Sunday, 31 August 2014
Hello! Welcome to the blog. How are you? I mean it, and the answer should be important to you. Take a few seconds of outer and inner stillness to check how you are right now (physically, mentally, emotionally) and to decide if you’re well disposed to reading this blog.
This is a blog about the Alexander Technique in its relation to changing habitual reactions (physical, mental, emotional).
The purpose of this blog is for you to experiment with different ideas about how to do things differently, o how not to do them entirely.
My name is Victoria Stanham, and I’m a teacher of the Alexander Technique. I spend most of my days investigating and experimenting with the ideas I share in this blog.
My objective for today is for you to have a new experience with attention management. I’d also like to offer you at least one new idea of how to organize your thoughts that is directly applicable to changing habits with the hopes that it may answer a question you have on the subject.
If you’re interested, take a minute to clarify your question. Make it concise and clear.
As you continue reading, check regularly what effect it is having on your degree of physical, mental or emotional tension. Try to note if what you’re reading makes you nervous, angry, calm, confused, or whatever.
Take also note if you’re attention wanders off topic, and you start reading in automatic mode, without processing the new information. If this happens to you, stop, breathe and bring your attention back to the present action. If your attention insists on wandering to another topic, re-evaluate if it’s worthwhile to keep reading or if perhaps you should be taking care of that nagging business on your mind.
The ability to monitor our attention and our bodily reactions to stimuli in our surroundings is at the foundation for our success (or lack thereof) in any attempt to change a habit.
A habitual reaction follows this sequence:
1. I perceive a stimulus (conscious or subconsciously).
2. I respond with an automatic action that requires no conscious thought.
Sometimes this is good and useful. Thank goodness we don’t have to reason our way through every single action we undertake daily. That would be exhausting and very inefficient!
But sometimes, we realize that our way of reacting is causing us trouble, and we may want to change it. This, we soon realize, is not easy because habits are strong and “comfortable” (however detrimental they may be to our wellbeing).
So, in order to be successful in our enterprise, we need to learn to stop before we react, and thus give ourselves time to decide what response we truly want to give.
The problem is that we are not always aware of the stimuli that trigger our automatic reactions, and we only realize we’re reacting in our undesired way when we’re already more than half-way down the road.
The solution to this problem is to learn to perceive the signals that indicate we’re already preparing a response.
Our responses to stimuli start way before we become consciously aware of them. Our brains are constantly anticipating, building our responses based on previous experiences of similar stimuli.
Anticipation manifests itself as a state that is simultaneously physical, mental and emotional. It is perhaps easier for us to note this preparatory response in our bodies (changes in heart-rate, breathing rate, muscle tension, skin or gut sensations, etc.).
As we learn to become aware of these anticipatory reactions, we start to have the possibility of changing them.
And in order to become aware of these anticipatory responses, we need to become more aware of our bodies.
How does one go about doing that?
This is where the help of a guide becomes invaluable. If you’ll accompany me, I’ll be happy to show you the roads I’ve already walked.
So, in brief, the new reaction that we want to establish would follow this sequence:
1. I perceive the stimulus (consciously or subconsciously).
2. I perceive my anticipatory reaction… and let it go.
3. I remember my purpose.
4. I re-evaluate my response options.
5. I decide on one response.
6. I execute my choice, all the time keeping my greater purpose present and monitoring my response.
You’ve reached the end of today’s blog. It’s now your time to evaluate.
Has your quesiton been answered?
See you next time.
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