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

Friday, 05 September 2014

Practise Works!

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With summer and the Festival over and life returning to normal, it is good to get back to blogging. I will be blogging this year once a month here on matters relating to Alexander Technique on conscious control. I will also be blogging once a month on therapy matters at Counselling Conversations. 
To start, it is always good to stop, to pause, which is the discipline of the Technique. This is always where we start, with stopping to make sure we are lengthening, breathing with a light focus and using our peripheral vision.

It is where we return to when we become aware that we are fixing, holding our breath, shortening and pulling down. 
When we start learning the Alexander Technique and developing conscious control, this is what happens a lot, in everyday mundane activities such as walking and bending. This makes a real difference both when beginning with Alexander Technique lessons and when you have been practising for a number of years. 

 In both cases it is a matter of being aware that you are going wrong in your breathing, in your use. The difference over time is the degree of subtlety that is involved. Each time you master a level of control, everything always opens up and you begin again, using the technique and the guiding orders to establish a conscious control of your self, in a process, as a process.

In this, there really is no where to get to, no fixed end point, just a series of beginnings as you go through life, developing your experience and ability to stop, be aware, and direct your use in the situations you find yourself in, choosing what to do, while looking after yourself in the process. If you do that certain physical changes will take place, you will get stronger, your posture will change, you will be less prone to musculo-skeletal problems, as you become more poised and balanced, through having conscious control in living everyday life.

This is what it is about and you have to practise in the beginning to get it, and you have to practise in the end to keep it. The conscious choice to be made in favour of poise and balance and opening to the possibilities of situations as they unfold is always there for us to take. Each time we do the pathways becomes clearer, as we grow in our practise and as things get subtler, we develop greater control, greater ease and more freedom within ourselves.

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.