Today I was talking with a friend about unraveling patterns and she lamented that she needed a few new routines to help her focus and create more order in her life.
My friend resigned from a job she’d had for 23 years about 10 months ago. She’d been less than satisfied with the job for a few years. Management was in disarray and beginning to harass long-time employees by arbitrarily changing schedules, work loads, policies, and working conditions. While the workplace environment had been steadily declining for several years, she still had hope that things would turn around. Then, management informed her that her work hours would be reduced while her job responsibilities remained the same. Realizing that the new schedule would make it impossible for her to complete her duties well, she chose to reject the stress this would cause her and resigned.
Talking with my friend I realized that the idea of unraveling or unwinding patterns is fine when things are under our control. But when an outside force suddenly disrupts our patterns and habits, we can be left adrift. My friend had organized her life – shopping, cleaning, gardening, cooking, exercise routine, visiting friends – around her job schedule. With only two weeks notice, this routine was gone.
While the sudden elimination of a long time routine opens up time and energy for new opportunities, the lack of an organizing structure can leave us feeling like we’re swimming in mud.
How can we use the Alexander Technique to move ourselves through this muddy time more easily?
Realizing we’re stuck in mud is the first step. Understanding that our impulse to jump out right away, get a new job, or find a new structure, is a reaction is the second step. This realization puts us in a place of being able to make choices. Before making a decision about what to do next, if we ask “how easy is my neck?” we give ourselves time and emotional space to look at options and not react in habitual ways.
We might find that a little quiet time in this place of not knowing what is next allows us to discover some new skills, catch up on personal projects, or just recover. When something from outside us breaks a primary organizing routine, we often need time to heal.
These outside events can be anything: losing a job, breaking a bone, moving, or having surgery. Upheaval from external sources happens all the time. Charles R. Swindle said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
Since I’ve been working with the Alexander Technique I have reframed this: Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we dance with it!