Category Archives: Alexander Technique Hove

Confidence Tricks 1 – the Dating Game

“No! You may not call me a Confidence Guru! Absolutely not!” – Alan.

“But ‘Guru’ is an extremely respectable term in media circles!” – Television producer.

“That’s as may be but my fellow regulars at the Neptune Inn will take the… will mock me mercilessly if they hear!” – Alan

8ea6395d-73a8-4dab-8711-65b04e91e8b1wallpaper“How about Confidence Coach then?” – television producer.

“Ok” sigh…

“Ok then” sigh… “Let me introduce you to our ‘dates’ in the Green Room”

I’d been asked by a television production company to help coach some members of the public for live television. It was a dating programme. Interestingly most of the participants were in their late forties or early fifties. The usual participants were in their teens and twenties.

The datees would say a bit about their life, their loves, hates and hobbies directly to camera. We sat at a cocktail bar where everyone had to deliver a chat-up line and come up with an appropriate and, hopefully, humorous response. And, oh yes, we all had to strut our stuff down the catwalk (steady tiger!). Nerve wracking, of course, especially if you are not used to being in the limelight.

I taught the participants some basic centering techniques. I’ll say a bit more about the background to some of these techniques in the near future:

  • Place your attention in your centre of gravity – just a few inches below your navel.
  • Distribute your body weight evenly onto the ground
  • Maintain wide vision and wide shoulders
  • Balance your head easily on top of your spine

In the end we only had time to rehearse one or two things. The participants could sense the potential of the techniques however. And this seemed to really motivate them to simply have fun in front of the camera. A virtuous cycle?

Not everyone got a date. But everyone had fun. What is it about that wonderful mixture of relaxation and excitement that seems to make the world sparkle with possibility?

One woman who was really quite shy and reserved in the Green Room absolutely blossomed on camera. She demonstrated a golf swing, her hobby, to the camera and very shortly thereafter an eligible gent phoned in with a request to get know her better!

The two interviewers were impressed. How come a group of men and women in their late forties and early fifties could be such fun on camera? Why were they so much less inhibited than the usual datees in their teens and twenties?

The centering techniques certainly seemed to help. Is it true that wisdom that comes with increasing maturity? And, perhaps, the ability not to take yourself too seriously? If so then it’s good news for all of us!

The interviewers were also somewhat sceptical. Couldn’t these acting techniques stop people from simply being themselves?

I simply quoted Shakespeare “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players”

And I might have added – we often end up playing a part that is unsatisfying and unsuitable. A part that someone else wrote for us. These centering techniques can give us the flexibility, courage and motivation to try out new behaviours. Not all of the techniques will be suitable all of the time. Some of them will be entirely suitable but may take a little time to get used to. Some of them will be absolutely bang-on or, as the old sherry advert used to say, “One instinctively knows when something is right!” and we will take to them like the proverbial duck to water.

 

PS Many of the centering techniques I teach come originally from my training in Ki-Aikido. They’ve grown and adapted with me. Here is a link for my old sparring partner Charles Harris. We did our yellow belt grading together more years ago than I care to remember. He is chief instructor now for one of the biggest Ki-Aikido clubs in London.

 

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These Foots Were Made for Walkin’

I’ve just realised that most of my Alexander Technique blog musings have been done whilst walking. I absolutely love walking. I did a Google search for quotes about walking. There’s lots! And by some really smart folks too. I find myself in exalted company!

Here are a few quotes and links that I really liked:

 

All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Take a two-mile walk every morning before breakfast. – Harry Truman (Advice on how to live to be 80.)

Above all do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday I walk myself into state of well being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome hat one cannot walk away from it… if one keeps on walking everything will be alright. – Soren Kierkegaard

I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop, I cease to think; my mind works only with my legs.” – Jean Jacques Rousseau, Confessions

Meandering leads to perfection. Lao Tzu

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me. – Fred Allen

He who limps is still walking. – Stanislaw J. Lec

My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing. – Aldous Huxley

Of all exercises walking is the best. – Thomas Jefferson

A fact bobbed up from my memory, that the ancient Egyptians prescribed walking through a garden as a cure for the mad. It was a mind-altering drug we took daily. – Paul Fleischman, Seedfolks

Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind. Walking is the exact balance between spirit and humility. – Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild

Our true home is in the present moment. To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment… – Thich Nhat Hanh

Before supper take a little walk, after supper do the same. – Erasmus

A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. – Paul Dudley White

The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy. The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose. – Charles Dickens

.It is solved by walking. – A Latin proverb


Our way is not soft grass, it’s a mountain path with lots of rocks. But it goes upward, forward, toward the sun. – Ruth Westheimer


You have to stay in shape. My grandmother, she started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven today and we don’t know where the hell she is.” – Ellen Degeneres

When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the shoe leather as passed into the fiber of your body. I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out.- Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk. – Raymond Inmon

The Yellow’s on the Broom

We can become so habituated to living in restrictive little tunnels of space and time. Think, for example, of the morning’s headlong rush to work. Sometimes, however, it’s just that little bit easier to step out of the restriction.

The South of England has been saturated in sunshine during the past week. A cold, glorious February. Driving through our beautiful hills, the South Downs, I noticed that the Gorse bushes were in their yellow glory. The rolling Downs were expansive and ecstatic.

It reminded me of a beautiful song by Adam McNaughton about the Scottish travelling folk called “the Yellow’s on the Broom” .

The narrator in the song recounts the travelling folks miseries when they forced to live a Scaldie’s (settled house-dweller) life during the winter months. The narrator looks forward keenly to the springtime when the “gan aboot folk” can take the road once more and live in the “worlds room”. For the narrator the world’s room is synonymous with liberation, belonging and being in charge of ones fate.

Try it sometime. Instead of living in a fragmented, compartmentalised world just wake up to the one infinite room that we all inhabit. Just for a moment… expand into the space around you. It can be a bit scary. but it can also be exciting.

You can download a short mp3 clip of Adam MacNaughton singing the “Yellow on the Broom” by following this link to Coda Music.

And here are the lyrics as I recall them:

YELLOW ON THE BROOM

I ken ye dinna like it lass, tae winter here in toon.
The scaldies (settled/town folk) aye miscry us and try to put us doon
And it’s hard to raise three bairns in a single flea-box room
But I’ll tak ye on the road again, when yellow’s on the broom.

CHORUS: When yellow’s on the broom x 2
I’ll tak ye on the road again (last line of verse)
When yellow’s on the broom.

The scaldies cry us “tinker dirt” and sconce oor bairns in school
But who cares what a scaldy thinks, for a scaldy’s but a fool.
They never heard the yorlin’s lark nor see the flax in bloom
For they’re aye cooped up in hooses, when yellow’s on the broom.

Nae sales for pegs or baskets noo, so just tae stay alive
We’ve had tae tak on scaldy jobs from eight o’clock til five.
But we call nae man oor master for we own the worlds room
And we’ll bid farewell tae Brechin when yellow’s on the broom.

I’m weary for the springtime when we tak the road ance mair
Tae the plantin’ and the pearlin’ and the berry fields o’ Blair
We’ll meet up wi’ oor kinfolk frae a’ the country roon
When the gan aboot folks tak the road, when yellow’s on the broom.

DEALING WITH THE COLD or Vanity Above All!

 

Those of you familiar with British town centres during winter will be familiar with the gangs of under-dressed young people who roam them at the weekends. The sad thing is that often the poor boys and girls look very uncomfortable with the goose-flesh, red noses and frozen hunched shoulders. What a relief not be young and beautiful (and subject to its attendant pressures) anymore!

Does tightening and hunching effect blood flow and warmth? I haven’t done the research to be able to say yes or no with authority. Once, however, during a workshop in a rather cold venue a participant asked for the window to be opened as it was “so terribly warm”. The other participants looked alarmed. The person making the request was bundled up in several thick layers – a bit like the Michelin man ( for those of you who remember him!)

You could take a layer off.” I tentatively suggested.

Ah!” she said. I swear you could see the light-bulb going on inside her head. Cooler and more flexible. Mentally and physically.

One could easily visualise an equal and opposite temperature and clothing scenario.

Try questioning your automatic responses to temperature. How warm or cool is it really? Hunching certainly seems to make you colder. How about applying your Alexander Technique directions – does that warm you up a bit? Certain Tibetan monks are, after all, reputed to be able to thaw icy blankets thrown over their naked body during meditation.

I know it’s possible the other way around. Sometimes when I get stressed I get overheated and my skin flushes. The Alexander Technique has been a great tool to cool down mentally, emotionally and physically.

And remember to wear plenty of layers. Or as Billy Connolly might put it “There’s no such thing as bad weather – just the wrong clothes!”

PS have a look at Noel Kingsley’s (another Alexander Technique teacher) blog for more about Hunching against the cold

PPS I haven’t forgotten about the Alexander Technique photo album – I’ll put it up soon.

What is the Alexander Technique?

“The Alexander Technique teacher uses their hands to lengthen your spine; they coax you into moving lightly and easily; this induces a sense of calm and well being; the teacher accompanies these wonderful experiences with careful verbal directions!”

Back in 1982, when I qualified as an Alexander Technique teacher, there was nothing I hated more than being asked “What is the Alexander Technique?”. Especially at a party or other social event. But I’d launch into my enthusiastic little rant regardless (see above). The hapless questioner would look longingly across the room for more mainstream company.

It’s much easier nowadays. People are more likely to have heard about the Alexander Technique. If they haven’t they are more likely to be open minded or curious than they were in 1982.

Nowadays when someone asks “What is the Alexander Technique?” I’m more likely to respond with something general like “People find it really useful for dealing with bad backs, stiff necks and assorted stresses and strains.” or “Actors and singers find that it frees their voice and reduces stage fright.”

Mostly this leads toquestions like “Have you worked with anyone famous?” At which point I look knowing and smug and reply “Oh I couldn’t possibly say. Confidentiality and all that!”

If the questioner is genuinely curious and asks “OK but how, specifically , does Alexander Technique help bad backs; free the voice; reduce stress?” I will then probably give them a potted history of F.M. Alexander and his discoveries.

So that’s exactly what I’ll do in my next posting. If you’d like to find out a bit more about what an Alexander Technique lesson looks like click the link below. Happy reading!

Alexander Technique photo album

 

Alexander Technique Applications in Brighton and Hove

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

Shakespeare: As You Like It

“All the world’s a stage, and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.”

Sean O’Casey

“Alexander Technique, public speaking & presentation skills, singing, playing the harp, acting, aikido, golf… Is there no end to your skills Alan?”

“Quite the Rennaisance man! A real Jack of all trades, eh?”

No! You’ve got hold of the wrong end of the stick. It’s the Alexander Technique! It helps you to move through life with greater ease. Alexander Technique is like an elastoplast… it works where you apply it.

Let’s be totally clear – what I know about golf is the merest degree above zero. But the number of times the Alexander Technique has rubbed off on a clients game and they’ve gone out and sunk a hole in one, played the game of a lifetime has stunned me.

Not half as much as it stunned them. Yes, they got the results of their coaching – brilliant presentation, fantastic interview, dealt with that difficult client – but somehow that perfect putt just keeps popping back into mind. Power, possibilities, potential…

So in this blog I hope to share some of my enthusiasms about applications of the Alexander Technique to public speaking and presentation skills; singing; playing an instrument; building confidence and reducing nerves; aikido; walking… and so on and so forth.

I hope this will help you, dear reader, to further develop those skills that will help you to move through your own life withincreasing ease, skill and pleasure.

“The people we know as masters don’t devote themselves to their particular skill just to get better at it. The truth is, they love to practice- and because of this they do get better. And then to complete the circle, the better they get the more they enjoy performing the basic moves over and over again.”

George Leonard – Mastery

http://www.training-classes.com/