The Power of How: A journal about The Alexander Technique and Movement

OPEN YOUR BACK WITH THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE

My friend Jason Poole taught me how to do a simple writing exercise called “object writing” – it only takes 8 minutes, you pick an object and write about it using all of your senses. I used what Jason had taught me to write about my experiences using my Launching Pad ™ and the Alexander Technique:

“Face down rolling, round face it feels so good to soothe my head, touch forehead to floor and my whole back opens like wings, fascia and tendon becoming friends. White fascia white bones blood flowing into space allowed. Smells like iron, like grass and bitter dirt and twigs and dust so light, the dust on the wing of a butterfly. The wing feels protected from time by dust…dust like skin that gets old, falls away. Shedding skins of habit by flying into the floor. Turn of the tip of my wing. Tastes like fresh air, crystal clear and endless and unknown. Prone, face down feet down, back flying. Kite to be lifted by gravity, not by me. No work to do, just turn without lifting. One part closes so another can open. Back opens to fold and unfold. Flute of the spiral follows a lift that comes out of nowhere, from deep underneath, spreading to lift widening to lift, closing like an octopus closes only to extend, lengthens itself only to open again unceasing. Prone. Primative, before language, underneath instinct and habit and stories is the memory of twisting through water, quieting to let the body slowly drift to the ocean floor.”

Here are some pictures:

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March 11th, 2013 • No Comments

BEAUTIFUL BUS RIDE: A SURPRISING COMMUTE

This morning I had the strangest experience on the express bus into Manhattan. As I sat down, I heard the voice of the bus driver talking to some ladies getting on the bus. The bus was full, and we were at the last stop before going onto the highway into the city. The ladies getting on were older and were gonna have trouble standing up the whole way – but he encouraged them to get on anyway. He kept saying – “you never know – I bet youʻll find a seat…..” gently hinting that someone more able bodied might be willing to give up their spot. The motion of the bus was so smooth that it didnʻt even jostle them as they moved down the aisle. Magically, all the older ladies did find seats and we seemed to float up onto the BQE.

I found myself so entrance with the driverʻs skill, I didnʻt even want to look at my Iphone or read my Nook! I just enjoyed the motion of the bus. Clearly he was paying attention and enjoying the glide of the bus down the road. I enjoyed looking at the view of the city and the sky. There were several potential accidents that I observed us avoiding as we cruised along. I began to notice how challenging driving a bus is – it takes up ALOT more space than a car and itʻs easy to make mistakes. Going through the Holland tunnel, I notice how close we were to the walls of the tunnel and the other cars – scary! But his attention was so clear and so open – he was always seeing ahead, gaging the next move. He wasted no energy holding back the velocity of the bus or jamming on the brakes. His sense of how much energy was required for the next curve in the road was impeccable.

We went through a 15 minute traffic jam caused by a couple of multi-car accidents – sirens wailing, police cars everywhere – but he never once floored the gas pedal OR or jolted us at a stop. Instead of getting lost in my electronic devices, I enjoyed the feeling of being weirdly one with the bus. It was a beautiful lesson in the wise use of energy and attention.

February 20th, 2013 • 2 Comments

FACING FEAR: WHY MY STUDENTS ARE MY HEROES

My students are my heroes because they are willing to face fear.

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They are willing to accept it, and to learn how care for themselves, to use their conscious mind to embrace and relinquish unconscious reactions that can really restrict their bodies, their options, and their creativity. Each and every person I work with has inspired me this year with their willingness to experience and work with some kind of fear – large or small. Even relaxing and opening up can be scary!

I find that the absolute best way to loosen the grip of fear is to give it recognition. To admit it: Yes, I’m scared. Recognition brings relief, and somehow I can breath again. And then, can I stop making myself rigid, stop holding on to the idea I thought was so important, stop anticipating dreadful things to come? Can I begin to really take in what is going on around me? Chances are, there might be a good reason for my fear and I might need to respond, to move. Or, it might just be based on a previous experience that is not relevant but somehow got triggered. This kind of “stopping” actually mobilizes energy, thought, creativity, and imagination, all of which are needed to solve problems at hand. In the Alexander Technique world our word for it is “inhibition” – or the un-doing of an unwanted reaction.

We practice this skill in the face of small fears, daily, so that we can meet larger challenges with skill. Here are some things that I have noticed my students are afraid of. These issues have come up while working with the most pedestrian of movements like sitting, standing, walking, or relaxing and releasing on the table:

– falling

– looking weird, stupid, or different

– making a mistake (even and especially when we are not sure what is right in the first place)

– pain that might happen in the future (seconds, minutes or hours) but is not happening right now

– showing emotion

– getting old

– admitting frailty because it makes us vulnerable to attack

Fear is so ever present in my life that half the time I don’t even notice it. Little fears, nothing major, but just the sight of a plastic bag blowing in the wind can take my mind to the great pacific garbage patch, and then straight to extinction…..it’s just how my mind seems to work. I’m incredibly sensitive and I go to the dark side quickly.

If I take the time to check in, when my mind goes to the dark side, physically itʻs like a tiny version of being a deer caught in headlights. I freeze! I become rigid, my field of attention narrows to a pinpoint. It happens so fast – my conscious mind is always one step behind my physical reaction.The feeling is as if – well, I’m OK right here right now, so if I can just stop time, perhaps everything will just STAY alright.

For some reason, Iʻve had this feeling quite a bit this holiday season. Perhaps itʻs because there are so many elements of my life that are in flux; or maybe itʻs the collection of tragic events that we have experienced this winter, or maybe the combination of both!

The problem is, time doesn’t stop, traffic doesn’t stop, other people don’t stop. Everything else keeps moving. My rigidity – of thought, of body, of emotion – can become profoundly destabilizing. My students keep me honest – together we face small and large fears, we practice opening ourselves up to new possibilities of thought and movement. THATS AMAZING! Each student is different, but each one is so courageous! I feel so lucky to be doing this work.

I still have a special affection for my inner “deer,” I love this incredibly sensitive aspect of my physicality. I still go rigid when frightened, but I know how to take care of myself.

Here is a very sweet not so metaphorical video the shows the process beautifully (click the link to watch it on youtube -itʻs copyrighted and only available there):

 

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEIuXb1c9rQ]

December 26th, 2012 • No Comments