“I am free to be on this step”
‘People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures’, said FM Alexander.
Information and knowledge are useful. Putting these into action is even more useful. Committing to doing this thinking-in-activity one, three, or ten times a day – then you’ll really start to notice the benefits.
As many of you know, one of Alexander’s major discoveries about us mammals is that the relationship between the head and spine govern the coordination of the rest of us. Yes – all of us! Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – we don’t separate – its all one thing – our Self.
Big cat – photo by Mike Park, Image Yonder
“I am free to be on this step”
Social distancing requires the ability to be aware of yourself, another, the space in between and to keep in mind what is the main thing we are doing and the overall aims of keeping each other safe. This is quite a collection of things to juggle.
Cats do this remarkably well. They have their target, or prey in the case of this big cat, and watch it very steadily. They will stay hidden and sneak up on it. They will get ready by releasing tension, staying quiet and then moving fluidly and purposefully until they achieve their goal and get their dinner. Cats big and domestic are my idols.
These last few weeks I have been out for a walk most days, or a cycle or a quick trip to the local shop.
Mostly the streets are quiet. Mostly I meet people who are giving way to each other so we can pass each other at a safe distance. Mostly people can pause and wait until we can work around each other.
Perhaps you have noticed some exceptions to this too?
The runners in the park who just run through the gap you and another walker have just created for each other. The cyclist who then swishes into the gap left by the runner who took the space you left for the person on the path…
I went to a local mini supermarket a while ago and queued politely outside 2 meters from the other shoppers, I waited extra at the door whilst someone else came out, and the first child, and the second child. I followed the arrows around the store and then almost bumped into someone who had come the ‘wrong way’ down the aisle to pick up some cheese!
What do the runner, the cyclist and the cheese shopper have in common?
They are more concerned about their goal than they are about the journey they take to reach it, and the consideration of others.
It looks like they are attending to the success of their activity, over the common goal of mutual safety.
It is this mindset that we are working with in the big scale and the small scale of movements with Alexander’s discoveries. He called it Endgaining – when people prioritise getting it done – standing up out of a chair at any cost, chopping veg until they are all chopped, gardening until the patch of earth is dug. The outcome is external and predefined and you won’t stop until you get it finished.
This can be great fo getting through your To Do List, if you are a high achiever and for people with high standards, up to a point. They may get to the goal quicker in the short term, but in the longer term they may suffer and have to pay the price of pain, wear and tear.
Prevention is better than cure. This is why we are staying home! To try and prevent us and others getting this virus and things getting much worse.
Alexander recommended we pay attention to how we do what we are doing with ourselves, AND pay attention to the bigger picture at the same time. That we take care of each step of the path along our journey.
I’m thinking about the runners, the cyclists and the cheese shopper who just keep going regardless. Perhaps they are reading the situation differently. Perhaps they can think super quickly and hope that if they hold their breath they will be ok as they pass quickly between folk. Perhaps they are just enjoying the exercise and aren’t thinking about these aspects at all, just digging deep to keep going. Perhaps they are listening to their music, in the zone and enjoying themselves enormously and somewhat oblivious to the details I mentioned above.
A friend of mine was telling me about a bike ride his family had done and mentioned that they had stopped on the path to let some pedestrians pass. I asked him to repeat what he had said, as it is not something I had seen in Sheffield on my travels so far. Yes, the cyclists had stopped, and let the pedestrians go first!
When I took my son out on a bike ride recently I naturally called to him to wait until the family of toddlers, pushchair and dog had gathered at a safe distance so we could pass and he was outraged to stop his flow and momentum. He got quite cross with me. I do understand how lovely it is to just keep going.
And yet if we can really have a choice about when we start, when we keep going, when we stop – this way lies freedom!
Does anyone else want some steps on a path towards freedom?