Do you wonder “why do I keep pushing myself so hard?”

Because, it’s all you know how to do. If you need to get something done, you just push ahead and do the best you can. And sometimes, it hurts! I want you to know that meeting the stress of life, and pushing back, should not have to hurt. Take a look with me at HOW we push, and just one place we push from: your neck.

When we push with our neck, we are usually pushing from an IDEA of our neck, which may or not may be real, or accurate.

WHAT YOUR NECK IS NOT: It’s not just the top 7 bones, which flow from behind your collar bone up to the roof of your mouth. I know that’s what alot of people think of, though, when you say the word neck. Because that’s where they push from, and that’s where it hurts!

Here is an image that expresses this concept:

cervical_spine

EXPERIMENT: Imagine this part of your neck inside your body. Don’t worry about being “right” about where it is or feeling anything in particular, just imagine where it is. Push gently against a wall with both hands, thinking of pushing from this idea of “your neck.” Where do you feel tension? What is it like?

 

WHAT YOUR NECK IS: PART OF YOUR WHOLE SPINE AND YOUR BACK!

It’s a wrong idea to separate the neck from the whole spine, since it is one continuous structure. The top of your spine is roughly located between your ear canals and behind your nose, and it ends just behind your pubic bone. Look at the image below. “Neck” is continuous with spine, and structurally separate from head, with 29 bones (7 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 1 sacrum, and 4 tail bones). It’s very long, and I think it’s beautiful!

What would it be like to push from your whole spine?

sideskelly

EXPERIMENT: Take a moment to imagine your spine inside your body, from top to bottom. Don’t worry about being “right” about where it is or feeling anything in particular. It’s hard to “feel” your spine. Just imagine it. Push against the wall with both hands again from your SPINE, once you have the image clear for yourself.

Where do you feel tension? What is this like?

If this helps you, I have many wonderful experiments to share with you that may make your life surprisingly easier. Please email or call me for a lesson! Just because a misconception is common, doesn’t mean you have to suffer because of it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 19th, 2015 • No Comments

Stress buster #1 for “serious people”: Doing familiar things differently

I think fun is a great stress buster. Easier said than done on a crappy day, right? Well, my friends often make fun of me for being such a serious person (some people who know me might be surprised by this, but it’s true!). So I found a way to use my serious scientific side to conquer this fun concept.

Take the simplest task, something you do every day. Consciously say to yourself “I don’t have to do it the way I did yesterday. I don’t even know what that means, but I’ve picked up this teapot every day for years, and I don’t have to do it the same way I’ve always done it. I can let something new happen!”

You can do this with walking. You might end up just walking down a different block!

You can do this with conversations. You might end up saying something inappropriate and refreshing!

You can do this with business transactions. You might actually enjoy talking to a service representative in a far away country like The Phillipines, or even Burma!

You can do this with reading this sentence. What?

IMG_2283

 

All totally for free! You don’t need to know how to do something right, or even “better.” You can just explore “different.”

It’s very powerful. Let me know if you try it, what that’s like for you.

March 2nd, 2015 • 1 Comment

THE “LAST” LESSON: ON DISCOURAGEMENT

I wrote this letter to one of my students this morning, after she decided that she would stop taking lessons for awhile. She had accomplished much more than she thought would be possible in terms of recovering her sense of balance, managing her scoliosis, and being able to exercise and stay fit. She now needed to invest her time and money in other activities. The sentiment expressed in my letter is based on an article written by Walter Carrington, longtime teacher of the Alexander Technique, published in one of his excellent books, Thinking Aloud.

Dear X,

I just wanted to take an extra moment of appreciation for the work we’ve done together. I am, as a rule, so invested in the process with my students, that it’s a process for me to END the process. I want to prepare you for working on your own, to be sure that you do have the support you need.

I’m so glad that our work has proven so beneficial for you. I enjoy very much your desire to do the work and your intelligent engagement with me and the process. And your incredible voice, every lesson it emerged more resonant and expressive! Amazing.

Now I know that you are fully capable of taking care of yourself, but I am also aware of how completely at odds with our culture the Alexander Technique is, and how little encouragement you might find elsewhere for the whole idea of “non-doing.”

From my own experience, and that of my students as they have reported it to me, I want to give you a HUGE amount of encouragement to deeply trust your engagement with the techniques you have learned, and to have the gumption to carry on working on your own as you HAVE been doing, even when it seems like the effect is lessening, or you start to experience confusion or discomfort. Because, you will. You will probably revert a little over time towards your familiar habits. And you will feel it. And it’s very natural to be discouraged by that.

There is no problem at all with discouragement when you realize that it’s just another habitual pattern, and that you can work with it, just like you can work with everything else. Just 1) quiet yourself 2) re-orient yourself 3) redirect your energy (my neck is free, my torso is expanding, my legs are releasing forward and away, my arms are releasing away) and go into action or movement again.

If you put your trust in your own thinking, you will find that you CAN still get benefit from this process, even if it does not feel as DIFFERENT from the norm as work with a teacher does. Because we all have that experience, when we are working with a teacher, of being able to go further outside our habitual patterns than we can on our own. Just because the process is more subtle done solo, does not mean it is not effective.

So, basically, carry on! And do reach out if I can help in any way.

Much love,

Clare

January 9th, 2015 • No Comments