Pausing, finding some quiet and making conscious choices

by | Oct 30, 2018 | 1 comment

My first post is about pausing because it is so beneficial, so central to Alexander Technique and so rarely taught by others.  Different words work best for different people so I have offered a few alternatives to give you chance to find one that works for you.  I have also offered some examples of when you could benefit from pausing and a challenge to encourage you to experiment with connecting your thinking to your activity.

Pausing – the aim of pausing is to let your mind and body find a sense of quietness so that you can connect your thinking to your activity.  Only then can you make a conscious choice about what you do next and how you do it.  Without the ‘pause’ it is likely that you will always do what you always do which is ok if you are free of pain, tension and stress but not if you are not.

Finding some quiet – for some people cutting out the word ‘pausing’ and using the term ‘finding some quiet’ works better.  It is still referring to letting mind and body settle briefly to allow time to make a choice.  Use whichever words works best for you and if you have discovered alternatives that work better do let me know in the comments below.

Finding your feet on the floor – this can be useful if you are someone who feels the need to do something more active than ‘pause’ or ‘find some quiet’.  Also, ’finding your feet’ can be easier to use in continuous activities like singing, playing a musical instrument or giving a presentation.  It is a good way of staying more aware of yourself or ‘more present’ to use a popular term.

Below are just a few examples of when ‘pausing’, finding some quiet and making a conscious choice about what you do next is likely to be useful.  Without the pause, it is likely that you will take any tension or irritation that you are currently feeling into what you do next.

  • When you are sat at your computer and you notice that your head is jutted forward and your shoulders are up around your ears. Yes, you can notice what you are doing and immediately pull your head back and pull your shoulders down but pausing first will allow you to let go of the tension and then be much more mindful about how you choose to move
  • When you are chopping vegetables and you notice you are gripping the knife for dear life and using far more effort than is needed. Again, pausing opens up a choice to restart chopping with less tension
  • When someone is irritating you. Pausing at times like this gives you the chance to choose to show your irritation or let it go and respond in a different way

Challenge – Connecting your thinking to your activity

Some of you will be familiar with this challenge and may have tried it but it is always worth repeating.

Choose an activity that you do frequently during the day and decide to practice pausing before you do it.  It might be filling the kettle (my favourite as some of you may remember), going up or down the stairs, or answering your phone.  Simply connecting your thinking to your activity is useful and is likely to bring a different quality to the way you move and react.

Most importantly, if you forget don’t get frustrated, just notice.  The Alexander Technique is more about learning, experimenting and staying open to possibilities than trying to get anything right.

It sounds oh so simple doesn’t it but can you do it consistently?  Feel free to pop a comment in the box below to let me know how you get on with it.


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