Fishing for our Body’s Wisdom

Fishing for our Body’s Wisdom

I can remember trying to 'feel' the swampy mess of bodily sensations and emotions I felt trapped inside me. What were these squeezings in my chest and throat, this panicked gripping in my abdomen? I knew there was wisdom in the body and that if I could relate with it, I might feel less stuck in my life and more able to make decisions. Yogis and meditators had written luminously about the wisdom we have inside us. So I sat very silently and very still. Like a fisherman with my line in the…continue reading →
How the Alexander Technique Can Improve Your Swimming

How the Alexander Technique Can Improve Your Swimming

This is a brief conversation between myself and an Alexander Technique teacher, Robert Rickover, who has a weekly podcast called Body Learning about the Alexander Technique. He interviewed me to learn more about how this technique of mind-body coordination can be applied in the pool. I talk about the 2 most common students I have: those who are learning to swim for the first time and swimmers who have a health condition or injury and want to be able to swim without pain. Here's a little more information about what I teach.continue reading →
Excavating the Sitting Bones in Meditation Posture

Excavating the Sitting Bones in Meditation Posture

Somewhere underneath you right now are two protrusions known as the sitting bones. If you cup your buttocks in the palms of your hands (NSFW?), you’ll feel these prominences which form the southernmost points of the pelvis. Try slumping back and you'll notice that the sitting bones rotate forward. Now pull yourself into an overly upright position so that your chest is arched. Can you feel the sitting bones start to roll back? In a comfortable sitting position, your sitting bones are somewhere between those extremes, resting like two feet on the chair.…continue reading →
Prison Wisdom: Building Strength Slowly and Safely

Prison Wisdom: Building Strength Slowly and Safely

I just returned from a Florida vacation where I lightened up my beach reading with a 300 page book on prison recreation. "Convict Conditioning: How to Bust Free of All Weakness – Using the Lost Secrets of Supreme Survival Strength" The book came recommended to me by, Malcolm Balk, an excellent Alexander teacher who coaches runners in Canada. This is not standard reading for an Alexander Technique person. In our work, we often use words like “release”, “lengthen”, and “ease.” So what’s up with this guy? For years during the worst of my…continue reading →
Good Pain Management Is Not Micromanagement

Good Pain Management Is Not Micromanagement

As anyone who has been asked to select from the adjectival menu at a Pain Management clinic, you know that pain comes in many flavors: burning, sharp, throbbing, tingling, dull, achy, intermittent, roving. It’s like a torturer’s crossword puzzle! Regardless of its unique characteristic, we almost universally try and stop the pain, stuff it back down, or mute it somehow. It's only normal – it's only human to want to feel less pain. However, most of our knee-jerk reactions to pain involve some kind of tightening, bracing, or stiffening. This makes a great…continue reading →
In Sitting Posture, Is 90° a Wrong Angle?

In Sitting Posture, Is 90° a Wrong Angle?

Modern research on ergonomics (the interaction between people and their work environment) is confirming what meditators have known and expressed for thousands of years: sitting with your legs and torso at 90° is mad difficult. Ironically, even though most of us have spent tens of thousands of hours in chairs, we don't exactly get any "better" at sitting with age. If anything, our sitting posture tends to deteriorate over time. This is because while sitting at 90° has become normal, scientific research shows that it is not natural. Studies done in 1999 and…continue reading →
Your Trashy Postural Habits, and How They Are the Key to Uprightness

Your Trashy Postural Habits, and How They Are the Key to Uprightness

The moment you start thinking you need to meet the world with good posture – it's over; you're screwed. You’ve empowered the belief that being upright means you can’t really be yourself. It’s too easy to jettison our spontaneity and sense of humor in an effort to become a statue of good posture. If we don't give ourselves the chance to see and acknowledge our habits – however slumped or depraved they may feel – we will likely continue to be hounded by them. Here's an example: if I have made slumping "bad,"…continue reading →

Falling Asleep: an Indirect Approach

Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night when I heard my daughter crying. She was back asleep in minutes; I was not. I "tried" to go back to sleep. I squeezed shut my eyes and attempted to push away thoughts which seemed stressful like mapping out my day's schedule. Yet I could not will myself asleep. I noticed that by "trying" to go to sleep, I was tightening around my eyes, my jaw, and pulling my shoulders in. (This is what happens when we fixate on any one thing.…continue reading →
Honey, I Shrunk My Hips

Honey, I Shrunk My Hips

Contrary to everything you’ve heard in the press, in my teaching studio the average American is getting smaller. I’m not talking about belt size or average caloric intake. I’m talking about how anxiety, stress, and poor ergonomic conditions all contribute to excess muscle tension that, like a tightly wound instrument, shortens and narrows us. What I often see are students with shoulders which remain bunched up, ribs and stomach fixed, and the lower back compressed onto the pelvis. These all lead to poor breathing and a general feeling of dis-ease. How could it…continue reading →
Giving Up Good Posture

Giving Up Good Posture

I started meditating long before I ever heard of the Alexander Technique. Now, my experience as an Alexander teacher has profoundly affected how I sit on the cushion and even how I approach meditation altogether. A week ago, I taught a workshop at the Interdependence Project called Posture, Pain, and Meditation Practice. My experience there inspired me to write about "good posture." If we look at a meditator like this, from my perspective as an Alexander Technique teacher I can see a few imbalances which are likely making this posture uncomfortable. The low…continue reading →