Some of you know that I do a lot of horseback riding. Well a few weeks ago, I was riding and had a fairly intense fall. Just for full disclosure, I didn't actually fall off the horse. We were jumping some very small fences, and the horse tripped and fell through one of the fences instead of picking his feet up and jumping over it. To make a long story short, he fell flat on his face. The good news is that I was thrown away from him, so he didn't land on me; the bad news is that I fell hard on my left side.
I was in a lot of pain afterwards, so I went and had an x–ray. Luckily, nothing was broken and there was no damage to my shoulder joint. I had badly bruised ribs and something of a frozen shoulder. Why am telling you this sob story? Because, thanks to the Alexander Technique, there was a happy ending.
I decided to set aside my biases about the technique (as you know, I think it's the best thing since sliced bread!) and actually try some of the things that I tell my students. Over the years, I've worked with a great many people who were in pain. I have a lot of expertise in that area: I have a lot of thoughts and ideas about what you can do when you're in pain.
But the fact is that I myself have experienced very little physical pain in my life.
On the other hand, after that fall, I was in pain – probably not nearly as much pain as some of you have experienced, but serious enough. So here was the perfect opportunity to put the Alexander Technique to the test. Would all those things I say to my students actually work in my case? Well, the amazing thing is that they did – and very quickly!
So what do I tell my students – and what did I focus on myself? The most important thing had to do with not holding onto the trauma of the fall – or more accurately, not holding onto the tension that had built up around the fall.
Many people come to see me for lessons a year or two after something traumatic has happened to them, for example a car accident or a bad fall. By that time, all the obvious injuries have long since healed – and yet they're still experiencing chronic, nagging pain. That pain is caused by a long–term, unconscious response to the accident that's both emotional and physical.
Next week, I'll describe my version of that response after I fell, and how I dealt with it.