I was wrong. I used my body wrong.
Welcome Fiona. How do you know you have done wrong?
My body is telling me. I have neck tension, low back pain, and pains in my chest from coughing. I thought I knew what I was doing, but I must have forgotten, or put in too much effort, tried too hard.
Are these feelings familiar?
I suppose so, but I have not felt them for a while.
Are these some of your habits?
Yes. I am looking at habits all the time. I endeavour to be good and make changes but the pesky habits are very strong and sometimes overwhelming. It has been a few months since my last lesson.
What did you learn in your lesson?
I pulled my head back and down. I didn’t think I was. I was working on up and may have omitted the subtlety of forward. It has been an emotional time. I see now how I am reacting to my environment to protect myself. I know I am safe but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.
I tightened into my ribs, interfering with the natural flow and ease of my breath. I have had a cough for months. I have worked on it for small periods of time but the cough got in on me and has been hard to shift. I think it glued my ribs and sternum together.
My back hurts sometimes. I see now it is probably because I was pulling my head back and not letting myself flow forward as I moved. And I didn’t lie down when it hurt. I kept going.
So you are human and are busy with life.
Of course you pull your head back and down. It is a very common human reaction. You were doing it for twenty odd years before you found Alexander technique. Notice how you have grown since then. This is just a moment of relearning.
Life can be tough but please remember you are safe. Remember this often. It will help you let your neck muscles release so your head can go forward and up into movement.
What about my cough? I try to breathe through it, but the cough overcomes me.
A cough is tiring. It pulls your whole body together every time and can be quite violent. Focus on letting your breath fall past the tickles in your throat and the tightness that stimulates you. Be patient. You can breathe. You will find greater space in your chest and it will pass soon.
And the back?
Back pain can teach you a lot about how you are moving. It is a wonderful reminder to come back to yourself and mind how you move.
Yes. It does give me something to work with on the floor and in the park while walking. So what should I do?
Your penance homework reminder for this week is:
1. 10 free your necks, in every moment you choose to remember
2. 10 whispered ah’s, in 10 minutes work daily observing your breath
3. 10 semi supine sessions where you listen deeply to your whole self while supported by the floor. You are safe to let go as you cannot fall in this position.
This may seem like a lot of work for such little sin but it will reward you. Take your time and play with how and when you work with yourself. It is your work, about you, for you. You will do it your way. It is simply recognising too much work and getting out of the way.
How do you feel now?
Great having been listened to. You always know the truth Fiona. I think we all need a little help and direction from time to time. That’s why it’s important to have regular self time and lessons.
I may not always know the truth, but I can spot a mistruth, a barrier to ease and flow.
By listening deeply to yourself you will show yourself how valuable you are in any moment and how your choice to be free is important to you. It is compassion. Let your next lesson be not too far away. For we learn in every activity.
Thank you for being so honest here today. You will feel more whole and have less pain now you have listened to your body. By listening to your self you are supporting your self. You are loved.
Thank you Fiona for listening to me and refocusing my whole self. I am sorry for straying off the path of ease and making life hard for me again. Forgive me these habits as I promise to be more physically, mentally and emotionally gentle with myself. I will do less to protect myself with added tension. I will remind myself I am safe so I can free myself up to bend in the winds that come.
Fiona, you are forgiven.
Love Fiona x
The Art of Listening explored on March 4th. Sign up.
When the line you are standing in isn’t going quick enough, are you jittery inside, looking around for reasons to explain such inefficiency? When someone is explaining their position or telling a story, do you interrupt to get to the end quicker? In a moment of quiet do you turn to your phone to fill the time with something?
In this fast world these are common daily occurrences.
If you said yes to any of these scenarios you are in the majority.
But here is the real question. How do you feel at these times?
You probably don’t even notice how you feel because your attention is on the passing time, or the eegit that is holding up the queue. Or you are looking at the décor because you have stopped caring about the end of the sentence, or are planning he email you have to write.
We are living in a world of distraction. Our attention is on the next thing, the other people, the complaint or blame that has us frustrated, the device, the child, the news, the traffic. We are not aware of what is going on inside of our own selves most of the time. Until pain arrives.
Pain can be in many forms. It could be physical pain where unknowingly we injure ourselves. It could be having gone along with the status quo for so long, we finally notice our stress. It could be every time we go to do what we want to do, a block gets in our way.
Pain, of whatever form, tells us to stop. We don’t want to do this anymore. Our plan for our lives was different. We want change. But how?
It starts with listening. When we are focused on things outside of ourselves we are losing our personal power. The pain, in whatever form, is asking us to stop and listen to what is going on inside of us. The pain arrived because we were not checking in to our internal signals and changing course accordingly. Now we have landed on the rocks. But all we want to do is get off the rocks, get away from the pain, without knowing how or why we landed there. So we survive this time, but the same pain returns because we did not learn the lessons.
Listening to ourselves, our inner feelings and thoughts is an art. It brings about awareness. We don’t just listen to the pain, although the pain is all we hear and see and feel and think about. We must listen deeper, below the pain, to the bigger picture. There we can reveal our secrets, and maybe the answers, to ourselves.
We all have similar problems, habits, unfulfilled wishes. But we cannot solve them as “we”. We have to solve them as “me”.
FM Alexander solved his problem by observing himself and the detail of his movement over a long period of time. What he learned has served a lot of us, but he was not the first or last to solve his problem and develop techniques to solve common problems. He said “Anyone can do what I do, if they do what I did. But none of you want the discipline.”
Of course he is right. There is a discipline in refocusing awareness back to myself in an age where everything is built to distract us. But the practice can be so deliciously self-powering and enjoyable. It takes some time to learn a new practice but all the tools are right there inside of you and me.
We all need help to make a change. Simply because everything we do is habitual and normal. Getting out of the way to allow the balance of our nature find its own way is a new way of learning for us. We have been educated and understand a value in working hard to achieve what we want. Stopping, doing less or something new, requires a change of tack. We don’t have to do more work, use more muscle tension, but that’s what our habits will tell us to do. Understanding stopping is the challenge. We must learn to do less, and it starts with simply and gently listening, gathering information about myself for myself.
Take the time you are gifted, the next time you are in a queue or stalled for no fault of your own, to listen to yourself. Leave the phone alone and look around. See what you see. Hear what you hear. Feel what you feel. Notice your thoughts. Are your thoughts taking you away or can you bring your mind back to your senses?
Bring your self back to your self. That’s where it all starts.
Let me know how you go by commenting below or contacting me directly.
Love Fiona x
Join me as we explore all this and more in a workshop entitled The Art of Listening on March 4th. We will be focusing your attention on the most important person in your world, YOU, and how you move and think. It will be revealing, enlightening and empowering.
Contact me on 087 6503523 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place
How are you today? Did you survive St Valentine's Day yesterday? Did you feel any more or less loved? Did you feel under pressure to perform, to present, to show? Or was it just another day?
I took myself to a Zumba class which was lovely and fun. It was a loving gesture to myself to move. Valentine's Day has never been a thing for me. Once, when I had a boyfriend, Valentine's Day became something the year I was away in February. It had NOT been a thing when we were together previous Februarys. I don't think we lasted another February after that.
It was lovely to receive messages from friends yesterday and how the singles are being consciously wished well these days. Love is universal. Love is for all and not a special thing only couples enjoy.
My most interesting Valentines Day was when I made red hearts about an inch big with a cut out maker. Armed with these paper hearts littering my pockets I would share them with every passer-by I met on my walks that day. Catching the eye of some one as they walked toward you was the initial challenge. Often they would look down or away to avoid you. You could feel a resistance build in them as they began to realise I had more than a friendly glance in mind. What was I going to do?
As I reached out my hand, pinching a heart they could not see as my thumb covered it, they invariably hesitated. Their way was interrupted. They did not want to receive anything. Is she selling something? What does she want from me? I don't have time?
As I passed with a smile and they left with a tiny heart in their hand, I could feel their shoulders drop behind me. I would turn my head and the eyes were softer now and gentleness resumed as they took a moment to realise what the heart represents, and smiled back at me. No danger here. The fear of the storm had passed, and it wasn't as bad as expected.
Isn't it amazing how we resist love, connection, engagement because we don't have time, or fear something. We don't listen to our loved ones because we are too busy. We are afraid to slow down in case of . . . .what?
So a day has been created to help us to sit down and share a special time with our beloved. Culture (Hallmark or the saint, you choose) has done this for us to remind us that love is what it is all about. Love is why we are here.
And if we look at our busy ness it's probably wrapped in love. We get up in the morning for the love of life. It may be to get the kids to school because we love them and wish for them to have a good day being educated. We get up to work, to make a difference in our jobs to provide a service to other people, or to make money to support our loved ones. We make food to share for the love of our friends and family. We make a cup of tea for someone to sit and share or enjoy in comfort. They are acts of love.
But sometimes we don't see it like that. We see the everyday as mundane. We see pain as not moving right. We feel pressure because we judge ourselves and have an inner battle of negative thoughts. We have no time, we are late, we will get into trouble. We live in cycles of habit that include blame and hurt and pain and loss.
But it is so easy to interrupt a pain by looking at it in a new way. When we choose to say I am here I am standing on my own two feet, and I am ok in this moment. I am loving myself. When I realise I stand on a world that is constantly moving and it supports me. I am loving my self. When I choose to let my breath go and feel the expansive nature of my chest. I am loving myself. When I stop and take in the magic of nature on this earth. I am loving myself and the world I live in. When I stop arguing to be right, I am loving myself and the arguer. When I stand up for myself and stay true to my conviction, I am loving myself.
Every little act is actually borne of love. It's all a matter of perspective.
How does it feel . . . to allow yourself time . . . to appreciate . . . something ordinary?
Everyday is Love Day.
Love Fiona x
Thanks to Deirdre and Elizabeth for inspiring today xxx
Saturday March 4th a workshop on Living With Ease may interest you. We will look at simple ways to take care of (love) your self in everyday practical ways.
I am Fiona and I am exploring themes of meeting resistances and allowing ways through. The constant weeding, recognising the stuff that's in the way to live easier.