Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Power of Attention

About a year ago I was sent a book "Faith and the Placebo Effect" by its author, Lolette Kuby. She had taken an interest in some of my online posts in relation to a new book she's writing. I finished reading it in the last few weeks. I now wish I'd moved it up my reading list as it was fascinating.

The basic message of the book is that we have the power to heal ourselves using our belief system - our thoughts. She gives numerous examples of how your attitudes and expectations influence your body's repair mechanisms, even if you are not actually receiving any "conventional" medical treatment. A professor of literature, rather than a medical author, her authority for writing was the positive effect she had had on herself by invoking her own placebo response to breast cancer through positive thinking.

This got me thinking about how the Alexander Technique produces its peripheral effect of improved physical well-being purely by employing conscious inhibition and direction to the use of the self.

Well, we know that "use affects functioning" or in other words - if you use your body with undue tension you can cause physical problems. Use it well and you can improve your health and well-being. We also know that the body is a "psycho-physical mechanism" - in effect, what you think affects the way your body functions. But, there is another thing to take into consideration: it depends where you direct your attention.

I did some further research on the placebo effect and came across David Hamilton, a former research scientist working for a pharmaceutical company. In the following lecture, he explains how a positive attitude, properly directed can cause beneficial effects at a cellular level and can even affect our DNA.

Dr. David Hamilton: The Placebo Effect (5 of 9)

If you have time I recommend that you watch all 9 of the videos in this series.

In an AT lesson our attention is drawn to areas of undue tension and poor use. We are encouraged to think 'up' and to release the tension. We change the way we 'hold' ourselves in the context of the whole self. In 'directing' the head forward and up, lengthening the spine, widening the upper part of the arms and sending our knees forward and away, we are systematically putting our attention in the areas that Alexander realised were key to good use and functioning.

Bearing in mind Dr. Hamilton's revelations about the effects this can have on us at the most fundamental level of our functioning, it's hardly surprising that after say 6 months of studying AT, many pupils are transformed beyond mere postural improvement.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

You really should read this

I have the privilege of calling Ian Robb a friend. You would go a long way to meet a nicer gentleman.

I met Ian through my AT work when he came to me for some Alexander lessons. It didn't take long for me to realise that he was the sort of person I wanted to get to know socially as well. Subsequently my wife and I have met-up with Ian and his partner Zofia.

It wasn't until months after his first lesson that he happened to recount a harrowing experience he'd had being stuck in a lift. Being a bit of an amateur "bard" he had written a short story to describe that event. WOW! What an amazing thing.

He has given me permission to publish the story on my web site. I recommend that you read it - all the way through - then tell me what you thought.

Going Up? A true story by Ian Robb (PDF format)

There is also an article about Ian on page 5 of the Marlow Free press 02/09/2011 (September) edition I was late - I ran to the lift.