My Alexander Journey
A Mindfulness Trail Through The Forest
I spent two weeks alone in the Scottish hills,
in a cabin nestling in the shelter of the edge of a forest,
looking down towards a beautiful loch.
When writing this article I was in my final year of Alexander Technique training to be a teacher, and my break in Scotland was an opportunity to reflect on what has brought me to where I am now in the Alexander world.
I am also an ordained Buddhist, committed to a path of deepening mindfulness and spiritual growth in community with others. In addition I have lived with a chronic health condition for many years ‐ M.E. (myalgic encephalomyelitis) or chronic fatigue syndrome as it is also known. (1)
I have found the Alexander Technique the best way I can help myself develop increased health and stamina. I am so much stronger now than when I began my training. My Alexander story interweaves all these strands and includes along the way my love of music, my experience of back and neck pain, and my own healing process through therapy with which the Alexander Technique helped and supported me. All our stories are individual ‐ may aspects of mine speak to you in whatever form is helpful to you now.
My trail has been of long duration; starting a pathway, letting it peter out, finding another way at another time to pick up the trail. I have been hesitant, finding it hard to believe that the Alexander Technique could have the profound effect it has had on my health and wellbeing. I recognised in my first individual lessons it was something special that I didn't understand. It was something to come back to when I had changed, when time and circumstances were right.
So eventually here I am training with Carolyn Nicholls who trained with Walter and Dilys Carrington.
I never quite believed that the Alexander Technique, or principle as it is sometimes called, could help with M.E. although I had a hunch that it would. This is how I come to be writing now. I would like to help make clear how this most baffling of conditions can be alleviated and helped by practising Alexander's discoveries.
It is early days in my understanding and I would be interested to be in touch with others who have explored this issue. I realise that the term M.E. describes a spectrum of symptoms, and it may be that my experience is unique. It has, however, become clear to me that the principles of the Alexander Technique can help anyone make the most of the condition that they live with ‐ even if that is just life. This applies vitally to people living with M.E. whether it is those with the condition or their carers. For us energy is such a precious commodity which can be in very short supply.
The Alexander Technique teaches me how to channel my energy efficiently. It teaches me a mindfulness practice focussed on the level of how our minds affect our reflex and muscular systems. It appears to be having the effect of 'waking up' neural systems in me that seemed to have shut down, or were struggling to be effective. I am learning to develop new pathways in my nervous system and this is having the effect of "bringing my mind back" out of the cotton wool fog that can descend with M.E. This mental fog has an ongoing debilitating effect interfering with everyday activity and making it hard to hold down a job.