freedom for life

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

Sunday, 29 April 2018 13:33

Burning Down The House

The smoke alarm went off. I got up, thinking it must be telling me that the battery was coming to the end of its life, but that I had better check anyway. Then I smelt smoke and went to the kitchen to see flames coming out of the dishwasher. I approached to see if there was anything I could do, decided there was not and went to call 999. Speaking to the woman on the end of the phone, I was aware of freeing my neck and consciously choosing the tone of my response. Once I had put the phone down, I calmly put on a jumper and some shoes and left the house, as the smoke began to gather above me on the ceiling; it was time to leave. 

Waiting for the fire brigade to arrive, and then while they put out the fire, I was again aware of my neck and back working to keep me breathing and grounded, accepting of the situation, clear and focused, as I started to plan and sequence what needed to be done.

At times I found myself starting to be feel trembly and then I’d just settle myself back into being calm and thinking, where thinking, as Heidegger pointed out, is ‘a form of thanking and therefore of being grateful’. And there was much to be grateful for: first and foremost for being safe and alive, and then for the kindness of neighbours, previously unknown, who appeared with synchronistic magic, with offers of tea and a coat, immediately as I wished for them. 

At the end of the incident I was talking to the chief of the fire crew and I thanked him and his crews firemen and firewoman. He was visibly taken aback commenting that few people thanked him or his crews at the end on an incident. That surprised me but then thinking about it since then, I think it was my ability to stay centred and be practicing thinking as a form of thanking in real time, which is conscious control in action, that allowed me to be present to him and his crew, the jobs that they do, and the lives that they save; by being there rather than being wrapped up in the loss of my beautiful home.

The stress came later, as I struggled and kept myself awake. But gradually I stilled myself into dreaming, awaking as free as I ever have been with my heart open to the world, as a new level of psycho -physical integration emerged. What has happened since, which is the nature of this work, is that I have become even more aware of those habits whereby I try to interfere with this emerging way of being. I am aware of how I want to go back to what was familiar and yet I am also aware that I do not want to, which is how it is on the threshold of opening to new levels of internal freedom. As I work through the external challenges of the coming months in terms of the flat needing to be repaired, redecorated and what remains of my stuff cleaned and restored, I am aware of the internal challenge to further surrender to that psycho-physical attitude where I keep myself open and accept what is. Something summed up rather beautifully here by Tom Cheetham: 

‘We need to keep our internals open. I can think of no better way to express that freedom from hard-heartedness and dogma that is one goal of the human struggle. It is a psycho-physical Quest to be open to the world. Not curved in upon ourselves, but open to the tastes and textures of the world as Manifestations of the Real.’

Tom Cheetham  Green Man, Earth Angel

Published in Lessons from the Chair