Andrea Beesley

My name is Paul G....... and I am a 20 year old student from England, currently on an exchange for one semester here in Australia. This trip has been quite incredible and i'd like to briefly explain why that has been the case.....

Why I had Alexander lessons...
From an early age through my rugby playing, I became deeply interested in fitness training. I decided at the age of 16 that I wanted a career in the Royal Marines and began a training program that would hopefully enable me to reach a level good enough to be awarded a scholarship through university. I decided that I would study Sports Science which would further my knowledge in an area which would be of obvious benefit in my chosen career.

As my training progressed my running times did not improve and I started to get pains in my lower legs. As this worsened I sought medical advice and subsequently had an operation to "cure" the problem. The timing of this however meant that a scholarship was out of the question. The plan was therefore to enter after university, giving myself plenty of time to recover and train; this was something I never believed would be so difficult.... how wrong I was.

As I got back into training, although the leg problems had disappeared, I started to develop back pain. This initially occurred during running but over months this backache became more common during all activities. The situation became much worse over the next couple of years to the point that when I initially arrived in Sydney in February this backache was constant throughout the day and of much greater intensity. In addition, I had started ti get groin and knee pain. It is impossible to give a full account of the people I went to see, or the processes I went through in those last two years. I saw endless amounts of physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, doctors and specialists; all of whom came up with different "diagnosis"! One specialist told me I had a disease of the spine.... the other from Harley Street, although confronted with extensive x-rays, blood tests and scans, all of which came back "normal", told me that I had to live with my pain and to give up any idea of a career in the forces and to "pursue a normal career"!

I really decided to come out to Australia as a last resort, and worked hard to become eligible for the exchange. I had completely lost faith with the English medical system and could not believe that there was nothing that could be done. As soon as I arrived I started researching all possibilities. Miraculously the mother of the family I was staying with was undertaking the three year training course in the Alexander Technique, and it was her that determinedly persuaded me to "try" a few lessons at least!

What I learned and gained from the Technique...
Where do I start! Well first of all the technique made me realise how much I pulled myself down in my day to day activities, and how the general misuse of my body was exacerbated whilst I was training. It enabled me to become more aware of my body parts and how I responded to various stimuli. The best example comes from the operation I had on my legs: It was the muscle at the front of my lower legs which needed the operation as there was too much pressure; therefore the operation entailed slicing the muscle sheath so that this pressure could be released. Through the technique I realised that I had the habit of pulling my toes up, and that when I walked my toes would lift up first as if to initiate the movement. I couldn't believe that something so simple had caused my problem; no doctors, specialists, physios... etc. had picked up on this simple cause!

I learnt to trust the thinking process even though things didn't "feel" right, even as I experienced aches and pains all over my body as a result of projecting the new directions. Through reading Alexander's books alongside my lessons it has enabled me to understand the simple principles of the technique more fully. I have learnt how powerful our thinking is, never realising before how any thought we have, conscious or subconscious, can have such an impact upon our physical state; and most importantly by consciously and continuously thinking the directions necessary for the primary control in wherever or whatever we do, we can heighten our level of functioning above that which we before believed possible.

Needless to say I am now free from the hip, knee and back pain which I have had for the last couple of years. I have "tried" to apply the technique to every minutes of the day and especially to my running and swimming training which I do so much love. I find it incredible how I am now able to run 10 miles at a time, when before I arrived in Australia I could not run for any longer that 10 minutes without experiencing considerable pain! It is the most incredible "technique of life" which has made me realise how "I" am responsible for myself. I realise now that whatever stimuli I experience in the future, I myself have the power to be in control and not let other people or situations exert and influence over me that I do not desire. The Alexander Technique has changed my physical state, attitude and mental outlook in more ways that I can describe. I am now heading back to England determined to undertake the three year training course before I do anything else.

What would I say to new pupils?...
Congratulations! You have discovered the most important and fundamental "living" technique, and if you stick with it and trustingly employ the principles you will be repaid in more ways than you ever believed possible. I guarantee you that any pain you had or still have, will gradually disappear over time, but remember that "time" is of the essence. I also encourage you to read in unison with your lessons, and by that I mean the books by F. M. Alexander himself and Walter Carrington, which I believe are the best.

The Technique will challenge many of your preconceived ideas and although sometimes the way ahead may seem rather foggy, if you stick with the process there is blue sky and brilliant sunshine ahead. My last four months has been an incredible learning process, and it is rather funny how at the times when I felt that I wasn't getting anywhere, that was the time when I was really learning the most. Employ the principles and forget about trying to be "right". As Alexander said, "If we could only stop the tremendous effort of trying to be right, we might actually be able to reach our desired end"!

Keep going and enjoy yourself....

Paul G.

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Teacher of the Alexander Technique