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

Friday, 04 October 2013

The Advantages Of Conscious Control

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The advantages of conscious control are often made clear to me, at points of difficulty and stress, such as when my mother died five years ago, and now recently with refurbishing new teaching premises, where I started to teach on Sunday.

When mum was dying, conscious control helped me to be present to her in her final weeks, helping transform it from a sad occasion into something else that was real in its acceptance of pain and joyous in making the most of the last moments we had together – most especially when I was sitting quietly at her bedside. I have rarely been more grateful for Alexander’s work and the possibilities it affords us.

My New Teaching Room

My New Teaching Room

The last few weeks have inevitably been different with a different focus. They have been equally demanding in managing a heavy teaching schedule while project managing builders, suppliers, designers and the like. In the end everything has come together, providing me with a beautiful space within which to teach and to practice as a therapist. At times in the process there were many competing demands, with decisions constantly needing to be made. It was here that I remembered Alexander and the need to put my use first, to always take the time to stop and allow myself to focus. Inevitably when I did the next stage of what needed to be done was made clear and I would find myself sequencing the next stage of action. In doing so I remembered one of Alexander’s claims that practice of his technique would not only give you confidence but help you think better. This is certainly my experience in that the more I understand the sequencing of the guiding orders, that go together as whole, the more easily I can sequence other things into a practical order for going on with things.

And sequencing is the basis for all practical and therefore scientific thinking. It is part of what gives conscious control its scientific character. Alexander’s work is based on a practical sequence of thinking about how we can use ourselves - one that allows us to gain a control of ourselves. That control allows us to improve our standard of functioning physically and mentally, in that unified whole, which is ourselves acting freely in the world, in our use and movement - breathing easily while alert to the changing possibilities that continually surround us.

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.