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.