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.