freedom for life

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

Friday, 01 March 2013

Going Up

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I have been excitedly showing pupils the image below on my iPad for the last week. It comes from a trip made by Dan Leahy into the Papua New Guinea highlands in the early 1930s. Dan Leahy, an Australian on the left, shows all the signs of civilisation and modern living with his shoulders slumped forward and head pulled back.

The New Guinean in the centre demonstrates everything you would ever want, in use terms, from the relationship of his head, neck and torso, to the use of his knees and the placement of his feet. His friends on the background show equally impressive physiques. These physiques come from good coordination in everyday acts of living, rather than spending time working out in the gym.

The picture validates something Alexander wrote about. Namely that good use could evolve in traditional tribal societies without the need for conscious control – it arose naturally so to speak. Alexander based his claim on observing the Maoris, when he toured New Zealand in 1895. Not all tribal societies, when pictured, demonstrate good use, but then often by the time pictures were taken, the modern world had not only intruded but severely disrupted traditional patterns of life. What makes this photograph unique is that this was a first incursion into what was largely a Stone Age culture by Westerners. 

There will be no blog next week as I am away in Munich. 

My thanks to Bob Connolly for permission to use the above picture, his documentary on Dan Leahy’s expedition into the New Guinean highlands can be found here.

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.