Category Archives: confidence

Alexander Technique for Horses part 2

“Ok, then what happens? What do you do next?” Laura asked with growing curiosity.

“Well you don’t actually do anything as such. You continue to attend to your own all over balance as you place your hands on the horse. The hands are quietly attentive and enquiring. The more open and lengthened and widened your hands are the more sensitive they will be.”

“When you put hands on someone you can’t help affecting the recipient’s muscles. Muscles are attuned to the language of touch. The question is to get the touch happening in the right way so that the effect is positive rather than negative.”

Laura went on to place her hands on several different locations along the column of Martha ‘s neck. She took her time about doing this. Apart from being a mildly pleasant experience for all three of us there was nothing remarkable in what Laura felt with her hands or in Martha ‘s response.

Eventually Laura worked her way down to the base of Martha’s neck just above the shoulder blades. This is an area of profound constriction in many humans and Martha was proving to be no exception to this rule. Laura immediately picked this up.

“What do I do now?” she said excitedly.

“Exactly the same as before… Keep coming back to your own all over balance and to opening out your hands. It helped you to pick up the problem area perhaps it will also help you to release the tension this area.”

“Maybe you should take over now Alan” Laura said with a little concern.

“I don’t think so” I replied. A particularly peaceful atmosphere had descended over Laura, Martha and me. I didn’t think that Martha would appreciate me breaking the spell on account of my superior qualifications!

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Gain Confidence find your Centre of Gravity

Locating attention in the centre of the body is a superb tool for supporting and freeing the voice. It also develops and reinforces feeling of confidence and assured performance behaviour.
Alan Mars http://thetechnique.co.uk/ teaching vocal development at a European funded conference on lifelong learning. Sponsored by London based Pupil Parent partnership. A voice workshop was selected as a way of stretching the groups comfort zones. Delegates from UK, France, Belgium, Germany and French Guyana

Confidence Tricks 7. Sir Walter Scott on Adversity – quote

Sir Walter Scott on Adversity – quote

“It’s a matter of ABC: When we encounter ADVERSITY, we react by thinking about it. Our thoughts rapidly congeal into BELIEFS. These beliefs may become so habitual we don’t even realize we have them unless we stop to focus on them. And they don’t just sit there idly; they have CONSEQUENCES. The beliefs are the direct cause of what we feel and what we do next. They can spell the difference between dejection and giving up, on the one hand, and well-being and constructive action on the other. The first step is to see the connection between adversity, belief, and consequence. The second step is to see how the ABCs operate every day in your own life.”  Sir Walter Scott

“Belief is a matter of customary muscle tension” F. M. Alexander

 The second quote is by F M Alexander, the originator, of the Alexander Technique. It was considered to be quite a provocative statement in the 1930s. Some people have suggested that he said it in order to shock. Walter Carrington, however, believed that he was perfectly serious about it because he, F M Alexander, equated belief with fixation. In Alexander’s experience a rigidity of mind corresponded to a rigidity of body. (Walter Carrington on the Alexander Technique in discussion with Sean Carey, 1986, p.45f)

Voice, confidence & presentation coaching with Alan Mars
Voice, confidence & presentation coaching with Alan Mars

 

I love the above quote by Sir Walter Scott – it’s so modern! As a little experiment try putting the key words into Google and see what you come up with. You might find quite a few modern versions of “ABC” out there but, to my mind, none of them quite as succinct and pithy as Sir Walter Scott’s.
Try buying into the two quotes. Decide to treat them “as if” they were true. Believe that by changing your muscular reaction to adversity you will also change, for the better, the consequences that arise from adversity.
How can you change your muscular reactions? How can you weaken the hold of a limiting belief? I’m sure there are many possibilities… including, perhaps, dipping into the preceding pages of this blog.

 

The Alexander Technique - move through your life with greater easeFreeing your voice - The Alexander Technique applied to the speaking and singing voicePresentation Skills Training - Applied Alexander Technique with Alan Mars

 

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Confidence Tricks 2. Festina Lente – Hasten Slowly

Festina Lente – Hasten Slowly

A potential student approaches a famous Japanese sword master asking for instruction.

The student asks how long it will take for him to achieve mastery in swordwork…

“It will take ten years for you to become competent in the basic skills” the master replied.

“What if I study twice as hard?” the student asks eagerly.

“Then it will take you twenty years!”

“And if I study three times as hard?”

“Thirty years! A pupil in such a hurry learns slowly.”

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.

 

VIENNESE GRANNIES

This is a tale of how two Alexander Technique teachers’ were humiliated by a Viennese granny.
They do really do Christmas cheer well in Vienna. All the atmosphere and none of the stress of the UK. They even lay-on snow! Most years anyway…

My partner and I took a walk in Cobenzl, the Vienna woods, of a Sunday afternoon. A bit of a thaw had set in. The paths were perilously icey with only the edges still a little bit snowy. My partner had recently sustained a knee injury in Scottish country dancing ( that’s another story! ) and was doubly cautious. We crept stiffly along the side of the path staring fixedly at the ground two feet in front of us… when a Viennese granny powered past us at a high rate of knots, smiling broadly and drinking in the glorious surroundings with her eyes!

“How embarrassing” said my partner…“Yes, love, but you’ve got to consider that she’s got two specialised walkers’ sticks”And then a couple of runners, about our own age, overtook us, apparently oblivious to the danger underfoot!We crept on.
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Not to be defeated, I asserted “But these Viennese know how to select the right type of ice gripping footwear.” A family, with three kids, ranging from nine to thirteen years, all wearing standard, international brand, trainers swept past us, deep in happy conversation… I decided to keep my mouth shut.
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My partner, a Viennese resident, said “The Austrians just do snow so much better than we Brits. They all ice-skate and toboggan from infancy. They go on obligatory skiing courses in secondary school. And they all learn to waltz in sixth form. Here in the forest at least they are the Alexander experts.”
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We didn’t adapt to ice anything like as easily as we adapted to water in Venice. But we still applied the Alexander Technique. When we walked we just walked. And when wanted to look we stopped. “Inhibited” to use the Alexander jargon. And marveled at the snowy, Christmas card, forest around us.