Friday, 28 November 2014

On 17:24 by Victoria Stanham in ,    2 comments
Sometimes I too want quick solutions, instant solutions.

The problem is that these “express” solutions don’t last long; they are no more than a mask for the problem, not a real solution.

The same happens with postural problems and their “quick fixes”.

Posture is at the base of every discipline. Every sport or activity you practice has a certain ideal “form” or “posture” that allows you to perform the activity with the least amount of wear and tear and the highest degree of efficiency.

But saying, “a good posture is that in which, when seen from the side, the ear, shoulder, hip and ankle are aligned,” is merely giving a visual description of the result. This description does not include the steps of inner organization that allow for the external visible result.

The postural recommendations offered in every discipline have their logic. The problem is that we, who don’t know our own bodies, force ourselves into these recommended forms by sheer muscular effort. We end up habituating the requisite form but also the unnecessary tension of the effort.

How much better it would be if we could adopt these “postures” with total freedom, and be able to get out of them with equal liberty!

But… how?

The Alexander Technique is a “pre-technique”, it is the foundation for all other techniques and disciplines. The Alexander Technique teaches you how to organize your body in such a way that you can adopt in the most natural way any of the “postures” or “forms” recommended by other disciplines.

In fact, after working with the Alexander Technique your concept of “posture” changes. It shifts from being something “rigid” or “fixed” into something mobile and dynamic.

Posture stops being something you impose from the outside based on “how it should look” despite the tense muscular effort to hold it, and becomes something that springs from inside based on “how you perceive the shifting balance of your skeletal structure” and guided by a clear thought process which frees the muscles and decompresses the joints.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

On 17:05 by Victoria Stanham in , ,    No comments

 There are few things as easy as focusing on ‘what’s missing’ or ‘what went wrong’. What’s not so easy, what needs to be learnt and practiced, is to note ‘what was effectively done’ and ‘what went right.’

There exist neurological-evolutionary reasons why, as beings who for a long time where some other animal’s dinner, we’re predisposed to pay more attention to the possible dangers than to the present blessings.

That is why we need to train our ability to ‘also see the the half-full glass.’ This does not mean we ignore that half of the glass is effectively empty. What we’re trying to get is an image of the whole glass, with its two halves.

For example, I’m starting to run regularly. My plan is to do so at least 3 times a week and for at least 3 miles every time. I have a full plan that includes speed runs, endurance runs, tempo runs to build stamina… all the works.

Truth is I don’t always (or can’t always) stick to plan; and it would be so easy for me to be hard on myself for not doing so, and to focus only on how I fell short of my own high expectations.

But knowing how easy it is to see only the half-empty glass, I made an effort to see the half-full glass too. In that half I found the following: this week I went running 3 times (2 of those at 6.30am), I ran 3 miles each time, once I added speed work. The last run was with my sister, and actually we walked for half the distance, and ran the other half, but I enjoyed spending the time together and being able to chat.

True it is that I didn’t stick to plan as written, and perhaps that will put me back a few days to reaching my final objective (that’s my half-empty glass). However, I did so enjoy filling the other half! And that’s gotta be worth something too!

So, what glass are you trying to fill up today? You surely know how far you’re from a full glass. Don’t abandon your goal. But if you find that from staring at the half-empty glass you start to become depressed, I invite you to look at the half-full glass too and celebrate every drop that added its effort to getting you to where you are now.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

On 12:53 by Victoria Stanham in , ,    No comments
Yesterday, my partner Eduardo and I, gave our first joint workshop on the Mistery of Stopping and Taking Root in the Body. It was the culmination of several months of arduous work, of comings and goings, of long discussions on the topic and longer practice sessions of the work. Finally we made it, and by yesterday afternoon it was successfully over.

It takes a while to come to rest after such an impulse. The inertia continues for a while. After such a race, coming to rest is something we have to consciously if we mean to savor the sweet space in which we do nothing for a while. It is a regenerative space.

It is not easy to stop and savor. The impulse’s inertia makes me believe that there is stuff I need to plan, things to do, processes to evaluate and new decisions to be made.

There’ll be time for that… tomorrow. Today I rest. Today I do nothing. Today I enjoy what I’ve achieved. Today I don’t look at what could have been better, what remains to be corrected and adjusted. Today I don’t look ahead to the road that’s left to travel. There’ll be time for that… tomorrow.

It’s so difficult sometimes to just stop and give ourselves permission to simply enjoy our achievements. We’re always noting what was missing, what wasn’t perfect, what is left to correct.

There will always be something to do. Every new achievement opens up doors to new avenues for improvement and discovery. When we reach the top of the hill we always find that the road goes on, that this hill has to be climbed down to climb the next one in line.

But enjoying the road implies savoring not only the effort of the climb, those moments when we feel we’re “doing something productive.” Walking the path also implies learning to savor the rests, those moments when we “do nothing” other than enjoy the vistas of what we’ve already travelled.

Therefore today… today I rest. Today I enjoy the view from here. Today I say thank you for having been able to walk this far.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

On 16:34 by Victoria Stanham in    2 comments

 I ran my first 5K today. I hadn’t run a race since my teen years.

I didn’t race… I ran, just that, my pace, my way, my world.
Being of a competitive and self-demanding nature, just being able to run for my own enjoyment is a huge accomplishment.

It all started about a month ago when my sister signed up to run her first 5K and started training. Something in her way of going about it inspired me. My sister doesn’t seem to run to beat anybody or prove anything.

So I started running too. Easy. Slowly. At my own pace. Trying not to strive for Olympic Gold just yet.

Still, the competitive-bug will come flying and prying any time I lose focus. It will whisper in my ear: train harder, run faster, run farther, make it worth your while.

So I stop.

I don’t have to “be somebody”, I don’t have to win anything nor prove anything to anybody. Running is simply good for me, for my body, for my psique.

That bug is no more than a habit of thought, a habit of my way of being.
Therefore, when I recognize it for what it is, I treat it like any other old habit.

I stop. I greet it like an old friend. And I let it go. I return to my body, to my breathing, to my inner organization. I remember my purpose.

Today my purpose was to run, listening to my body, collecting my thoughts, following my breath. Only that mattered. All the rest I could leave behind or watch them pass me by, as if they were other runners in the race.

I return to myself, to the wonder of being able to run, to the sensation of moving. I return to the present.

That is all.


Saturday, 1 November 2014

On 21:06 by Victoria Stanham in , ,    No comments

Hi. I’m here.

I wasn’t sure about being here today. I was bored and un-inspired. What could I possibly offer you of value today?

But Life is about showing-up, even (and perhaps especially) when it’s not all fireworks.

Some things you build one little step at a time. Sometimes it’s the same step over and over again.

Changing habits works like that. It’s not something instantaneous. It’s something you build up by “saying no” to the old and “saying yes” to the new, over and over and over again.

And it all starts with showing up for the work. Even if we don’t apparently succeed. Even if habit seems to win most of the times.

You still show up, because by showing up, habit has not won by default. By showing up, you’ve exercised your power to choose.

If you show up, anything can happen. Anything includes your habit. But it also includes every other possibility, which gain strength with every time you show up.

So, if you are thinking of giving up, if you are too bored, tired, or depressed to care anymore… show up anyway. Just BE there, OPEN to anything that might come.

That’s why I’m here today. No expectations. Just here… for me… and for you…