I’ve been drafting this post in my head for a while. Many of you know that my father passed away suddenly in mid-November, and the last four months have been spent getting my 90-year-old mom settled into assisted living and completing all the insurance and Social Security paperwork while continuing to teach my piano classes and Alexander lessons. In terms of hours-per-week I had a fairly easy schedule, all things considered, but the emotional cost has been very, very high.
What I’ve learned over the last 4 months is that Alexander Technique is not enough. It’s not enough to think of a free neck and grounded sitting bones while shuffling through insurance claim forms. It’s not enough to think of how my feet contact the floor while walking my mom down the hall to the doctor’s office. Conscious breathing is nearly impossible, some days. And then…COVID-19 happened. So if you are also finding yourself thinking that those Alexander lessons were all well and good but NOW WHAT DO I DO, you are in good company!
Because AT was not enough, I did lots of other things. I started a workout program with an amazing local instructor, Coach Jessica Sprenkel. I started meditating with the app Headspace. I did yoga at the Tulsa YMCA. I continued to journal (sporadically, to be honest) and take anxiety medication and talk to my therapist and also I cried a lot. I knit and sewed and spun wool. There was some music practice in there too. I would look at online lists about activities to calm yourself down if you’re stressed out and realize that there was hardly anything left for me to do.
And I realized something! I could work out without pulling or straining muscles – of course, I was sore, but I wasn’t overdoing it. I could sit to meditate for 15 or 20 minutes without my back hurting. I could knit without hurting my hands. I could look at that pile of paperwork and not panic…too much…and see the steps I needed to take to manage it. I’ve also noticed that, while ‘trouble spots’ are making themselves felt right now (mostly the shoulders), I am able to take just a minute and work through what I’m doing to cause the shoulders to tighten up, and then think about releasing them. All we have right now are baby steps. I’m celebrating being able to take care of myself without causing excess physical or mental stress – and it’s because of Alexander Technique. I hope that you can find a little bit of space for yourself in the middle of everything and celebrate along with me.