Alexander Technique and Zoom

2020 has brought many of us into the online world as never before. As a child of 1950, I barely cope with computers, cellphones, internet and social media and use them all as little as possible. I am frightened of the possibility of being ‘hacked’, of losing my identity, of losing my money, of electro-magnetic and light pollution and many scary things which I can’t name but I suspect are lurking! It is a world in which I feel I lack the skills to survive, never mind to thrive.

And then came 2020 and the pressing need to up-skill to avoid isolation.

When teaching the Alexander Technique, I often talk about ‘response to stimulus’. Stimulus can be pain, can be an upsetting telephone call, can be starting a new job, becoming a mother. What behaviours and attitudes do we call upon to meet a new stimulus? Often we don’t know consciously. The behaviours and attitudes switch on as if a mindless habit is activated. This what happened for me as I ventured into my first few Zoom meetings.

I was overwhelmed by the stimuli:

  • There were so many people in little boxes all over the screen, and apparently even more on another ‘page’, and more after that.
  • Someone would speak; who is it? where are they? And then someone else would speak – where are they? I’d be looking here and there trying to keep up visually with who was speaking and hardly able to take in anything being said
  • And then, some people’s boxes would have little yellow hand icons waving about. What on earth are those?
  • “Someone isn’t muted. Please mute yourself.” What?
  • Exhortations to type your link into the ‘Chatbox’. What is that?

And so on, and so on.

I would leave my first few such meetings feeling like a wet rag, exhausted and pathetic. Everything happened so fast. Everyone else seemed to be so proficient, relaxed and able to participate. I had to step back and consider the damage I was doing to myself by allowing myself to operate without what Alexander would call ‘constructive conscious control’.

I started with my breathing. I noticed I was holding my breath, I would exhale, wait for inhalation, and repeat a couple of times. Yes, I missed who was speaking and what they were saying but I was investing in my future as a ‘Zoomer”.

Then I moved on to my sense of support, both from the ground under my feet and my desk stool under my sitting bones. And, as Alexander Teachers will understand, my breathing eased even further.

Then, I realised, partly through pain between my orbits, how I was ‘pushing’ my vision forward into the monitor, desperately trying to ‘see’ who was speaking. This was a particular issue for me because my listening involves an element of lip-reading. Discovering the ‘speaker view’ option in Zoom (as opposed to gallery view) was a great help. Speaker view + exhaling + support + allowing the monitor image to travel to my visual system and I was making progress.

I still need to work on my jaw tension but am on the way.

Jill Freeman Nov. 2020

Tai Chi for Health

Two days ago, I was able to take advantage of the opportunity to do my morning Tai Chi practice on a sweeping, sandy beach looking North out to the Pacific Ocean.  It was a ‘simply wonderful’ experience!  The feel of the warm sand under my feet was so different from practising on grass or a hard indoors floor.  The sense of the oneness of everything, the bird song, the sound of the sea, the rustle of the trees in the breeze carried the movements I was making.  It enriches our Tai Chi experience to explore different settings and I’ve found that enrichment has transferred itself to my usual practice setting. 

Let me know if you would like to learn Tai Chi.  I teach in Kerikeri, New Zealand. 

Astrology

Last week, I wrote about the New Moon in Scorpio.  Today, I’m going to say a couple of things about Venus which has just moved into Scorpio and is making some exciting, demanding connections to both Uranus and Mars. 

Relationships are one of the two main reasons for people asking for an astrological consultation.  (The other is career.)  The Scorpio Venus, and its current connections to the energies of Uranus and Mars, could be interesting for relationship matters.  There could be an urgency for excitement, for intensity, for total honesty.  On the other hand, there could be a strong wish to be independent or, at any rate, to engage in relationship on your terms!  If Venus in your natal chart is at the beginning of any of the fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius) you may well be picking up on these energies.  

If you’d like to know more, please do get in touch.  I do individual consultations and teach online.