Alexander Technique – Embodied Awareness
Guest Post by Anne Carroll
During the course of our lives we experience a wide range of challenges which shape the persons we become. Our whole being is influenced by the world as we see and experience it. Along the way we encounter multiple situations, which cause us to respond in a myriad of ways which include joy, confusion, happiness and pain. Our ideas about ourselves, our thought patterns, many of which may be deeply unconscious become embodied: in the way we walk, in the way we move, in the way we approach any task or new learning. So much so that we are easily identified by those who know us, even if we are walking in a crowd from a distant point.
For many of us there comes a point or a number of points in life which provide significant challenge and we find that the tools we have learnt no longer serve us in finding a way forward. For me, this happened about seven years ago when through a range of coinciding circumstances I found myself in a place of deep pain at every level of my being – physical, emotional and mental.
This took me on a journey which led me to a new place, the beginning of a new understanding about how my approach to life had led me to this experience. I saw many professionals in a number of traditions before finally coming across the Alexander Technique. The Alexander Technique led me to explore through the body and constructive thinking, new ways of responding to my life circumstances. More than five years on I have become an explorer. I am inspired by the wonderful new experiences I have had and the people I have met and I am about to enter the final year of Alexander Technique teacher training.
So what is this technique which provided me with a new framework for exploring my life and living more easily within the world?
The Alexander Technique is an educational process, which for many people has provided therapeutic benefits. It re-educates the brain and nervous system to:
- create easier and more efficient movement patterns
- greater flexibility of movement, and
- more balanced postural support
Using gentle touch and verbal instruction it supports the development of awareness, allowing the student to recognise habitual and often unconscious excess tension held in their system. The process supports a student to recognise the unity of mind and body – to understand that what we think affects how we experience our bodies and the way we move affects our minds.
By coming to understand our habits of movement and thought we are introduced to a wider number of choices for responding to any activity, whether that is washing the dishes, sweeping the path, singing, walking, riding a bike, using a computer, or using the tools of your trade whether you are an actor, a public speaker, a dentist, work in a cafe or teach. We learn to be more present to each experience as it arises.
If you’re interested in reading more about the Alexander Technique you can explore via these links – Alexander School and Australian Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique
If you’re interested in participating in an Introductory workshop please email Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you familiar with, or have used the Alexander technique yourself? We’d love you to share your experience with us in the comments below.
News from the ‘Mews’ – February 2016
Welcome back to our first News from the Mews for 2016. I hope you all had a great festive season and managed to get some rest and relaxation in over the break!
The weather has been very changeable and the combination of hot windy days and below average rainfall has taken its toll on a few crops. Our beans were growing well, but with temperatures up around 40 degrees on several days, there was severe leaf burn, despite the use of shade cloth.
The hot days also caused problems for our aquaponics system as the tank water rose to 28 degrees! The trout were getting stressed and I had to harvest the remaining 10 fish at one time. On a positive note though, we have been enjoying some lovely fresh trout meals. With all the fish harvested, I’m running my system without fish at present, just as an experiment, supplementing with Seasol and iron chelate. So far, the plants are still thriving. I’ll consider re-stocking with trout again once the really hot weather is over. (When the weather impacts on your efforts to grow your own produce you get a greater appreciation for the farmers and primary producers who rely on their produce for their income!)
We’ve had great crops of sweet strawberries, which are growing well in the Aquaponics system – as a result I needed to rig up a mesh screen system to keeps the birds off them
Our bees have been very busy foraging and building honeycomb and last weekend we harvested 8.5 kg of golden honey! It tastes great and has a very aromatic flavour. This batch of honey is paler in colour than the last batch, but being a natural product, it is susceptible to seasonal variations and differences in the types of plants flowering at the time. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life!
Following on from last month, we are still raising seedlings in the greenhouse and also planting directly into our garden beds. Crops which have done well despite the hot weather include:
Δ Spring onions
Δ Tuscan kale
Δ Pumpkins, and
Summer Gardening Tips
This month I’d like to share some summer gardening tips with you to give your free produce the best chance at thriving during the warmer months!
Always use mulch over any bare soil as it keeps the soil and roots cooler, reduces evaporation and prevents water runoff when we do eventually get some rain.
Avoid watering during the heat of the day. Early morning or evenings are best. Apply water to the root zone, not the leaves, as this can cause leaf burn and promote mildew or fungal diseases.
Avoid planting or transplanting over summer as this is a stressful time for plants. If you must do it, aim for the cooler part of the day, water in well and provide some shade until the plant is established.
Use shade cloth to protect heat sensitive trees and shrubs from extreme direct sun.
If you need to work outside over summer, avoid the hottest part of the day. Wear sunscreen /protective clothing and keep hydrated.
If possible, have a birdbath or shallow container of water in a shady area of the garden. The native birds and insects will appreciate a drink!
If you have any handy summer gardening tips you could share with us jot them down in the comments below!
“ In the relentless busyness of modern life, we have lost the rhythm between work and rest….all life requires a rhythm of rest. There is a rhythm in our waking activity and the body’s need for sleep. There is a rhythm in the way day dissolves into night, and night into morning. There is a rhythm as the active growth of spring and summer is quietened by necessary dormancy of autumn and winter. There is a tidal rhythm, a deep, eternal conversation between the land and the sea. In our bodies, the heart perceptibly rests after each life-giving beat; the lungs rest between the exhale and the inhale….”
-Wayne Muller, wellbeing author of ‘Sabbath; Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in our Busy Lives.’
Muller describes the way in which rhythm is part of our life, in the world around us and in our bodies. When we are out of rhythm we generally feel it – and over time it starts to take it’s toll on our health and overall wellbeing. Also having just read ‘The Druid Boy’ by Gemma and Ruth Keatley it is easy to see in this day and age how easy it is to loose ‘rhythm’ in the busyness of life. In the world today there is very little rhythm between rest and play – it often feels like everything is always ‘on’ and to slow or stop can feel impossible at times.
We’ve just gotten over Christmas and the beginning of the New Year, where we have worked full steam ahead to get those few days off to do nothing but relax. Unfortunately that’s often not the way it ends up. Many people take time off to have a break and find themselves catching up with friends and family, driving to holiday destinations where everyone else seems to have also congregated and 10 days ‘off’ have sailed by and it’s time to work again.
How hard is it these days to break that cycle of ‘go go go’?
It’s incredibly hard when we’re all used to the lightening pace of the world around us.
The only way we can do it is by giving ourselves permission to’ just be.’
Just stop. Just sleep. Just enjoy your meal. Just enjoy a lazy day at the beach. Just say no. Just say yes.
This may come easy or hard depending on lots of things – How in need you are of the time out? What’s your personality type? Who else does your decision making effect? The list goes on.
Regardless, it really comes back to you and your choices. Nothing will change unless you make it change.
Starting the New Year I’m encouraging you to think about a gift you can give yourself in 2016.
What do you need this year?
More sleep. More laughter. More creativity. More presence. More stillness.
If you can create space for any (or all these things) in your life then I know you’ll feel the rewards of your commitment to yourself.
If you need a little help creating space in your life for presence and stillness, or you need help learning how to be present in your life then our Meditation for Life program might be practical for you. Meditation for Life shares different practical mediation techniques to help you in finding rhythm and practicing mindfulness in your day to day. Even if you have only 90 seconds, you can practice some of these techniques – it doesn’t take a lot of time, just awareness and a want to do it.
Our Term 1 Meditation for Life classes in Wantirna start back on Thursday the 4th of February. If you’re interested in joining you can learn more here or contact Lisa on 0403 559 536 to book.
Wishing you courage in finding rhythm in your life in 2016!
‘Be kind to yourself and in doing so you will be kinder to others.’
Dare I say it but Christmas is fast approaching and generally with Christmas comes the business of the ‘silly season’. It can add stress to our lives and also our body systems due to overeating and drinking and often a hectic social calendar.
We all know this happens during the festive season but why do buy into the craziness? Perhaps you could try something different and tell yourself that this year you’re not going to get caught up in the hustle and bustle?
Your festive season mantra might even be: ‘This festive season I am going to be kind to my body and myself.’
Tips for a Conscious Christmas
Of course, I know that this is sometimes easier said than done but here’s a little checklist to help you enjoy a Conscious Christmas this year!
As we creep closer towards Christmas and New Years, ask yourself these questions:
Is it absolutely necessary for me to attend or take part in this function or am I overtaxing myself?
Do I need to go over to the busy shopping centre to shop for Christmas presents or are there other options?
Do I really want eat another big meal?
Do I really need another drink?
How can I make life easier for myself but still achieve what I want?
You don’t have to miss out – you just have to reframe how you approach the festive season.
Make time to do the things you want. Make time to see the people most important to you. Celebrate a Conscious Christmas and really relish in the wonderful time of year it can be – sans the stress!
I also wanted to share a few strategies to overcoming ay resistance to the questions above.
If you’re only going to a function for the sake of it, think again. You’re the only one at the end of the day who is responsible for your actions. If you’re feeling unwell, tired or at loose ends and wondering what is the matter with you, only you have the power to say no it’s not right for me. We put ourselves into some interesting positions, usually to please others, and then wonder why we are grumpy and unhappy. You have the right to decline, stand in your own power and acknowledge that attending just isn’t right for you right now. Do it as pleasantly as possible and own your decision.
When it comes to ‘overeating’ we can experience many unsatisfactory outcomes – weight gain, lethargy, grumpiness when our clothes don’t fit. The list can go on. Is it really worth it? Especially when we get to making New Year Resolutions only to tell ourselves we need to get back on track. The lesson here is to try not to get off the track in the first place. Moderation (as always) is key, and a little mindful eating could help too!
Christmas Shopping. We often over spend because we’re unsure of what to get in the first place. Do people really want what you’re buying? Don’t be scared to ask people what they need. I honestly love this idea. Often it costs less than what you were thinking of spending in the first place and it’s a gift you know will be used and appreciated. (It’s also often something that someone wouldn’t buy themselves but deep down really want!) If you’re really stuck try to get creative instead. Consider handmade gifts. Or, IOU gifts. Something handmade or an IOU for a delightful lunch date is much more thoughtful and meaningful than a spare of the moment ‘gift for the sake of it’ gift.
Finally, dealing with general festive season stress. Ask yourself what you find most stressful. Is it all the events to attend? Is it the over indulging in food and alcohol? Is it Christmas Day itself? Be honest with yourself about what is likely to stress you out and play with possible solutions to the potential problem (before it becomes a stressor!)
Prepare food the day before.
Scale back on the feast (we tend to over cater – ham sandwiches for weeks right?!)
Plan multiple Christmas catch-ups instead of driving all over the place on Christmas Day.
By taking some time to consciously plan to reduce stress and any other Christmas issues, you will not only feel better in yourself but you’ll also be kinder to others. After all, what is Christmas actually about? Generosity, kindness, gratitude, laughter, love and happiness.
Wishing you all a wonderful festive season – may it be conscious, healthy and happy!
And, a big thank you from the team at Wantirna Wellness for all your support this year.