Saturday, 1 February 2014

On 14:06 by Victoria Stanham   No comments
I want to share with you my last discovery, something that allowed me to fall asleep in peace last night, in the middle of one of those states of anxiety that crush your chest, amidst a storm of obsessive thoughts, pre-occupations, anticipations, worries, FEAR.

Image courtesy of Sarah Arbogast /

We all have a delusional core, a primitive wound that, when activated, makes our reactions completely irrational. We go into panic, into overwhelm, and we remain cut off from all lines of communication with reality, coherence, calm and perspective.

A few days ago my wound was activated, and yesterday, upon finding itself relentlessly acosted by the stimulus, it detonated.

By the end of the day I was emotionally exhausted. As a last defence I took refuge in the absolute present moment. I started making soup, and each time that a memory or thought about "the situation" popped into my mind, I would push it out of consciousness with the chop chop chop of knife on carrots, sweet potatoes and onions.

However, something inside of me knew this wasn't the solution. I was evading the situation, making believe that it wasn't real to me, with all the classic new agey thoughts of "the present is all that exists, all else is not real." But my thoughts were very real to me, having those thoughts was in effect my reality, and trying to drown them, crush them, evade them, negate them, wasn't giving me the peace I sought. 

Upon going to bed (crucial moment, for it is in the silence of the night when those same thoughts can lay inexhaustible siege on my mind and drown out all else), and seeing myself invaded by the memory of "the situation", I used a technique that sometimes my therapist has used with me, which is to put the situation outside of me (somewhere infront of me usually) and look at it from where I am. Not being with my therapist at the time, I couldn't do any direct work on the ignited trauma, so I opted add to her technique my own experience with the Alexander Technique: I reminded myself of mirrors, antagonisms and, above all else, of the space between.

Thus it is how I acknowledged that "the situation" was there, with me in the room, but I was here, separated from it by a space, although we shared the present moment. And I could "breathe" that space in between. And that space where I was (in contact with the bed, the sheets, the blankets) wasn't where the situation was (I had put it a few metres away, at the foot of the bed). And so I breathed, feeling my place, and feeling the space that separated us.

In this way I honoured the presence of "the situation", all the thoughts and fears that make it up, but I wasn't trapped by it, there was a space between us, and each of us occupied her own personal space. And if I found myself suddenly enveloped by the anxious thoughts, I would put "the situation" back in its place, and I would return to my place, and I would breathe the space between us.

"The situation" is something that will take place (or not) in a few weeks, something that scares me. But today I discovered how to live the days between it and me, honouring its presence, honouring my present, and, above all else, honouring the space between us.

How does this all relate to the Alexander Techniqe?

Well, I believe it is linked with the "end-gaining" that F.M. Alexander writes about in his books.

When we give ourselves a stimulus to achieve an end, we run the risk of "doing the end" according to how we have experienced it in the past, instead of traveling with fresh eyes the road that separates us.

That is why when I give myself the stimulus to stand up out of a chair, I can "do the end" and stand up according to my sensory memory of all the other times in the past that I've done the action. This doesn't take into account (it does not honour) neither my sensory present, nor the space (the journey) that separates my being sitting down to my being standing up.

On the other hand, when I give myself the stimulus to stand up, I can honour the end (I don't forget it, evade it, or ignore it) but I can also honour my present (recognise what my senses inform me about this precise moment and place), and breathe the space that separates me from my end, even as I approach it... there is always a space between us and I can honour it, no matter how small it may be, the whole way to completion of my aim.

Perhaps, when I achieve my "end", I may find that it doesn't feel quite as I expected, I don't experience it as I had imagined and anticipated I would...


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