Ever since I broke my leg when I was a teenager, I’ve been bothered now and then with back pain. Largely a consequence of that mended but wonky leg, the dull ache reminds me sometimes that I’ve got to listen to my body.
Over the years, I’ve seen osteopaths, practiced pilates to make my core strength rock solid, got fit and strong, and am now trying yoga for some extra mobility (which is helping enormously! Hurray).
One other thing that helped in my 20s was lessons in Alexander Technique. An holistic physical practice of posture and re-balancing, Alexander Technique teaches how to use our body (and breath) as children would – well, efficiently, lightly, playfully, all in alignment. It really helped me at the time, and for years after, and taught me how to look after my posture more. When you see me now, however, crunched up at my drawing desk, you might wonder if I ever did it. Perhaps I have fallen into bad habits again.
One thing that did always stick with me from my lessons though, was the concept of keeping a ‘light gaze’. The theory is that we should move our eyes and attention around a lot; keeping our gaze soft and light, blinking more, rolling our eyes. Not letting them get strained and fixed, especially at computers, screens or books. In short, respect our eyes for their amazing facility and look after them. Be mindful of our vision, perhaps.
Now, my gaze is not always light. My gaze can get intense, consuming, direct, worried, slightly obsessive. My gaze can fall on the boiler doing that weird thing again and get consumed by it all weekend. My gaze in this state will struggle to pay attention to family, friends and happiness, preferring to stare hard at the ‘problem’ until the poor old boiler is melting a bit from my laser like attention.
I’m sorry, truly I am. This blog is celebrating good things. And that’s today’s good thing – that I’m sorry. I’ve realised. I’ve texted the plumber, who I hope has clear, calm, diagnostic eyesight and can also plumb in new washing machines.
I wish I was different. I’ll work on it.
You can roll your eyes now.
More on the Alexander Technique: