It's been some time since I last wrote a blog entry but feel it is now right that I resume and share ideas, thoughts and helpful suggestions with regards to poise. Having written another book all about Alexander Technique with a special focus on overcoming back pain, I now have a little more time to put 'pen to paper' and enjoy sharing some thoughts about how well we can effectively help ourselves cope with the demands of life especially from a postural and co-ordinational point of view. Indeed not just that but the effective 'use of our whole selves' in activity. Long may we be able to maintain a healthy life and enjoy it to the full, free of unnecessary pain and discomfort and also bringing the best from ourselves in all our endeavours.
So here I am, in central London giving Alexander Technique lessons every day to the many people who come and see me for the widest variety of reasons just as I have for many years. But it does not matter whether it is for reasons of neck tension, backache, scoliosis, breathing problems, voice, or more athletic achievements, it all comes down to the same thing... Are we in good balance, in a free and expansive state just as we were as young children? This free and expansive quality is what we require as human beings to function in good health and effectively. By using the Alexander Technique and by becoming more aware of 'how' we move and 'how' we use ourselves, we can make astounding differences to our whole life.....not just one specific symptom which to be honest, is just the tip of the iceberg.
I intend to share a lot of this with you over the coming months, so please stay with me.
The advance copy of my new book 'Free Yourself from Back Pain - A guide to the Alexander Technique' arrived on my desk yesterday from the publisher's. It's not due into the shops until mid February 2011 but at last, 16 months after its inception it is finally here.
There is nothing quite like seeing your words in print to reinforce your worst concerns, that no matter what I might think of it now, it cannot be changed! I dare not read it for fear of what I may discover.... Did I write THAT?
Anyway, having stolen the courage to flick through, I feel quite pleased that it looks so well and I do hope it's of interest and help to a great many people. Do you know that 80% of the population suffer back pain in some time of their lives? The Alexander Technique has been clinically proven to provide long lasting relief from back pain and to address the root causes such as postural habits and tensions.
So here it is....one copy. And a quick look at Amazon I see that it is already available for pre order. If you're interested, click Here.
Although one cannot learn the Alexander Technique from a book as it requires us to have one-to-one lessons from a qualified teacher, I do hope this book acts as a helpful aid-memoir to anyone already having lessons or may encourage those who have not, to help themselves. There is no-one in a better position to help us, including any doctor or therapist, than ourselves. If we can learn to release our own tensions and maintain healthy upright poise, we will not suffer back pain due to postural problems. Looking after ourselves is the key to enjoying a long and healthy life....free of back pain.
My new wooden horse finally arrived in Beaminster for the Alexander Technique saddle work I do with riders, having had it on order for several months. For some reason the joiner wasn't able to get it stable (sorry for the pun), but with a bit of inexperienced jigger-pokery from myself with a drill and screwdriver, it's now got extra diagonal stays to help it remain sturdy and supportive.
Interestingly, it's not only helpful for horse riders, but anyone who comes to me for lessons in the Alexander Technique who has leg, hip or pelvis problems, I can achieve a lot of release and freedom around there and the proper engagement of the supportive muscles in the back, by having them sit on my leather saddle and wooden horse. I can then work with my hands to gently release their legs, allow their hips and pelvis to open out. They feel quite different afterwards and is a great aid during a lesson.
It wasn't FM Alexander who developed the use of the saddle in Alexander lessons, but his protege Walter Carrington who trained with him in the mid 1930s and who subsequently trained me. Walter had apparently been working on a young girl with spina bifida and he had not felt that he had achieved as much change and improved co-ordination as he'd hoped. It was then that he had the idea that if he put the young girl onto the rocking horse in his study (which he'd had there to entertain young children as he worked on their parents), then her legs would dangle freely on either side and he could work on her legs much better. It was so successful that he thought if it could work for children, it will work for adults, so he had a trestle made high enough for an adult to sit on. Subsequently he put a proper leather riding saddle on it in place of the previous blanket. He used it regularly with adults thereafter and trained those of us fortunate to study with him for the three year full-time course, in it too.
So my saddle is in the music room at home in Beaminster, Dorset and has already been used with great effect. My pupils love it!
I have to admit, it's just wonderful giving Alexander Technique lessons from my home in Beaminster, Dorset! Admittedly I'm not able to be there as often as I'd like; my central London Alexander Practice is so busy and I need to be there mid-week....at least for the time being.
But I have made a start at doing some Alexander work around the weekend with a few neighbours and local people who have asked me to work with them, and I'm really thrilled by and it's just great fun. You might think, don't I want a rest from teaching if I'm so busy mid week, giving Alexander lessons and completing writing my next book, but if truth be told and there's no reason to not, I thoroughly enjoy it! Giving a lesson to someone is the same as working on myself, as it's with the thought and guidance I give to others to free up, lengthen and widen in stature, that I am doing the same too. So both of us end the lesson feeling great! What better way of spending a few hours, seeing a few 'pupils'.
There's lots of obvious differences between my two practices relating to how completely at odds Cavendish Square in London is to Beaminster. The city is so hugely busy and noisy and despite having a very nice and spacious practice room at the Harcourt Clinic right on the leafy square, it's so peaceful at home in Beaminster where I can see my own garden and terrace! Then there are the church bells and when all 13 of them go ding-dong in the morning, it's as though all Hell (and Heaven) is let loose,.....but I love it. Anyway they're not so 'in your face' that we cannot think and work.
I'm so very glad I've made the choice to bring my Alexander work to my home town of Beaminster. It's so very calm and relaxing here and we have lots of space in our music room for some Alexander Technique work. In any case, a few years from now as I get older I may well be stepping back from London to do more Alexander work here. So this life-enhancing technique can benefit myself and others right into older age. Decrepitude is not necessarily just around the corner!
If you want to contact me, please call: 01308 861759.
Does one need a clear mind to write, or does writing clear the mind? Maybe it works both ways...
Having just completed another check through of the edits of my forthcoming book about avoiding back pain with the Alexander Technique, I find I'm relieved and also stimulated. There is nothing like writing to help clear the mind and develop one's understanding of something, because you can't explain something clearly and succinctly if it's unclear in your own mind. And boy, have I found myself challenged to make easy sense of some complex matters to do with poise, balance and co-ordination.
I find writing so very therapeutic and stimulating, all at the same time. Not to say it can't be frustrating when the words are elusive, the logical sequence and train of discussion escapes me, but there is nothing like reminding one's self of what one is supposed to know, than putting it down on paper....or onto screen in front of me.
A yawning blank page is enough to put anyone off and the longer one looks at it, the balder and blanker it looks, until you either run away and make a cup of tea or determinedly write any old thing just to get the brain cells and fingers working. When there's something on paper, then you've got something to develop, change or focus on. I sometimes start by saying the most outrageous things, only to use these as a catalyst to get me going and then delete the nonsense once it's all flowing. Maybe I should keep the nonsense and forget the rest as it may be a better read!
I've got to do another round of checks to this manuscript, finish the captioning of photographs then discuss a few details with the publisher before it's taken out of my hands and the next time I see it will be in printed form in the shops in February 2011.
I do hope to find lots more mistakes and typos. The more I find and correct now, arguably the fewer readers will discover when they read it....that is assuming that people want to know the source of their back problem and how to get rid of it for themselves!
I bought a new chair for my Alexander Technique teaching room at home in Dorset at the weekend. Well, it's not actually a new chair being around 80 years old, but it's new to me and with a good cleaning, antique waxing and a new cover to it's gently padded seat it looks the bee's knees.
However I found that as I worked on my pupil on Sunday, the chair back was high enough to slightly hinder the way I worked so it felt strange. And there I realised that it was affecting the way I 'habitually' work and maybe the chair isn't wrong at all. I just need to change 'how' I work, then it would be fine.
I remember Walter Carrington who trained me, saying to me, "Noel, there isn't an ideal chair, you know. You will sit in thousands of chairs in your life so you have to make the most of the situation." If we look after ourselves in terms of poise, balance and direction, we can sit in a great many 'unsatisfactory' chairs, but still they won't harm us and we won't suffer. It's up to us to look after ourselves. And thanks to the Alexander Technique we can do just that!
Being adaptable means not being stuck in one's way of doing things. It means being open to new opportunities, to not being stuck in habit, to adapting to the circumstances and situation that you we find ourselves. It's when we rigidly stick to 'our way of doing things' that we end up getting into trouble.
So my chair is a little high in the back, but perfect for my pupils. So, I adapt my working around the obstacle and I now find I'm teaching the Alexander Technique with hands-on guidance, in a slightly different way. I now let the chair teach me. How refreshing! :-)
Our move to Beaminster in Dorset a year ago after 25 years of being in London has made such a difference to our lives. The weekly travel to London where I still work is one thing and we've been getting used to that, but it's the pace of life which is so much slower, people have time to chat and even those who we do not know, smile and say 'Good Morning'. It's so refreshing and uplifting, I just love coming home to Beaminster.
However my Alexander Technique practice is in London so we return to the 'big smoke' on Sunday evenings or Monday. I do enjoy my work, helping people with their posture and co-ordination and I get to meet so many interesting folk from all over the world who want to come and see me in our West End Cavendish Square clinic. It's a busy week where I start at 7.15am and often don't leave after my last 'pupil' until early evening, when I try to find time to practice my violin.
Recently however a number of our neighbours and local people around Beaminster have asked me to work with them, so I've decided to give some Alexander lessons from our home in Dorset. And I'm so glad I have. I use our music room which has plenty of space and a nice view of our garden, so it's a refreshing change from the London practice. Now Saturday mornings are taken up with giving a few Alexander lessons to horse riders who want to improve their balance and co-ordination on horseback (I have a saddle and wooden horse which allows us to focus on this especially) as well as others with postural problems and back trouble. And I must admit I just love seeing people change and improve their condition and it's great to be doing this in our home town!
So now I have two practices! But I know full well, that as I get a little older we will gravitate to our home in Beaminster and I shall reduce the days of work in London in preference to doing Alexander Technique teaching in Dorset. This is now where we live and don't we just love it!
I'm so grateful to those neighbours and local people who have asked me to work with them. If they hadn't I wouldn't have brought my work do Dorset and missed out on the pleasure of working in this lovely quiet environment. (It's not work really....I love what I do, so it's probably better described as a vocation!) Don't I look forward to eventually being here permanently! But in the meantime, I will still continue to work in London as that's where my main practice is.....but only for the time being!
If you want to contact me in Dorset, please call 01308 861759.