Blog - Technique for Living

Correct Position, Correct Posture And The Core Stability Myth

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The moment you start to put yourself into a posture or position you start to fix. Your forcing yourself to be there. You're making everything worse. You put one layer of bad habits on top of the ones you've already got. So you're fighting yourself. Eventually you'll give up. Some people might be able to do it for a really long time, others might not be able to do it for very long at all. At some point your body will cave in. And you'll be creating a lot of harm to yourself because when you put your body in a position and hold it, you fix your muscles and that is going to create shortening and tension all over your body.

If you think that you just hold your shoulders in a certain position and that's all it's going to affect, it's not the case. It'll affect your neck, your head, it will affect things in your hips and legs as well. It's going to have a knock on effect all over the body.

So that's what you don't want to do. You don't want to hold your body in a position and fix it into place. 

If you want something to do to improve your posture then very simply go for a walk and don't look at the floor. Because if you look at the floor you're going to cause lots of harm to yourself by pulling yourself down. It doesn't mean you can't look at the floor ever, you just have to let your eyes lead the way instead of shortening the neck and pulling the head forward and down. You don't want to be staring at the floor the whole time. Creating that shortening down the front and curving the back into that C shape.

Or do semi supine for 20 mins.

If you look at babies or animals they're not trying to hold themselves up it's easy for them. And they have fantastic posture. Cultures where people aren't conditioned to sit in chairs, like eastern or african cultures they have much better use or posture. They use their backs more efficiently and haven't been sitting in backwards sloping chairs. They're also able to sit in squats in a way that strengthens their back naturally without having to do any kind of work out. They can also walk for miles across the desert with pots of water on their heads. Something that would endanger a bodybuilder. So there is a different strength that is available in the body, but we have to learn how to cultivate that.

Muscle Memory

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When you are injured you are told about muscle memory as part of learning to use your body again to prevent injuries repeating. The idea is that we learn how to do something a certain way with our body and then we are set for life. We only have to remember the muscle memory to repeat the action. But this doesn’t work for everyone. And sometimes it takes a long time for people to get it back. Some never do. Muscle memory is a preconceived idea, sorry. The good news is that there is something better for you. And no, you’re never going to get yourself back to the old you, because that’s in the past and led you to where you are now.

Muscle memory is just a learned pattern of tension.

It can be good or bad. We tend to think of it being a positive thing because we learn how to do something the “right” way. We see that as a beneficial habit that we want to keep and not err from. That means we do the same thing again and again expecting the same result. But it doesn’t work that way. Because we fixate on these habits it gets us into trouble even if you are doing something well and effectively, you can still fix your posture, position and attitude to it. 

This leads to the startle pattern happening over and over again, perhaps on a small scale but still building bad tension. It might be over a few days or years. It doesn’t matter, fixing is still fixing and will catch up with you eventually. Every form of learned, organised and coordinated muscular tension creates a memory all throughout the body. Not just in the muscles. It’s something that we remember in our heads, bones and all the rest of it. It might be easy or difficult to learn. And if it was difficult we can make the mistake of trying to repeat it constantly to keep it.

And now for something completely different 

You don’t need to learn more muscle memories to improve your injuries. What’s needed is unlearning. You need to unravel all those habits you’ve built up and go about it with the idea that you don’t want to fix and the attitude that you can stop at any moment. Without that shift in your thinking you will always struggle.

We are constantly fed the idea that we can just do anything if we choose to. But this leaves those that struggle to learn something with the impression that they aren’t naturals or just can’t get it. But this just isn’t the case. How one person interprets an instruction will vary greatly to the next in mental understanding, physical application and spiritual implication and awareness.

More WWF than Zen

I am lanky. It’s a fact. From the age of about 11 or 12 I was hitting 6ft. Mostly legs. Aged 11 I was introduced to Judo. I went to a class taught by people who all had long backs and short legs. Somehow I could never perform the moves properly. My throws all went wrong and ended up being more WWF than zen! I lost most of the time! I did exactly what I was told in class and when I questioned the instructor as to what I was doing wrong I was told not to worry about it or to just keep doing it. 

After training for 6 months I was then entered into a competition being judged by my teachers that had trained me. I was disqualified in my first match for illegal throwing! I decided to quit the class because I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing.

Why did they set me up to fail? This wasn’t the way to learn. 5 years later I started a Jujitsu class (very similar to Judo) and quickly found myself coming across the same problems. All that failure and humiliation came rushing back. Reservedly I asked the Sensei why my throw wasn’t working. “It’s because you’re tall, you need to drop your hips lower than the person your throwing” was his reply. Suddenly I was able to do all the moves that I had struggled with before! There was no confusion because the teacher had the self awareness to see what I was doing wrong. This was an odd feeling at first, just because I wasn’t used to it. No one had told me before. But as I started to trust it, my ability improved.

Don't fix on old muscle memory

And when you stop trying to repeat muscle memories over and over again and pay attention to yourself you will start to think problems like this through for yourself before you go to do them. The muscle memories will still be there, but you won’t be fixed on them. Your awareness of what you need in each moment will guide you instead of a fixed habit. You might repeat the same move, but there will be all sorts of other kinaesthetic awareness developing when you trust your ability to stop and not do something.

Integrity and intergration

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Despite performing lots of exercises, meditations and positions we still get bad posture. We still get pain, confusion and stress. It’s like there’s no escape. If you do sit-ups with the idea that it’s helping your back pain, stop. Sit-ups cause back pain. Press-ups help us get neck pain. Press-ups and sit-ups are exercises to avoid if you want to relieve your black and neck pain. 

These exercises are only working a specific part of the body. Well that’s not the end of the sentence. They work a specific set of muscles at the detriment of others and rely on you doing many other specific exercises to balance out the rest of the body. So many workouts are left unbalanced, not everyone will think, want or be able to do pull ups to even out the press ups.

Let's get specific and repetitive 

But unbalanced workouts are not as bad as the specificity and repetition that will numb your sense of how you use yourself. This numbness provokes a startle pattern, gripping and cramping response.

Because the exercises are so specific there is very little support and consideration for the rest of our bodies. For instance, when we do press-ups it’s impossible not to tighten our necks to stop our heads falling forward. This will shorten the muscles in the neck and create rigidity in the hips . A high price for a chest workout. Repetition simply adds fuel to the fire, stressing the limited movement, removing your sensitivity and gains in coordination for hard work. But wouldn’t it be better to work out in an expansive way where you increased your coordination and built up your own sensitivity to stress?

Full bodied

Full body activities where all of your body and mind is engaged with what you are doing. Olympic weight lifts such as the snatch and the clean and jerk are very good because you are lifting along the line of your spine with your whole body enguaged. You don’t need to lift heavy weights though. Far from it. Running, swimming and climbing make you engage with the environment so you are more likely to build muscle and fitness in a coordinated way. You won’t see a Tour de France rider without a hump in the middle of his back. Racing bikes are just not set up for our bodies.

Working too hard

Over working will shorten our muscles too. Love him or hate him, Charlie Francis, Ben Johnson’s coach understood this perfectly. He could see when his sprinters would do intervals that lasted too long without rest. Charlie would notice when they would be training 70 metre intervals and would be losing their form or pulling themselves down to complete the interval. He would then lower the interval distance to e.g. 30 metres to get the effect that he wanted. Don’t work harder work smarter.

No separation 

Press-ups, sit-ups and other exercises like star jumps are symptomatic of thinking in terms of specific, narrowed and concentrated ways. It’s not exclusive to the west! We are used to thinking in terms of problems solution with a specific result in mind and we relate this back into other areas of our lives. A wider view is needed. We need the body to respond as a whole so that everything works together in a coordinated fashion. 

Neglecting this is what leads to injury, stress, and confusion. Rather than doing lots of exercises that bulk up certain big muscles and take the load, length and freedom off our joints and tendons, we need to be fully engaged. Instead of boxing in parts of our lives we need to see how they relate to each other. I’m not saying that they all become the same thing. Then you would have no boundaries or privacy and that would be quite useless.

Integration happens when you stop

So you do need to respond as a whole, with a broad picture in mind and to do that you must decide to stop. If you don’t stop and take your time then everything becomes unconsidered, results orientated, bitty and uncoordinated. Many people think that if you just sort out this one part then everything will be ok. Most of us will choose cure instead of prevention. Cures don’t exist for many problems but because we are conditioned to look for them we are unconsciously choosing them. This is why most of us are not thinking in an integrated way. Even the word integration gets used now as a melting pot for throwing as many results orientated solutions at you as possible.

Tell me something I don't know

Rather than seeking to change the person's overall condition of use, mentally, physically and spiritually by teaching them not to react and decide themselves they are just fed easy answers that never result in the person taking control for themselves. They revolve or regress instead of progressing. They react in all the predictable, old, subconscious ways and get the same injuries again and again, never exercising any choice that is unknown to them because that would “feel wrong”. And of course some of these choices are good, but because there is no method or technique for opening up the conscious (unknown) to get away from the subconscious (known) there is no change.

Don't react

If we’re reacting all the time then we can’t stop to see what's going on with ourselves. The smashing happens with our bodies, if we can’t stop then we won’t understand how we are forming bad relationships between our necks, heads and backs. But don’t make it worse by dividing yourself and your body up by doing the wrong things.

Dogs: how to be their friends

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We don't speak the same language!

Dogs speak dog. Humans can speak both. Most of us have no idea we talk human to dogs and they have no way to translate it. Even worse, human makes them behave badly because it tells them to in dog. Dog's don't have any other language no matter what you project onto them. Dogs aren't children. If your dog or someone else's dog constantly misbehaves it's to do with the owner and not the dog

Dogs are everywhere. Even if you don't like them it's worth taking the time to understand them so you don't act in fear around them. You might also become a better leader.

Leaders are calm in a storm

How often when we see a dog do we greet it of make a fuss of it and let it jump up at us? When we do this we unwittingly give all our power away and pronounce them leader. This in turn stresses them out because they are overwhelmed with the responsibility. They continue with this behaviour for as long as they are rewarded for it. 

Why do dogs do this? In the wild anything can happen at any time. Dogs need a way to establish who is in charge very quickly. It is a simple case of lead or follow. You can see this whenever a group of dogs or wolves meetup. The dogs that are out of control are in a panic and jump up at each other, bite nip and bark at each other to gain control. What does the leader dog do? He does very little, almost nothing. He simply approaches and stays very calm, relatively silent. The other dogs are testing him. They are crying out to be lead believe it or not and just by the simple action of being there he or she is displaying the strongest part of leading the pack, weathering their emotional storms.

Don't shake hands when they're acting up

So what does this mean for us humans? When you meet a dog resist the urge to give it your immediate attention before you have greeted any other humans and only when it is calm do you greet it. This usually means waiting at least 5 minutes for the dog to calm down. If the dog doesn't calm down DO NOT GREET THE DOG.  Yes there is a parallel here with the alexander technique that will really test you. It will feel better to react to the dog, but don't do it, don't react. You'll be doing both of you a big service. Looking at a dog is a form of communication to them. If you look at the dog when they are doing their routine they will take it as a sign you are being lead by them. Their routine or habits can include all sorts of nervous aggression. Barking, jumping up and getting in your face to name but a few. Don't react to it.

Fake dog psychology

Owner leaves the home. Dog "pines" for them and barks at anything that moves in their living space. Don't make the common mistake seeing this as separation anxiety and it can't live without you. The dog is going out of it's mind trying to protect its babies (you) because it still thinks it's the leader. This can even take the form or damaging furniture. Again this is not the case, it's us misreading the language of the dog.

For a dog to display this behaviour it would have to think of itself as the leader. It needs to learn that's not his role. You need to teach this to the dog that it doesn't need to be in charge. Putting the dog in a small space is a good temporary fix, but it still needs to know it's not leading. Don't let the dog out of the doors before you. Also when you arrive back in the same room as the dog don't make eye contact or react to it or it will think it's leading again. This will allow your dog to calm down a great deal.

Bully or encourage?

Dogs learn by positive reinforcement, but too often this is not used and a dominant submissive relationship takes place. For instance how dogs are trained to heal there are methods where when the dog doesn’t follow along you are meant to turn around and walk in the opposite direction dragging the dog as punishment for its disobedience. However, all this teaches the dog is when it goes out in front is to keep pulling against you! It thinks you are in need of it’s help going forwards or need leading! If the dog is young enough it needs to be picked up and taken back to the start when it pulls on the lead so it has a clear indication of the behaviour that you don't want. Otherwise you're just playing tug of war with the dog.

Intimidation teaches bad lessons

Dogs are also highly receptive to emotions and literally take us at what we present them. A big problem that some dogs have is they eat their own waste. How does this happen? When a dog for whatever reason, sometimes illness, perhaps out of desperation has done a poo in the place where it is not supposed to the owner can do things like hold the dogs face near the poo and tell it things like "bad dog" or "no" and be very angry about this to drive the point home. The dog does not hear the message the way the human intends. 

Dog only thinks its owner has lost control and has now placed it in charge. The owner is presenting the problem of a poo and is effectively telling the dog to deal with it as quickly and aggressively as possible so very sadly dogs deal with this by eating the poo and then wagging their tail because they think that they have helped the owner solve a problem. It’s even sadder that they will continue to do this in other situations.

Open the door and step outside

When you open a door to let the dog out you want to step outside first and check the coast is clear. You are telling the dog that the space is secure. The dog sees the outside world as an unsafe place that the leader has to make secure. If the owners don’t do this then the dog will run outside and bark it’s head off to make it safe (in his opinion). When you go out first and just spend a bit of time there, then call or let the dog out it will only bark if it thinks you haven’t made sure. Test how much time your dog needs to feel reassured. Don’t let the dog out before you go out.

My dog's too big and strong.

No it's not. You need to treat it differently. These videos show Jan Fennell working with some very strong breeds like the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Irish Wolfhound and the Mastiff. It's also worth noting that there is a very big difference between hitting the dog and using your arm to stop the dog from getting in your face. If you hit your dog then you will train it to see hands as weapons being used against them. When this is done enough times then the dog won't trust someone to stroke them even if they have no such intentions and will probably bite. 

If you haven't guessed it by now all of this information has come from Jan Fennell. It transformed my relationships with dogs and I hope it does the same for you. Dogs are everywhere and even if you don't like them it's worth taking the time to understand them so you don't act in fear around them. It also will help you to be a better leader. What you are seeing here really is the tip of the iceberg, but you can practice it. It would help to have a read of Jan's book "The Dog Listener" (I am not an affiliate) to get a much deeper perspective or go on a training day if you can. 

Preconceived Ideas

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“It’s no use giving orders whilst you have an idea at the back of your brain of doing something”
FM Alexander Teaching Aphorisms 

Preconceived ideas really get in the way of learning anything new. Fortunately when we decide to stop and prevent ourselves from doing something, we start unlearning these preconceived ideas. Preconceived ideas are basically judgements that we stick to. We fix on them. They can be physical, mental or spiritual. And we use them repeatedly to avoid thinking for ourselves.

We need to think for ourselves

Most of us choose to tense up and repeat our physical experiences instead of stopping and listening to what our bodies are telling us to do. The human race is perfectly content to hand out such physical dogma as “bend from the knees and keep a straight back” with no consideration of individual interpretation. And this is widely open to many different degrees of behaviour. One person's hips tipping back could be another's hips tipping forward.

How these ideas start carries more influence than definitions. Although definitions do help. Because no matter what the definition is without the understanding that we need to stop first there will always be an undercurrent of doing the preconceived idea first. Anyone can make observations and criticisms about the body. It doesn’t take very much knowledge.  

You still have to stop

For years FM Alexander knew all the problems, all the misdirection that was happening in his body when he was about to perform. It only made a difference when he made the decision to leave himself alone and not react to the stimulus to speaking (because of his stage fright). The same problem exists for many people who through various disciplines; core posture, Pilates, yoga, or tai chi for example try to dominate their bodies into performing a movement. 

The posture you can hold at the beginning of most tai chi forms is a good example of a dominating influence, even though it’s carried out in a gentle or slow way. It’s difficult to throw away these preconceived ideas because it feels like they are part of who we are. It can feel like you’re attacking the very essence of yourself. But you’re not. Our ego gets all of this tied up together and mixes up many things. This is how we end up competing for things we don’t want. It makes us feel empty even when we’ve won. We haven’t really satisfied our needs.

This isn’t an excuse to go back into the past and regret everything you ever did! You have to stay in the present with yourself. But you do need to become aware of past thoughts learned or not, influencing your thoughts now. It’s not that you have to throw them away completely, but you might need to do that to see that you do have a choice not to do something the way it’s always been done.

When do we do this?

So what are some good examples of preconceived ideas? It could be anything for example how we use a computer. Usually fitting ourselves around it instead of it around us. Comedies usually depend on preconceived ideas being torn down by stark opposites. 

I can remember when I first handled a golden eagle, I had to put on two layers of leather hand and arm guards to handle him. I thought he was going to grip my arm very hard. But my experience was very different. Most of the time the eagle kept his talons remarkably soft and unflexed. Only when he became off balance did he show a slight grip on my arm. This is because he was constantly sizing up pigeons for lunch. I could tell he was wildly strong and was only showing a small flex of his full capability. Stronger than just about anything else I’ve come across. But the experience was very different from the expectation. So when something surprises you, allow yourself to be surprised. 

Never Arrive

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When we arrive somewhere we fall into a heap. Especially after a long journey. We manage to do the same thing when we get in and out of a chair. We make all the effort we think we need to and upon arriving at standing or sitting we congratulate ourselves by giving up and collapsing. This of course leads to fixing. When we have something to do, something to engage with we really don’t arrive in the same way. For instance, when we are looking out at something that engages our vision there is a much higher likelihood that we won’t arrive in a heap and fix. If we use our attention then it becomes a lot harder to fix. If you’re at a public event be it a stadium, theatre or something along those lines then you are (if it’s not boring) going to be paying attention.

“Directing (the body) is like aiming a gun” - Walter Carrington

Without that outward attention widening and taking in all the information around you, our perspectives become narrow and limited. If we want to feel more then we need to take in what’s going on around us. It can be really easy to fix the eyes on one spot. After all it’s what we do when we watch tv or any screen for too long. 

This form of concentration is all to easily replicated when we go to pass awareness around the body. It becomes “hard to concentrate” when asking for our directions with the eyes open. It feels easier with the eyes closed. If you’re lying down in semi supine I don’t think it matters too much. But when you are sitting, standing or doing anything else you really are cutting out extra information. Yes it’s harder to concentrate, but that’s because you’re not meant to. Concentration is a form of fixing. Fixing our attention. Alexander Technique requires us to juggle it.

Juggle your attention 

“All together. One after the other” FM Alexander
We can keep our attention on one area if it’s particularly in bad shape. But you do this at detriment to the rest of the body. And most bad habits that we get into are a result of our coordination instead of a specific part. We need to take a holistic view of the body, instead of blaming and praising specific parts. 

For that to happen you must widen your field of view. And you won’t always have a competitive game to watch or compelling performance to witness. So you have to pay attention. Don’t let your eyes fix even if there isn’t much to look at. Even if your facing a blank wall. Keep it moving. Try to notice small details about your environment and if anything changes. Ask questions that you normally wouldn’t. When you notice yourself stiffen and start to fix, give yourself time to acknowledge that this is something you don’t want. That it’s something not to do. Never arrive.

Spinal Twists

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It’s very easy to look at the body from a symmetrical viewpoint. It's how we tend to experience our bodies and achieve our balance. We can see visually if we have one shoulder higher than the other and sometimes we can tell if that’s happening with our legs. But most of the time we isolate the problem to one area. We think that everything else is normal apart from the one part that has pain. To correct this we like to line everything up straight, to counteract all the problems. 

Not the solution

However, rarely does this solve anything. It usually causes more problems. This is because we’re not symmetrical. Not symmetrical at all. The harder we try to be symmetrical the more trouble we get ourselves into, and the less symmetrical we become. So you have to stop all that and throw away all those ideas about the body. Or you’ll succeed in creating another set of habitual problems over the ones you already have.

Length, width and depth.

The body is also three dimensional and when we try to line things up we rarely do so. We generally think in one or two dimensions. We think of pulling our shoulders back to spread them out. But this leads to stiffening across the lower back, where your lungs are located and restricts the breathing.

We hold our heads up thinking that is the problem but we tend to think of the head going up when we raise our eyes and all that does is tip the head backwards. All of this doing only serves to make the problem worse. So what’s really going on?

Twisting and holding

Well, by various degrees we twist our spines. We twist them both horizontally and vertically. It's much more likely that your shoulders are different heights because of the muscular tension you are making in the surrounding areas, instead of your bones being different lengths. We are quite reluctant to allow the shoulders, hands and arms to hang from the top of the neck (up between the ears, behind the eyes).

Stop standing on one leg.

We can also twist the spine standing. Thinking it’s perfectly natural to rest on one leg, that it’s a relaxed pose. While this may present a casual attitude it really puts the person’s weight heavily to one side and usually twists the spine because the hips turn inwards whilst the torso faces out. The pressure on the leg is intensified by a lack of support from the back. Usually the the hips will be tipped backwards too. Most people have no idea why they do it. If you look at the images we are presented with, models in particular you can see this happening. It’s become normal and accepted. But just because it’s normal and accepted doesn’t mean you should do it.

Less effort

If you want any of this to change you have to throw out all the ideas of symmetry and correction. Then very calmly and quietly you have to take a look at what you are doing with yourself and see how your weight is distributed. There is a very big difference between even weight distribution and symmetry. Giving away the weight can happen via release. It also doesn’t require vast amounts of effort to keep it going throughout your day. Holding yourself up or in place does. It’s a tremendous waste of time and incredibly difficult. Doing this to your body will make your life harder and more painful. Most of us realise sooner or later that this isn’t what we want. 

What not to do

So when you go to do something remember that you don't want to tighten up, or pull yourself into place. If you want to make life easier you want to balance by releasing muscles and letting go of the weight. This will happen the more you are able to stop and give yourself time throughout the day.

Fear reflexes ruin our posture and how Alexander Technique helps them.

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Sitting at a desk typing at your computer screen is a great way to create fear. Using a computer, device or just staring at a screen is a means of building fear up in the body. It creates vast amounts of physical tension that is almost imperceptible. Because the device is hogging your attention.

All pc, phones and tablets are stealing your attention.

Everything becomes linked when you use an electronic device, for better or worse. Social media claims the gaps in your attention span. You don't realise your attention span has ended. Pushing you subconsciously to the next random thing. If you were reading a book you would soon realise if you had missed something because it would not make sense. You always have a reference point you can backtrack from to find your bearings. So this effect is created where you can’t tell the difference and our subconscious brain starts to get the message that it’s accomplishing tasks by checking on notifications, settings and scrolling through news feeds.

I know this sounds pretty harmless by itself, but many of us don’t know how to stop. We become used by our phones and tablets. We constantly search online for the next thing or compare ourselves to others, because they seem relevant. They are to some degree. So attention filling and increased tension overstates their relevance to our subconscious brain. This trains us to react, rather than think then act.

Are you hardwired in?

Devices ruin our attention spans hardwiring us into them, but what else do they take? Time is one. Decision making is another. Consideration narrows, so we feel we have less choices. Because your attention is artificially pushed, your sense of time gets distorted. So even though you feel it's only been 30 mins on your facebook feed it’s more like 50. 

We are also asked to react more and discover who we are. But this ends up being more about showing who we are. It’s quite rare that it gets us to think of our needs. Because there are limited options for the way we interact with it (eg like or dislike) again we are encouraged to react. There is no button for “this doesn’t deserve my attention”! Although you can complain it’s not actively encouraged, because it’s not immediately available. We don’t get to consider the opportunities of not doing anything at all. I’m not saying all devices and the internet is bad. We need it, we couldn’t function without it. But if you want to avoid panic attacks that seem to come out of nowhere you need to stop using your devices so obsessively.

Under supervision

Friends, employers, our internet service providers and the government surveil our online activity. This creates social pressure to conform and to follow. There is an air of permanence if saying the wrong thing online. It stays there for many to react to. It starts to reinforce our decisions and mould our character. Things that might have taken place in a conversation or phone call become broadcast. This can be both good and bad. But the point is that it’s going to create more pressure and demand from your attention. 

Where to not use your phone

We only have so much time and it sucks you in deeper and deeper. If you are using your phone whilst you are walking to work (and I don’t mean just casually checking it) you will more than likely be pulling your head down into your phone and wrecking your posture. There is nothing on your phone that is worthy of this amount of attention. You need to be aware of your surroundings and your body to take in more sensory information. To not lose touch with yourself. If it helps get a timer or just decide to stop using your phone after a certain time of day. Your body will thank you for it and it will go a long way to improving your posture.

You shouldn't keep your phone in your bedroom. It doesn't need to be checked at night or when waking up. There's no need. Stop it. If you check it at night, it will disturb your sleep. Your brain doesn't need that much activity and blue light (which is fine during daylight) when it's dark and you're winding down to sleep. I think that Nicholas Carr has some good ideas about what the internet is doing to our brain. A tip of his that is very practical is to limit the notifications or emails that can come to you down to once an hour. We need that time to be able to have any form of productivity in our lives. If there is anything you think that is useful to know on this subject or something I've missed out please leave a comment down below.

Knowing when to stop

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Stopping can be seen as bringing something to an end. In terms of the Alexander Technique, it's your doing that needs to stop. So how do we identify the different ways of our own doing? Well, a good place to start is by listening. With the rigmarole of our own thought and feeling habits our mind can go round, quite happily in circles or other patterns and take nothing in. We can hear something very easily, identify it and very quickly categorise it in order to fit in with what goes on in our own mind. 

You're probably taking no notice

But so rarely do we listen. So if you want to make a good start at stopping you have to decide to just listen. Listening to the sounds going on around you. Just listening. Not trying to label anything. Taking in all the different layers of sound from birds singing, to conversations, the sounds of people moving, traffic or just the trees moving in the wind. You can listen to you body. Apply this to your other senses as well. You are wanting the broadest view or sense of the situation as possible. The narrower your field of view the less you can sense. And we want to feel more. 

Hearing and Listening

Of course there's a massive difference between hearing and listening. Between looking and seeing. When we are mentally engaged with our senses we make connections. They happen, they can't be forced. But if you see the connection, it's something that you stumble upon. It's definitely a happening. Nothing will happen unless you pay attention to the right attitudes and functions happening in the body. Coordination, circulation, balance and breathing. Paying attention to these functions will allow you to feel more. 

Feel more

So you’ve got to stop and listen, look, smell, taste, and feel where you are. Now when I use the word feel I’m referring to your kinesthetic sense of where you are. It’s not mysterious, even when referred to as the sixth sense. It’s your sense of movement. How your different body parts are working together to coordinate in whatever activity you experience. That maybe the case, but you’ve still got to listen to it in order to use it. It won’t just happen by itself. Or rather it won’t just improve by itself.

When is now

So much of what we take in gets lost by our own judgements and trying to fit things into boxes. And of course we do that to make it easier to learn and take in or consume information. But there’s only so much we can do of that before we get saturated. Stopping and listening allows us to breakdown these barriers to feeling more. You can practise it anytime. It’s particularly good to do during semi supine. It’s also very useful when you’re trying to do something you find difficult.

Stop chasing your tail

It’s also interesting to watch cats and dogs. So rarely are they not sensing what is going on. Even when sleeping they have one ear on what’s happening around them. Now we can’t be like that. We have to get sleep and the deeper the better. But we can afford to spend a bit of time listening to what goes on. 

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