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Become the powerful artist you are meant to be!

June 21, 2016

I’m having a bit of an emotional morning. I’ve just realized something important and surprising, and I want to share it with you. It’s a personal story with huge implications.

I’ve been going through a lot of ups and downs lately. Half a year ago, I moved out of the house I’d been living in for more than ten years, ending a 25-year marriage that began when I was 20. I can hardly express how dramatically my life has changed since making that decision. The most wonderful and beautiful things have been happening to me, but the road of separation and change is a rocky one, and sometimes the bumps hurt. A lot.

My relationship with my violin often reflects what’s happening in my life in general, so it’s interesting that my ah-ha moment of the morning was related to that.

Recently, I wrote about how excited I’ve been to be practicing the violin again for myself. I’ve only committed to doing a few minutes every day (and there are plenty of days I’ve skipped), but those minutes have been far richer and more rewarding than most of the work I’ve done with the violin since age 19, when I lost the desire to improve my playing. Since then, I simply maintained my skills enough to enjoy high-quality music-making with other musicians; I never had an interest in improving my skills. So this change has been very remarkable to me.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a series of challenging situations to deal with, and the Alexander Technique has been invaluable to help me negotiate them with my “chin up”.

But over the last few days, I’ve noticed that it’s been getting harder for me to stay positive in the face of certain events that have brought up a huge range of strong emotions. Interestingly, I’ve begun to neglect my violin again, and I haven’t been paying so much attention to my mind-body use. In fact, my knees have been hurting, so I’ve been more focused on pain than anything else. Of course – what you focus on, you get more of!

Alexander Technique musicians

This morning, I got up early and sat in my rocking chair for a few moments before deciding what to do next. I took a moment to appreciate the peaceful beauty of my home, and I noticed feelings of anger and unhappiness coming up again.

But, instead of going to write in my neglected journal to work through my feelings like I have in the past, I decided to stop and recite “How easy is my neck?” 100 hundred times. This is a unique practice that Alexander teacher Mio Morales introduced me to at a conference last year. It’s something I do now every time I practice my violin these days, because the results when I start playing are quite incredible.

After reciting the “cycle”, I decided to pick up my violin and experiment for just a couple minutes. I focused on wondering about the ease in my neck, noticing what happened to the ease when I wondered about it, and I watched the ease as it spread.

I wasn’t expecting what happened next.
I learned something new.

In the moment I became aware of what I was doing and learned how to stop, I was astounded. And then I cried a few tears, because learning something new is an incredibly wonderful thing. It is empowering. It is reassuring and reaffirming. It is proof of Self-value. It is proof that creation and change are possible, and that we have the power to effect – or at least participate in – that magical moment when something new occurs. A pure moment of learning is like a divine revelation.

What did I learn? Specifically, I learned that I was freezing up and isolating my right wrist, tightening my neck, compromising the quality of my movement and therefore my sound every single time I brought the bow near the string. But becoming aware of that – and then discovering how to stop doing it – was only secondary in importance to watching myself learn, and discovering how important learning is to human growth and well-being.

To remember that we don’t have to do anything, that we have time

To stop and notice our current Reality 

To exercise our freedom to choose our response to this Reality

To choose to stop and wonder about the current conditions of Reality, within and around us

To wonder about the relative ease of the neck

To wonder what happens to the ease

To watch the ease

To practice this while we partake of an activity and learn from what we observe…

This is, most surely, the key to overcoming any event in our lives that seeks to diminish us.  

In most of the world’s religions, there is a concept called “evil”. Very simply, this can be considered a force that seeks to crush the soul, separate us from ourselves, and limit life. There are many events, and also people at times, who wish to make us feel bad, hurt, small, and miserable…who seek to make us doubt ourselves. They may or may not be aware of it. But there is nothing worse in this world than a force that prods us to lose faith in the Self.

Sometimes, this force succeeds in its attempts to crush the soul. But if we understand and keep coming back to the power of living in the moment, observing Reality and realizing our freedom to choose, that force becomes utterly powerless to crush our indomitable spirit.

Once we choose to stop engaging with that force of downward pull, choosing instead to simply shine the light of awareness on the Reality that is now, discovering the unfolding of ourselves into the next moment, the nothingness of darkness/evil/ignorance simply disappears. Every time.

It constantly amazes me how much power we have
over ourselves and our lives.

May I – and may you – continue to learn more and more about the power of Self-knowledge, and use ourselves well. And may we be happy – right now! 🙂


I welcome your comments on this post. Thank you for reading!

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Alexander Technique, learning, self, self-help, self-knowledge, Self-Realization

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  1. No one, at any time, makes us feel bad; we do this to ourselves. We are never a victim of “circumstance”; we choose how to respond to our own emotions. What I’m not seeing here is how you are giving yourself permission to experience the full affect of your recent experiences (pain) and accept it for what it is: a gift and an opportunity to learn.Recently, this video came up on another website which I imagine might be of service: http://www.marieforleo.com/2016/06/marianne-williamson-spiritual-healing/ Best Wishes for your journey!

    1. “We are never a victim of ‘circumstance’; we choose how to respond to our own emotions.” Yes, I totally agree with that statement, Carol.
      I also agree with you wholeheartedly that it is essential to give ourselves permission to experience the full effect of our experiences, even painful experiences. That self-giving of permission to choose our response is what this post – and my work with The Art of Freedom and the Alexander Technique – are all about.
      However, I think what you may be missing in my post is the moment when I stopped and gave myself that permission to choose whether to experience the pain – or to NOT experience it.
      Instead of moving forward with my daily activities, I chose to stop and sit in the chair, realizing my freedom to choose which direction to go in.
      I reflected on my options, which included working at the computer, eating breakfast, or practicing my violin. Another option was to work through those painful feelings that I was all too aware of. Working through them in my usual way (by journaling, letting myself feel them fully, or through some other method) always works. I am always (thankfully!) able to turn the down into an up, even if I allow myself to go down.
      However, I am discovering more and more that it’s just not necessary for me to “go down” and experience the pain in order to heal and move into joy.
      The events of the past are OVER. The residues of thoughts and feelings may still be in my system, but choosing to focus on those simply prolongs my re-direction into peace and gratitude.
      Besides, delving into all of those thoughts and feelings is really time-consuming, and I have so many things I want to do in this life that I feel are of value – and life is short.
      I am finding that the key is NOT giving ourselves the permission and then choosing to experience the pain, but JUST the giving of permission – to do that or not.
      Sometimes, the best choice then IS to go “down” and/or experience the pain, but sometimes it’s to completely let go of it, and aim in a different direction, which is what I chose when I began to recite the “cycle”.
      The key – as you say – is to give ourselves permission (what I call realizing our freedom) to choose.
      Then, whatever we choose becomes an opportunity to learn from, as you say.
      Thank you so very much for commenting, and for your kind care.
      Best wishes on your journey, as well! 🙂

  2. This post was extraordinarily helpful to me as I adapt to retirement. Probably seems a strange stretch but adapting to change of any kind, even what one believes is a welcome change which is how I viewed retirement, is challenging and brings up all kinds of emotions that affect the body, mind and spirit. Thank you. This post is just what I needed.

    1. Dear Nanci, Thank you so much for writing. I’m so glad that you found this post helpful! Isn’t it interesting how, even though our challenges may take on very different forms, our freedom to choose our response always remains constant – as soon as we become aware of it! May you enjoy your retirement – more and more and more! 🙂

  3. My mom used to say, “stop that” and Mio would say, “you don’t need to know ‘why’ just notice your ease and go on.”

    Hardest thing for me in the early days of studying AT was letting go of analyzing why something happened. My mistaken belief was that if I just knew ‘why’ I would know how to avoid repeating the steps that produced the result I wanted to prevent in the future.

    When in fact, simply noticing “how easy is my neck” moves me into a different place and I don’t “repeat the steps”. It almost seems magical in its simplicity.

    1. I agree. The best thing about it is its magical simplicity! 🙂 Wondering with an openness to not-knowing and to All-Possibility is wonderful, but the need to know why can be a real hindrance. Thanks for this, Laura!

  4. That was so inspiring. I love the idea of making it so simple. How easy is my neck. I totally got it. Thank you so much for writing this all down. Speaking as someone else going through immense transition, I can tell you that more simple the idea, the better I like it!

  5. Dear Jennnifer,
    I just saw this post now but must thank you for writing it. You are so inspirational .
    I know that you will continue to make your life and the lives of all you contact better and richer.
    Thank you, Beret

    1. Hi Michael, I don’t know where you live, but I do teach online, inot case you’re interested in exploring that option. I’m planning on starting an online class for musicians soon, so please let me know if you’d like more information about that. Wishing you all the best! -Jennifer

    2. Hi Michael, I don’t know where you live, but I do teach online, in case you’re interested in exploring that option. I’m planning to start an online class for musicians soon, so please do let me know if you’d like more information about that. Wishing you all the best! -Jennifer

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