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The Edinburgh Alexander and Therapy Centre has been offering Alexander lessons and workshops since 1994.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

New Year Resolutions and The Need To Stop

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The turning of the year with the lightening and lengthening of the day brings with it blogs and newspapers full of plans to detox, get fit, change your life, become a new you. Questions abound, as to which fitness plan, which diet, how to stick to it? Experts differ and everybody tends to assume that if you just tell people what they need to do, it happens, despite the abundant evidence of failure of far too many people with their diets, fitness plans, lapsed gym memberships and the like, in trying to change. WHY IS THIS?

 

It is not as if it is a new phenomena, rereading Alexander’s four books over the holiday season in preparation for an article, one finds the same themes, the same problems, exactly one hundred years ago. The problems persist, despite greater knowledge as to undesirability and damaging effects of certain behaviours, certain habits. For example the consumption of too much sugar is known to be linked to the rise in obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other major forms of illness, which waste lives in later years, eating up precious health budgets in care. 

 

Alexander himself wrote about the corruption of taste that goes with adding sugar to a babies’ milk and how it establishes a habit for sweet things that persist through life. A modern equivalent of which might be giving a child flavoured water, which is laced with large amounts of sugar. Now, specific dietary advice is beyond the normal remit of this blog, what is in its remit is the process of re-education, the process of change and here Alexander has much to say that is as relevant now, as it was, when he was writing. 

 

Perhaps the most important is the power and importance of being able to STOP and say NO to habit, to suspend it and close it out, in favour of something new, something that is a reasoned chosen choice. Too often no thought is given to what needs to be prevented, where we go wrong, where we have gone wrong, when we seek to help ourselves; too often little thought is given to how we get the fundamental experience of change, that is pervasive and persisting; too often we fail to consider that we might need to re-educate ourselves at a fundamental level, in terms of constructive conscious guidance and control in order to achieve our aims, realise our hopes and our dreams. 

 

Realising our hopes and our dreams, becoming more fully human in coping with inevitable disappointments that lie along the way, the tracks of our lives, will be the themes of the blog this year. I will blog about them both in the context of developing and gaining constructive conscious control and becoming a personal scientist; that is both within the context of Alexander’s work and Kelly’s work. Kelly, through Dewey can be seen as taking on many of Alexander’s elements of change, and applying them to the topic of human relationships, personal and social rather than the improvement in general function that comes from being well co-ordinated in carrying out the practical acts of daily life. 

Richard Casebow

Back in the mid-1980s, I started to suffer from severe sciatica that often made walking and working difficult. At the time, I was training in London to become a Chartered Accountant and I left, as I was spending increasing amounts of time off waiting for the pain to subside. Around this time, I also became depressed, as my prospects seemed to darken with little hope of a normal life. In seeking help I found my way both to a psychotherapist and then to an Alexander Technique teacher, both of which helped enormously. The therapy with forming a life plan and understanding myself, encouraged me to dream of the life I have now. The Alexander Technique gave me the practical tool to help realise it and to allow me to rehabilitate myself to lead a full normal life.


The link between Alexander Technique, Psychotherapy and the art of living intelligently became something that has fascinated me ever since and is something I have continued to explore myself and with pupils and clients since. This blog is my attempt to elucidate the links, as well as to talk about Alexander Technique pure and simple and the benefits of therapy.


I founded the Edinburgh Alexander and Therapy Centre in 1994, Counselling Conversations came later after I became a practising therapist in 2003. Professionally I act as the Treasurer of the Personal Construct Psychology Association and sit on the board of the UKCP’s house magazine The Psychotherapist. When I am not to be found working, there is nothing better I like to be doing than spending time on a Scottish hillside, exploring the arts or just spending time with friends and family, including the family cat.