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Notes from a Crusty Seeker

Thoughts on Tomatoes, Lousy Posture, and the Alexander Technique

It’s another soggy day in New York City, so it seems appropriate to talk about my posture. I have lousy posture. I slump with my chin out and up like a turtle and, since I’m very flexible, I have a tendency to sit with pretzel legs. I also have a big, ugly lump on the back of my neck which has alternately been explained as a sign that my spiritual center is connected or that I have an energy block. I believe it’s due to my lousy posture.

Because it is raining today and I’m having such a difficult time remembering to sit upright, it seems appropriate to also complain about my allergies. I recently discovered that I am allergic to my tomato plants. Not the tomatoes, but the Deadly Nightshade leaves that smell so good but make my eyelids swell like over-sized shrimp. My tomato plants live on my neighbor, Nurse Mia’s, terrace because my building superintendent kicked them off our roof. Nurse Mia is the one who diagnosed my tomato plant allergy, so the last time I pruned, I suited up with swimming goggles, a surgical mask, and latex gloves.

However, because I am unemployed and have no need to vary my dress, I wear the same clothes everyday, and when my eyes swelled up the day after pruning, Nurse Mia queried, “Did you get the plant on your shirt?” thus diagnosing allergy due to unvaried shirt-wear.

Which brings me back to my posture. It’s invariably very bad. Did I mention that already? My friend, Jane Kosminsky, has excellent posture. She ought to, since she makes her living as a master Alexander Technique teacher. I’ve always admired her posture, but it seemed like too much effort for moi … until I saw her DVD,The Alexander Technique: Solutions for Back Trouble with physical therapist and master teacher Deborah Caplan. I don’t have back trouble. Just a big, ugly lump. But, as I said, it’s raining, so today I watched the DVD. Wow. Deborah Caplan teaches you how to hold your head and release parts of you that you didn’t know were tense — so that if you have back trouble, or just a big ugly lump, it may go away. (No joke. A recent clinical study in the UK even proved that this stuff works better than meds or regular exercise.)

Which brings me to remembering. A lot of Alexander Technique has to do with remembering — remembering to remember what you’re doing. Zen people call this mindfulness. Shrinks call it self-awareness. I call it a lot of work. But it’s a soggy day in New York town — too rainy to prune no matter how much I suit up; too dismal to job hunt; too dark to be sunny. But guess what? I’m sitting here in only a partial pretzel, with my head shooting up to the sky and no tangible lump in my neck. Not only that, but I’m in such a remembering, self-aware, Zen frame of mind that even though I long to inhale tomato plant perfume, I’m quite content to only eat the fruit.

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