Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Right Action with Alexander Technique

I want to remember:


Pause for a moment internally (while engaged in external activity, or stopping external activity) to notice what is

"What is really wanted right now, on the deepest level?"
"What is right for me at this moment?"
"What would be the best thing for me to do right now?"

Wait for a clear answer which is free from doubt

Do what is right for me in this present moment, which may be to refrain from further action

Image courtesy of hinnamsaysui /

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Simple Way to Uplift Your Mood with Alexander Technique

So often, we are down and don't even know it.  But what to do when we're down and know it?

The heart of the difficulty lies in the will, since the part that is down doesn't even want to be up; after all, its very identity is wrapped up in being the 'down-ness' that it is.  Why would the down want to be other than what it is?

So when you notice the 'down-ness', just let it be what it is.  Let the 'down-ness' be down.
After all, it is (you are) free to be down!

You are also free to think.
You can think: "I am free to be down," because, "I am free."
And you can feel it, live it, embody the 'down-ness', and bring it to life.

The wonderful thing is:  as soon as you notice that part of you is aiming down, the not-down part of you (which is the greater, higher, conscious part of you doing the noticing) is already raising it up, just by raising your awareness of it.  Simply bringing it up to your attention begins the transformation; as soon as you add this 'up'-ness to it, the 'down-ness' will be less down.

***KEY:  Can you become curious about whether the down can be transformed into up?***

You can influence your mood/state by literally lifting up your thoughts about the physical body.  Here is one easy way:

  • The visual system lies on a horizontal plane inside of the head:  light enters the eyes and travels through nerves to the visual cortex, a part of the brain in the back of the head.  Usually we have this horizontal plane mapped (we imagine it to be) lower in the head than it really is.  Can you imagine that this horizontal visual plane is being lifted higher in your head, up to where it belongs?
  • What we see at eye level and below is only HALF of the picture.  Can you become aware of all the space above eye level, too?

Using our awareness of the visual system to bring us 'up' out of 'down-ness' can be very effective.
We just need to open up our minds and try it!

By paying attention to your visual system with these simple cues, you CAN...
...have a higher vision for your life!
...set your sights higher!
...see the big picture!
...begin to uplift your vision and your whole self to a higher purpose!

You may not feel like you're down at the moment, but you can still benefit from increased 'up-ness' by trying out these directions.  Let me know what happens, if you do!

*photo of depressed woman by tokyoboy, Image courtesy of [image creator name] /
*photo of happy girl, Image courtesy of [image creator name] /

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Preparing for My Concert Tomorrow, with Alexander Technique

I have a concert tomorrow.

Habitual reactions to this idea have been surfacing over the last week, and more strongly today.
I mentioned this to a friend this morning, who, after encouraging me, promptly asked me, "Well, what is it that you really want from this performance?"

That question stopped me in my tracks (deep and perilous ruts of habitual thinking, actually).

What an excellent question!  What is it that I actually want?

It's funny how our own deeply-ingrained habits of a lifetime can hide our own truth from us so well!

I know very well what I want in life, but my habitual ego-reactions relating to my performance were causing me to lose sight of the fact that what I want in life is to be sought and found in every single moment - in fact, ONLY in the Present Moment, the NOW - and that includes whatever activity I am engaged in, including my performance tomorrow!

In my life, I want:

So, of course this is also what I want during my performance!

We performers know all about practicing and preparation.  If the above are my goals for my performance, as a subset of life, so to speak, then the best way to practice and prepare for my performance is to live these things NOW.

And when I stop to find the Now, I find that there is nothing else other than those things I listed.  In paying attention, I find everything is Here.  I have it All.

Smiling, I am conquering fear, because fear is an illusion - it ceases to exist when I slip into the infinitude of the Now.

This is inhibition.
This is direction.

The Presence of the Now is primarily in control, not my ego.
How absolutely wonderful.

I look forward to the Now of tomorrow, during my performance.  I wonder......!

Friday, October 19, 2012

My Experience Dealing with a Deficient Memory

Alexander Technique is about being exposed to a stimulus
becoming aware of our reaction or non-reaction, 
stopping whatever we are doing which is unnecessary and unhelpful, 
and directing ourselves into the next moment with conscious choice.

These days, I am noticing a familiar pattern in myself, and I'm going to write about ways I deal with it.  The topic is my memory - or lack thereof!

I don't have a "terrible" memory; I also don't have a "great" memory.  Of course, I have a memory - there is a lot I remember!  I always did well in school, remembering what was necessary for the tests; and I was able to remember long pieces of music without any problem.  My IQ is not low. But there is so much that I don't remember, too, and I constantly find myself in situations where I am expected to remember things but cannot.  This is a recurrent stimulus to me, which I must inhibit my reaction to, and direct myself well in response.

Here are a couple of examples of stimuli which have tempted me to react recently:

- I am an accomplished violinist, and I will be performing a violin/harpsichord recital in two weeks.  When I was asked a few days ago what is on the program, I could not recall more than two of the pieces on the spot.  Slowly, over the next few minutes, I remembered what I'd been practicing every day for some time, but it took much much longer than normal.  In fact, "normal" would be to be able to rattle off immediately all the details about the program.  Not remembering the pieces I will be performing is definitely not "normal"!

- A colleague recently shared all sorts of interesting information with me, a slew of facts on topics that I am actually interested in, and which I enjoyed hearing about immensely, but I knew that I would not be able to retain most (or any?) of what was said. If I had been tested on the material ten minutes later, I would surely have failed the test.  My goal while listening to people has often become simply to remember ONE fact from the conversation, and even that one often slips away.

How do I react to the idea that there may be something "wrong" with my brain?  
I smile to myself.  Truly.  Because I know it's not true.
Then, I inhibit the thoughts that tempt me to think things such as:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

5 Minutes to Conscious Control of Your Thinking, with Alexander Technique

Does it sometimes seem like your thinking goes around and around in circles and gets in the way of everything, keeping you from getting anything done? 

It’s really helpful in life to be able to think about WHAT you WANT to think about, WHEN you want to think about it. That can be very challenging sometimes, especially when you're feeling overwhelmed by many different things and are under stress.  So it's important to realize that this is a skill which requires PRACTICE! 

What if for 5 minutes every day, you actually CHOOSE what you’re going to think about? 

Here's one way to practice:

  • Set aside just 5 minutes, and make this "conscious-choice-in-thinking" time, or whatever you want to call it! Set a timer. This is a practice session. Very important:  DO NOT let yourself go longer than five minutes. When the five minutes are over, you can then CHOOSE AGAIN to do 5 more minutes, or to stop and go do something else, or to think about something else for another 5 minutes.  Or, you might choose a different length of time for your next session. 
  • Lie down on your back on the floor with your knees bent up to the ceiling, feet on the floor, head on a book or two (see link for more information on Constructive Rest Position, or Semi-Supine)

  • Then, take a moment to inhibit and think your Alexander Technique directions, if you know how to do this (if not, just rest without doing anything for a few moments; or, consider finding an Alexander Teacher to show you how to practice constructive rest - you will NOT regret this, as an expert's help with this is wonderfully insightful!).  
  • Now, CHOOSE what you want to think about as your activity for the next five minutes while you're lying down.  Are you going to think about work? food? relationships? travel? depressing thoughts? positive thoughts?  Anything is fair game for the next five minutes, but choose just ONE topic. 

You are training your brain to be selective in its thinking, to concentrate, to focus, to be under your conscious control...and that’s something we all need in life.  This is a SKILL that you absolutely must have to be successful at anything. You have to be able to focus your mind to get what you want! And you will never even know what you really want if you don’t have the skill of focusing your mind! 

A hidden bonus to this exercise is to gain the skill of STOPPING yourself from thinking about a certain topic.  This skill is at least as important as being able to stick to one topic.  You must be able to choose to stop thinking when it's time to move onto something else.  That's why setting the timer for 5 minutes and training yourself to stop is an integral part of this exercise!

Make a commitment to doing this every day for just 5 minutes. Try it every day for a week, or longer, and see what happens.  It really will work, if you make the commitment and PRACTICE. Even if you can’t do it for more than 30 seconds at first, PRACTICE this every day and it WILL get easier over time. 

*spiraling Image courtesy of Rawich /
* semi-supine photo courtesy of Imogen Ragone,

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Positive Resistance to Stress, with Alexander Technique

I have been experiencing a great deal of stress lately, due to certain circumstances in my life, and that leads to a sense of internal pressure to deal with all of it somehow.  I find it interesting to take a moment and observe this phenomenon in myself and how it plays out.

The Old Habitual Way: 

stressful situations lead to:

  • sense of pressure from outside, "a burden/weight on my shoulders", etc.
  • habitual reactions made up of a combination of fight/flight/freeze responses in mind and body
  • which leads to heightened anxiety and other unpleasant feelings and emotions,such as annoyance, irritation, anger, frustration, sadness, sense of hopelessness/helplessness, etc.
  • negative thinking
  • strong desire to do something to get rid of these unpleasant feelings
  • addictive behavior often follows, such as sugar-consumption to make myself feel better in the short term but makes me feel worse soon after
  • more unpleasant feelings: back pain, brain fog, repetitive thinking, etc...
  • vicious, destructive cycle

The New, Conscious Way: 

When I remember to STOP for a moment, so that I can think and apply my AT skills, I am more empowered to change how I react to stressful situations, which I often cannot change directly (for instance, sometimes the stressful situation has to do with another person's actions, or even the weather), and I have a chance to break the cycle and transform it into something positive.

stressful situations lead to:

  • some, but less, of the old reactivity (or if I'm really mindful, I can skip this unpleasant part altogether!)
  • recognizing that outside pressures come with an inward direction (it feels like things are pushing in towards me, trying to compress me and make me shrink)
  • instead of fighting that inward force, I can notice and allow it, accept and go along with it
  • this brings me inward to my heart - the seat of ego, as well as the seat of Consciousness; I realize that I can choose Consciousness, and be grateful that I have been brought back to my heart, getting in touch with my true Self again
  • once I'm centered again, I see that I have a choice:  I can continue focusing on this inward direction, and/or I can re-balance myself by remembering that the inward can also shine outward
  • choosing to shine out from my center, I can aim my whole self into expansion, aiming up-down, left-right, forward-back, etc. - but without losing awareness of my heart-center; ideally, I will continue to remember that inwardness and outwardness are equally necessary, and I will allow for both directions to support me as I continue on into my daily activity
  • this gives me a great deal of confidence as I face outward pressures with a positive resistance
  • aiming in-out brings me back to the awareness of my inner strength and helps me apply it constructively in relation to the challenges that await my response on the outside

This works SO well; I wish I could remember it every time I'm faced with stress in my life!

p.s. It can be hard to know how to aim yourself (body and mind) in space; this is what an Alexander Technique teacher is trained to help you  do.  Taking some lessons to learn these great skills is REALLY worth it!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Good Use of the Word "Throughout", with Alexander Technique

I love words.
Sometimes I also hate them, but deep down I really love them!
Here's a word I've just fallen in love with today:  "throughout".

"Throughout" is a word I use all the time, but today I've just realized that it's made up of two words: "through" and "out".  I love this word -- it's so alive and full of movement!  Realizing this has given the word deeper meaning for me, and has led me to discover a new use for it -- a way to "embody" it.

If you're interested, I'd like to show you a very useful new way to use this word in relation to your emotions.


  • Notice how you are feeling right now, emotionally.  Happy? Sad? Empty? Joyous?  Numb? Excited? Curious? Blah? Nothing much?
  • Whatever you are feeling (even if it's nothing much), decide to stop holding onto whatever it is, and see if you can let it move a bit. Let this feeling (or non-feeling) spread through your whole body-mind self. If other feelings come up, let them move through you, too.  These are just ideas - no need to do anything extraneous with your body.
  • Take a moment and inhibit the habitual idea that your body has a distinct edge to it (where your skin meets the air), and imagine that you're a bit more expansive than that.
  • Now imagine that these feelings are spreading a bit farther and wider than your usual idea of self...going out just beyond the edges of your physical body.  
  • Now stop containing them altogether, and let the feelings move out of the usual space of yourself, into the infinite space around you.

If you've tried this exercise, you've just let yourself feel your feelings throughout your whole self.

Why is this exercise useful?  
Oh, for so many reasons!  But, most importantly, it's an effective way to help yourself stay centered and whole, especially at times when strong emotions threaten to pull you off-balance.  When we don't let our feelings move, or only allow them to move within us without having the intention to also release them out of us, they will stay stuck in us - and us in them.  Keeping emotions trapped inside of us affects our well-being in a myriad of ways, and makes life much more difficult.  This is a way of getting out of the habit of experiencing our feelings only partially and keeping them inside; a way to let ourselves feel our feelings deeply with our whole selves, and then to let go of them once we've felt them.  

It is a way to embody our feelings throughout the whole self.

Yes, I do love words! :)

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

*Free image courtesy of

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Alexander Technique = Embodied Thinking put to Good Use

F.M. Alexander:  Australian genius born in 1869; discovered universal principles that guide how mind and body naturally work together as a unity to coordinate movement in a life-enhancing way; later developed a technique to teach himself and others about these principles and how to stop interfering with them for optimal health, well-being, and performance; moved to England to devote his life to this work

Technique:  a method or skill for accomplishing a desired end 

Embodied Thinking:  a way to connect the mind and body with consciousness, including the skills of kinesthesia and empathy

Good Use:  positive, constructive, serving a useful purpose, helping to improve, promoting further development or advancement of the individual

*Free image courtesy of

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Embodying Gratitude with the Alexander Technique

I'd like to share a personal observation with you today.

For many years, the practice of gratitude has been a regular part of my spiritual practice.  I have consciously incorporated this attitude into my life during periodic meditation times, by forming the general intention to be grateful throughout the day, and by looking for specific things to be grateful for.

Over the past few weeks, I've been experimenting with a different angle on gratitude:  I've been paying more attention to what the experience of gratitude actually feels like.  I'm finding the experiment to be very interesting. By shifting my focus a bit more onto my feelings, I'm discovering that my habitual way of practicing gratitude has been primarily (but not exclusively) to focus on my thought-intention, without paying too much attention to the feeling.

I'm discovering quite a few things:

  • For me, gratitude has a distinct physical feel to it, and it takes on some kind of a shape.
  • If gratitude has a shape, for me it's like a somewhat flattened U-shape, or a broad smile; and if it's three-dimensional (even better!), it's more like a wide cup.
  • When I start to feel gratitude, I experience a shift in my head and body, as if the sides of my brain and body are lifting upwards while my middle rests downwards.
  • I find this shape to be symbolic of receptivity, like a cup that needs to exist before it can be filled; and as soon as it exists it IS filled, and therefore I have something to be grateful for, deep inside of myself.
  • Focusing on the intention/goal (in this case, gratitude) as a thought just isn't enough - because feeling my goal - feeling gratitude - being gratitude - is actually part of my goal.  If I am over-focused on the thought-intention, I can still feel the result (I've always been able to feel gratitude), but I'm missing so much of the goodness of the feeling if I'm not also really letting myself feel it - and enjoy it.  
  • Even though mind-body unity isn't a new concept for me, somehow unity of thought-feeling is.
  • Gratitude is not my default mode.  I can tell because when I stop thinking/feeling gratitude in this way, the 'up'-'cup' droops and flattens down again instantly.  
  • I need to practice this thought-feeling of gratitude much more often!
  • Thankfully, practicing gratitude is MUCH easier this way, and it makes me want to do more and more of this kind of practicing, because it feels great!

You might wonder, what does all of this have to do with the Alexander Technique?

Constructive, conscious control is what happens when we formulate a clear intention with our thinking, and let go of whatever we're doing that interferes with realizing that intention.  There are so many possible interferences - "doings" that we must stop - and one of these seems to be over-focusing on the thought while under-focusing on the feeling.  (Of course, the opposite is just as much a pitfall.)  Balance and unity are everything!

Try it out:
  • Think of what gratitude means to you, and start to wonder what gratitude might feel like.
  • Pay attention to your head and the rest of your body, either one at a time or both together.
  • Allow yourself to feel any changes as you get in touch with a true sense of gratitude.
  • Now let go of this feeling of gratitude, and go back to your "normal" state of being.
  • Try it a few times, and maybe increase the intensity and/or duration of the gratitude state.
  • As you switch back and forth between gratitude and non-gratitude, do you notice any shifts in your head? body? mood?
I would love to hear about your experiences with this, or any other thoughts or feelings about 
gratitude that you might have!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Real Change can be Effortless with Alexander Technique

I admit:  I am astonished.

Even though I'm an AT teacher and I know from experience how working on an issue indirectly (focusing primarily on the whole person instead of individual parts) can help create fundamental change...the change I just experienced in myself as I began to practice my violin this evening caught me offguard!

All my life (I've played the violin since age 4), my left hand pinky has been "weak" (well, that was my belief, anyway), which has resulted in playing with it rather flattened out on the fingerboard much of the time.  Over the years that I've been involved with AT, I've been working with changing my belief about that little finger, realizing how strong that side of my hand is, in fact. My work with this has been extremely casual, though, and I remember it mostly while teaching my students about their fingers.

I didn't work much on this issue because I never really expected to be able to play the violin with a rounded pinky--that was just beyond my reach, I thought; I didn't even bother trying to change that.  Playing that way would be an "ideal" dream for me which I did not hope to ever achieve.  It actually wasn't very important to me, either, because the results I've always gotten with a flattened pinky have been just fine for me--very much "good enough".

SO, imagine my surprise as I began to play the violin this evening (at 11:00pm, tired...) and I suddenly notice that my pinky is strong and rounded.  In disbelief, I test it out in different positions, playing different types of music...and lo and behold...I can keep it that way!  I am almost in shock -- I had to come here right away to write about it.

I have NOT worked on this issue.  I have rarely given it any thought, although I have been aware of the flattened pinky as a generally undesirable condition.

How and why has it changed, without working on it at all in the "usual" way?  How can it be that such a fundamental "problem" has changed from one hour to the next (I did play the violin a bit this afternoon and I didn't notice anything different), without any conscious will to change?

Fantastic.  This was entirely unexpected.

This really makes me wonder what other seemingly miraculous changes might be in store for me in the future!  I am in awe of the Mysterious workings of Life....Life's Wonder...and so grateful!

If you are a student or teacher of the Alexander Technique, have you had a similar experience you might like to share?  Something that bothered you that was suddenly changed one day, without any conscious effort on your part to make it different?  I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Morning Moment

Good morning, world

I close my eyes
waiting, I breathe

today, I would like to love whatever I come into contact with
loving the keyboard now...and the air...and my thoughts...even the chaos within...

aiming for Peace
stopping, waiting



just Being
I am not the Doer

let come what may
I will still be Here
watching, listening, touching


Monday, June 18, 2012

An Introductory Alexander Technique Class for Musical Pre-Teens and Teens

Today, I taught an introductory AT class to approximately 45 young musicians, ages 11-17.  I decided to start the class with a rather crass definition of the Technique:

"The Alexander Technique is a way of observing yourself and your environment so that you can have better control over getting what you want."

I took a quick poll; not a single student didn't want to be in control, and everyone except one girl said that they typically want something, so I think everyone could relate to that definition.  Since I was asked today how I taught the rest of the 55-minute class based on that definition of the Technique, I thought I'd share a brief overview of the class here, for anyone who might be interested.

I decided to base the class loosely on these words: WHAT, WHO, WHY, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW.  We never really got to "why", "when", and "how", but we have two more class periods to delve into those!

My basic questions were:

- WHAT is music?
- WHO makes music? WHO are you? (My favorite response: "An Awesome Thing...")
- WHAT are you in connection with now?
- WHERE are you?  WHERE do you make music?

After much interesting discussion, we played some games, first seated and then moving around the room, to explore our sense of space--personal and in relation to objects and other people, and including the directions of space.  Then, we discussed the exercises and related them to performance, for instance: how can you think differently if you're on stage in an orchestra, feeling cramped and claustrophobic?  Maybe it could help to expand your sense of personal space to the edges of the room and beyond, even into infinitude...

Next, we did an exploration in which the class was divided into two groups: the "performer" group and the "audience" group, with the performers in the middle of the room, and the audience in a large circle around them, at the edges of the room.  I led them through two elaborately-constructed imaginary scenarios, simply put: (1) very critical and hateful audience; and (2) loving, approving audience.  How did they feel?  As expected, most students much preferred the second scenario, but I was admittedly surprised that there were about five students who preferred the first scenario.  They felt that they "performed" better under adverse circumstances, when they had to "work harder", it "mattered more", and they had "something to prove".  Most students felt more tension and "performed" worse when the audience was very critical, and they felt their bodies relax and "perform" better when they felt loved and accepted by their audience.

The main point of the "performer/audience" exercise was to show the students that--no matter which scenario they preferred--they were responding physically with either more tension or freedom in their bodies, depending exclusively on their thoughts.  There were real effects that were created ONLY by their own imaginations.  "What you think is what you get"; which means, in effect, that through your thinking, you can have constructive conscious control over yourself and your performance.

By making good use of your thinking, you can have better control...and you're more likely to get what you want.

I'm looking forward to the next three days, in which the group will be split up into three smaller sections.  Their third class will be on Friday, when all 45 get together again.  What an adventure!

I'd love to hear your reactions to this post.  If you're an AT teacher reading this, do you have any other games you like to play with this age group to illustrate any AT concepts?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Alexander Technique and Life-Threatening Illness

Today, I will be teaching my first student with cancer.  He has just been diagnosed with lung cancer, and will begin chemotherapy on Tuesday.

This gives me pause.

There are so many things I would like to tell people with a life-threatening disease, people who are afraid, people who are suffering.  To share all of my thoughts would take much more than the 45-60 minutes I'm likely to spend with my new student today, so I wonder what might be the most important things to share.  Teaching the Alexander Technique, one can never be sure if a new student will resonate with this practice enough to come back for more lessons.  Today may be the only lesson I teach this man.  How can I help him the most in such a short period of time?

Well, as with any student, regardless of the conditions and circumstances, my primary role is to "practice what I preach".  That means:

1. observe, notice, be aware of what comes to me through my senses, including my proprioceptive sense within, and including my thoughts and feelings
2. inhibit my reactions to these stimuli that come my way--from within myself and from without
3. "stick to principle", as Alexander said, and be clear of my own direction and the direction I wish for my student
4. do not endgain, focus on results, or care too much about outcomes; instead, enjoy the process
5. wait and allow and trust; let the right thing "do itself"

There are so many specific things I would like to share; I have a wealth of facts and information and thoughts that I would like my student to become aware of, which I know would help him.  I need to inhibit my desire to share too much in one lesson, and trust that the right information will be transmitted in the best way, in the moment.  Planning with too much detail never works for me; the circumstances always dictate what is needed, and I cannot predict the circumstances.

That said, I have plenty of specific ideas I'd like to share.  For instance:
- how our fearful reactions to pain and suffering contribute to the cycle
- how our thoughts, emotions, and body are interconnected and inseparable
- how our essential being is Freedom, no matter what it feels like
- how if we remember and believe in this essential Freedom, our True Nature, we can use our thoughts constructively to create positive changes in our body, releasing us from the cage we put ourselves in with fearful thinking
- how important it is to release the muscles that are connected to the ribs, to allow for free breathing
- how essential the head-neck-torso relationship is to all other muscles, and therefore our breathing
- how important it is to accept--and LOVE--what is, for only in allowing and loving can we realize our true Freedom and find Joy, despite our circumstances

I am very much looking forward to witnessing my adventure today.  I wonder where it will take me, and I wonder where it will take my student!

If you are an AT teacher reading this, I wonder how you might approach a first lesson with someone who has a life-threatening illness?  And, if you're not a teacher, I wonder if you might have anything to add from your own experience and perspective?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Alexander Technique Annual Conference ~ Part I

Here I am in New York City, so grateful to have the opportunity to participate in the annual conference for AmSAT, the American Society for the Alexander Technique.

I thought I'd write down some tidbits that come to me as I experience wonderful lessons and workshops with some of the finest Alexander teachers from all over the world.  My schedule is packed with activity, so I'm not going to take a lot of time to organize my thoughts here; I will just write things as they come to me, and hope that some of what I write might inspire you, too!

  • Today, I had one of the best lessons I've had in a long time, from Beret Arcaya.  I had never met Beret before, and it just amazes me that in only 30 minutes, an AT teacher can inspire someone with so much trust.  I put myself into the hands of a virtual stranger (well, she did come highly recommended!), and she taught me in a way that made it easy and safe to let go.
  • What was it about the way she worked that was so effective?  If I were to pinpoint just ONE of the many positives, it was that she worked with me very slowly, and did very little.  I have been craving this kind of teaching for some time; I appreciate it so much when someone has the sensitivity to be strong, yet gentle, and completely respectful, to not rush me, to not push me, to give me time.  This is such a wonderful gift.  As she said, one needs to find the right tempo.  And our reflexes need SLOW to unfold and open up with trust.  Thank you, Beret, for sensing that this was what I needed most today.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stopping to Remember, with Alexander Technique

I am free.
I have time.

I am free to feel like this: _______________
I am free to think this: _________________
I am free to want this: _______________

I am free to stop.

I am free ~
the neck is free ~
head forward and up ~
torso lengthening and widening ~

I am free to stop.
I have time.

I remember my Goal:  Self-knowledge, Freedom, Love, Beauty, Inspiration, Bliss.......................

What I want most right now:
- to go up, inspired with happiness, ease, and freedom
- Love: to be passionately in love with the Essential Goodness in everything, including myself

I am free to remember.
I am free to be up; I am free to feel up.
I am free to Love ; I am free to feel Love.
I am free to be happy; I am free to feel happiness.


Dear Reader:
What do you remember when you stop?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Free to be Silly, Free to be Serious ~ with Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique is about being free.  It is about being free to be exactly how you are right now, and about being free to choose how you wish to respond to the next moment.  It is about finding the freedom to be yourself, and the freedom to express whatever you wish to express, whenever and however you choose.

How we are perceived by others is always only a partial picture of the reality of who we really are, because we naturally respond differently to different people and different situations. The roles we play are constantly shifting, and we are free to play them all, just as we wish.  The list of possible attributes we can notice in ourselves and in others is endless, and changes every day.  We can notice and realize our freedom by thinking thoughts such as:

I am free to be kind, gentle, and loving.
I am free to be silly and frivolous.
I am free to be serious and intellectual.
I am free to be stupid and ignorant.
I am free to be energetic, powerful, and confident.
I am free to be sad and heavy.
I am free to be lighthearted and sweet.
I am free to be cold and stoic.
I am free to be poised and graceful.
I am free to be clumsy and malcoordinated.
I am free to be generous, selfless, helpful, and considerate.
I am free to be selfish, self-centered, egotistical, and self-absorbed.
I am free to be wild and mischievous.
I am free to be virtuous and good.
I am free to be a controlling, judgmental perfectionist.
I am free to be peaceful, calm, and patient.

We are free to listen to what other people think of us and believe what they say, just as we are free to listen to the voice inside us that tries to label and limit us, convincing us that we are this or that.  Or...we can realize that we are free to include more in our perceptions of ourselves and others.  We can see the things that others may not see, and we are free to move from one limited state into a better possibility, if we don't like the state we're in.

Those who love us are the ones who know that we are infinitely more than meets the eye.  These special people are able to see through the changing roles to the grand stability of changeless, limitless Freedom within us.  They allow us the freedom to take on any role, seeing that each one is only temporary, just a part in the play of the infinite nature that is our true Self.  These people are ready, just as we are, to forgive the actions that are difficult to accept, to celebrate and enjoy the ones that are easy to like, and to play along with us, coming and going as they/we please.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

When Caring Too Much Gets in the Way

Caring too much about results leads to excess tension.  This seemed to be the theme of the week with my Alexander students at the University of Cincinnati, and it seems to be the theme of the week for me now.

What happens when we have a goal and we try too hard to attain it?  Tension.
What happens when we strive too much and drive ourselves with excessive ambition?
What happens when we care too much about the quality of our results?  Tension.
What happens when we care so much that we get stuck and can't move forward?

If you find yourself feeling frustrated as you aim and work towards a goal, stop for a moment and consider how important the goal is to you, and its deepest meanings.  The more important the goal seems to you, the more likely it is that you want it very much and are intensely focused on trying to attain it.  Trying too hard creates stress and too much muscular tension in your body, which makes achieving your goal more difficult, and sometimes impossible.

Here's an experiment. Think of a specific goal you have in your life that tends to frustrate you.

  • What if you were to lighten up a bit, and entertain the thought, "I don't care whether I ever achieve that goal or not"...while still keeping the goal in mind.  Even if it's not true (because you clearly DO care), can you try the experiment just for one moment, just to see what it might feel like to not care at all?  After the experiment, you can always go back to caring a lot.
  • With a light touch, can you simply be aware of the idea of your goal as something separate from what you think you must do to get there?  
  • Can you see the goal not as a point which excludes all other points in the universe, but simply one point, in front of you and above the horizon, in the midst of an infinitude of other possible points, even those behind you?  
  • Can you keep your goal in your awareness, and yet pay more attention to the whole, which includes you and everything else?  
  • Now, can you pay more attention to the immediate task, the next small baby-step which will inevitably take you one step closer to your goal, without caring one bit about the goal itself?
  • Can you find tiny bits of joy in successfully accomplishing the tiniest bits of each step?  
  • Can each tiny bit of joy be a reward in itself, keeping you on track?

This kind of bigger vision takes the pressure off.  "Not caring" about the goal is not about giving up the dream or the hope or the faith that eventually you will get there; on the contrary, it's about trusting that you will get there if you do what it takes in whatever time it takes, without creating excess tension by pushing yourself to get there too soon, too quickly.  It's about feeling the joy and sense of accomplishment in tiny little baby steps...each one is a miracle.  If you can really see and feel that deeply, then it truly won't matter if you achieve the result you wanted or something else equally wonderful--or even better--instead, because what we want deep down truly IS joy itself.

Helpful thoughts:
  • I have a clear vision of my goal.  I know what I want.
  • I know where I am and where I want to go.
  • I know what steps I need to take to get me to my goal.
  • I trust that this plan makes sense, and I am committed to following the steps.
  • I have time.  I am not in a rush.
  • I don't care about the outcome of this process.
  • I don't care about whether I reach my goal or not.
  • I am aware of the big picture, all the points in space everywhere, not just my goal.
  • I am focusing on just one step at a time, enjoying myself, and trusting.

I would love to hear about your experiences.  What happens when you care too much?  What happens when you try too hard?  What happens when you stop caring, when you let go?

*photo by <p><a href="">Image(s):</a></p>

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How to Manage Performance Anxiety with Alexander Technique

Performance anxiety is experienced by just about everyone, in many different kinds of situations, not just by performers who go out on stage in front of an audience.  People can even suffer from a form of performance anxiety while having an intimate conversation with a close friend.  All kinds of performance anxiety can be alleviated by applying the Alexander Technique to the situation.

Here is a link to an article I wrote some years ago on this topic:
Performance Anxiety ~ A Way to Deal with it that Works!

Here are the core ideas, in a nutshell:

• You recognize your habitual response to a situation (scary thoughts, sweat, shaking, etc.)
• You remember that you are free; you see that you have a choice–how you respond is up to you
• You know the old way doesn’t work, so you decide to stop doing that and try something new
• Since the old way was to try to get rid of or change the situation, this time you won’t do that
• You don’t do anything other than let your feelings be there, allowing yourself to feel them
• Once you feel the feelings, you come to know them, and then they’re no longer frightening
• When there’s nothing to be afraid of, the feelings of performance anxiety (fear) disappear.

...and then you can ENJOY yourself.  Magic!

I would love to hear your responses to this article, especially if you try out the suggestions, or if you have another way to deal with performance anxiety.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How to Find Balance with the Alexander Technique - Part II

There are times when I sit at the computer and my neck hurts.  As an Alexander teacher, I have the knowledge and the skills to bring myself out of pain if I choose to.  Yet, for some strange reason, I don't always choose to do that.  Why not?  Why would I prefer to remain in pain while I engage in an activity?  Why do I continue to do something that I know is hurting me in some way?  What am I getting out of it?  There must be some perceived benefit to me that motivates me more than being free of pain.  Very odd, isn't it?  I'd like to explore this further.

I think we all have a similar experience from time to time (and sometimes, most of the time!), of continuing to engage in an activity even though it causes us pain. What is the common denominator, from person to person, experience to experience?  Why do we do it, even when deep inside, we know it would be best to stop or change course somehow?  Why do we not listen to that "little voice" inside?

I think that when I am in a situation like the one I described above, I am trying to "get" something, maybe some sense of pleasure, from outside of myself--even if the specific act is also one of trying to "give" something to the world (or a specific person) outside of myself.  When we're focused on the outside, it doesn't really make a difference whether we're trying to "give" or "get"...the point is that we're still focused on the outside.  When this causes pain, it's because our focus on the outside is being given priority over what is on the inside, and the delicate balance between inside-outside / me-world has been disturbed.  We are thrown off-balance, and we experience pain.  Something in us believes that what we can get from the outside will be better or more important somehow than what we can give ourselves and get on the inside.  In a sense, we abandon ourselves to a faulty belief and don't trust the voice inside that wants to deliver us from pain and suffering.

The inward dimension has priority over the outward.

It is moments of unbalance and delusion like this which remind me of something F.M. Alexander said: "Pain is your friend."  Pain is a friendly voice inside of me, poking me (sometimes not so gently!), telling me I'm off-balance.  It's a little red flag warning me to stop going in the same direction, reminding me instead to re-assess where I am, what I really want and where I want to be, and to re-direct myself into better balance and ultimately greater peace and happiness.  If I would only go inside and listen to this friendly voice and all it has to say, with my whole being--all my attention, then I would be able to find a way to give myself a pain-free experience while also giving something even better to the outside.

That means stopping to pay more attention to "giving" to myself (and therefore "getting" from myself) from the inside instead of "getting" something from the outside.  When I "give" to myself from the inside, I also "get" what I need most--after all, who else but me knows exactly what I really want and need?

Of course, we can also be thrown off-balance by over-focusing on the inward and forgetting about the outward:  I think it is impossible to find true balance without a deep inner awareness of ourselves in relation to an awareness of the "other" which is outside of us.

I'd love to hear about your experiences and thoughts on continuing to engage in an activity even though you know it is hurting you somehow.  What does this mean to you?

* photo by digitalart,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to Find Balance with the Alexander Technique - Part I

When we feel unbalanced--either mentally or physically or both--it is because we are unconsciously pulling ourselves off-center.  We do this by over-focusing on one or more spatial directions to the exclusion of others.  Our body follows our awareness, and our intention directs our awareness.

For example, if we are concentrating our focus outside of ourselves on work at the computer in front of us, oblivious of the region within our bodies and the space behind, above, below, and to the sides, we will start to lean forward towards the machine, throwing ourselves off-balance in our chairs, and our heads/necks/bodies will become filled with tension.  Or, if we are aware of pain in our heart, unaware of the space around the heart in the rest of the body, and of the space outside the body, we will tend to contract/ collapse inwards towards the heart-region, causing more pain.

What we need to do to regain balance is to first find the WILL to regain balance, then notice where our focus is, stop letting parts of ourselves get pushed or pulled in one direction to the exclusion of the other directions, and open up our minds and bodies to keeping all directions in balanced awareness together.  Here are four simple steps for regaining equilibrium when you feel off-balance:

1. Can you be curious about your current state?  Ask yourself:  Am I happy and content here, in this un-balanced state?  Do I want to stay in this state? Or can I find the will to bring myself back into better balance, knowing that a more balanced state will make me happier?  

2. Notice what spatial direction you're going in, right NOW.  Where is your attention?  What are you focusing on?  Gather information.  Are all directions equally balanced, or is one direction--or several directions--emphasized more than the others?  If you're not sure what direction you're going in, take a moment to pay attention and wait for awareness to come to you.  Take your time.

Are you aware of the outward dimension? Are you aware of the space around you? Are you aware of the sky above you? The ground below you? The space in front of you? The space behind you? The space to each side?
Are you aware of the inward dimension? Are you aware of the inside of you? Are you aware of your head? heart? belly? feet? neck?

3. Remember that you have free will, and therefore you can choose to use it for your benefit. You are free to choose your thoughts and where to put your awareness.  You are free to open up the field of your attention to include more parts of space.  You are free to stop pulling parts of yourself in directions which throw you off-balance. You have a choice: you can either continue to go in the same direction you were headed in a moment ago, or you could stop.
Give yourself time to consider...think it through.  What do you really want?  In which direction(s) do you really want to go?  Would you really like to find a state of balance right here, now?

4. Choose to stop limiting your focus.  Choose to expand your awareness to include all directions, finding a lively state of equilibrium between the inward and the outward.  Are you now in a happier or more peaceful state than when you started?  Now, you can choose to continue with this practice or go on to doing something else.  If you choose to go do something else, you could first find the will to remember to practice this again next time you feel off-balance.

The easiest (and most enjoyable!) way to learn how to practice these steps most effectively is to take Alexander Technique lessons from a certified Alexander Technique teacher.
To find a teacher near you in the USA, click here: American Society for the Alexander Technique.

I'm curious about your experience with this article.
As you read through this article, did you become more aware of where your focus was directed?  Did you become more aware of other spatial directions?  
Did it help you feel a bit more balanced?
I'd love to hear about your experience with these ideas if you try them out!

*man at computer photo by David Castillo Dominici's portfolio is:
*man balancing photo by chanpipat,

Friday, April 20, 2012

When in Doubt, When in Fear

When in doubt,
when in fear,
when in confusion,
when in panic,
when all you want to do
is DO something
to fix it and make it better
and make the pain go away...
















*photo by John Kasawa,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What is the Alexander Technique?

My best definition of the day:

The Alexander Technique is a way to stop and re-direct for healing, joy, and success.

I think we all know, deep down, that we are doing something "wrong" which is keeping us from healing our pain (physical or otherwise), feeling joy, and being as successful as we could be in life. 

If we know that we're doing something wrong (whatever that is--even if we don't know exactly what, and even if it is many things), we know that we need to stop doing it.

If we are willing to stop doing whatever is getting in the way of our healing, joy, and success, then we can choose to stop and re-direct ourselves in a better way (even if we don't fully know what that means).

It is quite impossible for healing, joy, and success to continue to elude us as long as we remember these things and put them into practice!

An Alexander Technique teacher is aware that this process works, and practices it on a daily basis.  A teacher can help you learn to do this for yourself and support you along the way.  A teacher helps you learn about yourself, your habits, what you might be doing that's getting in your way; and then help you stop, find a better direction, and aim yourself towards realizing your goals...

Healing, Joy, and Success!

Click here to find F.M. Alexander's book, The Use of The Self, at
The Use of the Self

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Alexander Technique and the Relief of Suffering, Part II

Here's an example of a way of thinking that applies the Alexander Technique to the experience of suffering.  This process may be learned more easily with an Alexander teacher, but ultimately our best teacher is the one inside each and every one of us (after all, F.M. Alexander never had a teacher; all he had was himself and a mirror!).  Alexander lessons can help us get in touch with our "Inner Teacher".

The process consists of simply:
- Noticing what is
- Taking time
- Allowing what is
- Being aware of our inherent freedom
- Choosing what we want, where we want to be
- Stopping
- Aiming

I am tight, twisted, contorted
I am aiming myself inwards, downwards
Tightening, stiffening
I feel pain...grief...I don't like this!
I feel awful, miserable...everything hurts...
my neck is tight...

What is my Goal?
I want..........
What do I REALLY want?

Giving myself time...
Letting myself feel whatever I am feeling right now...
Allowing myself to move and be moved...
Witnessing, observing, noticing what is moving within me...

I want to find joy and happiness again...
freedom from suffering...
relief from pain...
joy, lightness, ease...

I have time...

I have free will...
I am free to feel
free to move
free to be how I am right now
free to want what I want
free to think what I think
free to experience this present moment, just as it is
free to experience who I am, right now
free to feel terrible, miserable
free to feel fear, desperation, panic, grief, depression...

I am free to stop thinking in a way that pulls me down
I am stopping

I am free to choose what direction to go in
I am free to aim, to wish, to desire what is best for me
I am free to not-know
I am free to not-do
I am free to wonder, free to get curious...

I am free
my mind-body-self is free to be just as it is
I am free to be mySelf
I am free to stop getting in the way of my true nature

I know that my True Nature is Freedom
no matter how I feel, I know this is true

I want to go up, be up, aim up
I know where I am, and I know where I want to go
I know where the ground is beneath my feet
I know where the sky is above my head

the neck is free
I am aware of the forward space
I am aware of where the sky is
I am aware of forward and up

the neck is free
the head remembers forward and up
the whole self lengthens, widens, expands

One with everything, inside and out

Becoming Me...
This is Me

One simple thought:
Always remember where the sky is!

The Alexander Technique and Relief of Suffering, Part I

The Alexander Technique (AT) is a method which helps relieve mental stress and physical tension,  eliciting a relaxation response.  This can have dramatic effects on a person's perceived pain and general well-being, regardless of age, circumstance, or ability.  Through the AT practitioner’s gently guiding words and subtle touch, the recipient of AT care is brought into contact with an innate ability to overcome the fight-flight response (which begins as the startle response), thereby moving the individual from a state of physiological arousal into a greater sense of safety created by an autonomic nervous system that is functioning more normally.

This inner shift in psychophysical attitude can have potentially huge positive effects on mood and general outlook (often experienced gradually), as well as deliver many physical benefits for those who are suffering. Some potential benefits include: improved heart rate and blood pressure, better digestive functioning, more blood flow to the extremities, improved sleep, improved respiration, and reduced pain. The expert care offered by an AT practitioner can serve to introduce an invaluable ray of hope during a highly stressful and challenging time, delivering improved comfort and quality of life, along with a greater sense of personal control, self-worth, and well-being.

The Alexander Technique is not a manipulative therapy like massage or chiropractic, but offers a reassuring presence, through words and/or touch, that very softly guides the individual to let go of places of chronically held tension.  When touch is used, it is very gentle, yet appropriately firm, helping a person to feel safe and to trust that they are securely supported in every way, so that it becomes easier to let go into the experience of the present moment, with acceptance.

In my practice of AT, I do my best to offer a simple, compassionate, and loving presence that aims to remove as much self-induced internal psychophysical pressure as possible.  I stay grounded, centered, and accepting of the student’s personal experience of suffering, serving as a reminder that he can stay connected and in loving relationship with the world and people around him, experiencing greater ease despite his current condition of illness or grief.  My personal wish is to offer a real heart-to-heart connection, often silent, which aids in uplifting and healing the whole person from the inside out. 

*photo by Ambro;

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Wisdom of Rumi

“Out beyond ideas of wrong doing
and right doing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about."
― Rumi

open the eyes of the heart
see not the many, but the One

See the goodness
in each blade of grass
how green!

Each of us separate
in shape and form
yet how alike we are!

Just for a moment...
(and how long is that?)

...Let us not speak of the world of separation
but touch That which speaks
from within


"All truly wise thoughts have been thought already, thousands of times; but to truly make them ours, we must think them over again, honestly, till they take root in our personal experience." - Johann Geothe


F.M. Alexander said, "Anyone can do what I did, IF they will do what I did."

*photo by nuttakit