Post by Category : Pain – Ease

Injury, The Pentagram and The Alexander Technique

Six months ago I tore the plantar plate in my fourth toe. Attempts to find help have been frustrating. I have been told by the medical profession ‘we don’t do toes’ and a podiatrist ‘it will never heal.’ The toe floats like a bit of seaweed. Yuk! So, in the spirit of FM Alexander who had frustrations when dealing with his voice problems, I have decided to experiment with my thinking to learn how to deal with a damaged digit – definitely not life threatening but life changing.

Stand of Trees by Kirsten Harris
www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Over the past few weeks the image of a pentagram, a 5 pointed star, started to emerge in my mind. A pentagram! Hmmm, strange idea but maybe it relates to 5 toes so I thought I would go with it…

The pentagram is an ancient symbol. Extraordinary history and worldwide culture stand behind this continuous line. This blog is just my musings, but I thought I would share my thoughts as to how thinking about the pentagram has helped me with a problem in case someone else out there also finds it helpful. I think this could be applied to deal with many challenges in life.

Star Horses by Kirsten Harris
www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

The 5 points of the star symbolise different choices. Each are possibilities of how to relate to the challenge and each point relates to each other. Having choice is to have freedom to change, possibility and hope. So the pentagram is my road map at the moment – my guiding star.

A few notes about the meanings I have given to the pentagram –

1 – Rest – this is in the realm of spirit. Rest, let go, semi supine, stop, pause, release, recharge, focus on the breath, do nothing, simply be, sleep, put your feet up, meditate, read, do more semi supine, let the body balance itself. Definitely switch off from frustration and fear and instead rest and receive – ideas, inspiration, inner and outer guidance and help. Step back, be calm, assess…

2 – Ride Through – this is in the realm of fire and is inspired by my horse. I figured that Angus has four good legs and there is an invitation here to become a centaur! The horse is a metaphor as well. Ride through is finding my inner warrior and learning how to transform pain. Riding through is teaching the brain not to buy into the pain or problems. It is about direction and direct action. Do what you need to do. Don’t waste time. Get focussed and determined. Find passion and the fire of the heart to transcend problems. Everything in life that is worthwhile will sometimes have frustration and pain – be it emotional, physical, mental. Inner strength is learning how to ride through what is happening and be courageous. Ride through is about not being a victim to a situation but finding my inner grrrrrr-atitude!

Flying in Lightness by Kirsten Harris
www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

3 – Rise Above – this is in the realm of air and inspired by Alexander Technique thinking and directions. Thinking up, expanding one’s awareness, seeing the bigger picture, being bigger than the problem. Forward and up, up and up! Fup it! Don’t get pulled down into the problem or slump into despair. See the whole, think and breathe up and out and away from that which makes you small or sad. Rise above is about having value and self worth…

4. Reinvent – this is in the realm of water. Reinvent is creative, transforming and life affirming. If we flow with what is happening we can create a new path. Creativity is called for when your life changes in ways you don’t anticipate and don’t necessarily want! Creativity means seeing the negative and positive in the situation and finding ways to work with what is. Reinvent takes you out of the realm of habit. Habits are so very comforting and change can be so very uncomfortable but reinvention is an invitation to redefine and renew, to get inspired, learn and develop…

5. Reciprocate – Give back to the earth, help others. Finding ways to reciprocate takes the mind away from one’s own problems. For me, the frustrating floppy toe is getting me even more determined to plant trees, this is leading to ideas of how to reinvent my life, my art work and my Alexander teaching practice. Planting trees is one way I feel I can leave a loving footprint for my earth walk …. even if it is with a limp!

The pentagram is helping me be more conscious about the choices I have. Maybe there is miracle help heading my way and I will be back to normal walking but in the meantime….

Some artwork inspired by thinking about my feet and toes!

Reflection by Kirsten Harris
www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk
Contemplating the Earth Walk by Kirsten Harris
www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tree Walk by Kirsten Harris
www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

A wild rose pentagram in my garden this morning

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Is Your Head Screwed On Right?

Anatomy and Art, Cartoon by Kirsten Harris 

 

Is your head screwed on right?

 

I love the way our language and the phases we use reveal so much on closer inspection! We might say ‘so and so hasn’t got their head screwed on right!’

It’s a cheeky way of saying someone’s thinking is out of balance – faulty!

Someone with their head ‘screwed on right’ is conversely seen as balanced, sensible and wise.

 

I love the suggestion in this common phrase that the balance of the head is key to our ability to think clearly, rationally!

 

Anger, frustration, trying too hard or slumping and other distortions of the physical balance etc can all lead to a sense of not having your own head screwed on quite right! A kind of feeling or emotional condition where you know that there is nothing really wrong, but don’t feel quite right.

 

The Alexander Technique is a fantastic way of discovering how the balance of the head atop the spine facilitates freedom and ease emotionally, mentally and physically.

 

The compromised shortening of the muscles in the neck when your head isn’t ‘screwed on right’ aka in balance,  can lead to many unhelpful conditions that are commonplace in this modern world.

 

The lack of balance of the head and accompanied tightness in the neck and domino effect through your entire system can lead amongst other things to feelings such as anxiety or worry, defensiveness and anger,  as well as of course, pain.

 

To end, I question as a society in general, whether we have our heads screwed on right?

 

Body Magic by Kirsten Harris

 

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

www.kirstenharris.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lean on Me

‘Lean on me …. We all need somebody to lean on’ – A lyric! A truth?

 

What happens if someone leans on you? Can you look after yourself? Or will that leaning push you over, cause you to crumple, to collapse? Will you feel resentment or stress from the pressure of someone leaning? And what if you lean and the support is taken away, or not there? Will you fall? …

 

Teaching the other day, I noticed, as my pupil talked about the stress she was feeling from her friend leaning on her emotionally, that physically her whole structure de-powered too. Literally, within the thoughts of the emotionally difficult situation, she lost her inner power, her poise, her balance, her solidity, her ‘self’. She described herself as crumpling and withering under the strain of the relationship. She looked in pain.

 

I have been developing my teaching over the years based on understanding the simplicity, power and application of Alexander’s direction ‘forward and up’. Much of this teaching is done hands-off, and came about from teaching Alexander Technique to children in a school context, where traditional ‘hands-on’ Alexander Technique is not possible.

 

As we took the ‘forward and up’ lessons into the consideration of the difficult situation, she became clearer and clearer about what was happening psycho-physically, observing the effects of the unbalanced relationship with her friend.  There were several ‘Aha’ moments. I then spontaneously decided to physically lean on her from the side. What happened? Well she started to collapse of course. I asked her to push back, to do what was needed to look after herself and not let herself be leaned on.

 

Something amazing happened.

As she pushed back and uprighted her own physical structure, mine righted itself too. We both stood side by side perfectly in balance. As the leaner, I literally ‘popped’ into balance as she came into balance.

We swapped roles, to observe how it felt being the leaner and the leaned upon.  We noticed that it takes a real mental and physical decision to decide not to be leaned on, but to look after your own balance instead. And that decision brought with it poise and a feeling of happiness.

 

It was a wonderful physical metaphor and moment, because it was so clear to us both that it is by learning to look after ourselves we truly look after another. We both felt whole and complete. (I am looking forward to doing more experiments with this, and wanted to write this blog as much for myself as anything so as to not forget.)

 

So those lyrics, perhaps rewritten would be ‘don’t lean on me if you need a friend’,  let’s help each other stand in our own truth, balance and power instead, even if it takes a bit of sustained conscious psycho-physical ‘effort’, a bit of a push from ground level to think ourselves up!

 

I came out of that teaching situation thinking for the umpteenth time that the Alexander Technique is wonderful –  so simple and profound, an ongoing journey of self discovery.

 

(Funny that the song ‘Lean on Me’ was written by a man named Bill Withers!)

 

If you have never had an Alexander Technique lesson, I would recommend it as number 1 on your 2018 bucket list! Find a teacher in your area.

 

www.kirstenharris.co.uk

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Chimps, Oil on Canvas by Kirsten Harris

www.kirstenharrisart.com

 

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I Feel Like I am Floating

MAY DOC002(23)

 

Taking the time

To lie in semi supine

Is good for my spine

And helps me feel fine

 

17 minutes of time

On the floor is sublime

Let go to align

My bodies design

 

Think into my outline

Contemplate widening from my centreline

Radiating inner sunshine

To find balance’s forward and upward refine

 

Intelligent as Einstein

As refreshing as wine

Rejuvenating the discs of my spine

And it doesn’t cost me a dime

 

Alexander Technique semi supine

Easy DIY self care guideline

Release holding my lifeline

It’s quite simply divine!

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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