User Requested Permanent Ban
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Seattle, WA
I'm at least an inch taller now
Social Anxiety Background
Social anxiety has affected me since I was in elementary school. While it was triggered initially by a traumatic experience, it is something that runs in the family and I certainly had a predisposition for. Some examples of how it manifested itself over the years: avoiding certain types of social situations and friends, avoiding public speaking, avoiding the opposite sex completely, hiding in the library during lunch, the thought of just walking down certain hallways at my highschool terrified me, fear of being around large groups of people, fear and avoidance of going to parties or social gatherings, etc. My social anxiety started to get severe when I dropped out of college after one quarter because of my social anxiety. That's when I started to get uncomfortable just leaving my apartment and hit "the bottom" so to speak. Through treatment with group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming (EMDR) for mild Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and medication I've been able to live the balanced life that I value and form healthy friendships and relationships.
Exercise could be seen as similar in that it involves using your body, but I don't either is a substitute for the other. Both are beneficial in different ways.
How do I explain Alexander Technique? I don't really know, so I'll just jump into my motivation for taking it originally.
I'm tall and lanky. 6'3" and 170 pounds. I've always had a terrible posture. Hunchback could be used to describe me. I didn't like the fact that I had a bad posture, but couldn't seem to "will" my way out of it.
One thing I pursued to try to correct it was a DVD program called Power Posture where you would do posture stretches everyday to help improve your posture.
It didn't work. I would still with a bad posture at the computer and bad posture while standing and walking around, ESPECIALLY when I was anxious. I would bend in my back to lower myself to other people's levels becaues I didn't believe I should stand above people (this was all unconscious).
In the back of mind I think I knew that it wasn't that my muscles were limiting me from having good postures, it was just that I'd learned bad habits and was having a lot of trouble breaking those habits. Focusing on my posture consciously just increased my anxiety too, which was frustrating.
With that, I took a leap of faith and tried Alexander Technique. I've been doing it for about six months every week or every other week.
How did it go?
Well as I write this my back is completely flat and I'm sitting up straight and it's completely natural for me. When I walk around it's the same story. People who have known me for a while regularly comment on how much taller I am, including my mom, and jokingly comment that I must still be growing. I've learned that good use of my body is not just a physical thing, but very much mental as well, it's a reflection of your self that you are projecting to others.
What does Alexander Technique actually involve (most descriptions don't make much sense)?
It's pretty simple. You work with a practitioner who does very simple exercises with you, sitting, standing and laying down while touching and rubbing different parts of your body. There are times when I'm out and about when it feels like my practitioners hand is on my back reminding me to keep it flat. How cool!
The one thing that is a limiting factor with it is the cost. In most cases you work one on one with a certified practitioner. While it's covered by insurance in the UK, as far as I know it is not covered anywhere else.
That being said, I highly recommend this to anyone with social anxiety as part of their path to living the life they want to.