The “Whole System” Approach to Living with Ease

There are many books, blogs and treatments about how to improve your posture, get a flat tummy, correct your slump, stop stooping, choose the correct shoes for posture, improve your breathing, etc etc

What all these books, blogs and treatments have in common is that they assume a whole host of problems can be fixed or cured with one aspect of yourself – better eating, better furniture, better footwear – and rarely talk about how our back pain is not a separate thing from how we do the rest of life.  These blogs of mine attempt to put it all back together.  Its about integrating, the “whole systems” approach to living with poise.

We look at the basics, how do you move the way you do?  How can you stop moving in harmful ways and resume more natural and nourishing movement without resorting to gadgets or exercises?  Often by trying to do the right thing, we actually hold ourselves rigidly, hold our breath, hold our tummies in and restrict our movement in fact, rather than allow it to be freer.

The Alexander Technique is like getting a clear mirror on your thoughts, movements, aches and pains and the transformative qualities of clearer thinking, smoother movements and the freedom to go any which way you want to at any given moment.  You get to learn how your are organised, the natural hierarchy of thoughts and learn to integrate and operate yourself with advanced skills.

The purpose of these blogs are to transform your relationship with your thinking, mind, body, emotions and movements.  Its all you.  We may have words which divide us up into parts which we can identify and communicate about, but really you are one united, undivided, indivisible whole self.  And working with everything that is you, is the only way I really know we can affect real change.  Our thoughts are the start of where this freedom lies, the ability to think for yourself, and choose your response.  And our thoughts are part and parcel of our muscles (not different – the same thing) so through being touched and moved and coached in a particular way, your mind/muscle can be retrained.  This experience has to be felt to be known.  It must be impossible to know what swimming feels like until you get wet.  In the same way, how can you know more freedom in mind/muscle/movement unless you have an experience – an Alexander Technique Teacher can guide you and show you how.

Life has a way of throwing us all sorts of unexpected incidents – the only freedom we have is how we choose to respond to these.  Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor said:“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.Everything can be taken from a (wo)man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”The Alexander Technique principles show us the steps on this path to expand that space between stimulus and response and find our power, our choice, our life.   We do this one thought at a time, one new experience after another to live and expand with this freedom.Many of us are pulled around by life’s circumstances, we lose direction, lose our sense of value to the world, lose our confidence, lose our stature, job, loved-ones and our mind and body start to show the lines of life experience in our curled shoulders, scrunched toes, our bent over spines and lines on our faces.The Alexander Technique is a tried and tested path to more inner and outer freedom in mind, muscle and movement.You do not have to carry on the way you are, with headaches, back pain, neck pain, this pain or that pain.  Some people have a sense of not being connected to their body, or just out of sorts and not knowing quite why.  Sometimes the clues lead to answers and moments of the body revealing the secrets within the stress and strain – more spaciousness inside, more joined-upness more smoothy-ease (yes we don’t always have the right words for this stuff and I delight in making them up).  Sometimes no words or memories come, but just the pure emotion which was too much to bear in the moment of shock or trauma, the residue of the emotion can resurface within the safety of the lesson as the muscles release their tension.  Tears are very welcome in my sessions.  They allow internal blockages to flow again, and bring warmth and energy back to parts which were frozen.It is such a privilege for me to share these moments with pupils, and teach the self-care techniques which can bring about profound change.  Simple does not mean easy though.  To bring about real and lasting change takes some intention and commitment.  The thing is that when we keep applying Simple thoughts based on Principles, with intention and direction, and apply these in our everyday life, then big changes can appear.Recently a lady said to me with tears in her eyes “I didn’t think I could keep discovering anything new here, and yet today was one of the most significant sessions to date!  I had no idea I kept holding my breath and haven’t known how to breathe properly for 50 years!  Now I’ve started noticing this, I realise I do it ALL THE TIME.  Its such a relief just to breathe right and feel that rush of oxygen to the brain.”How amazing is that?  After a number of lessons this lady is continuing make discoveries about herself and the ways she holds, fixes and interferes with the natural workings of her mind/body.  She is also learning the on-going art of self-awareness.  These mindful moments allow her to fully experience what she is doing to herself, where she may be adding tension, maintaining stress and reducing her capacity for  the fundamentals of life – breath, movement, sensations, being.Another client said “I am pretty cut off from my body and have been most of my life.  The feeling of being moved… is so delicious.  Its the kind of touch I share with my grandchild, and is so nurturing and life-affirming.”If you haven’t yet tried the Alexander Technique, then I really recommend you try this.  Small group classes are held in my Teaching Room just around the corner in S11 every other Wednesday.  Bookings essential.  Private lessons are tailored to your challenges and goals and include expert observations, learning tools and practicing skills to take with you immediately and start using in your everyday life.

Written by Lucy Ascham, Body & Soul Energy Expert

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