alexander technique

Your Song: a guide to nurturing self-expression by Ariel Carson

Whatever is inside of you wants to come out. Can you feel it? I promise you it’s there. Stop whatever you’re doing for a moment, and shift your attention to your body. Feel the weight of your bones, the movement of your breath, the gurgling of your digestion, your heart beating in your chest. What is in there? What wants to be expressed? A burning? A yearning? A pulsing? A swirl? A painting? A sound? A movement? A story? 

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How You Get What You Want by Ariel Carson

What happens in your body when you think of wanting something very badly?

Give yourself a moment to really envision something you desire, and notice any changes through your breath and muscles.

Did you observe any kind of tightening, a sense of restriction, or shortening of your breath? 

Wanting begins with needing, food and sleep, and connection with other human beings for example. As babies and toddlers, on an embodied level, needing and wanting may be expressed through crying and reaching out to grasp. The baby reaches for the mother’s breast, the bottle, as a plea to be picked up and held; later on we may cling tightly to our favorite toy.

However, the ways in which we express and aim to fulfill our desires may develop inefficiently. We may learn to reach out and attempt to grasp what we want both literally and figuratively in restrictive ways, or to try and deny our desires in full. This diminishes our connection to living in the flow that leads us toward more embodied freedom and the fulfillment of our desires in the first place.

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The Walking Alive by Ariel Carson

When is the last time you checked to see if you were alive? How do you even know that to be true? These may seem like silly questions, but I think many of us forget. We take our aliveness for granted, and/or traumas trapped in our nervous systems prevent parts of us from understanding that we are survivors, and are therefore living breathing beings. Unresolved fight/flight/freeze reactions may cause us to subconsciously believe we didn’t make it through whatever overwhelming experiences we’ve had. It's that feeling of walking around dulled, numb, and flat. So how can we unearth our vitality by reminding ourselves that we are alive, and bring this awareness to a conscious level?

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Vulnerability & Defense by Ariel Carson

Photo by  Miriam Miles  on  Unsplash

Photo by Miriam Miles on Unsplash

Let’s take a moment to thank our defenses.

Established out of necessity in response to physical, mental, emotional, and energetic boundary breaches, our defenses are what have gotten us through to this moment. They may arise as attempts to exert control over our lives when we feel unsafe, unmet, unseen, unheard, helpless and overwhelmed. We lock down, shut down, and close off when our boundaries are overridden. Another person may initiate these ruptures, for example, in obvious cases like abuse. However we may also be responsible for overriding our own boundaries, like in instances of empathic individuals who give more of their time and energy than they are able to without taking care of their own needs first.

Sometimes though, our defenses interfere with our ability to connect with those we care for and love. They may hinder us from becoming the people we wish to become, and doing the things we want to do. So what’s the alternative?

There are those who might tout radical vulnerability as the answer, total openness. And because so many of us are so closed off, this may seem like the obvious answer to move in the opposite direction. However, just as a turtle has the option to retract its head, arms, and legs into its shell, we want our systems to be able to contract and expand with manageable conscious ease. We want body-mind-selves that respond appropriately to the demands of whatever situation is at hand, wherever that lands us on the spectrum of choosing to put up our defenses or choosing to open up more.

Repairing boundary breaches and becoming conscious of our habitual defenses helps us achieve a greater sense of wholeness and agency. Somatic Experiencing guides us to detect how our boundary breaches manifest psycho-biologically, and discover our innate capacity to repair these ruptures.  Alexander Technique helps us understand how our coordination may be keeping us trapped in defensive postural patterns. Excess tension can act as a suit of armor against sensing and feeling. We learn how to gently unwind these fortified patterns and experience greater safety and freedom in more open, vulnerable, embodied coordination. Both modalities cultivate a more accurate internal barometer to judge when something is an actual threat or just perceived as such.

We are filters for a vital life force moving through us, permeable beings in connection to our environments and one another. Healthy boundaries mean we are more capable of choosing who and what we allow in, and more intentional with what we share with the world. 

Control & Surrender by Ariel Carson

Instead of tying up our cognitive resources consciously deciding how to tie our shoes, eat our meals, and get to work every day etc., we create habits to ensure these activities are reliably completed in order to free up space for other, potentially more fertile, thought processes. Habits satiate our desire for predictability. That which remains static is much easier to control. In a life dominated by unconscious habit, we can maintain our status quo, for better or worse, in attempts to minimize having to manage our relationships to change and unpredictability.

In the other direction, we may long to lose control as a means of disrupting this stasis, perhaps helping us to remember that we’re alive.

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Three Cheers for Despair!!! by Ariel Carson

Hope is a prized value woven prominently into the fabric of America. Our culture urges us not to sit in the discomfort of despair. We insist on striving for a hopeful outlook no matter how bleak the circumstances. However, I write this in defense of despair. Allowing ourselves to be with this discomfort can act as a catalyst for change. Rather than thinking in mutually exclusive terms: hope or despair, I’d like to propose a spectrum containing both.

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The Organization of Movement in Crisis by Ariel Carson

Why does it take a crisis for us to wake up? We slumber in the false security of habit and stasis, content to close our eyes to the injustices of our world as long as they do not directly affect I, Me, or Mine. But when a crisis is what we’ve got, it’s all we can do to act quickly to put out the fire, no matter the cost to our wellbeing. The thing is, adrenaline burns up just as fast as the fire is extinguished. So if we’re dealing with long-term systemic crises, it’s absolutely crucial to know how to establish a well-organized framework for sustainable (M)ovement that supports us as individuals and in turn, each other.

 

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Stress Busting Tips for Fall by Ariel Carson

And we're off! The post Labor Day hustle is here, and with that transition out of summer’s leisurely pace I sometimes feel a little anxious and overwhelmed by all there is to get done. So how do I maintain some semblance of poise while charging ahead at full steam with a dream and an infinite To-Do List in hand? 

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I Can't Get No... by Ariel Carson

Human beings have been talkin’ about dissatisfaction for a long time.The grass is always greener on the other side. And we find ourselves thinking if we can just get to the next level where we make more money, have a bigger house, snag the perfect partner, THEN we’ll be happy and satisfied. From the somatic viewpoint of the Alexander Technique, this wanting to be in another place and time, or wanting things to be different than how they are, has strong physical correlates. Personally my chest gets tight, and though it’s still a great song by Duncan Sheik, I’m Barely Breathing . I lose any sense of the points of contact I’m making with the ground or my chair, and I often stare at one point in the distance with a furrowed brow. I feel anxious, and my attention span shortens as I flit from one busy activity to the next. 

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How to Find Inner Peace Even While That Annoying Guy Next to You Screams on His Cell Phone (Hint: It doesn’t involve knocking him out). by Ariel Carson

The car alarm honks outside your bedroom window for hours at a time.
Around every corner another computer screen glares in your face.
Advertisements infiltrate your dreams.

We are a culture bombarded by stimuli.

So when we need to rejuvenate we tend to close our eyes.

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Fight/Flight/Freeze and the Alexander Technique by Ariel Carson

In Memory of All the Unarmed Black Men Who Have Died at the Hands of Police Officers

Once I watched a grown man in a business suit leap out of his subway seat with fear and surprise at the sight of a lone purple grape rolling down the floor of the train car headed toward his feet. I can only assume that out of the corner of his eye he saw something more threatening than a grape. Perhaps he thought it was a mouse, or perhaps he knew it was a grape, but a traumatizing experience with fruit from his past triggered a fearful reaction causing him to jump up and run away.

We all have our purple grapes: stimuli in our lives that trigger our Fight/Flight/Freeze responses, because they are associated with some past experience where, real or not, we perceived our lives as threatened. Fight/Flight/Freeze (FFF) is seen all throughout animals in nature, and even though we modern day humans rarely need to fight, run, or play dead to save our lives as we once did when we lived out in the open with other animals who saw us as prey, we still often feel as though that were the case.

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Alternative Happy Hour by Ariel Carson

smoothie pic

Are you looking for a healthful alternative to after work drinks with a friend? Announcing Happy Hour at my Bushwick studio every Wednesday from 5pm-8pm! You and your friend will have a shared hour long Alexander Technique lesson, along with a delicious smoothie, specially designed by my dear friend and amazing health coach Patrizia Hernandez of La Vita Wellness, to help release your muscles and nourish your whole being. $30 per person. Book your Happy Hour today by emailing Ariel at redefiningposture@gmail.com.

Pioneering a New Frontier by Ariel Carson

Did you know that all students of the Alexander Technique are pioneers? The journey is just like the Oregon Trail video game, except the supplies you have to gather before your journey are already inside you, and instead of moving out West to strike it rich, you are moving into the rich land of a more upright, expanded, resilient you.

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