Tag Archives: Alexander Technique

Lessons I learned from applying Principles of Ease

To tell you what I have learned I have to explain first why I ever started researching “Principles of Ease”  and ultimately decided to train in the Alexander Technique.

For a long time in my adult life and probably before I felt life was full of effort and things were hard to achieve and I had to work hard to make things work.  Especially with the birth of my daughter I felt that I needed to figure out life and make “it” happen.  “It” meaning to become successful at something and make life work.  I never really defined what that could mean specifically.  But I looked around me and saw that for some people life seemed to flow with ease and joy and for others myself included there was a lot of effort in “trying” to make things work.

I started reading and researching into psychology and self-help, started going to therapy sessions and so began my journey of self discovery.  It seemed fascinating at the time how certain patterns had formed in my life due to my particular story and life circumstances and how I had formed certain habits to keep me feel safe.

I started to feel very passionate about breaking limiting patterns so I could finally experience more ease in my life.  I experimented with many self help techniques, spiritual practices and felt very excited about the prospect of breaking free from what seemed to be holding me back.  During my research and explorations I began to realise that these patterns I was discovering were not only an intellectual concept but they were deeply rooted in my body.  They were very much embodied experiences.

It was while reading “The art of effortless living” a book by Ingrid Bacci that I noticed the urge to explore those embodied patterns in me.  I started researching different techniques and two of them  (Feldenkrais Method and Alexander Technique) resonated deeply with me at least on paper.  Since at the time there was no training school for the Feldenkrais Method where I was living I went to explore the Alexander Technique.

During my training and even more so in the following years teaching other people some core principles have emerged for me.  I call them principles of ease.  Following those principles here are the lessons I have learned and am still learning.

Life does not need me to manage it – it happens anyway
I discovered a very strong tendency in myself of wanting to manage and control life’s flow.  I felt very bly that if I only put in enough effort and willpower I could make things happen and create the life I wanted.  This seemed exciting in the beginning because I felt I was totally in control and only needed to figure out things a little more to finally get the life I wanted.  The initial excitement quickly turned into frustration and shame because no matter how hard I tried the life I wanted seemed still as far away as in the beginning of my journey.  It soon became a lot of effort to control and make things happen.  It seemed to consume all my energy mixed with a growing frustration of not seeing the results I wanted.  In my body this effort showed up as tension and pain.  Lots of tension and pain in my neck and shoulders.

It was with the help of colleagues and friends that I started seeing the trap I was caught in with more clarity.  I began to inquire into this effortful belief system of mine in more depth.  I started some explorations to test my beliefs.  The most telling one was when I tested my belief that I needed to put in effort to earn money.  (the myth of no pain no gain)

I set up an experiment where during one month I would stop all the effort in trying to make money and see in the end of the month what the difference was in my income.  To my big surprise I made more money that month than in the previous couple of months.  The conclusion I am coming to see more and more is that life happens anyway.  We don’t need to control and manage it.  When we stop all that effort of trying to control and manage it a different flow seems to show up- I call it ease.

Pain is not the problem
When I was suffering from neck and shoulder pain I would see the pain as my problem.  It was something I wanted to get rid of – and fast!!  I was annoyed and impatient with feeling this pain.  Pretty much my entire focus was on fixing the pain so that I could return to feeling well.  Makes sense right?  Nothing could be further away form making sense.  What I have since learned is that the pain is not the problem, it is a symptom!  The pain is like the engine lamp in your car flashing, telling you that there is a problem with the engine.  Trying to get rid of the pain is the equivalent of turning off the flashing engine light.  It is merely getting rid of the symptom but what is causing this symptom?

Every symptom has a root cause – but we might never find it
The symptom showing up as dis-ease (pain, tension, suffering) is an expression of something.  Something is causing it.  When I learned this I got excited and thought all I had to do is find the root cause and all would be well.  And here is the hard lesson for me.  Sometimes we can find the root cause and often we have no idea what is causing it – even after long periods of inquiring and experimenting.  But if we apply the principles of ease we might have a chance of influencing the root cause indirectly and so paving the way for change.

Change happens indirectly
When I have spells of feeling uneasy or suffering with a symptom of sorts (this can be physical or emotional) I often find myself focusing my entire energy on trying to get rid of that symptom.  I now know that this is a trap, because change seems to happen indirectly.  It seems to happen through the back door.  So now when feeling unease in some way I experiment with staying whole and not getting pulled into my problem.  If I stay open and available in my awareness – that means noticing and acknowledging what is happening but not making any direct changes (effort) – the symptom resolves itself without my direct doing.

Intention is all it takes – not effort
To get a certain result it does not take effort to make it happen.  It takes a clear intention.  Our being seems to be organised by intention.  When I have a clear intention of what I want but don’t interfere with it to make it happen (= effort) I seem to move towards my goal with ease.  It only becomes effortful when I have an agenda of how fast this goal should be achieved.  I learned this lesson recently in relation to a goal of mine of writing my own songs.  It has been something I always wanted to do but I felt I couldn’t.  It just seemed beyond my abilities.  When my attention switched from I can’t do this to:  I want to write my own song (= clear intention).  Things started to happen.  It is not that I made it happen but I seemed that I steered more and more towards this goal.   A lot of things started to happen around me to support my goal.  I bought a new computer of a friend which had a recording software installed on it.  Other friends of mine invited me to be part of a game that involved songwriting.  Today I have written my first 20 songs.  They are nowhere as good as what I would like them to be.  But the fact that only very recently I believed that I was incapable of writing even one song and now I have 20 makes me feel I am moving in the right direction.

Mistakes are your friends
We live in a culture that is obsessed with getting things right.  It is all about avoiding mistakes and getting it right.  This avoidance of mistakes is such a b habit and I started noticing it more and more in me and people around me.  But the thing is that it is a huge effort trying to avoid mistakes!  I learned this in my classical violin training.  My entire training was about not making mistakes.  But if we think about it for a while this is such an inefficient approach.  Mistakes are such a necessary thing to happen in order for us to learn more effectively.  A mistake is simply showing you the limits of your current knowledge.  So trying to avoid mistakes is like trying to know more than you do….Not possible!  When we are really present to our mistakes we can take them in and use them as excellent learning tools.