This week my voice changed. Reading aloud in class I noticed easier breathing and a richer resonance coming from a deeper place inside me. It’s taken a long time as muscle tension has only slowly undone and responded to Alexander work.
I welcomed it on Tuesday, but sometimes this muscle release has been awkward, as if I’m going through a second adolescence. At these points my usual way of being no longer fits, brain and limbs don’t mesh and nothing works. I can’t move as I did before but haven’t yet found a replacement. After sitting it out in teenage limbo for a while something shifts, new connections form and a different me starts to emerge. Like a breaking voice it’s unpredictable, but gradually I gain in confidence, the old pattern fades and I learn to trust my new self.
A second level of mental letting go comes as part and parcel of the new physical freedom. I’ve found new patterns of thinking emerging, unstoppable and fresh like blossom after the cold contraction of winter. I’m becoming more open and lively in all aspects of myself with less need to hold on to the safe ground of what I know.
In the wake of this has come the capacity, gently at first, to let go even more deeply. Life changes on a broader scale, inconceivable a few years ago, become a glint in the eye. From being desirable they slowly seem manageable then after a while inevitable. Greater awareness, clarity and vitality are beginning to make profound change possible.
I’ve just let go of something important and long-standing in my life. For 35 years I’ve had a share of a small piece of land with an old stone cottage set into a steep wooded hillside in rural France – an antidote to London living and holding deep-rooted memories for me and family and friends. It’s been a formative, long-term and joint project with others. But now we’ve signed the papers and handed over the keys.
Before I left I laid my hands on the once yellow cornerstone where long ago an unknown mason had painstakingly carved two distinguishing marks, perhaps to ensure payment for his work. I passed the care of the traditional stone bread oven over to its resident adder, knowing I would never now fire it up and bake. I visited the small pool of spring water below the house where the wild boar come to wallow in the mud, snorting their way through woodland at dusk, heard but rarely seen. I lay one last time in the hammock, lizards rustling in the leaves below and the oak and hornbeam holding me swaying in the late afternoon breeze as the cuckoo song echoed down the valley.
Letting go at any of these levels has been emotional and uncomfortable and I’ve needed energy, courage and time. It’s been a multi-layered process and will continue in other forms long after the end of my training. I feel loss and sadness for what I’ve left behind, but I’m relieved and lighter, intrigued about what comes next. The patterns and places of the past have served their purpose but they’re no longer what I need to move freely into the future.
Bories (stone shepherds’ huts) and lavoirs (communal washing places) in south-west France