Esther Miltiadous BSc Hons, MSc, MSTAT Alexander Technique for Oakwood and Enfield

Blogs. stressed at work

‘Try Hard’ Mindset or is that mind/body set? October 2018.

We are often told from a young age that we need to try hard and you’ll make it - or, you need to try harder - put some effort in to achieve what you want. Whether that’s being better at spelling, competing at sport, playing an instrument or later in life in our careers. But, is it really good for our mind/body wellbeing to be doing all this trying hard, striving, struggling?

I don’t mean we needn’t bother at all, just lie there doing nothing in a free and easy way (although a little bit of that certainly feels great, and constructive rest is a great, nourishing way of stopping for a while). I mean, do we need to approach life with gritted teeth, trying hard, striving to succeed? These are often seen as mental attitudes we need to employ to get better at something and achieve our goals. However, what we think affects the way we use our bodies too (emotions are expressed as muscular tension). The way we use our bodies also affects the way we function (mentally and physically). Trying harder can lead to excess body tension, head aches, pain and breathing pattern changes, which can make us feel stressed or anxious. If left unchecked this can lead to RSI and other ailments. If you drove around in your car with the hand break on, you wouldn’t be surprised if eventually it broke down. Some if us are doing the equivalent to our bodies!

The Alexander Technique allows us to find a new approach to what we are doing - lighter, freer, more poised, curious and focused, but with less effort and tension. We can still achieve our goals while looking after our mental and physical wellbeing. We may have been lucky enough to experience this when things are going well. Physically and mentally things seem to flow, it feels effortless. This is the state that we can do our best work in, but often we can’t consciously find this state and instead put more effort in and tense up.

Generally we are drawn to people (in all realms of sports, the arts and work) who make what they do look effortless and easy. Think of Gene Kelly in ‘Singing in the Rain’. Roger Federer playing tennis or your favourite orator. Its not to say they haven’t spent time perfecting the way they do things, but tense, tight ‘effort’ is not part of the way they do things.

The Alexander Technique gives us a framework that allows this body/mind ease. It starts with cultivating embodied awareness of our habits (as I wrote in my last month's blog). Then it offers ways to release any mental and physical tension and be free of our unhelpful habits. We are able to stay with the process of what we are doing and look after ourselves while working towards our goals. It provides a method to establish mind/body calm in our hectic lives.

Alexander Technique has been helping people for over 100 years, but modern science is confirming the validity of this old method. Some of its principles can be seen in modern psychological approaches to learning, such as Growth Mindset which is being used in schools. In this approach, development over results is encouraged, so is curiosity. It encourages positive values such as learning and development and helpful ‘self talk’ (how to manage how we talk to ourselves - positive, helpful and energised).

I do love seeing that certain mind/body wisdom holds true where ever it comes from; Alexander Technique, growth mindset, and I found this in a mediation book I am reading a the moment. *

‘insight (understanding) doesn’t operate outside of calm. The requirement to insight is that the mind is calm and steady enough not to be in the grip of the hinderances (eg. bad habits).’

In other words, when we want to work well and think well, being stressed and putting ourselves under pressure is counter productive.

I looked up synonyms for strive, I thought I might share some with you.

Try, try hard, toil, strain, struggle were listed - BUT so were attempt, aspire and venture, which to my mind, feel much more in keeping with the principles of the Alexander Technique. So, pause, and ask yourself, can I do less? can it be easier? (in terms of tension). Lighten up and find a new, freer and more balanced way of doing and being with the Alexander Technique.

If you would like to find out more please contact me using the contact details at the top of the page

*Meditation, A Way of Awakening by Ajahn Sucitto.

Blogs. growth mindset

Blogs. Habitquote

Habits - the good, the bad and the ugly! September 2018

“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” F M Alexander

“Chains of habits are too light to be felt until they are too heavy too be broken.” Warren Buffett (American Business man, investor, speaker and philanthropist.) (I disagree with the second part of this quote, but thats how it often feels!)

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Blogs. Julyblog

Alexander Technique helps improve your posture, does that matter? - 5th July 2018

Alexander Technique teachers often have a problem with the word posture! It might have something to do with the fact that often, when we are talking to someone and they find out what we teach, they straighten up and pull themselves into a military style posture all tight and uncomfortable. They have heard that we are something to do with teaching ‘good posture’ and we, the posture police, are ready to judge them for slouching!

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Blogs. knee xray

Prehabilitation and Rehabilitation and the Alexander Technique - 7th June 2018

Alexander Technique is becoming contagious in my family! Firstly my mother raised my interest in Alexander Technique after having lessons and this was the reason I gave it a go, now it’s my Dad’s turn. He has seen the changes Mum and I have made over the years, observed the benefits we have experienced (some of which are explained in my May blog listed below), but never quite understood what AT was. Dad thought it was a bit like physiotherapy and although he listened when I explained, somewhere along the way the full nature of the beast never really made a connection. Not feeling the needed to convert everyone I knew into AT lovers I left it that!

To read the rest of this blog click here.

Blogs. Back pain

Sciatica, a pain in the butt…and one of the reasons I came to the Alexander Technique - 9th May 2018

Sciatica can be a real pain in the butt, and down the leg or legs, and into the feet, its awful, I know from experience. In my late 20’s I was a personal fitness trainer. I had always been sporty a competitive swimmer, part of the school teams for athletics, netball and basketball, I trained with weights, was strong and flexible. Ever since my teens, however, I had also suffered with reoccurring bouts of lower back pain. Not too frequently, but when it arrived it was very uncomfortable, I took anti-inflammatories and had physiotherapy and it then seemed to subside again until the next time!

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Blogs. stress

Learn to Destress and Unwind with the Alexander Technique - 7th April 2018

We have probably all been slightly stressed from time to time. We can put ourselves under pressure or feel pressurised by external situations; jobs, household stuff, exam pressure or illness, to name just a few possibilities. This low to moderate level stress can leave us feeling tired, tight (especially our neck, shoulders and back), not quite our usual selves and reduces our emotional resilience. We may have even experienced deeper episodes of stress or a feeling of anxiety in particular situations. This is all normal and part of the human condition. (I have experienced both stress and anxiety at different times, in my mid twenties I had a period where I suffered with panic attacks and later in my early thirties the lose of someone close to me had a deeper impact.) Our bodies are well designed to cope with short periods of stress or anxiety, but problems tend to occur if we get stuck in a habitually stressed and anxious state. Something we often don’t recognise, it creeps up on us!

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Blogs. Monkeying around

Monkeying Around in the Garden - 2nd March 2018

Gardening is one of my favourite hobbies. I love being creative, seeing my garden change throughout the year, being physical and getting some time to myself in peace. From an Alexander Technique point of view, it’s also a great way of being mindful in activity, and think about my habits and pausing to think how to look after myself as I’m pottering around digging, pruning, racking and picking out the weeds!

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Blogs. Nervous/excited

Excited or Nervous? Maybe both - How the Alexander Technique helped me with an interview! - 29th January 2018

Last week I was given a very exciting opportunity, Robert Rickover, an American Alexander Technique teacher, invited me to take part in two interviews for his Alexander Technique podcasts called 'Body Learning'. I subscribe to these podcasts and there are some great interviews about all different aspects of the technique and how, where and with whom, it is taught. He invited me to talk about my work with the children at Educare Small School (3-11 years old), in Kingston and about my thoughts on teaching children AT in general.

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Blogs. Pause

The Wisdom of Pausing - 5th January 2018

Pausing is the second key that unlocks the door to change. (The first being awareness of habit, as mentioned in my first blog).

The Alexander Technique offers many unique skills and principles that enable change, but the concept of pausing in order to respond rather than react to a stimulus seems to be a universal wisdom.

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Blogs. Time for change

3 Important Qualities that Allow Change - 7th December 2017

(or how to get the most from your lessons)

The first step to being able to use the Alexander Technique is to become aware and mindful of our habits. The useful ones (that allow us to live in a poised and balanced way) and those habits that hinder our good co-ordination. This awareness plus the skills that Alexander Technique teaches allows us to change; so that we can use ourselves in the way we were designed to and make life easier.

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A Short Introduction to the Work I am Part of at Educare Small School, Kingston.

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