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 email@example.com
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.
Recently I shared my experience at the first local food forum we attended earlier this year – you can find it here if you haven’t already had a read.
We reconnected recently with Council and the local community to further discuss improving the community’s access to sourcing quality local food. We also discussed ‘where to next’ in putting the findings from our last session into practice and implementing some new ideas for the common good of the local community. We had people return to the discussion and new people join us. The attendees were of varying ages from mid twenties to 80+ – all willing to work together and learn from each other!
Starting something new can be hard, generally because of the lack of knowledge and skill and determining where to start. However, when you have people willing to share and participate, it gives an incredible energy to what you are wanting to do and achieve. Everyone has something valuable to offer and the local food forum is about offering valuable information, sharing ideas and creating conversation. People’s passion and enthusiasm for the topic is energising – the fact that everyone wants to make a difference and contribute in some way is what gets things happening!
So this session was about making decisions on the projects we really wanted to put effort into, to see them get up and running. The top 3 hits were:
A Local Produce Directory – It was suggested that this directory also include people with relevant skills that want to impart their knowledge on how to cultivate fresh produce and where/how to source it. In this way people can find local produce but also learn and expand on their own skills and knowledge.
A Community Garden – Our local ‘Men’s Shed’ building has been approved and given council land and discussions indicated that this may be a possible place for a community garden. The men that are part of the Men’s Shed were very keen to help create and maintain new garden plots. We identified that our main obstacle for this project will be sourcing water for the garden and so our next mission is to find solutions to this potential problem.
Community Harvest Festival – The Festival would create space for local producers to showcase and sell their produce and educate people on what ‘real food’ is all about. An extension of this idea included local restaurants using local produce to allow locals to ‘taste the difference’ in quality local produce.
Groups were formed depending on which topic they were most passionate about and each group had a brainstorming session on where to go next to make these projects a reality. We planned to meet again in a months time. Each of us has a little homework to do – mainly finding out information. We’re very thankful that the Council have been very generous with their support in helping us do this!
Everyone knows that it is not easy to make big change happen. We realise that we all have to pull together to make progress but the beauty of that is seeing how truly wonderful the community spirit is. People value their food supply and are passionate about changing the current state of our ‘food system.’
Stay tuned for further developments – I look forward to bringing them to you!
Are you involved with any local produce or sustainable food initiatives? Do you have any ideas we could bring to the table? Please share with us in the comments below.
Recently Peter and I attended a Food Forum organised by our local council. The purpose of the forum was to invite members of the local community to come together to learn about what the council has found to be food sustainability needs and issues for the local community.
The attendees were then asked to contribute their thoughts and ideas on how best (as a community) we can find solutions to aid these problems.
It was fun and informative and we got to meet like-minded people, make new acquaintances and have our say about what we believe would be beneficial to the community in meeting their food requirements and educating the community on sustainable food choices (that are healthier for us all too!)
They say 2 heads are better than one and it was lovely to see so many people interested in sharing their ideas and working with others to make everything more achievable by starting with the right approach – planning! Topics of discussion included Cooking, Growing, Sharing and Sourcing.
Guest speakers from the food industry also attended and shared their experiences with us to help us get the most out of working together and educating people on how ‘fresh is always best.’
Δ Andrew from Backyard Harvest is a Permaculturalist who started out small and is now part of many projects working with people and communities wanting to grow their own produce.
Δ Sarah from Eat Local Month is actively working with the local community in setting up special days where communities get together to use there produce in local restaurants and show people what real food taste like!
Once the guest speakers had finished everyone sitting at the tables got to have their say to initiate new ideas on what they felt would be a good community projects such as community gardens, running a local food festival, and having food swap days. There were also suggestions for cheese making days and bread making days, the lists grew and grew with ideas.
Each attendee then got to place a vote on what they thought would be the most advantageous for the community and what we could apply for as far as funding to make them happen.
This information would then be taken back to council and collated and we’d meet again in one month’s time to discuss findings and implementation strategies. Everyone involved agreed that the night had been worthwhile! Council also made the point that if there was an independent project that a group of people were working on for the community, they could assist with applying for funding.
So, why am I sharing this?
This is how change happens – small steps to bigger things.
Working with others who are like-minded and proactive is a sure-fire way to get a project off and running! More hands make light work, so they say.
Sustainable food is important. Our food source needs to be as local as possible to keep produce fresh and cost effective for everyone involved – a win for your health and for your back pocket.
When we purchase overseas produce we often pay through the nose because of all the ‘middlemen’ involved ie. transport, overseas farmers, etc. Add to that, Australian produce is better quality anyway – so why miss out?
We often think that as an individual we can’t do much but action starts with just one person and grows from there. Why? Because like attracts like and together we can make a huge difference.
Ask yourself what is one step you can do today to take one step closer to wards being more self-sufficient and support local producers?
To help you here’s a few awesome resources that you may be interested in having a look at:
Δ Local Food Loop – An app that puts local food on the map, supporting local businesses in your area.
Δ GMHBA Healthy Community Grants program – This program is about supporting and empowering local communities to be healthy. Note: This program is closed for 2015 but it’s a great one to put on your radar for the future!
Δ Ripenear.me – A team on a mission to increase the quantity and availability of urban and sustainably grown foods.
Stay tuned as this ‘Food Forum’ adventure unfolds! We will keep you posted.
Have you been involved in any community health projects? We’d love to hear about more examples of ‘people-power’ and share this with our community!
Yesterday I attended a cheese making course facilitated by Sharon Howard, from ‘Easy Cheesy- Cheese Made Easy’
During the course of the day, Sharon shared her passion for cheese making and explained to the participants some of the history of cheese making, the ingredients required, and the variations in procedures required to make different types of cheese.
It was a very hands on class, and we all got to produce our own batches of 3 varieties of cheese to take home: Fetta, Camembert and Mascarpone. All under Sharon’s watchful supervision, of course.
Cheese is a great addition to your diet and your fridge – here’s a few reasons why:
Δ It’s packed full of vitamins – particularly those that are fat soluble for example. Vitamin A and Vitamin K
Δ Cheese = healthy fats for good cardiovascular health
Δ Source of protein and calcium
Δ You can freeze cheese – just grate it into portions and pop in the freezer for next time
Here’s a few photos from throughout the day. The day was very friendly and informal – PLUS we all enjoyed some red wine, breadsticks, cheese and strawberries in between our cheese making duties. Delightful!
If you’ve ever wanted to make cheese at home or have an interest in cheese making in general, I can highly recommend Sharon’s classes.
Sharon can be contacted on 0412 808 032 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And, you may just like to enjoy your home made cheese with these?
Have you ever made your own cheese at home? If so, what types have you found the easiest to make, or perhaps the tastiest?