Alexander Teachers and Therapists Zone
Introducing Miss Goldie
Miss Goldie worked alongside Alexander for thirty years, & was probably closest to him, hearing many of his last thoughts on his work. I was fortunate to work with her between 1990 and 1995, just after finishing my training. She was kind, (mostly, her temper was legendary!) but uncompromising. She taught what she had understood from Alexander, much of which she considered lost to the mainstream Alexander profession. I felt she broke down everything I had learned so far, & rebuilt it her way, a scary process! Later, I worked with other Goldie pupils, also Erica Whittaker, to understand the essence of her teaching, & why it was different from that now mostly taught.
These workshops introduce teachers to the essence of her understanding, (as I understood it). To use it, not just with pupils, but more crucially, on yourself. All workshops are place limited to twelve maximum.
For those who really want to understand this work, I also recommend taking private lessons or personal intensives with me.
If you would like a workshop for teachers in your area, please contact me. The workshops are presented here as two weekends, they can equally be split into four separate workshops.
My booklet “Lessons with Miss Goldie”, is an account of my lessons with her, & also contains my analysis of what I felt she was about. It can be ordered from me: price €12 plus €4.50 postage. visit the shop
Miss Goldie’s understanding
Working on oneself, as Alexander wanted of us — a 2 day workshop
Alexander had no one to show him what to do, or exchange with, as he developed the technique. He later said: “You can do what I do if you do what I did!” and he was disappointed on the first training course that many of his students did not want to engage with this deep process.
The method we are exploring in this workshop is how the technique came about. Using this moment by moment rediscovery of the technique for ourselves can bring in power & aliveness to our technique that can be much more rewarding for ourselves & our pupils.
Two teachers on the first training course had understood what FM was after. Miss Goldie went on to work alongside him for thirty years, kept house for him, and looked after him till he died, hearing his closest thoughts. Erica Whittaker travelled abroad after qualifying, working only on herself for three years before starting teaching. They both, in their last years, were passionate in attempting to communicate this understanding before they died. I was lucky enough to work with both.
The workshop will explore my understanding of Miss Goldie's knowledge of this profound, subtle level of the technique.
- The emphasis is on really how to stop, and "come to quiet" as Miss Goldie would say. We will explore true stopping, not just pausing; from which an entirely new way of carrying out an action can come about.
- The importance also of saying yes and allowing life to flow.
- Use of the eyes, and keeping the mind in the brain, rather than wandering through the body to check sensations.
- The crucial differences between feeling and awareness; mind and attention.
- So we discover Miss Goldie's understanding of working on yourself in everyday life and in teaching: how to let the body integrate, so it can show you how to move!
- She felt: only from this basis could we be true teachers of FM's work. We will also discuss how to introduce this approach with pupils.
The first day
In this workshop, for the first day we will look at working on ourselves in this deeper way in everyday tasks. On the second, using these ideas we’ll look at working on ourselves as we work on each other.
So on the first day we’ll use a set of games to communicate the basic principles to “give oneself a lesson” as Goldie would say.
Mind in the brain
An exploration of how we subtly use feeling feedback, and how that actually tightens us. How do we REALLY keep the mind out of it?
How to be aware of your body without interfering. An exploration of directions without doing.
Ball games and “No” games
Discovering true stopping, from which the brain sorts out the task itself. This is real inhibition, or coming to quiet, as Goldie would call it.
To find space from things and people, and also bring us to quiet.
Putting this all together, to make discoveries about the technique, of how to use ourselves in all the activities of everyday life.
The second day
On day 2 we’ll make an exploration of working on each other without interfering with ourselves or the other; exploring space and quiet as we put hands; staying out of habitual teaching patterns, being in ourselves and aware of the pupil simultaneously; and letting the process teach us. We’ll explore attachment to the pupil, & how to let go of it.
The weekend was wonderful, thank you so much. I feel there is so much to learn and am looking forwards to the process. I used ball games and the table-work you showed us yesterday and my pupil loved it. She felt she learned a huge amount about reaction and connection. When I asked her to think of her mind in her brain, she said she felt so light and tall, almost as though she was floating away (so I got her to connect with her feet too!).
She had always loved table work, but was bowled over by the new stuff. It was a challenge for me to stay with myself all lesson – as you can imagine I did not achieve it, but every little helps. And at least I was trying. Even being present to myself a few feet from the table helped her to calm down. At the end of the table work, she commented that she felt it was the first time in her life that she had ever been really still.” – Sarah Compton, AT teacher
See the Calendar for dates and booking info
Natural breathing and strengthening the back
A workshop, based on the work of Miss Goldie
In this weekend workshop we will explore natural breathing: the breathing the body wants to do for itself. Natural breathing can only happen when we are present and quiet. So we will start with the three parameters of Workshop 1: mind in the brain, eyes out on the subject, & coming to a true stop, so we can observe the breath without interfering.
I use four approaches to accessing our natural breathing, each of which bring in a different part of the breath. We will work with each, & then explore integrating them.
First, we will consider why Miss Goldie worked so much around the lower ribs. Both she and Erica Whittaker considered that many teachers of the technique were fixing here, to a greater or lesser degree, to maintain the prized straight back. To allow natural breathing here brings in a different quality & strength to the back, including what Miss Goldie called the lifter muscles. Secondly, we’ll explore breathing into the pelvic floor, (as Pilates teaches, though in a much more doing way!) This brings us into a different relationship with the legs & feet. Engaging the lifter muscles & legs in this way brings in strength, lightness & lift throughout the body.
Thirdly, we’ll explore breathing into the belly centre, the hara, as taught by eastern methods like Qi gong. This is the centre of gravity of the body, & centres & stabilises our body & being. It brings deep relaxation, energy and warmth.
Fourthly, we’ll bring the awareness of breathing back to the upper body and heart, then to neck and head. This brings lightness & quickness of movement, & also joy. When the breathing is in the upper body without closing off the lower body, the torso becomes completely upright and self-supporting, bringing great strength to the upper back, shoulders and arms.
These are, of course, all part & parcel of the same thing, which is an expansion of the whole torso, the whole body, even the whole being, on each in breath; & a complete out breath, with corresponding movement through the whole body & being. Each part of the breath, in & out, has both pure relaxation & yet real work being done.
We will work in pairs: exploring space and quiet as we put hands; being in ourselves and aware of the pupil simultaneously; and learning to apply this work to pupils as we learn to find it ourselves. Through this we will bring the awareness into hands and arms. We are letting the whole body be fully alive, right through to fingers & toes, as we so rarely are. Again, this is what Miss Goldie was teaching us to do.
On the second day we will put hands as we explore taking this into strengthening the back for ourselves and others:
By getting the torso breathing naturally, we will discover how to use the lifter muscles and other natural mechanisms to engage the strength of the torso naturally and dynamically on every part of the breath, and how also to activate the strength of the legs in this. We will explore what the oppositions are and how they fit in this picture. How instead of releasing the body we are moving to reintegrate it.
We will use all this to explore monkey, squat, sitting, lifting and walking.
Also to explore some of the first generation procedures that I encountered, that seem to have been lost.
See the Calendar for dates and booking info
Find Your Boundaries!
Boundaries are a major issue for many Alexander teachers. Many teachers hold themselves small with their pupils and in the world. We get pulled in caring for pupils, and lose ourselves; some pupils are highly invasive, and can leave us drained; some dump their stuff on us. Then we carry them, worrying about them in the name of caring; or worrying about whether we are good enough, or they like us…. All these are patterns we have probably played out for years with families, partners, friends, work or social situations.
We will look at how to take up our full size and grounding again (we cannot fully lengthen and widen without this!) How to separate people’s baggage they chuck at us from what they are trying to tell us. How to let go of carrying them or their problems with us, and find our self esteem. How to keep our space when standing beside someone working on them, and how to teach them to let go of you!
All this gives space for the real technique to work, and real, deep change to happen. It brings us into empathy rather than sympathy, and out of co-dependent games. We can then fully look after ourselves while working, and yet be fully present for our pupils.
Emotional clearing workshops for Alexander technique teachers and therapists
Emotions Toolbox One: Unpack your emotional baggage and clear it!
It is crucial for all therapists to be emotionally clear, but particularly for Alexander technique teachers. To make the real changes in brain level that Alexander technique can achieve for ourselves or pupils, requires being fully present, quiet and clear. Emotion gets in the way of this, because it clouds our thinking, stops us being present, boundaried or grounded, and creates physical tension. While training courses address a certain amount of this, it is not their job to address our full emotional baggage package; that is our own ongoing job. This is also true for all other therapies, and continuing self work to stay emotionally clear is crucial to being a good practitioner. Hence this workshop: a set of 10 simple yet powerful techniques for all aspects of our emotional life. Once learned, they are also easily used with pupils, where emotional blocks or distress states are getting in the way or blocking progress.
There are three main areas to these techniques: grounding & personal space; nurturing yourself; and clearing emotional states. The methods are visuals & guided meditations, and always centred on the body, because emotional states are also always in the body. They are designed to complement the Alexander work, to be an extension of the work into the emotional sphere.
I need my own space
Saturday am: I need my own space but I do want company & relationships Many sensitive people wall or shrink against the world, & find social situations, relatives, or people generally, overwhelming or difficult. But often they long for human company! These are techniques to find proper boundaries that are not barriers; & grounding, & confidence, alone and with people. So we learn ground and to find & maintain our own space with clients, acquaintances or strangers, public speaking or performing, or just in occupying one’s own space around friends and family. The third technique is for being over – caring or anxious about children and loved ones.
Nurturing yourself out of co-dependency
Saturday pm: This material is for those who feel in any way, consciously or unconsciously: unloved, unheard, invisible, or that others are indifferent or uncaring; or feel they have to look after everyone to justify their existence. We will use inner child work firstly in the present, to discover what we are feeling and meet our own needs better, and to release big emotions from ourselves, our muscles and or organs. This can be very useful for mystery illnesses. Secondly, to build a new childhood experience of nurture and support, which can give a new strong foundation to our new strong adult selves. And thirdly, to clear trauma in childhood.
Clearing your emotional stuff
Sunday am: The classic psychotherapy model is that we only have to articulate our problems, and that will clear them. Unfortunately for most people it is not true! In recent years various models for emotional clearing have been developed, most of which are complicated. My main method, called Same Size technique, draws on these, but is a lot simpler. We will look at several aspects: classifying emotions and recognising what emotion we are feeling, especially when we have gone numb or absent; then clearing these with Same size technique, discovering the ego/inadequacy seesaw. We can then learn to speak our truth safely. We will explore methods for safe release of anger, with Alexander awareness. We will also run through a group of simple mental techniques for calming and meeting our needs, that can bring about profound change.
Putting it all together
Sunday pm: What method to choose in what context? We will work with emotional issues, present and past, to demonstrate how to use this full palette of techniques to cover any situation, & bring healing and peace to body & mind.
Full methodologies as recordings and scripts, will be available as downloads to workshop participants.
See the Calendar for dates and booking info
Finding the red meditation in the morning gives me a good foundation throughout my day. If I miss it for a few days...something clearly is missing, and I tend to rush more through conversations, activities, becoming a bit fiery. Practising 'pumping up' my boundaries helped me pretty much right away not losing myself completely in a couple of challenging moments with my daughter (15). The occasional blow-up seemed much less of a blow up, more a flare up and if I could keep my boundaries up and stay grounded, my daughter transformed during these moments into a sweet young girl smooth like honey.”
– Michaela Wohlgemuth, teacher of Alexander technique
Emotions Toolbox Two
The aim of this workshop will be to delve deeper into the underlying issues from childhood, that have left us feeling anxious, insecure, uncertain, unnurtured, oversensitive, unheard, unsupported (etc…) as adults. Particularly this workshop will focus on issues around food and nourishment; around our bodies, nakedness and sexuality; around feeling okay and secure in any situation; able to take criticism constructively; able to feel heard and to be able to be creative; and to feel an equal, loving and loved, member of our social circle, family or society. We will work towards feeling truly equal and same size in all our relationships.
The aim always is to sort our stuff so we can open more fully into our potential expanded selves, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We can then be more present to others, more compassionate, & better able to facilitate people’s processes, whether pupils / clients, children or family or friends etc. We also will build confidence in using this material with clients or family.
Read more about what the Emotions Toolbox Two workshop encompasses:
Revision of workshop one
Sat am: We will start by revisiting the major techniques we learnt on the first workshop, particularly red meditation; boundaries, and kicking people out of our personal space; using inner child as an access to our body ‘s current reality and feelings; same size technique, and the basics of speaking our truth. There will be opportunity here to reconnect with any of the methods you haven’t used or truly grasped so far, ask questions & share experiences. As this weekend progresses, hopefully all the techniques will be used again in different ways, so this weekend will also serve to strengthen your connection to the material of the first workshop, while also developing it & taking your process forwards.
The chakras as a diagnostic tool
The first workshop started with the base chakra (grounding, red meditation), & then moved to the second chakra with the nurturing birth meditation. This workshop will work (albeit loosely) through the other chakras, and build an awareness of how to use a problem in any particular chakra as a diagnostic tool.
Food & nourishment issues
Ideal mother meditation, breastfeeding: through this ideal mother meditation we will look at issues round food, especially sweet foods, & how to receive the nourishment we really require. We will then do a practical exploration, with sweet foods (or other trigger foods as needed), to which we bring our Emotions Toolbox. The aim is to feel comfortable & balanced around any foods, so we can make good choices for ourselves in any moment, & use conscious eating that nourishes us at all levels. We can play with this over lunch & subsequent meals.
Experiencing our whole body as ok – nakedness & sexuality issues
Ideal mother meditation
Sat pm: Ideal mother meditation: burping & nappy changing, to experience our whole baby body & all our bodily functions as equally acceptable.
Liquid light meditation
Liquid light meditation, coming into the whole body. For those who have not done this with me, it is like red meditation for the whole body, & a chance to find empty or difficult areas.
Through discussion & visualising, we will explore nakedness & whole body confidence. Then we can work here as the group chooses, using our Emotional Toolbox. Possibilities include: feeling comfortable with being seen naked; how to work with our own sexual blocks, by working through the chakras; how to deal with over-sexuality / inappropriate sexual feelings; how to work with sexual trauma, childhood or other.
Okayness, being heard
Sun am: Okayness, feeling secure, having space and time, being heard. We will do four ideal parent meditations, & intersperse as needed with revisiting childhood experiences, or current life situations.
- Attachment issues, meditation on feeling really secure & supported by ideal Mum (& Dad) figures.
- Boundaries: feeling there is space & time for me.
- I am okay – being yourself, not right or wrong, good or bad: experiencing being able to receive correction safely.
- 5th chakra: being heard, expressing creativity.
Community, sharing & love
Sun pm: Many of us feel: it’s all down to me, I’m alone in the world, no one cares, always feeling on the edge of things or out of the loop, I have to give in order to be loved / I feel I’m a taker, feeling my emotions aren’t genuine, etc. in this final part we will explore coming from feeling like a lone tree surviving against all odds in a desolate landscape, to feeling like a tree supported by other trees in a wood, an experience of sharing and equality. So we discover ourselves as part of a community.
Exploring the real core of the heart: “I am”, which comes before love. Contacting our hearts for real.
From there we can come to sharing rather than giving & taking; discovering unconditional love, & feeling a part of our group / society / family.
Conclusion: healing relationships in our lives
We will review our relationships in the light of the discoveries we have made during this workshop. We will especially focus on healing current relationships with Same Size technique.
See the Calendar for dates and booking info
Thank you for an amazing weekend! I got so much out of it. Lots has filtered down in last 2 days and been particularly practicing – I want/I need, and staying on top of the "I'll JUST do..." powerful stuff!”
– Grace, counsellor
Alexander technique as relationship, to myself and my world.
A workshop based on the teachings of Miss Goldie.
Coming to quiet is crucial for us in the modern world, so we can come into the present, relating to myself and my surroundings simultaneously. Exploring ourselves and our use is a living process.
When I come from quiet, coordinated poised action comes spontaneously out of intention, in complete relationship to myself and my environment. Then my use becomes freer, more alive, more real, and I can find my comfortable space with others, neither invading nor being invaded by them, able to meet their eyes with confidence and without fear.
This is crucial in a world which is increasingly set up to avoid human contact (communicating by cell phone or Facebook only) or be afraid of each other (you might be an ISIS member!)
We will explore coming fully present and conscious, with mind in the brain, being fully present throughout my body, yet also totally present to the room. Then we will take this into working on each other, keeping our space without interfering or invading. We will explore face to face contact without being drawn in, or going into social smiling.