Hot flushes at forty-two. I would have minded less without all the “gosh, that’s SO early!” “Oh dear, you’re very young for that, aren’t you?” - as if I’d somehow chosen to initiate my own menopause. Soon after, knee symptoms appeared - arthritis. Now I was appalled. Then my right hip joint deteriorated fast and became immensely painful. The triple whammy: I was told I needed a replacement.
I decided to wear my best brave face and do everything in my power to ameliorate if not reverse my symptoms. I tried every diet, drug, herb, exercise and therapy I could find; some helped a little, others went seriously wrong. In one way, of course, exploring every avenue was a very positive thing to be doing; but I was struggling mentally.
I blamed myself for not having taken better care of myself. I’d never enjoyed exercise; I was in the ‘last three picked for the team’ category at school. At university I tried running. Something wasn’t right, I couldn’t work out what; but running was arduous and painful, and I could build up neither time nor distance. I gave up on all ‘formal’ exercise except Pilates. I hoped child rearing, housekeeping and dog walking would be enough. Now I was old before my time, deteriorating, pain-drained and wretched.
Then I found that the Alexander Technique helped, with sensible concepts and principles (like moving more easily by doing less - how I loved that!) that I could actually implement. I trained as a teacher, loved every minute, and now adore teaching.
I still occasionally find myself secretly wishing for perfect, painless movement, which has never happened. Vain hope is cruel and best avoided; but I’m human.
There has most certainly been improvement, mind you. Granted, it’s idle to speculate now on how life would be without the Technique; but my guess is, I’d be way more incapacitated and medicalised.
It turns out I was born with an asymmetrical spinal anomaly, which quite possibly contributed to one hip wearing out. So, are none of my problems of my own making, or are some self-generated? It’s most likely a mixture. Maybe it’s not all my fault… but it is my responsibility to do the best I can with what I’ve got.
But what percentage is my condition and what percentage is my response to my condition? Opinion varies daily, sometimes hourly. On a bad day (say with a big flare-up accompanying a cold), I’ll bleat, “definitely 80% condition!”
But most of the time I maintain the ‘old lioness’ attitude and reverse the ratio to as low as 20% condition and 80% response.
When a problem arises, how we respond makes every difference. Our reactions can become more of a problem than the problem itself.
This is why the Alexander Technique is so important to me. Mr. Alexander himself called it “primarily a technique for the control of human reaction.”
Improved (note, not ‘total’!) control of my reactions is the single biggest thing that has helped me manage my body more successfully and even learn to love it again.
If any of this resonates with you, I’m ready and so willing to be on your team and do all I can to help; because Alexander’s technique is for me, and could be for you, the realistic help that makes life a whole lot better.