Having fun – new ideas

 

 

 

First of all let me apologise for the content of my website recently – some rascally scoundrel had hacked into my website (twice!) and the content was offensive for which I apologise.   This isn’t fun!  I hope it doesn’t happen again!

 

But now let’s have fun – whatever we’re doing it can be fun – whether we’re painting cupboards (which I’ve been doing recently) or hanging curtains it’s fun.    Why make it a chore when we can enjoy the whole process in 3-d.      Can we notice the space all around – above our heads, on either side of us, beneath our feet – was that bowl always on that shelf?  Or has it just magicked there?   Are colours more intense and vivid.  Are the sounds we hear richer and more vibrant.   Has our vision suddenly become more panoramic and clearer – are we simply observers or can we become an integral part of the landscape?

If you’d like to explore these ideas further, why not come to my next 4 week course in Intelligent Movement and the AT which starts on Tuesday 21st February 4.45-5.45  at the Yoga Tree,  All Saints Green, Norwich.

For more information and to book click on the link below.

Events

http://www.suzanneduncanson.co.uk/events/

 

 

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Change means moving on ….

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Change means moving on – change means change!    Change is like moving house – when everything is in the melting pot – all that was familiar is suddenly new and different.   We have to reorientate ourselves.   We find ourselves driving on unfamiliar roads, and sometimes going on to automatic pilot – and finding that we’re going back to where we came from – to our old home!     When our attention drifts off we lose our direction – where we’re going!   We’ve literally ‘lost our heads’.

The old familiar routes and paths are so compelling – even if we want to change – we are drawn to what we already know and are familiar with.    So we find ourselves in the old culdesac which is a dead end – and doesn’t lead us anywhere.

But we don’t ‘have to do anything’ – whatever we do, we do because we have decided to do it even if it is subconscious.  We’re taking a certain route because we’ve chosen to.     If we stay ‘present’ and aware we can choose to take a different route – to take the unfamiliar road to the new destination – to the new house.

I have just moved house – and recently had to drive back towards my previous home.   It was such a strange experience – it was at once familiar and alien.    I knew where I was going and yet it was as if I was going the wrong way!    I had already adjusted to my new route and my new home so that the old route seemed a thing of the past.    The new route home had already become familiar and normal.

This just shows how quickly we can change.   We don’t have to do anything.   We always have time.    There is always the silence behind the sound, stillness behind the activity.

Changing means that there is change.   We grow into the new space.    Familiar objects seem different in the new surroundings.   We see differently and give ourselves permission to explore.

If you’d like to explore this with the Alexander Technique – come to my DROP-IN sessions at the Norfolk Clinic or at The Yoga Tree.

www.suzanneduncanson.co.uk/events

Click here

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A Way of Being

I was thinking about this the other day – what does ‘a way of being’ mean to us. For some it might mean mindfulness. For others it might mean attitude and how we treat others. It might even mean gracefulness in the way we move and go about our daily activities.

But all these meanings refer to separate parts of ourselves.

Mindfulness refers to the ‘mind’ and how we think about things.

Attitude refers to how we react to things and people in given situations.

Gracefulness describes how we are physically.

‘A way of being’ could refer to the whole of us, the whole self – the way we think, the way we react, the way we act and the way we move and use ourselves. Instead of dividing ourselves into separate bits we could see ourselves as whole beings with a unified all-encompassing attention. We are constantly dividing our attention in every day life – we send our attention ‘out’ very often and forget what’s happening to ourselves. Or we bring our attention ‘in’ so we only focus inwardly on ourselves, not noticing what’s going on outside of us.

It is an interesting experiment – to begin to notice when we are dividing our attention. What happens when we only focus on an object outside of ourselves? Do we tighten up? Do we concentrate and furrow our brows? Do we feel tense and pressured?

What would happen if we looked out and in – if we were aware of what was going on around us as well as where we wanted to go?

Are we dividing our attention more often than we realise?

Let me know what you notice.

Go to my Youtube link on my website and you will find a lovely video – a BBC programme from 1984 called ‘A way of being – Posture and Pain’. It gives a fascinating insight into the Alexander technique.

If you’d like to know more about upcoming events – go to the Events tab in my website www.suzanneduncanson.co.uk

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Are the doors closing before they’ve opened?

BLOG – Are the doors closing before they’ve opened?

Are you afraid that just as the doors were opening for you and work opportunities were presenting themselves – you were seeing a bright future opening up before you, after years of hard work and study – the doors seem to be closing? Your Phd is nearly finished but all that is at risk because pain is threatening to put everything on hold.

You have tried everything, all the experts, strong painkillers and there is no change. Your life is being limited just as it was beginning. Will you be able to enter the workplace at all?

Or are you being faced with having to stop work when you can’t afford to – there’s the mortgage to pay, school…….

This was the situation that faced David, one of my students, some years ago. He was in his final year at university – an artistic and very talented guy who was in severe pain. So much so that that there was every chance that he would not complete his degree and would be unable to complete his portfolio for the finals. He was in a bad way. He rang me up wanting the problem to be fixed. So he came for a series of lessons – I am an educator not a fixer! He thought his future was in ruins. He couldn’t see any other way of being than the way he had always been.

Gradually he saw that changing WAS a possibility and the doors swung open. Many years later he is fulfilling his dreams – a success in his field and much in demand. And WINDSURFING! You should see the photo he sent me – a caption underneath saying ‘I never thought I would be doing this!’

More on this later this week.

Why not visit my website www.suzanneduncanson.co.uk
Or come to my next group course which starts 10th September – click here for info http://www.suzanneduncanson.co.uk/events/
(Earlybird until 7 pm on 31st August)

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Taking on a challenge!

Watching the Rio Olympics shows up the courage needed for the athletes to compete at the highest level.    The athletes have to make a real commitment to the training which is TOUGH.   And then they have one day or one event in which to prove themselves.  It’s over in a flash. Everything is transient – everything is ephemeral.

I have loved watching the cyclists in the road race – and the synchronised divers.  The gymnasts were phenomenal.   There is such an element of beauty as they fly through the air fearlessly.   It seems effortless.  And they seem to be light as a feather.  It looks so easy that you forget how much work has gone into reaching that standard of competence.

And that’s the secret – it seems easy!    Letting the head lead and the body follow …. it’s so beautiful to see.

This is the joy of something like the Olympics – every four years the best in the world come together to compete and showcase their skill and ease.

And taking on any challenge requires courage and commitment.   It would be so tempting to stay where we are and never to move on or move forward.   But the thrill of taking a risk outweighs the safety of staying put!

SO take the risk – go for the adventure – it will be worth it, I promise you.

Sign up for my mailing list if you want to keep up to date with all my events and courses – there’s a 10 week course starting in September and a free online course coming up soon – Total Back Freedom. The Earlybird offer ends 31st August, so book early and take advantage!

There’s also a beautiful e-book to purchase in the Shop- if you like the illustrations in my website, you can have them for yourself to make a poster perhaps or just to inspire you

Go to www.suzanneduncanson.co.uk

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Are attitudes cultural or habitual?

BLOG – David Hockney Insights

Just seen the David Hockney exhibition – 82 Portraits at the Royal Academy. Fascinating!   The colours are fabulous, really vibrant.   The brush strokes free and wild.  But what struck me was that nearly all the women were sticking their chins in the air and shoving their chests out rather aggressively (or defensively) while the men tended to drop their heads forward and pull in. Interesting!  There were only two or three who seemed comfortable with themselves and had presence.  It was great fun trying to guess what their professions were – I bet I was right most of the time!

The interesting thing was that most of the women had ‘dressed up’ for the occasion – they were in their party frocks.   There was only one lady who was wearing jeans and stripy teeshirt – and she was totally relaxed, open-eyed and fresh-faced.  Many of the others seemed camouflaged behind their costumes – masking their true personalities.

The portraits of youngsters were fascinating – the older siblings were confident and bold;   the younger siblings seemed shy and unsure, and often turned away from the viewer.

What about the men?   They adopted less formal poses.   They chose casual yet flashy clothes – one was wearing a yellow suit (a barrister maybe?).

Two or three stood out – they had real presence and looked fearlessly out at the world.

So are these poses – cultural or habitual or both?  All the subjects were comfortably provided for, and yet for some it was as if they had to justify their presence to the world in some way – as if they were ready for ‘all-comers’.  This was particularly true of the women.  They were still playing a role – that glass ceiling still existed for them.

I loved this psychological juxtaposition in the portraits – David Hockney had somehow bored deep into his subject’s souls and found their sticking point!  So fascinating and revealing.  It would be fun to do a study of the various characteristics.

I went round the exhibition in chronological order – the order in which they were painted – each one painted in 3 consecutive days.  And as I progressed round you could see how the portraits developed and how Hockney’s style gradually changed.    The same chair, the same colours, the same medium, the same artist but there was a continual movement and sense of change and progression throughout which is the universal constant of nature.

’til next time,

Suzanne

For more info about my courses in Intelligent Movement and Total Back Freedom go to www.suzanneduncanson.co.uk and sign up to my mailing list

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Externalising everything!

At one time memory was highly valued.   The Greeks and Romans had many techniques to enhance memory.   They had memory palaces ad infinitum.  They told epic sagas that lasted for days from memory.   There were very few books so committing information to memory was essential if things were to run smoothly.   They honed their minds so that their memories were reliable.

Children at school used to learn by rote – poems, times tables, all kinds of things!

Similarly, the Greeks and Romans spent much time and effort on honing their bodies and being as fit as possible.

Everything was internalised – they took responsibility for themselves.

As technology has progressed gradually over the centuries all these processes have been externalised and outsourced.   Why spend time memorising phone numbers for example when an iPhone can do it for you?

When we put our backs out we go somewhere to get fixed, and when it goes wrong again we get fixed again!   It’s easier than preventing the problem by changing something in ourselves.   We’re handing responsibility for almost everything to something or someone else.

Is this progress by natural evolution?  Or is it a backward step?   Are we letting our minds atrophy through lack of use, and our bodies through misuse?

This is such an interesting question.

Using technology to advantage is obviously a good idea.   But do we really want to lose skills which were once so highly valued?   Can we find a balance ….

’til next time

Suzanne

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Exploring different spaces

 

Taking risks, going into unknown spaces – both exciting and terrifying.    The rewards can be fantastic – the risks huge but worth it.

Being submerged in sound as if experiencing the creation of the music itself in process, doesn’t often present itself – but it did last week.    A raw and innovative band of musicians led a motley audience into and through the beams of the South Bank Centre along pump room walkways and immersed the unknowing in an unexpected experience of vision and sound.    This could have been scary and unnerving – instead it was inspirational and mind bending.   Everyone was wowed!

As we suddenly emerged from darkness into bright sunlight, the skyscape of London inspired – and breath flooded in.   We were level with the London Eye.

Inspiration – the breath of life.

Inspiration – the root of creativity.

Inspiration inspires us to finish what we’ve started – to go the last ten yards and win ……

We breathe out ….. the breath comes in …..

Inspiration

 

 

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Four things you need to know about you!

Let’s look at a typical week and see what happens:

1. It’s Monday morning. You’re about to set off for work. A feeling of ‘glum’ comes over you. A long week stretches ahead of you before the next weekend. So let’s get into work mode. Are you hunching your shoulders? Is your head disappearing into your neck – like a tortoise pulls its head into its shell when it’s defending itself? Are you putting on your ‘work’ armour in preparation for the challenges ahead? Is your head going down to the floor? This is your natural defence mechanism when facing uncertainty or pressure.

The ‘fight or flight’ reaction.

Your head is going down to the floor. You feel heavy and fed up. But what would happen if the crown of your head pushed gently upwards to the ceiling? You aren’t looking down at the floor anymore. You are looking a bit higher. You are growing upwards. Your head is now on top of your neck and spine. Your head seems lighter. There is a spring in your step.

Your Head balances on top of your spine between your ears and behind your eyes

2. You get to the office and go to your desk. Are you already thinking about the pile of emails waiting for you? Is your head poking forward towards the computer? Does it seem VERY heavy? Well, imagine that you’re holding 5 kilos of potatoes in front of you with arms outstretched – that would be very awkward and you wouldn’t be able to do that for very long without dropping them. Well, when you’re poking your head forward at the computer – that’s exactly what you’re doing!

Your head weighs five kilos (or five bags of sugar)

which is pretty heavy and if it’s poking forward and hanging down then your neck if having to hold on to it for grim death to stop it falling! Your neck begins to ache and your back hurts! You’re hunched over your computer longing for the end of the day. What would happen if the top of your head pushed gently up to the ceiling? It’s drawn upwards so you’re looking higher at the screen – your five kilos of head are floating on top of your neck/spine (your neck is simply an extension of your spine). You come more upright. You are no longer being drawn into the screen. You are simply looking at the screen.

You have taken charge of yourself and the computer!

3. Are you sitting comfortably? Or are you slumped in your chair? Let’s    find out.

a)
Slide your hands under your ‘bum’. You will become aware of two bones – your ‘sitting bones’. Keeping your hands where they are, under the sitting bones, sit up straight in the conventional way – you will probably arch your back, stick your chest out and push your head backwards. When you do this, what happens to the sitting bones? Do they move and if so in what direction? Do this once or twice. You may notice the sitting bones moving backwards. So you’re now sitting on the tops of your thighs. Hard work! You feel tense.

b)
Still keeping your hands under your sitting bones, now slump backwards to the back of the chair. Notice what happens to the sitting bones. You will probably notice that they move forwards this time. So you’re now sitting on your coccyx (ie on the bottom of your spine)! Not very comfortable!

Sitting bones are designed to be sat upon!

Roll forwards gently, hands still underneath you, and then roll back again two or three times, and you will find that you are now sitting on the sitting bones!

YOU are supporting yourself!

4. It’s the end of the week. Half an hour to go. You’ve cleared your intray. Then you notice your boss approaching. “Darn it!” You think. “I’ll be late leaving!” You’re fed up. Your head pushes down into your shoulders. Your shoulders tighten. Your breathing is restricted. What’s going to happen to your weekend plans? Is this you? Do you see your colleagues going through this scenario too? Or can your head push upwards gently and balance on top of the neck/spine so you can sit on your sitting bones, and breathe more easily. No matter what happens, the weekend will be fine.

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Synchronicity is the thing!

Have you ever had the experience of walking along a foreign street in some exotic country where you know no-one, and suddenly there crossing the street in front of you – you see someone you haven’t seen in years?

This has happened to me so many times.   Once in Paris – when a friend from university days suddenly magic’d in front of me as I walked along the Champs Elysee.   Then again in London when a friend from when I lived in Algeria saw me coming out of Ealing tube station.   And more recently someone I had lost touch with, who had worked with me in North Africa years ago sent me a message saying they’d found me on the internet!   Time and place synchronised – it’s as if time had stood still.

And then it moves on – like moving house.   You wait and wait, and seem to be motionless, and then suddenly there is the space in between and the old is gone and the new appears.

The waiting shows you the gaps between which otherwise you would not have seen.

I often think this when coming out of a tube station heaving with commuters.   You know your exit.   You could barge your way through the crowd.   Or be clearly focused where you want to go, and find the gaps between ….  synchronicity!

Enjoy.

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