Monday, 26 October 2015

Life Grammar!

Today we had fun in a lesson with 'Life Grammar'….

The powerfully simple and simply powerful points of the Alexander Technique are quite simply these:

1. Become aware of where, and how, you are right now…
2. Pause…… Come to a moment of space in your doing-ness…
3. Soften, release out of any compression and constriction….
4. Choose what to do next, rather than being led by habit….
5. Go back to 1. if you are not clear about 4…

So, how does this relate to a busy day in the office? Or home? Or college? Or city? Or farm? Or….(fill in your own blank)?

Well, does your morning often look like this?
wake up get up pee check phone shower dress coffee check phone make breakfast eat breakfast check laptop/computer make phone call read emails make call check phone write blog update Facebook begin work/start to practice take call write email make coffee run to next place take more calls write more emails learn music chew pencil and squirm in chair take next call run to next place write next email be vaguely aware of life outside the window fleeting thought of a meal later run to concert etc etc etc and etc

Or wake up get bounced on get up chase small child around pee shower (with child; what else) dress yourself, try to dress them coffee make breakfast eat breakfast wipe child's breakfast off the walls make calls check emails get child in car stop dog getting in car dry dog (who's wet) put dog in house reassure now screaming child drive to playgroup drop off child stop at supermarket on way to work sit in roadworks check phone chew nails find parking space run to office explain to boss coffee sit at desk and it's only 9.30…...

???? Yes?

What's missing is exactly what's missing in the above paragraphs - punctuation!

Whilst the above are indeed crazy depictions of an equally crazy modern life, something radical changes when punctation is added - space.

Space to breathe - music for singers is often punctuated with commas to denote where to breathe.
Space to re-member you - to feel the ground supporting you and you resting upon it.
Space to orientate yourself - to know where you are and why…and change this if it isn't ok.
Space to change gear from one activity to the next; neutral is between different gears. No missing it out!
Space to change our mind - change direction - be soft to changes - to not 'push the river' - flexibility is true strength and power…
Space to see patterns - to see times to take a break - to come up for air - to lighten up - to let go…

When we start our day we can take a moment to 'set the course to steer' (in sailing terms) -
To know the busy-ness will have spaces in it allows us to begin and continue in balance.
And, even if this is impossible, we can start our day knowing we have a comma or two in our pocket.

In this space we can get out the post-it notes and write one activity on a page to itself…
We can stick them up on the window/door/wall and decide before we begin which is the best order…
We can move post-its around easily - both because we choose to, and because life will choose to, too…
We can add two or three blank post-its! Why? Because life will fill them and we've left space for it…
Should life magically not fill all of them, we can add in one from the afternoon list…
OR, shock, stunning realisation, enjoy a breather!!

Think up your own post-it version? A row of pots on your desk into which you put a task?
A row of those little photo holders with a peg sticking up out of the top - a note in each?
Anything but a list; too fixed, too stuck, too boring, too 2D, too narrow! Anything which can be moved around to remind you that 1 to 10 needn't be in order!

Try it and let me know how it goes for you?
Happy punctuating!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Alive in our own vessel….

A boat knows she is alive at all times.... Ever responsive to the tides and the sky

“All that canvas up in the air! I will heave everything taught as we first come about beyond the corner of the breakwater. The sheet winches creak, the water murmurs on the bottom as Joshua gathers way and begins to come alive... People who do not know that a sailboat is a living creature will never understand anything about boats and the sea.” (Bernard Moitessier) 

A sailor will always be aware of his vessel. A sailor will be present to the conditions he and his vessel are in at all times. A sailor will know where she is going, having checked her course before leaving. She will have checked weather reports. She will have gone over her boat with a keen eye before leaving. The sailor will know his vessel's sound and movement, and be aware of any change which signals action the moment it is needed.

We are a living vessel too, animated by the winds and tides of life, yet one that frequently sets sail with no checks, no passage plan, no course-to-steer, no awareness of the conditions present - ‘present’ meaning ‘right now’. Leap on board, slip lines, head off...and hope. Not so the sailor. Not so the master mariner, ever connected to, and respectful of, the ocean and his best friend, his boat.

Each sail plan carefully considered - not the hauling up of the biggest, easiest, most to hand sail available; disaster could follow if it was the wrong sail; blown out from being over canvassed, a hole becoming a full rip, or not enough sail leaving you overtaken by a chasing squall, or being carried onto a reef. Uncaring sail choice is a dangerous thing.

Ropes - the lines - are checked frequently for chafe, the sailor’s enemy, causing breakages at the worst moments.

Knots consciously learned, long practiced, and placed in the muscle-memory to be right there, even in a gale at 40 degrees heel - being at sea is no place for trying to remember how they go and opting for an old habitual granny knot, which will tighten down never to be released, and creating rope only fit to be cut and thrown.

No, the sailor exhibits perfect inhibition, direction, and conscious control of his vessel, his situation, his intention, and his experience. He is present, aware, and with an eye on his vessel, the sea, sky, sails, and compass - at all times.

And then nature kicks in with her ornary ways; wind shifts, sea state changes, tidal anomalies....and acute presence to what is is required from the sailor reveals itself again. There is no point in living the ‘But it said...’, or ‘I’ll just keep doing what worked an hour ago’; nature is powerful. As the saying goes, ‘You can’t alter the wind, but you can alter your sails’. Constant presence. Constant alertness. Constant immediacy. 

No wonder people love to go to sea and say it makes them feel so alive; they are alive! More alive than most of us ever experience on land. Unless we are at the helm of our own land-ship; our body, and thus experiencing the aliveness of our whole self in each moment.
Alexander Technique is the learning to be alive at the helm of your own earth-ship.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

De-grumpification and de-resistantism….

Grumpy. Yes, that one. Why? What for? In the first hour of yesterday I observed ‘grumpy’. How was grumpy? - meaning, how happened grumpy? How did grumpy get done, for it did; grumpy isn’t separate from me, it IS me. How was I doing grumpy? How was I being as I was noticing grumpy? I noted grumpy was simply about having to do something I didn’t want to have to do right now. I could have focussed on not being grumpy, or telling myself to note the sunshine and the blessing of a new day, but instead I checked out grumpy as best I could; it had useful information. 
This is how it went for me in its un-believably non-earth-shattering-content... I awoke - hungry. I got up to release the dog from his night crate - still hungry. But no food or drink yet as I choose to do my ‘oil-pulling'; the only way I’m getting through the 10 days until I can see my dentist for my previous, but now improving with ‘pulling’, toothache. Grumpy is already growing, but I am ignoring it and powering on. The dog wants to go out, so I let him out. I climb on the bed again and get the oil in my mouth, a teaspoon of coconut oil (pretty ugh until it melts, and even then) apparently in order to draw the toxins and/or infection out of the gum into the oil. Grump grows as dog comes in clean, but all wet and needs a good towelling  (He’s a dachshund - wet from dew.) I sit on the bed to finish watching something on my laptop begun last night, and ‘bonk’ announces the laptop; it’s running out of power. Find the charger isn't in its usual place beside my bed, so get up and go to get it from upstairs - still swilling away. And as I come down with the laptop charger, I see it... 
....the years of grumpiness experienced by me, and of other’s grumpiness. I, and they, just wanted to be doing something else right at that moment. OK, we can’t always do what we want; some things need to be done in a certain moment, but not as many things as we think; all the 'shoulds' of the morning were my own! And that’s all grumpy is. Not a dastardly flaw of character. Not something of which to be afraid. Just grumpy sending me a message to listen. When I awoke I wanted food. But no food yet because of the oil-pulling need. I wanted to get it done (yes, end-gaining!) but the dog had needs. I wanted to watch the end of the Wayne Dyer movie before it goes off air after its generous free offer following Wayne’s death last week. Yet I still couldn’t watch the movie until I had gone and got the laptop charger. And I was still hungry! And tired. There! That was all is was; I'm tired. I want to be still today, but it’s a busy day of teaching. I love and want my teaching, but grumpy, right now, wants to be still. That’s the information I was missing in all the other stuff. That a little stillness is needed. And I can have stillness within my activities, I know I can; it just takes presence to them.
And I remember the times my mum was grumpy as hell. She wanted to be doing anything at all other than cooking meals - I never knew she loathed cooking. That she wanted to be in the garden with her plants. I never knew that until I was about 35. I don’t think she knew until then either. She just, like we all do, tended to project her inner discomfort as she ‘just got on with it’. I’m sure you know what I mean, from within and without. And so we all do grump from time to time 
So, I gained a gentle reminder to myself this morning: that when grump appears, stop. Just stop the inner gabbling, stop the rushing, and listen. One can stop even within movement - I mean, to 'Come To Presence' wherever I am in that moment. Then, Listen. Hear. Acknowledge. Respond. For me this would have meant consciously recognising I was hungry and consciously choosing food over oil, rather than reacting with an inner, ‘But I’ve GOT to do the oil - grrrr!’ Consciously deciding not to open the door (doglette had been out earlier) so the wet wouldn’t have been an issue. Consciously deciding that, if I wanted to watch this movie, I just had to go get the charger. Or not. And mostly to notice and acknowledge that I am tired today. But the main word in there? Acknowledge. Having been heard, grump has laid down and gone back to sleep along with the dog. I'm just a person, like all other persons, who feels grumpy come to visit when inner needs aren’t acknowledged. These needs might not be able to be acted on right now, but that’s not the problem, that’s not why grump has showed up; it’s the need to have needs acknowledged - large and small, both big life decisions and tiny momentary choices. Grump isn’t interested in size of conundrum, just an acknowledgement that it's there.
So happy de-grumpification to you this week. Much de-resistantism to you. And lots of acknowledging for you, by you, this week.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Long-distance Driving Tips

At this time of long journeys to visit friends, family and holiday destinations, I thought I would write the ideas that seemed to have helped both students and myself over the many miles travelled. 

In no particular order…

- Invest in a 'sit upon' or two… These are those firm foam garden kneelers, available from garden centres, supermarkets, and all good general 'Poundlands'… Placed under your bottom on the horizontal part of the car seat, they level out and firm up the seat, so your sitting bones have clear feedback in order for your postural reflexes to work for you. Even if you have the 'best' car seat known to mankind, give this a try - it works!

- A second 'sit-upon' can be used between your sacrum (just above your coccyx) and the bottom of your car seat back - this can give you a little encouragement and reassurance after many hours' driving.

- Sometimes sit up on your sitting bones - if you have sufficient head-room - and don't lean back against the car seat's back at all. As you drive you can 'sway' and move with the motion by being balanced on your sitting bones. Your head is now balanced on the top of you in its best place, and your hip joints free to move. Honestly, it's really restful!  (And about the only way that works on busses and coaches - next trip, try it!)

- When you feel tired, pull over, even into a simple lay-by, and hop. Yes, hop! You don't have to leave the ground very far, if at all, but there's something about hopping four or five times on each foot that re-awakens the whole system. Maybe because it's hopping and not jumping, it requires an awakening of our balance system. Sitting in a car will stimulate that system to go to sleep, and us with it.

- As you're driving along, remember this important point: you are still. The car is moving. If you feel rushed by the speeding traffic around you, or late, or just impatient to get there, allow yourself to 'Be' in your seat, noticing how the car is doing all the effort, cars are passing you by in each direction, but you are centred within your self and Being Still. 

- If you find yourself 'about three feet in front of your car' in your mind or energy, quietly say, 'I Am' to yourself, or out loud, a few times. Feel your self come back within yourself, remember you are being carried by your car and not doing the moving yourself. You might wish you were 'there already', but the only place to be is in the now…. Each now brings you to the now of being there, but not before it is so.

- As you are driving along, bring your awareness to your hands and arms. Are your hands lightly resting on the steering wheel? Or are they pulling on it fit to pull it away from the dashboard? Or are you dragging it downwards into your lap? Lighten your hands - let your arms come from your back and  allow your hands and fingers to flow around the wheel into soft contact - no gripping and squeezing!

- When on the motorway, or other safe (!!!) straight bit of road, sometimes take one hand and let it flatten out on the middle of your steering wheel; probably on the vehicle make's badge and/or your air bag area. Then the other, and if with both, guiding the wheel with the heel of your hand. Hopefully you will feel your hands and back connect, but this short-used position will still let your hands have a moment of opening out. (Your hands will be right there should you need to react quickly.)

- Sometimes wriggle your toes a bit and flex your ankles a little. Simple, but effective! (And don't forget to drink lots of water - the body needs water when travelling, even in a car, even though we know about water for flying!)

- As you drive along, let your eyes soften. Let all you are seeing in front of you come towards you, rather than your eyes tightly piercing the windscreen and impaling themselves on whatever it is you are looking at. This creates very tight and tired eyes! It also is often the cause of your head being poked forward - as it follows your tight eyes - and creating a stiff or sore neck. 

- Take time to sense your pelvis and your hips, and let them soften. Let the car seat take your weight - no trying to levitate off it! Or collapsing down into it heavily - just a meeting and supporting. Let you legs go frequently; it's easy to have them hold and harden as you drive along….the one position and the hidden nerves of driving can stiffen them. 

- Change your position often; this gives your body new feedback and stops it becoming too inert and bored. Use the 'sit-upon' for a bit, then take it out, use two, use one at the back, move the car seat back a notch, wind it up a bit at the base and/or the back rest…. Keep it interesting!

- When you stop, or need to look at Google Maps, or your Sat Nav, let what's on the screen come to your eyes, do not poke your head down and stick your eyes to the screen! And use that most magnificent of things, your arm, to bring your phone, tablet, or screen to you, not your head to it!

Now, safe miles and happy driving! 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

At the Summer Solstice...

At the Summer Solstice,
We honour the four directions
The four seasons
The year
Our life.

East - Air - Newness.

Seeds stored in dark places
During winter
Are now borne into the air 
To fly to new beginnings,
and sinking into the dark earth,
Break open with their purpose...
New ideas - dreams - wishes - intentions.

South - Fire - sun - light - warmth.

In the warming encouraging soil,
The seeds begin to germinate.
The sun and long days
Nourishing Spring's dreams into reality.
Leave the seeds sown;  
Poke around not in the soil
To see if tiny roots have sprouted.
Tread not on their potential carelessly,
Nor walk away in doubt.
Keep the soil clear of these weeds - 
The weeds of mistrust and fear.

West - Water - Nourishment - Care.

Be one with the weather,
One with the soil.
Water when dry,
Drain when wet.
Protect in the storms.
Rejoice in light rain.
And still 
Just watch.
No prodding and poking to see if...  
No checking the roots and 
Pinching the tender shoots.
And no lazy ignoring,
No arrogant assuming.
And protect from trespassers, too.
"Tread softly,
For you tread on my dreams."
Let dreams and plans grow
In trust of their process;
But care for them, too.
Yet, not too much;
Drowning will kill,
As will watching in such fear,
That, immobilised, watering is forgotten.

North - Earth - Harvest.

Then the plant comes to fruition,
The dream becomes manifest.
And the harvest begins,
Leaving seeds for the future.
Take care of these;
Drop them not in the excitement,
For they are your future,
The turn of the wheel -
Life itself.
Rejoice today,
Give thanks for yesterday,
But look to the future
And save seed with respect,
For the east wind to scatter
And the next dream to have life.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Simplicate, don't complify...

In teaching, I often say:

Don't complify!'

We smile, and maybe laugh a little.

Simplicate -
Come to a pause,
A space,

Listen within.

Notice the complifyings,
The holdings,

My hands and voice guiding you,
Their specific-ness comes into focus with practice.

Stay with them,
Let them be so.

In those tight places,

Release into the knowledge that we expand,
By design,
When we soften….

Outwards and upwards,

And allowing the time it takes,
Drop preconceptions,
Release complication,
Meet simple.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Emptying My Hands of Old Blackness….

This book carries deeply emotional memories for me…
I burned it last year when I found it again in a pile of music.
It felt good.
(Now I find it is rare and fetching $250 - damn it;
That would have felt even better…
Delightful recompense...)

This book was a passion of my piano teacher.
She thought it would make me into Ashkenazy #2.
At 19, it gave me a breakdown.

It asked the player to perform acts with the hand
That are surely as far from freedom as can be.
And I don't know what Ms Rennie's idea of strength was,
But it wasn't mine.
As for 'independence' - there was none;
I've enjoyed a flowing inter-dependence within my hands long since…
It's a lot easier when the fingers can talk with each other.

Tonight, for some reason, this book's memory came back to me.
I was watching a programme on James Galway, the flautist.
His economic quietness as he plays -
His soft, just-enough fingers on the keys -
His light but appropriate breathing -
His body still, yet peacefully energetic -
His heart pouring forth the music….

But it was his hands that really got me….
Mine curled up and ran away in  shame as I watched…
And the book of exercises danced in my mind…

'Place the index finger on middle C, depress it and hold', it said,
'And play up and down the scale several times -
D, E, F, G, A, B, C, with your third finger -
Rolling the hand over towards the thumb as you do so
In order to be able to play these notes.
This will stretch the tendons between and within index and third finger.'


And so it went on
For pages.
Fuzzy black & white photos of deformed and rigid fingers
Twisted hands, arms and shoulders
Forcing me into playing notes that tore into my hand,
and my mind….

Way beyond the hand and into my body….

"How many hours Blanch did you do this week? I want at least 2 hours a day."
Ye Gods.
Something in me knew this wasn't the way,
But I didn't know anything, did I; they said not….

She used to get my hands - like here, in this picture -

And squeeze my fingers' bends ever tighter,
Wrestling them
Until my fingertips were level with the crease
Right up between palm and fingers….
And until they were, she wasn't happy….

Please don't try it at home - it's painful, and so, so horrible.

Sometimes she'd make my fingers crack.
I'd wince.
She said it wouldn't hurt any more when I was getting it right.

Then she made me play the piano
With fingers as close to that shape as I could....

Funnily enough, I had to fight for every note;
My hands were too rigid to obey and play;
Clawing at every note just isn't the way….

I loved the piano -
But this way I hated it, too.
And I gave up -
Ran away.

A while later, Alexander lessons and teacher training….
Soften your hand.
Lengthen the fingers.
Sense - flow - feel
Finger pads touching life

And that's how it's been for 35 years.
A work-in-progress to touch with lightness,
Especially at the piano's keys -
Old habits dancing in the wings, but joy at the soft touch's kindness.

But tonight the memory flooded up again -
Watching 'Jimmy's fingers'.
And I screwed up my hands -
Not even half as much as she liked it -
To see if I was imagining it.

Oh how wrong it is…
I let my hands go again -
Something in their release revealing to me
The memory of the pain,
The constriction,
The deep hurt -
With an emotional depth.
With an apologetic ache,
My hands still emptying themselves of yet more
Of the black tightening that was inserted so long ago.

Poor woman -
          Meant well -
                    Had no idea -
                                Long gone now.

'Finger, hand and arm gymnastics at the piano'…?
No, don't ever let anyone ask that of you;
Let them ask you for music,
For heart,
For soul.

I am grateful to my hands for showing me this memory,
For I want to live with ever softening touch,
My fingers touching the world quietly,
And the world touching me gently.

Touch is where I meet the world softly,
And the piano,
And the computer, too.
So I continue to release,
Let go...

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

I see You

You’re in such pain,
Back spasm,
Crunched up.
Gingerly walking,
Not getting about.

I come to you,
You speak - I listen.
We share.
We take time.

I ask you to take a breath and close your eyes.
To invite your higher, or soul self to work with you
In this safe space.
And in our unconditional companionship
I see you drop within.

I ask, How does it feel to be you?
You let your body show your soul.
Words not needed in this place.

How does it feels to be you in pain?
In the silences between,
I watch shadows flicker across your face,
Memories ripple around your body.
There, then gone.
Here, then not.
Pain's sudden surging to a burning intensity...
And as soon, 

After a while,
A single spoken word, offered,
Which I see your mind question,
Yet which I see your body devour,
Opening to it in the relief of remembering.

Your eyes open - bright and clear.

Your back curves around your heart -
My hand alights there -
So. Softly. Slow.
I do nothing - 
Sensing your back's wariness,
I wait.
Feel it begin to trust,
To listen,
To the silence of my hand.

You want nothing?
Says your back.
No, I don’t.
How are you? asks my hand.
A moment’s frozen wonder
At being acknowledged,
And it begins to soften.
Your back is you, 
And you are your back,

Slowly, amongst the nothingness - 
The stillness of no demand -
You begin to trust,
To open,
To let go.
Hands light on your body.

Suddenly, there it is,
A question.
I’ll ask,  
Gently -
Did anyone ever thank you for all you did?
And like a rope being untied,
There’s a rumble-tumble of bricks
Flowing down off your shoulders 
Onto the floor,
Watered by gentle tears,
Witnessed by love.


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Pause - Ponder - Proceed


Pause: lovely word, funny word -
(Nice onomatopoeic.)
So much nicer than 'Stop!'
(Nasty onompatopoeic.)
It's not 'fix',
Nor 'hold',
Nor 'inhibit',
But just 'pause' in what I am doing.
A gentle 'Musical Statues', or 'Grandmother's Footsteps'….
Showing 'I'm alive and playing, but just not moving….

Sometimes it's called 'The Zero Point' - the space between….

Between what?


When Paused I can...

Ponder: On what?
On what the doing was.
How the stuff is going for me.
Whether I really desire the desired.
Whether I've made it all up.
Whether I'm flowing or stuck.
Whether the thing is doing its thing as I planned….

Ponder on being a being,
Which I had forgotten was happening
As I did the doing.

So, in my Pausing and Pondering…
I wake up.
I come to.
I Am.

I have a kinaesthetic Ponder too -
My tight heck.
My shallow breath.
My braced knees.
My slumped tum.

How did they creep up on me?
I missed that!
But they did.
So I let go -
And expand -
Easing the tightenings,
Lengthening the collapse.

Now I move. I….

Proceed: Where?
Or back.
Or not.
Or over there.
Or up.
Or down.
It depends on what I Pondered in the Pause.
But now awake, I make a Now choice,
And so my Proceeding is fresh,

I've changed something right inside me
Where I can make secret, personal, change...
And I can expand,
Up from down and down from up,
Side to side and side from side,
Front to back and back to front.

A long, open, wide, deep me
Will enjoy whatever the wherever-ing.
A short, tight, compressed me,

So I take the Pause and the Ponder,
And let the Proceed begin within -
I go from where it begins inside,
Flowing from centre to goal.

And soon again I Pause - still moving,
Greeting the Ponder in the space it makes,
And see Proceed flow out as gold...

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Space Between….

I was told to rigidly stick to the notes….
But you can't make music if you stick to the notes.

Stuck to the notes, they stagger and fall,
Too heavy to fly and flow.

The music withers,
And dies.

And the hands and arms, from finger-tip up,
Shrivel and shrink with the shoulders and back,
Or fall in pieces on the keys.

Self-revelation -
To be carried on the composer's skilled gift -
Whimpers, cries,
And evaporates.

The space between player and music
Was un-traversable.

'I told you, stick to the notes - see, when you don't, you fail.'

No, sticking to the notes failed us all -
The music and me and you.
The spaces between them will never fail us;
They are the greatest gift of all -
They are the place where we play.

Friday, 10 April 2015


You come in pain.
There's a rigidity in your body -
A holding -
A guarding -
A suppressed panic -
Your body seems to say, "What if…?"

What if what?
"What if I'm wrong?
What if nothing will change -
And I feel like this for ever -
Or worse, it worsens…?"

"I've been told…."
"I've got to…."
"I must…"

Yet, companioning you in that place,
Witnessing you just as you are -
No pushing, no pulling -
Listening touch asking you to witness yourself just as you are,
Brings a gradual softening.

"Shall I put my hips here?"
No, let them be.

45 seconds they say -
45 seconds is all the time it takes before something in the body changes -
An emotion - a tightening - a panic - a clenching.
Yet we run from all these feelings into new ones,
Long before the 45 seconds passes - and why not;
They're horrible feelings, they are,
And no one has ever stayed with you,
Said you are human in these feelings and sensations.

"Should I do this with my head?"
No, let it be.

No one has ever stayed with you,
Preferring to change you rather than feel your discomfort.
No one has listened with you to your clenched panic,
For as along as it takes,
Until now.

"Should I push my knees back here?"
No, let them be.

And witnessed - not judged -
Audienced - not criticised -
The experience changes.

Supported by quiet hands
Space appears -
Possibilities surface -
A clarity stirs.

'Do this' and 'Don't do that',
'Lift here' and 'relax there', all irrelevant;
Your body knows what to do, where to flow…
And now we hear it speak its truth.

So much correctional instruction in the past -
'Make the body behave!'

Oh bless it, and bless you….
No, no, no….
Come, rest under my hands,
Sense the wisdom in your body,
Feel the waves quieten,

"So, I just stand here? Resting on my feet ? My head on top?"

Wondrous you,
Just lost under all those should-ed shoulds.

Come out, come out;  you're too fine to be hidden thus.
Gradually come free,
Gently shine,

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Trying to let go...

"My body felt tight, so I was trying to let go….
Trying not to tighten…."

Those words make for an interesting ponder:

Trying is effort, struggle, hard, keen, oppressive, sticky, severe, exacting….
Trying includes what if I don't?
What if I can't?
I can, I can…. I must….. I will…
I really, really will…

Not to: a negative….
No, mustn't, can't, shouldn't, don't, oughtn't, disobedient….
Try not to...

Tighten - hold, fix, suppress, fix, rigidify, set, harden, clench, contract, pinch, squeeze,…
Try not to be tight.

Trying to let go = I must be exact, struggle, and mustn't clench….

What does that do for you?

Oxymorons are sticky,
And 'Trying to let go' is very sticky.

I tighten.
Or I don't tighten.

Trying is a doing.
Letting go is a non-doing.

'Try' and 'not to' can never be bedfellows….

I notice my tightening and I allow it to be there;
What we resist, persists.
When I allow it to be there, I instantly experience my allowing
As softening….
Tightening melting.

My teaching is about allowing,
The Yes.

We cannot fight our way to freedom;
We are the verb we are using in the moment -
If I fight, I am fight.
If I tighten, I am tight.
If I soften, I am soft.
If I let go, I am release.

I cannot fight my way to softness.
I cannot struggle my way to freedom.
I cannot mustn't my way to permission.
I cannot try my way to release.

I can only soften my way to freedom through my own permission.

So I notice tightening,
And I say Yes.
Heard, the tightening softens.
No negatives, no blame, no shame.
Just me.
Not trying.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Discoveries with Annie go like this….. Part 2.

I invite you to move move from sitting to standing... 
I invite you to walk… 
My hands quietly listening and bringing your awareness to you.
I ask you to walk to the table and pick up a mug… 
Or to (e.g.) play your flute or guitar….
My hands quietly with you all the time, giving you a new feedback of your movements,
But always inviting your awareness - never pushing or demanding;
This is about you, not me.
Any mastery I offer is that you find your own mastery is right there, 
Waiting for you on the inside.

You experience the walking, the everyday action, the playing of your flute with a new ease,
Often smiling at the simplicity you didn't realise was possible.

We sit and talk, finding words for your discoveries;
This isn't me telling you, 
This is me introducing you to the you you are currently being,
And by this you discover how you 'do' the person you think you ought to be,
Your tensions and compressions born of doing you rather than being you.

Now you have taken back choice about how you will be you.

Your body is quieter, open, and sensitivity present, 
Your mind is clearer, 
Your whole self alive to being you.

I work with words and touch, and you and me.

There's lots of mind work out there, how you do your thinking. 
But what about how you do your 'physicality'? 
They can't be separated; they are one.
Yes, How do you do you? In totality? For you do, in every moment.
That realisation is what I offer you in my work.

Psycho-physical-emotional clarity, 
                               Your embodied mindfulness, 
                                                               Your bodyfulness, 
                                                                                    A you who has 'Come to (all) your senses'.

Not everyone wants this; 
Just a few are looking for present presence to this depth, 
Moment-by-moment information and free choice - 
The answer to tension or discomfort found lying right here in the now -
The freedom to be fully you, 
To stand (sit, sing, dance, play) in your own space and know you are there.

This is what you and I learn in your lessons - 
Where you learn from yourself how to be yourself -
Within the invitation of my touch and enquiry,
Both of us teacher and both of us student.

It'a a commitment to you, by you;
                                                     You are your own life's work.
                                                                                                     Best be awake to this amazing fact.

Lessons - where you make discoveries, not get-done-to,
Where you invest in finding your self again, because 
You're waiting, just there in the wings.

And the discomfort you came with?

Likely improving.
It was tied up with you being someone you thought you ought to be,
Or with the collapse of futility from thinking you weren't doing you well enough,
Or with the wise-yet-resistant tension from being asked to be other than who you are.
Being pushed about creates discomfort, whether the pushing is from without or within.

Funny thing is, yes, your posture might have improved - but I never mention it, 
because it was never ever about that in the first place; 
It was about you finding out how to let yourself be you.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Being as an active verb…..

A ponder on Doing and Being came to me yesterday - one I'd love to share with you?

Consider these two ways…?


She folds the laundry off the line, clears the dishes, answers the phone, drops her pen, types five emails, wrestles with the door handle, lets the dog out, trips over a bag, fills the washing machine, lets the dog in, knocks papers on the floor, answers the phone, checks a Facebook alert, types a reply, fills the kettle, sweeps the floor, opens the cupboard, takes a mug, answers the phone, puts in a tea bag, fills the mug, opens the fridge, takes the milk, spills it, stirs the tea, wipes up the spillage, feels rattled, sits in a chair, takes a deep breath, and thinks…..
"I can't do all this. That last hour has gone and I still haven't started what I ought to be doing. I need to stop. I need to be still. My back hurts. I need to find myself. My head is exploding. I need to relax. I need help. I'm going to stop for the rest of the day. I'm going to meditate and then lie down. Tomorrow is another day and I'm sure I'll catch up ok...."

She moves towards the washing-line noticing how the line is also moving towards her.
Her fingertips  oppose each other so simply to release the pegs, and the pegs release the clothing.
Her fingertips experience the texture of each of the fabrics as she takes the items off the line.
She relishes the folding of the garments, wonders at the precision the usually ignored wisdom in her that knows how to fold so nearly.
She layers the clothes in the basket.
She lets her hands attach on either side of the basket and stands herself up. Being attached to her, the basket simply comes up too.
She walks to the bedroom and places the basket on the bedroom floor, enjoys the moment her hands soften off its edges, stands fully, breathing quietly.

She walks lightly towards the kitchen where she sees the dishes and moves to put them away.
Her fingertips wonder at the smoothness of the china, the metal of the pans, the pattern of the cutlery - each item gifting her a sensory experience around weight, size, colour, pattern, texture, shape.
She stacks the items within cupboard, drawer, shelf as needed, enjoying the order that is being created by her service.

She finishes as the phone rings.
She pauses during the ring in which she remains still, letting the sound enter her ears, and then decides to answer.
She walks to her phone.
She takes in the caller's name as it flows towards her eyes - no need for her to take her eyes to the phone.
She extends her arm by leading from the fingertips which then wrap softly around the phone.
Her arm quietly bends at the wrist, elbow and shoulder to enable the phone to come up to her ear for the conversation.
The whole movement a gentle dance.

She ends the call and allows her arm to lower the phone to the table where her fingers uncurl and release it.
She breathes.
She sits at the table, present to the movements she makes in order for this to happen; the act is normally so subconscious, yet awareness gifts her the wonder of how much she can move without even knowing what is happening.
How much of life is being missed by not noticing….
A sudden rush of gratitude floods through her.

Her fingers leading, she opens the laptop.
Her eyes take in the screen letting the images come to her, rather than her eyes going to the screen.
She chooses which email to reply to first and breathes.
Within the breath come the words to type.
Her fingertips lightly meet each key as is needed - a light contact as they dance over the keyboard creating the music of words.
Her awareness taking in the words,
          the sensation of her fingertips,
               her bottom resting on the chair,
                      her feet on the floor,
                            the wind blowing outside,
                                  the music playing on the radio,
                                       her breath cool under her nostrils as it passes into her lungs….

So much information about the present that is usually crushed under the thoughts about the past or future…..

She hears the dog scratching at the door to go out.
She allows the image of him to enter her eyes as she truly sees him as if never before - his alert intention to his request, ears cocked, eyes bright, totally present to her moves to see whether she has got his message.
She stands to open the door.
Her soft hand, empty of any handle she has ever turned before, turns the handle….

Can you see what is happening here?
Rest is happening within action, not after it.
And time is slowing down.

In the first way there is a constant rushing to get somewhere, even if just to the end of the list.
The second way is the somewhere.
The typing and the folding, the kettle-filling and the tea drinking require action, yet her presence to the actions - her being with each touch, sound, sight, smell, and taste - is the somewhere.
And also the no-where; there is nowhere to get to; she's right there, in it all the time.

She feels no need to rest in reaction to a rushing and a doing; her doing is now her being.
Her being quietly births her intention she then finds to be done.

                              Embodied Mindfulness.
                                                                        Mindfulness in Activity.
                                                                                                                  Wonder in Motion.

Try it now and tell me what happens?

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Discoveries with Annie go like this…. Part 1.

You come in for your appointment and we talk a while. 
I invite you to sit - just how you would like, or are able to.
I ask you what your need is - how you would like to be.
I share a little about how your body is designed to work beautifully - 
I often use models and 'toys' for this - 
Bright colours and soft humour igniting your imagination.
You often smile in a quiet joyful recognition of what might be going on in your body.

I ask you if I might use a gentle touch - 
That my hands are my best 'eyes and ears'.

I ask you to stay just as you are - no need to adjust your shape,
That there is no right and wrong in my mind - 
That we are simply going to discover where you are right now;
After all, where else are we going to begin?

I place my hands on your back, maybe your shoulder...

And wait.

I let you come to a place of stillness from sensing that nothing need happen.
That I am not 'putting you right'.
That you don't have to try to be ok.
And often you will say, "I feel something change, but you're not doing anything?"
And I explain how the body has an innate wisdom, that it knows how to be free.
That we get in its way - pushing it into what we think it should or has to be.
That 'the body' is really you - it's just we're encouraged to forget this -
And just tighten ourself into who we think we ought to be.

Sensing my unconditional hands your body softly sighs in relief of being re-cog-nised.

I invite you to notice you from the inside - and physically, not intellectually. 
To go to your feet, your knees, your back - from the inside.
To the place where you make a soft print on the floor.
A footprint - your footprint - in gold leaf between your sole and ground. 
The print your knee and back make on the inside of your trouser leg, your waistband.

My hands assisting you, you wonder at the softenings and releasings taking place.

We ask others to 'put us right', 
Never stopping to ask if this 'right' is really right for us,
And never first letting go of the 'oughts'.
You and me, together, we melt them away. 
You are revealed.