יום רביעי, 8 בפברואר 2012

יום שלישי, 7 בפברואר 2012

Maoz discovers simple human touch through the Alexander Technique

Maoz came to me at age five.  On asking his mother what the problem was, she answered immediately, ‘The child doesn’t allow anyone to touch him, not the caregivers, not the nursery school teacher, not his friends in the nursery school, not his grandmother, even me, his mother – he won’t let me touch him.
Maoz’s birth had been normal, but one of his heels was twisted.  At the age of two weeks, his leg was put into a cast and he began to receive physical therapy.  The treatments were painful, causing such crying that his mother decided to stop them and do the exercises herself at home.  When she saw that she also caused pain and suffering to herself and her child, she stopped the treatments completely.
This process lasted about a year.  During that time Maoz developed an opposition to every kind of physical contact.  When he was three he was treated by a psychologist for a year with no change for the better.
Later I sat quietly by myself gathering up my impressions as I had listened to the story.  I listened to what was taking place within me and allowed some hidden internal system to organize itself for the meeting with Maoz.  I made no judgments or decisions about what to do but something inside me prepared for the meeting.
When Maoz and his mother arrived for his first meeting, I invited them to my workroom to choose a game for themselves.  They sat on the floor and began to play.  I finished up a meeting with another child and then went to a different room in order to give the boy and his mother time to accustom themselves to the surroundings.  Through a small window between the rooms I could watch them without disturbing.  Maoz was clearly much slumped over and physically weak.  After several minutes, noticing that the boy felt more at ease, I asked him to come with his mother to play near the table.  As they were playing, I placed my hand on his back and began giving directions, that is to say, began to awaken his slumped back so it would lengthen upwards.  Maoz received my work with a surprising naturalness and cooperated at once with the change taking place within his back.  His mother was stunned.
At the second meeting I also invited Maoz and his mother to choose a game.  Again I gave them time to get organized but I remained in the room.  When they felt comfortable, I joined them quietly.  I became a background to Maoz’s movements, supporting him with my hands in all that he did.  This subtle support is possible because of our knowledge that the relation between neck, head and back dictates the quality of the movement in the entire body.  So I directed the correct relations in his body and aroused the same inner movement in his back.  This was done without words and without direct intervention in his game.  At the end of the meeting, when I left the room, Maoz jumped happily onto his mother and played with her with a gaiety that, his mother said, she had never before seen.
At the third meeting Maoz’s mother read a story and Maoz listened while I worked with him.  After several minutes I felt that he was tiring.  In the two previous meetings he had not agreed that I work on him on my worktable.  I suspected this was from lack of trust and fear of painful treatment.  So I suggested that he only lie on the carpet on the floor and rest.  ‘I won’t touch you,’ I assured him.  His mother suggested that she lie beside him and continue to read to him.  They arranged themselves.  Then I, having asked for and received Maoz’s permission, approached them and directed him gently.  After a few minutes I suggested that they could get up but Maoz wanted to continue lying there.  An atmosphere of tranquility and intimacy between mother and son spread in the room, seeming to me a miracle that was occurring for the first time in their lives.  Later, the mother confirmed this feeling of mine.  During the three meetings, I had not explained anything nor directed Maoz with words.
At the fourth meeting Maoz’s mother told me that, following the previous meeting, a need to understand had risen up in Maoz so strongly that he had burst into tears and demanded explanations from his mother.  I decided to begin with a short conversation and explained simply the system of directions.  I told him that if we could wake up this system and direct it within him it would strengthen him and enable him to develop as a strong, healthy, happy boy.  My explanation created a wholeness in Maoz, uniting his experience of free movement and strength with his intellectual understanding.
Succeeding meetings established firmly the pleasant atmosphere.  We felt that we had brought about a relationship of trust and agreement.  In parallel with the lessons, almost unbelievable changes were also seen in Maoz outside the walls of the room.  After the barriers of fear, suspicion and distrust which Maoz had developed toward those around him melted away, he began to hug and kiss his mother spontaneously.  Relations with his friends in the nursery school changed; he started to let them come close to him.  We continued to work together for about a year during which Maoz learned to use himself and his body in a new way.  He learned to direct his movements consciously in accordance with the new understanding the Alexander Technique brought him.  And he discovered the pleasure of movement—the natural, flowing movement of healthy children, happy in body and spirit. He ran, he jumped, he turned somersaults and he played.  He discovered the simple pleasure of touch with his parents, his friends and the people surrounding him.
I believe that when such experiences come to a child, there is no need for further training or exercises of any kind.  The experiences themselves are a source of strength, giving the child the ability to grow strong and develop.
And the mother?
After years when she was unable to express her love for her child naturally and simply with a hug and a caress, after years of loneliness behind walls of fear, suspicion  and guilt, the walls fell and the connection between herself and her son was renewed.  Their love was able to express itself more completely, deeply and directly than ever before, and she was profoundly content.
The children that come to an Alexander Technique teacher often have physical disabilities, emotional sufferings or both.
A child may have physical disabilities not only because he was born so, but also as the result of operations after birth or of painful treatments, intended to make his life better.
Any child who received such treatments, may then be emotionally hurt  because the basic trust that a child gives to the adults surrounding him has been damaged and, with this, his trust in himself and his own abilities.  Often such a child suffers additionally from the criticism of other children and of adults who do not accept him as he is.  The child is apt to feel, that adults, despite all the best of desires and intentions, come to him with demands he cannot endure and force him to submit to pain.
And sometimes the various care-givers do not tell a child that his medical treatment will be painful but attempt to confuse him with games.  As a result even an innocent game can be associated with the danger of pain.  Then every attempt of an adult to play with him arouses suspicion and fears.
With these words I am not intending to criticize the entire field of medical treatments and operations, but only to point out incidences that I know personally.  Maoz was one of them.
But what happened at that instant when I put my hands on Maoz? Why did he allow me to touch him?  Why was he able to surrender his defense mechanisms and open himself?
I believe that Maoz felt I approached him from within my own inner activity which began long before we met and continued as I worked with him.  This activity was the development and activation of my own directions.  The touch of my hand was not the important matter; the importance was the direction of movement that I imparted to him, my own inner movement which invited him to participate.  The sensitivity  that my inner work awake in me made it possible for me to know exactly how much support Maoz needed in order for the same work to take place in him; the very same directions appeared, but these were his own directions, not mine.
My work springs from consciousness of my inner freedom and therefore of Maoz’s freedom, a freedom which makes it possible for him to choose whether or not to participate in the direction which I offer him.  He felt my readiness to accept all his antagonism and every refusal without my ever negating or judging him.  And so he chose to participate.

יום רביעי, 1 בפברואר 2012

Directions for life -an e-book version in English

Dear reader
First, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Gal Ben-Or, I am 48 years old and I have been working as an Alexander teacher for the last 25 years. (For more details please look "the author").
Though the Alexander technique is a well known and respected technique in the field of alternative medicine for more than 100 years, not enough has been, unfortunately, done in the field of educating and treating young children.
In my practice, and through many years of experience, I have developed a unique approach to working with children. This approach allows a simple implication of the Alexander principles in the lives of children suffering from many different disabilities (such as Hypotonya , learning difficulties, attention deficit , many orthopedic problems like neck pain, back pain ,scoliosis, tendon inflammation , stuttering and breathing problems and more).I have applied my work in the field of education as well, allowing healthy  children to benefit from the Alexander principles  in the preventive sphere and so giving them conscience tools to deal with many of the modern life challenges.

 In my book, "Directions for life" already self- published in Hebrew in Israel, and now available as an E-Book here on this Blog, I am describing many case studies showing the different possibilities of the hidden potential of the Alexander technique as well as the principles themselves and my unique approach. It is written in a simple language and is intended for the wide public and especially for parents as well as for professionals in the fields of education and medicine and Alexander teachers. 

About the author 
Gal Ben-Or- Born in 1963. He is married and the father of three children.
He graduated from the School for Teachers of the Alexander Technique directed by Shmuel Nelkin in Jerusalem.
He was certified as a teacher of the Alexander Technique in 1987.
As a senior teacher of the Alexander Technique, he has developed a unique approach to teaching children, adolescents and parents, according to the principles of the Alexander Technique.
1998-2002 – founder and director of the Mishal Association, established in April 1998 by the parents of children who had been helped by the Alexander Technique
2001-2006 – member of the team of professional care-givers at a boarding school for youth at risk.
He has taught the Alexander Technique at the ’Y’dida’ home for adults with light to medium retardations, at the ‘Hatana’ Special Education school in Jerusalem, at ‘Alyn’ hospital , in the Jerusalem Municipal kindergarten ‘Hasataf' and   at the ‘Kesem’ school.
2004-2006 –Chairman, Association of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, Israel
2008 –Chairman, Council of Alternative Health Professions, in Israel.
2011- Published his book "Directions for life" in Israel
Present:   director of a course certifying teachers of the Alexander Technique. Riding instructor at ‘Nataf’ Farm.  Maintains private clinics in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, working with adults and children. Gives lectures and workshops on the Alexander Technique and his work.