all that negative stuff to subside but the door of creativity to swing open.
As the late great Alexander Technique teacher Don Burton often said with regards self care –
“If you don’t have to stand, sit! And if you don’t have to sit, lie down!’
PS. And when we listen to creativity love can find us. I truly love my two chickens, Bunty and Jinty, my lockdown heroines.
Walking my dog Maisie yesterday I sat exhaustedly on the trunk of a fallen beech tree and put my hands on my head and prayed ‘what would you have me say, think or do next?’ To my amazement the breakdown of the words below came to me to be written. I walked home across the field thinking ‘I let my neck be free, I let my neck be free…’ feeling re-energised and re-membered and wrote these notes from a tree trunk…
I – The self, all of you – emotions, physicality, actions, health, spirit, hopes and dreams, your life, your individuality, your presence…
Let – to allow, to truly not know, to get out of our own way, to trust, to empower, to enable, to grant…
My – belonging to me, self responsibility, self worth, self care, taking responsibility for how we think, feel move, respond, behave… My is also etymologically related to muscle!
Neck – the junction between brain and torso, a delicate and complex structure atop of which balances your heavy head. A continuation of the spine…
Be – present, in the moment, right now, time, to exist..
We really do have the choice of freedom and these words ‘I let my neck be free’ are truly a key. Yesterday I was reminded by a tree, to keep reminding myself to ‘let my neck be free!’ I hope the notes are useful?
I let my neck be free. It’s just a thought. Do not try and do it!
I dreamt about Don Burton last night. Walter Carrington and some other teachers were there too. Don gave me an AT turn. It started seated, my head dropped forward onto a table in front. I was full of grief. He gently encouraged my skull into balance. I knew it was Don working on me. I could feel the subtle, powerful direction in his hands. He wasn’t dead, but very much alive and real. He worked on me for about half an hour in sitting and semi supine and in my sleep I knew I was restored...
The Vertical and the Horizontal directions –
I had an insight the previous evening – that my vertical directions are open, clear and pretty balanced due to having inhabited awareness of the vertical directions for so many years. But the horizontal directions are incomplete!
In Alexander lingo we describe he horizontal directions as ’widening across the upper arms’ or ‘knees forwards and away’ both of which are fantastically useful.
However my insight is that the horizontal plane of awareness travels through our physical form at the heart. It is, for want of better words, a spatial beam of direction which travels out from the heart front to back, back to front. Like shafts of light, a portal, a road… like the great horizon stretching in all directions connecting all things as far as the eye can see and as far as the eye can’t see!
The direction of our heart on earth, the heart’s horizon therefore include the past and the future.
If the heart directions are blocked, the blockages are going to manifest as anxiety, cortisol reactions, fear of the future, resentments from the past etc. In the same way that lack of freedom through the vertical planes is likely to manifest as back-ache, stress etc.
‘Direction’ is the art of the Alexander Technique – our ability to expand our thinking in all directions in a non-doing way that allows our selves to be free to move and to live whole-hearted.
The clogging of the heart plane direction is I suspect causing a huge rise in anxiety in the population. Drugs are often prescribed!
That the heart directions are often clogged or blocked seems evident to me by the commonplace destruction and throwing away of resources in our recent past and our mass anxiety about our future. We have become addicted as a population to ‘the now!’ I believe this ‘I want it now’ attitude is a source of great unhappiness. Where lies value if we have no past or future?
So, the vertical directions of the Alexander Technique allow the head neck back to balance and inform the present tense – how we do what we do.
The horizontal direction travel through our heart, and include an awareness of past and future, creating a multi dimensional awareness. Time and life span are included in these directions. Perhaps we could say this is the why we do what we do.
So, what happens if we let our understanding of our Alexander directions develop through the heart? What if we release the stuff that is stored in our heart and allow the heart to be free?
Letting our bodies visit the horizontal plane regularly with sleep and semi- supine is good for our vertical health. I suggest we also visit the horizontal plane of awareness through developing our heart directions, and learn to see with the hearts eye, in a way that includes, loves and honours the past and the future. For how else are we going to learn to stop being so selfish and in so much heart pain as a population!
Past, present, future – art, heart, earth…
Don Burton, quoted from memory – ‘We as teachers need to make ourselves redundant! A world that no longer needs Alexander Teachers will be a good place to live, a happy world where people and not pulled down by fear, habit and resignation! Can you imagine it? It is not going to happen in my lifetime! Never make excuses – just teach, the world needs good teachers!’ (Don Burton, 1943 – 1996 – Anatomist, Alexander Technique Teacher, Physiotherapist)
I have been procrastinating! I know this because my beat-myself-up-with-a-great-big-mental-stick-you-lazy-useless-so-and-so ego was telling me so. Bad habit that particular form of self torture!
The more the days of procrastination rolled by the more I started to notice that I was in fact taking very good care of myself whilst procrastinating. Better than usual perhaps. Odd!
My week of procrastination went like this –
‘Oh I’ll just go and lie in semi supine one more time.’
‘A nice walk will clear my mind’
‘Ooh! I must watch this interesting Ted Talk first.’ Link here
‘That Ted Talk has inspired me to go out for the day before I get on with the job. New vistas will help me pay attention to detail.’
‘Great trip, time for semi-supine.’
It struck me that lying in semi-supine aka Alexander Technique constructive rest is the perfect way to procrastinate. Noticing this I realised that procrastinating was maybe not the big-bad-wolf-coming-to-eat-me behaviour that my task master was telling me.
So I decided to look up the etymology of the word procrastinate.
‘Pro’ – forward
and ‘Crastinus’ – belonging to tomorrow.
Putting it together we have ‘forward belonging to tomorrow.’
Procrastinating was suddenly beginning to feel very much like Alexander Technique to my now creative and curious procrastinator.
The Alexander Technique teaches us to pay attention to ‘the means whereby’ – how we do what we do. By lying in semi supine instead of tackling the accounts with a sense of dread, I realised that I wasn’t so much procrastinating but more preparing my whole self to be more alert to tackle the job. To do it from a more whole-hearted place without resistance.
So, note to self for this new decade – there is wisdom in procrastinating!
In a society that applauds busy, allowing ourselves time to let go really does the world of good, taking us forward into tomorrow with much more ease belonging.
I teach my students a class which I call ‘The Power of No!’ I have taught it to children and riders to date. This blog is not a demo of the class which is a live class, but more an attempt to explain some of the concepts around it.
Our ‘yes’ is associated with our ‘primary control’ – that is the balance of the the skull on the atlas, the atlanto-occipital joint. To locate the atlanto-occipital joint it is roughly between the ears and behind the nose. The head balances much higher up than people are generally aware.
A thought of a ‘yes’ nod will help you locate the joint. Think ‘yes, yes, yes’ for a minute. You may begin to feel a release in the neck muscles as you do this. Or imagine the tip of your nose having a pencil attached to it and looking forward make the tiniest little pencil mark on the vertical.
‘No’ is a movement on the horizontal, if you think of the tiniest no at the atlas and axis you will have made a vertical line, a minus symbol, with your imaginary nose pencil.
These movements are barely perceptible and can be reduced to just a thought when you are clear about where the joints are.
‘No’ supports the release of ‘yes’ as anatomically ‘yes’ is stacked on top of the bones that create ‘no’ – the atlas and axis.
The negativity of ‘no’, the minus sign you have made, supports the positivity of ‘yes’ and combined the two movements form a plus symbol. We can liken this cross shape to the Alexander direction of lengthening and widening. And of course this cross is also the cultural symbol of a crucifix. The horizontal plane of the crucifix I see as symbolising the earth, the ground, the vertical line symbolising divine inspiration and a connection with higher power. Or in the simple word favoured by the Alexander Technique – up!
So how does this work practically and in terms of who we are? I have discovered that a ‘yes’ that is not meant can lead in time to resentment and confusion and that it is better to have a clear ‘no’ available to use. ‘No’ is not so much negative but more clarity which may be a ‘yes’ to yourself and a ‘yes’ to something else that you are genuinely committed to.
However ‘no’ can be very difficult for people to say as we have been brought up to be compliant. A society of dissenters is not easy to control! For me, I have had to examine the ‘good girl’ and the ‘people pleaser’ to find my ‘no’!
So psycho physically I have discovered through working with lots of people teaching them the wonderful Alexander Techinque that a ‘yes’ that is not meant weakens you, it ungrounds the person, makes them unstable on their feet with an accompanying loss of balance through the body. A ‘yes’ that is not meant but said out of habit or to be nice, is basically a lie and your body, indeed your whole self, knows it! I would argue that this kind of behaviour is not in the flow of your own truth.
A ‘no’ that is genuine stabilises the person. It is literally empowering – physically as well as mentally and emotionally.
Learning to say ‘no’ can take practise and there is a possibility that people won’t like the new you who is not as compliant as you used to be, but quite honestly at this time as a population on planet earth I think more of us need to have both our ‘yes’ and ‘no’ accessible and clear! Learning the power of ‘no’ makes your ‘yes’ much more powerful too!
The word posture roots in the word post. A fixed place. A post in the ground! It also means to ‘take up an artificial mental position.’
Words are obviously useful to help us understand our living condition but can also get in the way of the freedom we seek. We can and do react unconsciously to words in a way that is not helpful.
The word posture to me is horrible word that is commonly used to fix things like bad backs and positions on a horse, and that’s exactly what the word does – fixes things ie fastens securely in a place or position, which is the opposite of freedom and movement, poise and balance that is the most delicious and desirable state of being.
I definitely don’t want to be a posture, I want to be free to move, to flow, to change, to experience.
In truth everything is moving all the time, within and without!
Our putting down of posts into the ground from the first huts has developed a built environment that no longer reflects the rhythms of the world. We have flattened and straightened a wiggly world! Largely confined within straight walls and sitting on badly designed furniture it is easy to see how our ability to sense the subtlety of movement has diminished.
In order to cure ourselves of our lack of well being, our aching backs, shoulders and necks we have become posture fixated instead of learning how to move in a moving world – to move and experience the subtlety of our freedom. The kinaesthetic sense (our ability to sense movement) has been described as our forgotten sense.
Simply sit or stand outside and watch for movement both within and without. We move in a moving world even when seemingly sitting or standing still! Everything moves all the time because we are alive and the natural world is alive.
So the question becomes am I alive to life not do I have good posture!
My advice is dump the word posture from your vocabulary and trust that being alive, expanding your senses in all directions on this incredibly beautiful wonderful planet is truly all you need to keep you balanced and free and moving forward with long graceful springy movement, an open heart and a sense of awe…
Develop your sense of movement awareness and see what happens…
How do you retire if you have been self employed all your life? Truth is I’ve never thought about retirement. Never ever!
Artists don’t retire and neither do Alexander Technique teachers. They just get better at their job! I’ve never had a so called ‘proper job’, with a trajectory and a pension, so this is the first time in my life that I have even considered the concept of retirement, which is probably completely normal for most people.
So what does the word retire mean?
It means to draw back….
Hmm interesting… You step a horse back to gather his energy in order to go forward with more power, poise and spring. When you draw a bow back you are again gathering energy into focus, honing your aim.
There is an Alexander Technique phrase – to think ‘back in your back’. It is a powerful thought and a decision to pause that can change how you react to things and thus how your life works out. The demands of life can pull us forward and out of our embodied self, out of the support of our backs which can leave us in a reactive, exhausted and stressed state both physically and mentally. ‘Back into your back’ is an invitation to real inner strength.
We are taught from an early age to keep going forward achieving on a path laid out before us from school all the way to retirement, when you can finally, apparently, reap the fruits of your labour and live life at a more enjoyable pace that suits you.
So, thinking about this concept, I’ve decided I am going to retire now, to draw back into my power! The thought of early retirement makes me smile, it seems so ridiculous and brilliant at the same time. Retirement as drawing back to enjoy living better. Drawing back to liven my system like a horse about to really move forward into grace, feels like a great plan. It’s a change of attitude really. I’ve never considered that the word and implications of retirement might be so empowering.
So, I’ve decided I want to be one of those ‘retired’ people who say ‘I don’t know how I ever had time to work I am having such a good life and more involved than ever, enjoying all sorts of meaningful things and making a difference!’
Five months ago I tore the plantar plate on my 4th toe. The toe seems to be floating like a bit of seaweed. Oh joy!
Frustrating as being lame is, I notice that I’m not suffering any aches and pains anywhere else. No compensatory tightening. I put this down to 30 years worth of Alexander thinking, an awareness of ‘letting my neck be free’ despite pain and walking as well as I can step by step…forward and up, up and up, up and over the ankle, up and over the ground.
The words ‘think carefully about your next step’ have been a kind of instruction manual from my toe along with the question – what next in life, toe the line you have created or something else?
Having taught Alexander Technique to severely disabled, extraordinary inspiring students including Para – Olympian riders and more recently a wheelchair bound boy set for the next Para – Olympics as a tennis player, it is time to rise to the challenge. Accept and adapt!
A bit about injury and Alexander Technique – If you have an injury, past or present, do think about doing some Alexander Technique. For a start you don’t want to create compensatory movement conditions in your system that may cause further pain. It’s easily done. I have had students thinking I am a psychic because I knew they had broken a leg or an arm twenty years ago. I knew because they hadn’t let go of the holding pattern around the injury despite having made a full recovery.
Secondly Alexander Technique really inspires. Inspiration is useful when life gets tricky and injury can make life tricky. It is this area of the technique, how it inspires and is essentially creative, that I find the most interesting. One that is not talked about so much.
Forget about the dreaded ‘p’ word posture, or in my case plantar plate, what is relevant is – does ‘faulty thinking’ stop us from moving forward?
Do you know what you really want to do in life and if you know and know you are not doing it, what is stopping you? Let me know if that question interests you…
Alexander Technique is not a cure all for all things physical, nor is it an airy fairy law of attraction positive thinking pop psych type happy clappy lovely darling do it to me technique. It is, as my tennis lad put it ‘a way to be a pure mental demon and gain advantage on the court!’
So if you are keen to keep moving forward in your amazing life, which is not, and never can be, a copycat of anyone else’s life then, no matter what your circumstances find your inner FUP it and remember to Forward and UP it!
And lastly, W,X,Y,Z – and you may be asking why? I’m asking myself that too. Why have I spent two weeks writing an Encyclopaedia of Ease? I don’t really know, apart from the fact that I’ve enjoyed it and it’s made me smile a lot. Have you noticed how ease words are smiley words. They make you grin just saying them, and that has to be a good thing, as smiling is definitely easier. So to conclude this romp through the alphabet finding words that sound like ease…
Wishease – Make them and believe.
Wannabease – Wannabewhat? Tell me what you want what you really really want.
Whoopsadaisease – You gotta be specific if you’re going to make wishease, wannabease. Be careful what you ask for, you might get it!
Wallabease – Lovely springy marsupials, much more interesting than wannabease.
Walkease – Walking thinking up with a spring in your step like the wonderful wallabease.
X’ease – Signing off with one or more X’s and spreading the love.
Yesease – yes, yes, yes, a little nod at the top of the spine that can release the entire muscular skeletal system. (Put learning the Alexander Technique on your wish list. It’s worth it. Wishing to plant many more trees is on mine.)
Zzzzz – ease! – If you haven’t already fallen asleep reading this, then I wish you a good nights sleep tonight. Ease…..
Why not download Body Magic and learn to let go into even more ease. Or get in touch with me. Thank you for joining this ease journey with me. Hopefully it is a bit of fun for anyone who enjoys messing about with words. For now…
Trees, Trees Trees Trees Trees – Tree planting is a no brainer way to ease ourselves out of the mess we have got the planet into. We need to plant millions of them! They are the guardians. I am doing my best to plant as many as I can through selling my artwork. It’s slow going but I am determined. I have ideas about how to involve other artists in tree planting projects that I am doing my best to initiate locally too. Planting as many trees as I can is my commitment for the rest of my life! Join me! If one self employed girl can, you can too!
Tranquilitease – Feeling of peace and ease being in natural woodlands and native forests and knowing, by tree planting, that you are doing your bit to ease the burden mankind has put on planet earth the best way you know how.
Tendencease – Having growing tendencease towards planting and tending trees and wanting to encourage others to do the same. We must all find ways to give back instead of just taking!
Uniformitease – Not lines of boring sitka spruce trees please – they acidify the soil and do not support wildlife. Xmas trees are not good environmentally either. Plant hardwoods and find ways to plant a tree instead of cutting one down for your Christmasease.
Unitease – Trees hold the planet together, creating a unified field for us all to live, breathe and love in.
Vortexease – Feeling of satisfaction from having planted trees and knowing that by planting just one tree you have created an amazing environment that will support birds and insects and oxygenate the planet into the future.
Visionarease – Seeing in your mind’s eye what the trees will grown into in years to come, even though you may not be alive to appreciate them. This is forward and upward thinking at its best! Out of little acorns mighty oak trees grow.
Varietease – Planting a wide a variety of native trees.
If you like my artwork why not buy a print, pack of cards or a painting and support my tree planting efforts. I am on a tree planting mission, can you tell?
A4 prints – £20/A3 prints – £30, plus postage. I have lots more art on my website too.
The Encyclopaedia of Ease – Finding ease in everyday words for the fun of it, and because is ease is easier…
Strategease – Not needing to have one, instead going with the flow and trusting your intuition.
Succesease – Finding pleaseure and happiness in everyday things.
Stupiditease – We are all stupid sometimes or as my dad used to say, apply the KISS principle – Keep it simple, stupid!
Simplicitease – Kiss it better.
Sketchease – Quick drawings that flow when you are not trying too hard.
Stressease – You can’t possibly be stressed if you have read the Encyclopaedia of Ease this far! But seriously, if you are, and many people are suffering from stress, then Alexander Technique, laughter and being in nature are the best things I have found for easing stress. Also being with animals, painting and chatting with a friend work for me. Lie in semi- supine, focus on your out breath and let go for a bit. There are downloads available on this website to assist you and lots of fabulous Alexander Teachers worldwide.
Sausagease – A word to say if you want to sound like Sean Connery, best said with a sh instead of an s, just like his name. Which leads us to Sean Connerease – a convention of Sean Connery lookalikes or laughter caused by attempting to speak like Sean Connery.
Synchornisitease – Aren’t they wonderful! You’ll probably see something to do with Sean Connery now.
Sensualitease – Deliciousness experienced in your entire being. Definitely gets heightened by having Alexander Technique lessons.
Sunglassease – Wear them!
Stabilitease – Realising it is a wobbly, wiggly world.
Socratease – The Encyclopaedia of Ease – it’s a logical philosophy to me!
Serendipitease – How fortunate we are to have all these new, accidental ease words.
The Encyclopaedia of Ease – finding ease in everyday words. Ease that you probably didn’t know was there. And now r… Roll your Rrrrrr’s in speech and movement.
R – or ah, or argh! Variations of Alexander Technique ‘whispered ah!’ Very useful stress release is the whispered ah!
Radishease – Not everyone is going to like everything. Knowing there are differencease in peoples tastes and sensibilitease. Me, I like radishes.
Relishease – Really enjoying the things you like. Goes well with garnishease and flourishease!
Ridiculousnessease – Having a sense of the absurd, which means you are probably enjoying the Encyclopaedia of Ease.
Rosease – Stopping to smell them – balance can be found by simply paying attention to your sensease. Also irisease – looking and smelling. S’easy really! Birdease works well too – closing your eyes and listening to them chirping.
Richease – Appreciating nature.
Receptivitease – Allowing the flow of abundance. It is all around you.
Recipease – Easy, tasty, healthy ones that you can prepare in minutes.
Ramasease – How on earth did they build the pyramids?
The Encylopeadia of Ease – Messing about with words to find new ease meanings in everyday things, because ease is easier and who doesn’t want an easier life!? Today we are minding our P’s ‘n’ Q’s. There are all sorts of possibilitease with P, but I’m being a good girl and decided to mind mine and miss out a word that made me giggle in favour of proprietease.
P’ease – Small green veggease, especially delicious when eaten straight from the pod. Also a giant relief if you’ve been bursting to go!
Pl’ease – and Thankyou! Important words that may cause offence if forgotten. (Offencease – remembering your P’s n Q’s and knowing the difference between right and wrong. For example, stealing is wrong!)
Princessease – No more pouting at camera taking selfease. Say Ch’ease and smile please!
Prioritease – Getting them right! Smile, be friendly, think forwards and upwards, care about all of the planet….
Productivitease – Enjoying what you do, then work is a pleasure. Also an easing of buying ridiculous unnecessary things made from or wrapped in plastic which although cheap are costing us our health, as productivity has become more important than the environment! (Economease please)
Promisease – Only making ones that you can keep and are not going to make you feel resentful. S’much easier to say no in the long run.
Pansease – and daisies as I forgot to do daisease in D. Wildflowers that you no longer see as weeds but allow to grow or encourage, as they are good for bees. Also Daisease are love predictors – ‘He loves me, He loves me not? She loves me, She loves me not? Oh, who cares! I love me, I love me not? I love me… self care.
Ponsease – Not thinking that someone is going to teach you ‘how to get rich quick’! Instead realising that all they are selling you is a ‘get rich quick’ model that they have bought from someone else and that there is no actual product, apart from their click bait, the aim of which is to ease cash out of your bank account into theirs, having convinced you that you have been doing everything wrong, and that paying them lots of money is the right way to make you richer! (Audacitease!) Choosing happinessease as a way to richease instead. Also remember the old sayings – there is no substitute for hard work, (especially when you enjoy it), spend less than you earn and the best things in life are FREE!
Philosophease – Ease the day! Ease up! Easy does it! Say Ch’ease!
Ponease – also horsease, gee g’ease, assease, donkease, jennease – I love them!
Phalangease – Feelings of spacious non doing qualitease moving through the hands and fingers to allow and direct the energy of your heart and the integrity of your whole self, to move your world in a forward and upward direction creating more ease, flow and harmonease. An excellent skill to develop. Improves sesitivitease especially when putting hands on someone, painting, riding, handling animals, playing music and everything else you do too. Train to be an Alexander Technique teacher to find out more about the possiblitease of your extraordinary intelligent phalangease!
Pinkease – Scots word for your little fingers. (pinkies)
Psychologease – Thinking and directing loving thoughts and being nice to yourself and others. (Simplicitease!)
Plasticitease – Moving through life avoiding using plastic as much as possible. Also knowing you live in a mobile and bendy body with a big brain flowing through it. A body which will compress and slump under pressure, which in turn will effect your psychologease and emotionalitease, but knowing you can think to change this – Neuroplaticitease. Understanding that you have an underlying ‘physcho-physical unity’ in Alexander Techease jargonease and that it is well worth learning this enlightening principle of ease. The Daily Ease recommends having a series of Alexander Technique lessons for more ease in everything. S’wonderful!
Principalitease – Finding ease principles that work. Living with a principled state of mind.
Pompositease – Knowing that life is not a case of ‘I am right you are wrong’ but more one of developing flow, understanding and ways of working together by for example, listening more, thinking more and being more creative, so as a population we can be more caring. Being pompous alienates. Hunanitease with humilitiease required.
Philanthropease – Finding pleasure in doing nice things with no expectation of reward. Being more giving.
Puppease – A wonderful feeling of softness in the eyes when you see puppease and kittease. Ahhh puppease!
Quicknessease – Slowing down and discovering this is in fact faster, easier and less stressful. Loving being the tortoise as opposed to the hare. (Harease – a name for furry creatures you brush regularly)
Qualitease – We’ve all got them. Allowing the good ones to emerge and seeing them in others too.
Enjoy easing your day
Love Kirsten x
Copyright Kirsten Harris, 1st July 2019
www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk/www.kirstenharris.co.uk – Paintings and prints here
Body Magic, Breathe and Walking with your Horse media downloads here
Idiocease – ‘Aha’ moments, when you realise you’ve been making things hard for yourself. Often accompanied by insights which cause the hand to be held to the forehead and the making of strange noises such as ‘Doh!’
Ignoramusease – ‘Dah!’ Finally the penny has dropped.
Inheritancease – Letting go of family habits and learnt behaviours that you didn’t know you had which keep you stuck in the past.
Intolerancease – Being much easier to live with! Phew!
Indulgensease – Being tolerant of the strange foibles, idiosynchrosease and quirks of your fellow two-legged’s.
Jollease – Fun times in the easy company of jolly friends.
Jammease – Comfy night garments that give you a warm cosy feeling. The Daily Ease recommends allowing yourself a jammease day now and then – never really get properly dressed and instead devote the day to easing, stretching and then more easing and resting. S’very nice!
Jurease – Ease of tendencease to be judge and jury to yourself and/or others.
Jumblease – Joy from finding brilliant things in charity shops, thrift stores and jumble sales. Treasures that make your day. Or giving your unwanted stuff to the above for other people to find and make their day. Yay! Finding creative ways of recycling all the unwanted stuff in the world rather than taking it to landfill.
Junkease – Letting go of your shit and freeing yourself from addictive or habitual thinking or behaviours. Also includes clutter clearing and not poisoning the environment.
Jargonease – Saying things in simple ways so people know what the bleep you’re talking about. Alternatively making up your own ‘ease’ jargon and writing an Encyclopaedia of Ease because it makes you smile.
Jobease – Not being stressed by a crappy job!
Kitteasse also Pussease and Moggease – small felines who are taking over the internet.
Kiddease – Enlightened schools that teach children the Alexander Technique. Kiddease are very wise beings.
Kinkease – Thrilling feeling of length and width after Alexander Technique ease strategease. A behaviour of humanoids liked by kittease and doggease, who will want to lie on top of you when you kinkease, as you grow in sensitivitease and cuddliness.
Kissease – preferably not slobbery!
Kindnessease – Really lovely things people do that make your heart melt and give you a warm gooey hopeful feeling accompanied with the thought that people are actually really, really nice.
Knease – Ease in both knees. Knees forwards and away – now get me out of here!
Forward and Up! Love Kirsten xxxx
More of the Encyclopaedia of Ease coming soon. Why not subscribe to my blog and learn your A,B,C’ease!
Ease the day and have a good one whatever you are doing.
Part 2 of the Encyclopaedia of Ease. My easy peasy lemon squeasy encyclopaedia for an easier life! Written for anyone who likes messing about with words, Alexander Technique, meditation, law of attraction, mindfulness, the power of the mind and all sorts of brilliant stuff and nonsensease that make the world a better place. The Encyclopaedia of Ease for an easier way to be in a world full of complexitease and difficultease …
Ease – Absence of difficulty or effort. Make something unpleasant or intense less serious or severe (actual dictionary definitions)
Ex’ease – Realising you have had a lucky escape and letting go with love!
Effigease – Things to make to stick pins into if you can’t manage to transcendex’ease!
Eventualitease – This too shall pass
Ecologease – Realising that making eco choices are easier than expected and good for the planet too
Flopease – Letting go whilst sitting on a chair to release back, breathing, stress etc. If you have a dog it will probably want to lick your face at the same time. Yuk!
Fattease – Being comfortable in your own body and nice to yourself right now, whatever shape or size you come in. Alsoskinnease. The Alexander Technique words ‘I let my neck be free’ can help develop self love and self care. Try out the words ‘I like myself’ for size too.
Fairease – Keeping the enchantment of childhood alive throughout your life. Seeing the light and magic in all things…
Familiease – Letting the people we are related to do their own thing without habitual reactions rooted in childhood getting in the way. Knowing we can always find famileasein the form of buddease!
Generalatease – learning to avoid them!
Girlease – a group of women getting the hysterical giggles to the point of wetting their pantease about things that only girls would find funny!
Gravitease – learning to think up! Find Alexander Techease, they will teach you how!
Grumpease – having a good rant and feeling much better!
Greedease – Something we must all learn to do! We are all taking far too much from Mother Earth and not giving enough back. PLEASE Ease!
Hippease – Having juicy free mobile hips. Hip hip hooray. Also easy going people, often with long unkempt hair and a good attitude to life.
Horsease – a state of utter bliss aroused from being with, near or on horses, ponease and g g’ease! Smelling horses invokes this pleasure state too.
Hippocratease – Taking a bit of responsibility for your self by seeing disease as a lack of ease, and letting go of stress, tension and holding etc as one possible cure and a potential medicine, also stressease!
Herculease – Owning your unique and wonderful gifts, power and strengths! Being your true self. Also knowing you don’t need to be strong or the strong one all the time.
Hankease – Your mother was right, take one with you! Also solves the problem of finding a present for men! Useful if you get the gigglies with the girlies too.
More Encyclopaedia of Ease Coming Soon. Why not join my mailing list, The Daily Ease…
Anatomease – An easier way to live in your body by knowing the bones and joints and having a clear understanding of how you co-ordinate and move.
Anxietease – An easing of anxiety by deciding that feelings of anxiety and excitement are quite similar and that worry is never productive. Choosing happy loving thoughts wherever possible instead. Aka stress puppease!
Alexander Techease – A group of people who live their life applying and teaching the deep space ease principles of Alexander Technique.
Artease – A state of well being from which ideas flow, ideas which often just appear especially when thinking about balance or are lying in semi supine. Also an arty person possibly covered in paint, carrying an instrument or wearing loose clothing, often drawn to studying the Alexander Technique.
Awarenessease – falling into a blissful state as though floating free. This delicious state can be easily brought about by having the hands of skilled Alexander Techeaseplaced on your head, neck or back in the course of a lesson. Can also be found in your own space by easing out.
Achillease Heal – knowing that owning and loving your weak spots is strength in disguise.
Buddease – A feeling of happiness and joy in the easy going company of friendly people. Knowing that what we think about each other affects each others well-being so choosing inclusive thoughts knowing we are all connected and therein lies freedom.
Boobease – A feeling of utter relief at the end of the day when you undo your bra!
Babease – Realising you are no longer and possibly never were a ‘babe’ and really don’t care. Also includes the perfection of very small humanoids especially when peacefully sleeping or chuckling.
Brease – Realising there is magic in the air, breathing out and letting life be a breeze! Ah ha!
Creativitease – Allowing creativity to emerge by knowing that everyone and everything is creative as creativity is a living quality.
Complexetease and Challengease – Life is sometimes a bit tricky so choosing to get back into your back as a way of unravelling and sorting out stuff aka getting zoned!
Doggease – Canine chums who easily give unconditional love and friendship, always happy to see you, go for a walk or get zoned with you. The best kind of friends. Also puppease.
Dailease – A decision to choose ease on a daily basis doing everyday stuff. Also the name of my blog, The Daily Ease. Why not join for more Alexander Technique brilliancease!
Danceease – putting on funky music and having a boogie in your front room not caring what you look like. Very freeing to combine with boobease, see above! Dancease can also be done with familiease, kiddease, laddease, lassease, mummease, daddease, grannease and doggease! Butkitteasewill probably object!
Difficultease – interesting times to practice ease, for instance when administering a pills to objectionable kittease!
Exercisease – letting go of thinking you have to do exercise for exercise sake and instead just incorporating exercise into your everyday life by simply being active, doing what you love, helping others and looking after the planet. Easy Peasy!
I taught Alexander Technique to university students on a drama degree course for about ten years.
One day I was teaching how our thinking affects the way we feel and therefore move and act and how this happens instantly. I used a really simple example, working with the words ‘I like myself,’ asking the students to say multiple times with different expressions in their voice ‘I like myself!’ To really get into saying the words with passion and feeling, conviction and matter of factness. To convince themselves and each other that ’I like myself!’
(Why don’t you try it now out loud. Some students found this task easy, others found it harder, habitual learned discontent, self doubt and negative self image getting in the way of being easily able to say ‘I like myself.’ Does that sound familiar?)
We all seemed to grow as human beings. We grew in energy and tonality in our voices. Joy and ease started to fill the room. We were all bouncy and up! I asked the students to say ‘I like myself’ to each other and notice how it felt in relationship, smiling and looking into each others eyes.
Your whole self believes and wants to believe the words ‘I like myself’, so for those who struggle with the words, lie to yourself until it becomes the truth! It will! Repetition will create change.
I then asked the students to change the words to ‘I don’t like myself!’ It was a pretty instantaneous collapse into a horrible feeling of being de-energised, like falling into a downward pit of grim emotionality and lack of energy physically. Everyone recognised the feeling as a place they sometimes inhabit, a place of unhappiness.
We shifted back to ‘I like myself’ and the energy in the room changed just as quickly back to being up, open, spacious, lively, animated, connected and free. An interesting discussion emerged into what we had noticed and how this simple bit of self talk might affect our lives. It was a fun class with a serious point and grounded in Alexander awareness.
Later that day I was called aside by a staff member and sternly told that my job was NOT to teach the students to like themselves! I was dumbfounded!
To me one of the premises of the Alexander Technique is finding our innate well being – which I could argue is a liking of our self in so many ways. I remember my first teacher giving me the words ‘I let my neck be free’ and feeling a remarkable release into a better state of being. It felt like a miracle and a revelation and a door opening to the power of thought in hitherto unimaginable ways. And so simple. Something I could think about on my own.
My thought for this class was to strengthen the students’ understanding of Alexander directions and of course liking yourself is a jolly good basis for being an actor. And as a simple kindly human condition liking yourself seems to be a pretty good starting place too!
I looked at the tension getting close to fury that my colleague at the university was displaying as she told me off and realised that teaching ‘I like myself’ had hit a nerve with her. I was empowering the students! Wow! I politely disagreed, explained the class to her and that I truly believe the world is a better place when we like ourselves, for then we like each other too!
‘No-one ever suffered by being too kind to themselves!’ – Robert Holden
I have been thinking a lot about grass! As you do! Under a powerful microscope grass looks like it is smiling. Grass is amazing stuff. Grass is happy and it sure has tenacity. No matter how trampled and muddy, parched and burnt or just plain sad and worn out it looks grass finds a way to go up to the light and just keeps on growing. It recovers and rejuvenates when sometimes you think it is just not possible. Grass is definitely optimistic!
And of course ponies love grass and that’s another lesson. Too much grass and its richness will make a horse sick, too little and the horse will die.
Grass is a great symbol and reminder to be balanced in what we take from the planet. Grass will happily give and give and give, but don’t take too much or the earth will be sick and so will we. We need to be balanced. We need to pay attention. In my mind grass holds the earth together.
And is the grass always greener on the other side?
Grass doesn’t seem to worry about where it grows, it just grows happily everywhere and anywhere, it really isn’t judgemental and is very forgiving. A little bit of nourishment from Mother Earth, light and water and up it goes. Just like us…
So my drawing is in hope of the continued happiness of grass and to the joys of lying on the grass on a sunny summer day in constructive rest!
Download lessons and meditations for constructive rest here
The opposite of the word doubt is confidence. Other words to describe the opposite of doubt include belief, conviction, trust, definiteness, faith, ease, truthfulness, solution, calm, clarity, knowledge…
At art school we were encouraged to be bold, to be confident, as a key to being an artist! That was the main input. Express yourself no matter what!
‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has a genius, power and magic to it.’ Goethe
In the documentary ‘Unstoppable, Sean Scully and the Art of Everything’ Sean says ‘There is no room for doubt in art!’ He describes doubt as an entirely unhelpful emotion that gives you nothing and creates a block. He says to be an artist you need to be driven, not care what anyone thinks and not doubt yourself.
I needed to hear those words! Maybe you do too?
I AM AN ARTIST not a doubter! I needed to be reminded to not doubt in order to reconnect with conviction, trust and ease to the flow that drives me forward. Luckily I have never had a problem with motivation up until the past couple of months when I have let doubt creep in, like an unhelpful ear worm, due to a whole bunch of events colliding, including an attempted scam where, despite my body screaming at me ‘there is something wrong’ I doubted what my intuition was shouting with almost disastrous consequences. Thankfully I woke up in time! However it left me traumatised and doubting myself.
Art is about exploring connections with life, love, god, creativity, spirit, whatever you want to call it. Art is about faithfully being yourself, whatever and no matter what! What else can you be!?
‘Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.’ Lao Tzu
We are often ‘taught’ to doubt, to not trust our intuition, to not trust our self, to not have self worth, to be humble and hold back, to not be at ease, to have fear, to give our power away and accept authority without question.
A whole load of (negative) events caused me to allow myself to doubt and block the flow of my art and therefore my life. DAH! How ridiculous can a girl get!? Don’t let the bastards grind you down!
‘If you stop doing the wrong thing, the right thing can do itself!’ FM Alexander
There is no room for doubt in art (or life). It is utterly unhelpful! Having faith and trust in yourself is a good thing, not an arrogance.
Art can transform experiences, trauma, disillusionment, hurt. Art can reconnect us to passion, to love, to life. Art can deepen our understanding of the experiences we have! We just need to show up wholeheartedly to the process and the solution is in front of us.
It is time to clutter clear doubt from my studio!
Time to just embrace that despite feeling a bit broken, including physically from breaking a bone, I can make art and be creative from where I am right now. The pain can have expression. What else? How else can change occur? That is clarity instead of doubt!
It’s a choice – confidence or doubt. Approaching art with definiteness that the years of knowledge and practice allow is an act of faith. In committing to the process the flow finds you …
Let go, make art!
I thought I would share these thoughts as doubt can show up in many areas of our life and I agree with Sean Scully – there is no room for doubt!
Trust your intuition! Trust yourself! Trust your heart! Trust your art!
In his book Lives of the Artists, Georgio Vasari (1511 – 1574) recounts a story about the artist Giotto (1267 – 1337). He tells how the Pope was commissioning art and sent messengers throughout Italy to bring back samples or artist’s work. When the messenger visited Giotto’s studio, Giotto took a brush and keeping his arm close to his side painted a perfect circle in red paint with one brush stroke. The messenger thought he was being made a fool of. However when he recounted the ease with which Giotto had painted the perfect circle the Pope commissioned Giotto, recognising mastery.
Whilst teaching in Japan, I took lessons in Japanese brush painting. One of the tasks my teacher had me repeat many times was to paint the Enso, the Zen Circle. The circle is painted as one brushstroke to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create. It is a training in one’s ability to be whole in the present moment. The quality of the circle is altered by the quality of one’s presence.
If you are a rider I would like to challenge you to pick up a brush and paint a circle. Can you paint a circle freely and with ease? I would suggest that the circles that you ride (if you ride circles) will reveal themselves to you in the circle you paint!
Circles symbolise wholeness, infinity, eternity, time and timelessness, movement, the rhythm of life, unity, harmony, relationships, breath, Earth and our being in the Universe, connection…
By riding circles we have a way to connect to a wholeness within ourselves and our horse (or not!)
Why not give yourself and your horse a break for a bit to train your mind. If you cannot think or paint a perfect circle I don’t think it is possible to ride a perfect one! What do your circles look like? Practise painting circles with both hands.
The etymology of the word illusion comes from the word luminare or lumen meaning to light up, too illuminate, to shine brightly. The words illusion and disillusionment are ones that I believe have changed from their original pure meaning.
I am using the word illusion to mean creative light and disillusionment to mean a dimming of the inner light, that creative spark within all of us that is most powerful.
I was musing with a friend as to why I was feeling out of my creative flow. I realised I was feeling disillusioned by many things, people, events and in the main feeling put off proceeding.
As soon as I realised the word disillusioned meant a dimming of inner light, I felt the spark of creativity re-emerging, re-igniting like a pilot light guiding forward. My whole mood lightened up. Fuck it, no-one or no-thing is going to dim my creative light! I am alive now!
One of the meanings of the word illusion is fantasy or vision. If a population is in the main disillusioned we remain passive, obedient, sticking to the status quo. But if we see disillusionment as a calling to bring our inner light of creative visions into a future reality that does not exist yet, we have power. We become master illusionists! We become powerful magicians using our creative minds as instruments of change right now. Having a future vision or fantasy that doesn’t yet exist is, after all, how all creativity, invention and change comes about.
It may feel hard not to feel disillusioned looking at a planet on the edge of crisis and a population that seems, in the main, to only give lip service to caring. We rush around at high speed in airplanes etc consuming, working, doing our bucket list! Or we are stuck simply trying to survive in an expensive consumer society.
I propose it is time for a creative FUCK IT list instead of a bucket list!
Fuck it I am not doing that anymore.
Fuck it I am going say NO!
Fuck it I am going to create a different vision for the future.
Fuck it I am going to speak out.
Fuck it I am going to find simple ways to change things in the environment that I exist in right here, right now.
Fuck it, I am going to love getting creative!
Fuck it no-one is dimming the power of my light!
Our illusions are in fact not so much fantasy but fantastical vision of creative energy where mighty good power lies, where healing occurs and where miracles (may just) happen!
So as individuals and as a population are we illuminated or ill?
This is a magnificent planet of immense shimmering light and beauty. That same light and beauty is within me and within you, within and without. Switching our creative light on one person at a time to be master creators of a healthy future for our planet is what I believe we need to learn do. We need to create healthy visions for our world and share them with each other!
It is time to learn how to switch our inner vision back on!
So VISION ON my friends…
What lights your creativity up and what’s on your fuck it list?
I gave my blog the title The Daily Ease as a reminder to make time for a daily ease.
What does a daily ease mean to you?
lying down in consecutive rest aka semi supine
going for a walk
turning your phone off for a time
stopping to look, listen and be the appreciative life
consciously doing a big sighing out breath and letting go
letting go and letting god and reminding yourself to trust
drinking a glass of water
a yawn and a stretch
something else? many ease ideas available …
There is something very powerful about making a conscious choice to prioritise a daily ease for yourself. A mini mini mini break! A moment or minutes to stop and be the ease. It is really as easy as letting your neck be free …
This week seems particularly poignant for me to let go and let god, to, as Einstein said, decide that it is a friendly Universe. Decide that things are happening for me and not against me.
So I chose all of the above as my daily ease today but in particular to TRUST the process. Anything for an easier life!
This is my new transformational question, a holy grail kind of question, a forking great question!
Drinking water with a fork is obviously a difficult, inefficient, unsustainable, energy dripping thing to do. A cup’s a more sensible choice to hold water to quench thirst.
Yet I find my self engaged in activities that could definitely be likened to drinking water with a fork. Do you?
So now instead of feeling forked off or burnt out I am asking the question – am I drinking water with a fork? Is this action, thought, relationship, behaviour, habit … fork or cup? Draining or nourishing? A simple question that changes my awareness and thinking, more able to see the ridiculousness of my habits and be my own change.
A fork and a cup, images for balance, both necessary useful tools, but with very different results.
Fork and Cup
Forward and Up!
Are you drinking water with a fork?
Body Magic, Lessons in the Alexander Technique click here
Breathe, Lessons in the Alexander Technique click here
Sometimes life is challenging to say the least. People behave in ways that surprise and bewilder … our bodies alter and falter …. loved ones die … loneliness and anxiety can descend upon us like a cloud… to name a few.
In the core of all of this what do you say to yourself to recalibrate, re-member, put yourself back together and walk forward tall and proud with your head in the air, feet on the ground and heart open? How do you find your inner peace? How do you keep on keeping on?
These thee words that have been guiding lights to me for years –Forward and Up – shortened to FUP or FUP IT! A little bit of devil may care combined with a direction which is for me the only way to go … forwards and upwards!An Alexander Technique direction or thought that actually co-ordinates the structure too.
So, today a short blog wishing you forward and up into a fupping great week!
The last couple of weeks I have struggled to maintain my fupness for a variety of reasons that all came at once, but this morning I decided to make a Tee shirt with this slogan, simply because it makes me smile and I am feeling my inner FUP IT rekindle by doing it.
FUP IT is so much more positive and powerful than the traditional four lettered expression!
So, FUP IT, it’s Monday … and though things may pull me down or push me over or cause me to doubt or falter, Fup it and Fup you too, I’m not staying there! Are you?
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.
Thinking about what is wiggly and what is straight has really been influencing my relationship with the world around me and my thinking. I guess one of the great joys of teaching is that you end up teaching yourself!On Being Wiggly (part 1 here.)
On wiggly walking –
Until recently wiggly walking might have been a bit Marylyn Monroe, ‘let those hips wiggle sexy lady’, but now being a wiggly walker is more than that.
When I walk in the countryside my body has to wiggle to constantly adjust to the environment in a mobile way. The bones and muscles of my body are shifting and flowing to cope with the wiggliness of an uneven ground. My whole self is in a constant state of adjustment and refinement to the environment – heightened awareness. My body moves not just in a forward and upwards way, but in a wiggly forward and upwards, downwards, roundabout, blending, absorbing, changing, readjusting kind of way.
When I walk in the city, I notice my innate wiggliness is largely lost. The linear, flat, straight, man made environment is influencing the way I use my body. I am no longer being called upon to allow the wiggle of planet earth up through my body in order to adjust to the terrain in such a mobile elastic contour shaping way. In the city there is no need to allow such freedom in the expansive way that the countryside demands. The flat pavement flattens and possibly hardens both my movement and my thinking! Walking is easier in one way, in that you have to think less to stay balanced, but is it really easier if the body is not moving and adjusting in the way that it is designed to do in a wiggly world?
A couple of weeks ago I visited a fairly recently abandoned traditional village in Oman. The houses were a direct reflection of the wiggly mountain landscape. Hand built not machine built. This was a wiggly higgledy piggledy organically constructed man made world. This is how our ancestors lived until relatively recently – in a more naturally formed architecture.
I realise that both my thoughts and movability change as I think about the differences between the wiggly and straight worlds that I inhabit. I have started to notice when my thoughts are ‘flat’ and ‘straight’ and when I allow my thinking to move in the wiggly flow.
It is really rather lovely living in a wiggly world!
A Mountain path, Oman
Abandoned village at the base of the mountain
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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.
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!
I have two necks. No really I have, and so have you!
No need to pat your under-chin and worry if you’re developing a wattle. I’m not being insulting! Me? Well maybe I do have little extra chin or two, but I really do have two necks!
One of my necks has seven bones. This neck is sometimes described as swan-like or Shrek-like depending on how it’s used and can be a pain in the neck or free and graceful. Are you rubber necking now to find out where your second neck is…
Your second neck has five bones, lumbar vertebrae. This neck is at your waist. Like the one above it it’s very mobile when free but can be tight, stiff and restricted and hurt a lot when not.
I want to keep my first neck free as it holds my oh so brainy brain up.
I want to keep my second neck free as it supports the balance of my heart up in space.
I want a heart and brain that are not constricted. Makes sense to me. I might be a little more successful at everything that way. Life is tough enough without having two bottle necks to contend with.
So today, how about spending a little time thinking of being a girl or boy with two necks and explore the enormous range of mobility and movement sensation they both give you. Two connected necks talking to each other in your thoughts.
I wrote the first half of this blog before getting on a flight. Every time I reminded myself that I have two necks whilst standing in the many airport queues or sitting in my not so easy jet seat I felt comfortable again.
So with a little daily ease and a wonderful anatomy of abundance – welcome to the world of having two necks. Mythical!