This blog is primary addressing the most recent lesson I had with George (aka Maggie’ Dad).
We, me, George and our AT thinking skills, got him walking smoothly, with some speed, and then and a few instructions about pivoting, he was able to change directions with out losing his balance. This was huge.
George and I have been working on his head, neck, back, feet relationship for almost six years. Before digging into working on walking I took him through the AT principles and indirectly worked on his gait. When he declared he was ready to work on his walking skills I agreed. Of course we had been working on them all along by attending to his entire self.
I was raised an athlete. My sophomore year of college both of my roommates were on the track team with me. Marcy was javelin thrower, Amy a mid distance sprinter and long jumper. I remember the day Amy was explaining her revelation about running being all about PUSHING with the back leg, rather than just lifting with the front. It was a push, not a pull. Yes yes, I understand. We pushed off the ground all over campus while walking so we could get used to doing this same thing while running. We both got a bit faster.
Even more important than improving my running times was that this was the beginning of me thinking about movement, ALL MOVEMENT from a biomechanics perspective. Moving was still an art, and now this art was forming an inner curriculum, forming an overarching way of thinking about and using my human body for self expression. The act of running was an art in and of itself, and now inside the running I had a new perspective… yes I was naturally talented, and also hard working, but now I could be more introspective with my figuring out the physics of whatever sport, action, task I was doing or thinking about doing.
Back to present day with George.
Inhibition is not just inhibiting a muscle, or a muscle pattern, it is about overviewing the entire process. This statement suddenly enabled me unlimited ability to share my movement knowledge with George. I coached him into his groove and then at the correct moments orally called at movements, actions and thoughts for him to think and do. He moved like a dream. He was thinking in activity. Paradigm shifts are wonderful experiences to share.
Compilation of AT lessons the week of Monday August 12th 2019
The Thinking IS the Exercise
What was reported from previous lessons:
Being more aware of internal environment
Thinking loops for ups that become spirals
Feeling a bit different, but not knowing yet how to bring about the thinking outside of a lesson
Position AS RELATIONSHIP of parts to parts and parts to whole
THE FAB FIVE
Recently quantified senses
Thermoception (heat & cold)
Proprioception (body awareness)
And introducing THE ACTION SENSES
during AT lesson I only introduced legs and arms
Legs & feet – locomotion
Arms & hands – dexterity
Rectum – excretion
Mouth – speech
Thinking in terms of arms & legs as ACTION senses allows me to think of the reasons I walk to something, the reason I pick up something.
This helps me see the ENTRANCE senses for their reasons too. This reminds me to watch my senses for what they are sending me. Are they sending me information through a clear lense??? Who is in charge of ME?
To be able to inhibit/ to delay/ to check the validity of our initial /habitual impulses.
“To Alexander, inhibition had a definite, operational meaning. It meant delaying the instantaneous response (learned or instinctive) to a stimulus until the could be carried out in the way that was best suited to the well-being of the organism as a whole.” FPJ Body Awareness in Action pg. 25
The act of creation: the mind.body/sense/self imagining/thinking/conjuring something/ creating something… whether this something is a musical note, a next step in a 200 meter dash, a puppet, a lesson plan, or a vacation…..
The act of creative thinking CAN include your SELF IN IT. IT IS you so might as well include yourself in it.
Best creative practice is to establish a manner of directing the use of self for
the creation of a work of art. The field of attention has a set of kinesthetic coordinates that supply a framework for thinking. If my thoughts (creative or otherwise) are pulled off track into a state of non-inclusivity of the framework that is producing and allowing these thoughts…. The thoughts probably no longer include the activity of thinking about MY SELF… and so these thoughts (again, creative or otherwise) separate my SELF from my process.
Instead of setting up 2 fields or 3 of awareness SELF/ACTIVITY/ENVIRONMENT Attention can be expanded to establish a single integrated field and self,activity, and environment can be viewed simultaneously. This ability to create and expand into one big field of awareness will at first come only in moments, maybe minutes…. But the experience will be glorious.
LOOPS: OPPOSITIONS TO LOOPS: INSIDE A LOOP
Each loop has an an oppositional force supplied by thinking of central axis.
The “up” of the front of chest is tethered by the opposition true up of central axis
The central axis thinking therefore softens the chest’s up because the up of the chest remembers it is upping not for its own sake, but rather for the integrity it can experience with the whole self.
Let the neck be free
Thing about your neck and check if you can perhaps tighten less
To allow the head to go forward and up
And while you at this also at the same time
Allow the back to go forward and up
Allow the knees to go forward and up
To join the thinking of head, back and legs engaging in directions expands awareness of self to include more of you.
Perhaps we do start with the head and then in an imperceptible flash the back and legs are included
Of course there is UP along the spine!
The forward and up lives in relation to the UP.
Images can be deceiving, like those before and after advertisements for makeup or weight loss programs.before and after images are usually worthless: drink this special diet drink, buy this acne remover, use this best ever makeup, buy a product and get laid……etc.
I can not recall why I brought up this mathematician during a lesson. I do like talking about zero being infinity’s twin…..
John Cleese is one of my comedic heroes, and he takes AT lessons. He studied with Walter Carrignton in London. Walter Carrington studied with Mr. FM Alexander, so just think , wow very big and awesome deal this Walter Carrington must be.I had heard through the AT grapevine that John Cleese came up with the idea for The Ministry of Silly Walks while walking home from an AT lesson he had just had with Walter Carrington.
While I was in London getting ready for my AT certification test in (1995), I took several lessons with Walter Carrington. After a few lessons I got up the never to ask him about the John Cleese Silly Walk, and if Cleese ever told Carrington that he credited his AT lessons with the spark for Silly Walk. Walter said oh yes yes that is definitely the truth. And went into a bit of the story of Cleese walking out of a lesson, feeling light as a feather and well grounded and suddenly saw the people on the street as Silly Walkers. He could see passerby’s manners of USE. He could see their idiosyncratic habits of walking. Silly Walk was born. silly walk full sketch
This particular blog is aiming to be a compilation of ideas that came out during the past few weeks of lessons.
Hands on Back of Chair
Think one gram up/ one gram out/ one gram up. Do you fall into the chair as you gently push a few grams away?As you move chair away can you continue with a few grams up and spread that up throughout your entire self?
As your arms lift… can they assist your back in also rising?
Are your feet opposing your head? We want this opposition, the whole person thinking.
Maybe the name of the procedure is a trick to show you that if you think hands on back of chair…. Your hands and the chair will grab most of your attention….
All activity is for thinking. AT Procedures are quantified activities to investigate your ability to think, direct, maintain, notice a lack of maintaining, summon directions back into play…..
For years I have looked at this image of this fantastic person on his horse.
This image appears in Body Learning by Michael Gelb, this was the first ever book I read on AT. This statue stands proudly in front of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston MA, so while I was in AT Training School I would visit this statue and the MFA as often as possible.
My most recent visit back to my AT training grounds early this month I went to the MFA and saw this familiar statue from a different perspective. HIS SIDE!
For years… decades in fact had been thinking/feeling /experiencing this man’s stance as a backbend looking up to the Sun.
I saw that he is merely extending himself while he leans back just a bit….. Look at that extension.
This extension before arcing is what I think, do and teach to my yoga (and AT) students.
Had this statue subconsciously taught me to extend up along my whole self before going into a backbend?
Learning… revolutions from within… levels of understanding rarely go in a straight line. They spiral around and around. I can now hold in my mind the first time I saw this image in Body Learning, the first time I saw this statue in all its glory in front of the MFA where I was living and studying AT,
AND this most recent visit back to Boston and the MFA. All of my seeings of this statue have informed my thinking, and my relationship to this statue is somehow very deeply integrated in my understanding up thinking up along my spine. Thanks you Appeal to the Great Spirit for being a touchstone of my seeing and thinking of my Use of my Self.
Learning a new skill as a way to describe thinking AT Directions
Charleston type foot moves for getting idea of direction into legs for this particular movement skill, and then being able to think and sense the flow of the ideas in the legs. This is a way of experiencing what the AT concept of Directions are.
So as I sit at my computer trying to explain in written words the concept of conscious thoughts AT calls directions… I am thinking them in my legs. So while I am writing I am thinking Directions with and through my legs… Everything we do is thinking in activity.
Thinking directions through our legs can keep the back from over or under working….
Ruth Kilroy director, teacher, and Diva of Alexander Technique Training Center in Newton Center MA
I go to my Alexander School a few times a year to continue my AT studies. This most recent trip I got a huge new understanding of my feet and legs and how to release bundles of directions so my legs wrap around themselves for more support and more ability to direct up for more connection to the Earth.
These pink arrows make sense to me… and I see way more arrows and thoughts. See Ruth’s hand on my left leg? She is directing my thinking and that contact set off thousands of connections in my hips, legs, knee ,feet.
I do not intend to have these pink arrows explain much of anything to anyone seeing the above image. The image and the pink arrows are for me to remember, for me to release the thinking those arrows represent. Since I have had that experience I am able to summon that thinking……
Alexander Technique Durham’s first professional video offering
And super big shout out to Bob Moore for being my student/model for the video made for me this past week. Bob is an effectiveness coach specializing in people running companies with 20- 57 employees. Bob heard about AT from his vocal awareness teacher who talks of stature as a key to owning your voice and therefore your power. here is the link to the videohttps://vimeo.com/325042652
I have been recommending some of my students listen to this audio file made by fantastic AT teacher Constance Clare-Newman. I have not made an audio for my students to use during guided rest. I am sure it took time to write the script… say it with such soothing expressions, and then to offer it to the world for all to hear. This audio is a good way to get yourself into the habit of constructive rest.
I am impressed with her offering the audio to the public. Thank you Constance for this great audio file to get students started in developing their own constructive rest practice.
The sound of the train AND the sun has come out. This day is really shaping up.
Today I have taught an early morning yoga class, taken a Pilates private lesson, had a fantastic soy late from JoeVanGogh, walked my chihuahuas, introduced Alexander Technique to a small group at The Durham Center for Senior Life, sent out a few emails, and smiled at myself in a store window while walking downtown because I liked my outfit and I was aiming up. It/I.. looked good and felt good. I adore my new downtown Alexander office/studio/salon.
Very soon, like next to now, I must go home get my chihuahuas and get to our yoga studio to teach our evening yoga class.
It is amazing to me that my sense of the pace of a day is so out of whack. I was 20 years a waitress. Waitresses/servers hustle the entire shift. Serving food is WAY more than serving food. Lemons to be cut, tables to be scrubbed, take out boxes to folded, coffee to make, salt and pepper shakers to either empty and wash, or fill and put out on the freshly scrubbed tables, sweep the patio, bring the chefs an iced tea, tell everyone about the specials, and then cut more lemons.
I was also 12 years a public school special education teacher. Public school teachers hustle the entire day, teaching, teaching, teaching, and also often working well into many night with lesson planning, grading, calling parents, setting up meetings, doing paper work, making lunch for the jam packed day that is too fast approaching.
My idea of how much work goes in a work day has been dramatically pulled to the side of the spectrum where construction workers and stone masons live.
Here is sit in my AT studio…. I somehow feel I have not yet really worked.
I am not saying that I love my work so much that it does not feel like work. What I am trying to say is that my gestalt of work confuses me when the work is thinking, minding, attending, organizing, being thoughtful, kind, open. My mind is blown. It has been over 10 years since I have waitressed, and over 6 years since I have put my public school teaching aside for my focus on Alexander Technique… And it still feels a bit strange, a bit wonderful, a bit like I am going to get in trouble for not reporting to work…
My sensory awareness of what my work is… is still catching up to what my work has become. I am my work in progress. My body of work, my whole body of thinking work.. will take me a few more years of getting to feel like my home…
And now to yoga class where I will suggest, investigate, ponder, explain, consider, and think with and for and to my students. No one needs me to bring them a lemon. Life is strange, and I love it.