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

Friday, 21 June 2013

Hearing Yourself Think

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Stopping to the still point where everything is releasing, lengthening, poised, with balance achieved, is primary to the Alexander Technique. It means ceasing to do things by rushing; it means not chasing after thoughts but giving yourself time; it means creating time and space for everything to still, for quietness to come. This can be hard even for experienced pupils, yet it is the first stage in what Joseph Rowentree called 'reasoning into the unknown,' a phrase that Alexander was to pick up and use himself.

 Reasoning into the unknown is something we can do at the start of everyday. Sometimes the anticipation of the day or the future carries more uncertainty than others. How we experience that uncertainty is effected by our stance towards the future, our 'posture of anticipation' as David Mills once called it.

That stance is based on our use of ourselves and therefore is open to conscious control using the Alexander Technique's two steps of inhibition and direction. To inhibit, is to stop and to still and it is here that our manner of use influences our manner of reaction. The influence of manner of use on manner of reaction is something that, as Alexander noted, people miss about his work. It is the point where we are able, through conscious control of our use, to have a conscious control of our breathing. This allows us to control our manner of reaction and be calmer and less stressed in life, including when we anticipate our day and future events.

The learning and practice of this occurs in lessons, where a sense of stop is cultivated, it can allow a person, as one pupil said this week, 'the time to hear themselves think' thereby realising how much they rush and make an effort. It gave them a sense of what they need to learn in lessons for life. This is what lessons are for, and hearing yourself think is a first step in reasoning into the unknown, where you not only anticipate the future, but project yourself forward and create a future, where you have conscious control of your potentialities.

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.