Just For Today… I Will Stop, Think Then Manoeuvre

All too often we are driving on automatic pilot. We are in the car but not really present. We arrive at our destination but don’t remember any of the turns or junctions particularly. We may arrive aching, tense and and feeling cross.

The same goes for many people as they drive around in their human body.

Travelling unconsciously, within the home, how they sit and stand, how they move their arms, our legs seem to cross themselves, our shoulders rising up to our ears unnoticed.

All these unconscious movements, done a little bit tense, can cause and contribute to aches, pains and wear-and-tear to our joints.

Typically it is women who come to me with long-term back pain of 5 years or more, they’ve tried many different treatments and are wondering if surgery is the next step or if they are stuck in daily pain and just have to put-up-with painkillers, hot baths and backrubs.

I support them to rediscover their healthy movement patterns, so they can learn to drive their own human vehicle more smoothly, efficiently and healthily.

When we move more smoothly and efficiently we release the unnecessary and unhelpful effort of pushing and tensing our many muscles to do the small and many

tasks in everyday life – such as lifting a kettle, picking up a handbag or tying our shoes.

When I started to drive I remember it being drilled into me

Stop, mirror, manoeuvre. A version of this is useful at points throughout the day to get used to being more conscious and therefore in charge of our thoughts and movements.

For today, say this thought to yourself little and often throughout the day. “I will stop, think then manoeuvre.”

Write it, draw it, meditate on it. Stick a Post It on a mirror. Set yourself a reminder on your phone. Link this thought to washing your hands – (added bonus to do this with your mouth closed).

Practicing this thought throughout the day will help you notice this sequence and support you to navigate daily life in many ways.

For many of us we are habitually in Drive-mode, with our foot down hard on the accelerator…. until we get to the sofa, the weekend or a holiday when we may collapse, rather than Stop consciously or constructively. Do you recognise this at all in yourself?

Perhaps you have already hit the buffers. As with any of Alexander’s discoveries we can learn about ourselves, learn to identify the habitual thought and movement patterns which run our life.

Do you want your old ways of thinking and moving to dictate what you do now?

If they aren’t working and are leading to pain and suffering, of course not!

We can choose a different route. One which offers conscious and constructive help in any situation. Here are some top tips to help you drive yourself better.

Before you get into the car, into gear and get moving: STOP !!

You can start this sequence at any time, for any activity. For the sake of this example I’m going to use driving a car, if you don’t have a car or aren’t using it – then you could use another activity and adapt the steps.

  • Before you pick up your keys, STOP and THINK about yourself – primarily your head and spine being easy and elastic – carry on thinking about these whilst you MANOEUVRE and pick up your keys, fingertips leading.
  • Before you unlock the car door and open it: STOP… yes, really STOP, just there on the pavement, on the drive, in the car park – THINK “I can rest just where I am, where my feet are in this moment, taking stock of the space around me using my peripheral vision, receiving information (from Day 1) and allow myself to be breathable through my nostrils (Day 2). Carry on noticing these whilst you unlock the car and open the door. Ask yourself: “Am I holding my breath?”
  • How are you going to get from standing by the car to sitting in it?
  • Its the same procedure: Stop, Think about your support, your self and the space around you, stay breathable… MOVE with care and keep THINKING and keep breathing.

You are learning to keep your attention with All of Yourself, as you do a specific movement.

You are learning to keep your attention with yourself, whilst you move – your brain is in your body, your brain is steering you. You are in charge in this moment.

Keep this sequence going – perhaps use the Traffic Lights to punctuate your journey. Red for Stop, Orange for Think, Green for Go / Manoeuvre.

Have fun with this. Take yourself out of automatic, and get thinking constructively.

Written by Lucy Ascham, Body & Soul Energy Expert

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What My Clients Say

“No pain in the night, no pain when I got up, no pain when I went for a run and no pain now! It’s much more than I expected, thank you! "

Steve

"It is as though I have been gifted an entirely new lens through which to view human behaviour, and it is a lens of compassion and empathy like no other. Due to this, I have been able to come to terms with the way my family operates, which has proven to be a great relief. I would definitely recommend working with Lucy. She held such a safe space for me and my vulnerability with great compassion and authenticity."

Elena

"Using these techniques has helped me reduce the day-to-day tension I’ve developed over a lifetime of anxious habits and hypersensitivity. It’s been amazing to re-learn how my body works, and how to swap out the survival mechanisms that got me so far, for habits more in keeping with how my body is happier to work."

Alex Booer

“I’ve been doing the Alexander Technique with Lucy over the past few months and my posture has improved enormously. I have a greater awareness of how my body functions and can recognise the signs of when I’m falling into bad habits."

Paul Tolton, Actor

"I feel present. Nice to feel here, not racing ahead. I have a more measured, calm approach. I’m less reactive and am learning to look after myself and choose my responses.”

Rosie

"I had a traumatic accident a few years ago. After you ‘wriggled’ my head it felt weird – and really good. I could walk evenly for the first time in years!! I’m making friends with my body.”

Zoe, Singer

"I have been happily surprised and have learned a lot about how my muscles and spine behave when I let them. I rapidly realised that AT is not in the least pseudoscience, rather it teaches one to be aware of how the body is holding itself."

Julian Davis, Retired Professor of Medicine & Pianist

"I've just had two enjoyable and useful sessions with Lucy on Zoom. I had been doubtful about how it would work but I was pleased with how it went. Of course, nothing is as good as face-to-face but we are where we are and this was great and has helped me to progress as I had hoped. Thank you. Looking forward to the next ones!"

Bev

"Lucy's sessions are amazing. Her unique blend of skills helped me have good posture without effort. Before this, I had seen many physiotherapists and osteopaths, but the pain kept coming back within a few weeks. Even after my first session with Lucy, the difference was so clear that my friends commented on it. After several months, the effects are being maintained with her support."

Julia