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