Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Magic Pause

Following a week of intensive Alexander Technique Post-Grad curiosity and discovery I felt quiet and smooth. Steady and balanced. Open and soft. The ravages of June’s house-moving finally soothed away.

Then I came home and resumed the preparation for my major house renovation beginning four days later...

You see I tend to be a ‘get on with it’ sort of person; a somewhat creatively disorganised version, but my intentions tend to be about being-alive-action. Now, against the backdrop of last week, me and my usual patterns began to be revealed in ever greater clarity: basically ‘rush - push - rush - hurry’.... How did I know this? By my frequent, inquisitive, self-requests to ‘pause’ in my movement - by entering a moment of lightly suspended animation, not unlike ‘musical statues’ - and to make discoveries about what I was doing with myself.

In my belief that ‘this is a frustrating and unnecessary thing to have to do‘ I found myself winding up an electrical cable with my nose about 12 inches lower than it needed to be - as if there was a ‘nose-to-cable muscle' - and by shortening it the action of pulling my face directly down to the cable-holder would somehow get the job done quicker. This was not self-kindness, but a kind of self-bashing!

Smiling to myself I waited a moment in this scrunched pose, and then softened, released, and sensed my body’s uncurling, like a coil of fern in the springtime. Ah yes, even after 38 years in this work I can be caught out in pulling myself into a curl-up by things in my hands. I am so glad to know these things through the work; not knowing would mean I would likely stay in that shape forever.

I paused again a while later: I was crossing a room, ‘musting’ - I must get this done. I must hurry. I must sort this out. I must cover that in a dust sheet. I must, I must, I must.... I found I had my feet on the ground, but my head a foot in front of the rest of me... If I had let go towards the pull of gravity I would have fallen flat on my face, such was my Tower of Pisa angle.... Ah, another moment of self-unkindness. Again I softened and released, allowing my whole self to uncurl, as a bloom rises towards the sun...

Ah yes, even after 38 years in the work I can pull myself forwards of (or behind) my head so I am no longer over my feet and standing on the ground beneath me. In my keenness I can so easily be five minutes ahead of myself - which then becomes the five minutes ahead of that moment, and so on, until I end the day exhausted from being in all the five minutes I am not actually in - living in a space which doesn’t exist - a place called ‘soon’, but not ‘now’.

These ‘pauses’ are magic places; it’s in them I can discover how I actually am versus how I think I am. It is the space between me and my assumptions. It is there I can release the holdings and scrunchings, the liftings and pushings. I might end a day wondering what hit me, but if I bring in this pause I discover I am hitting me and can stop. I can push and pull, scrunch and lift... Or not. And the pause gives me the chance to see much more precisely what I am doing to/with myself.  The boxes, bags and people didn’t exhaust me, I did. 

I didn’t just lift the box, I lifted me. 
I didn’t just push the shelving, I squashed me. 
I didn’t just pull the bags out, I dragged me down. 
The person didn’t just pressure me, I mostly compressed myself... 

Ah yes, it’s so easy to be pulled and pushed about - from the inside out.

But time? Is there really time for all this? I have things to do, places to be, people to see....!?!  All this pausing and awareness and softening and releasing - who’s got time for all that?

I do. You do. We all do. Even if it's perfect to not be pausing all the time, remembering to give it a go and reap such benefits!  Initially it seems things will take longer, but in reality time seems to stretch to accommodate the activity... Time slows down. The rushing ceases. The pressure releases. The effort reduces. The job gets done. 

Squeezing, contracting, pushing and pulling take so long! Without them there’s so much more space in the air, time on the clock, and energy in my body... 

Have a go? Even just a tiny bit? 
See what time feels like and how much easier it feels right now 
to release and lengthen your ‘nose-to-screen muscle' *......
and to be softly tall in your own space.........
and to know you are there............? 

Now that's self-kindness in action.

* A hint: how about these 'muscles'?
Nose to screwdriver?
Find me some more and post below?


  1. This is great Annie. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  2. You're welcome, Ruth. Thanks for commenting!