Under Duress

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Recovery from Monday’s eye surgery has been slow, thanks to a cold virus exacerbating irritated and swollen eyes, and an allergic reaction to antibiotic ointment. The itch so itchy it’s painful? Here’s what I did to get through the week. Alexander Technique students, you know the Procedures

First, observe habitual response. This week’s responses were a minute-by-minute attempt to get away from unpleasant sensations. Eye drops, dabbing and rubbing of eyes, and a good dose of catastrophic thinking—‘This will never end! I’ll be in misery the rest of my days.’

Having observed responses, Pause. Or Inhibit, if you prefer Mr. Alexander’s terminology. How does one pause when hurting? Watch the discomfort with a dispassionate mind. ‘Oh, yes, there’s a streak of pain along the outer rim of left eye.‘ Noted. Mere observation is often enough to restore a bit of ease and comfort, and so it was for me and my eyes.

Continue with Directions. Having acknowledged that all my attention was with one detail of my physical experience, i.e.–unhappy eyes, I chose a prompt, often ‘Whole body, whole world.‘ With inclusive awareness, I noticed the space around my body, the room in which I was writhing, and the garden beyond, where the stargazer lilies were blooming in profusion.

On several occasions, with this practice, I was able to rest deeply and even to fall asleep. And other times my eyes just itched more, and it was on to the eye drops. Keep in mind, Alexander Technique procedures are not about fixing what’s wrong, but doing what we can to integrate mind with body, in service of greater ease and optimal function.

No need to wait for agony. Perhaps there’s a slight crick in your neck from reading this post. Practice the Procedures!

 

The Sniffles

 

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‘I’ve got the sniffles.’  That sounds innocuous.  A cold virus is anything but. Two holiday parties and a long-anticipated lunch date missed. A week-end lost to a Benadryl-induced stupor.

With high expectations for December good cheer, it’s extra disappointing when an illness comes to call instead. And after falling ill, we are then admonished by cultural norms to do battle against the bug. As if it wasn’t enough to find ourselves unwell, now we are to rally for a fight.

Be proactive?  Yes.  Fight?  No. How about practicing a few Alexander Technique principles instead?  Observe Self.  Note unpleasant cold symptoms. Note the mind’s response to them. Pause. (This is the Do-Nothing part.)  Choose what happens next.    Perhaps choose this-

‘Try a Little Tenderness’ Tea:  Boil water.  Pour. Add a tablespoon of honey and a squeeze or two of fresh lemon.  Cup mug in hands.  Inhale to the best of your ability and then sip. Add Rest. Repeat as needed.