Many of my friends suffer from acid reflux.
One tells me: “I need to lower amount of acid in my gut, I think. Last two nights were pretty nasty, and maalox does not suffice. Basically every time I went horizontal I was in pain, and only by standing or sitting straight up could I stop it. Sucks to be me right now.”
I tell them: The acid reflux is a symptom not a cause of your problems. It is a manifestation of a body wrapped in unnecessary tension, pushing all your organs tighter together.
When you tense up in reaction to anxiety and try to push your problems down into your gut, your gut rebels.
Try this exercise every day and see what happens.
I suffered from acid reflux but I haven’t had the problem since I started training to become an Alexander teacher in 2009.
Then I wrote:
“Do you have any thoughts on stomach aches?” I ask my Alexander Technique teacher today.
“When do you get them?” he asks.
“When I start worrying. I find myself clenching.”
“Well, what would you say to a friend with this problem?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’d say that you’re probably moving down when it happens, pushing your stomach down, playing a loop of worrying thoughts, and you’re probably tipping your head back. So the solution is to flow up. You’re too smart of a guy for this. You know this.
“Why do people throw up when under stress? Because they push down, they tip their head back, they catastrophize and the bile flows up.”
I came to the Alexander Technique in desperation with raging indigestion, which had been diagnosed as chronic acid reflux. It made my life a misery and after numerous faddish food diets and extensive tests, my consultant suggested that my posture might be the problem. I have a stressful life as a lawyer and had spent years in training and practice hunched up over books, compounded by the constant demands of professional life. I was thus collapsing at the front of my torso (hence hunched shoulders, aching back and a little pot belly) and this was all pushing down on my abdomen and causing damaging and painful acid reflux.
A chance conversation about this with a friend led me to the Alexander Technique. After several months of Alexander lessons, I had ceased taking all prescription antacid drugs, was able to eat what I liked and started to have a normal life for the first time in years. I was able to sleep uninterrupted too.
Through the Alexander Technique, I have come to understand the years of misuse I have unknowingly imposed on my poor body. The Technique is not a therapy but a way of life, self help if you like. I am a keen motoring fan and by way of analogy think of the Technique like performance tuning, to be able to operate more efficiently. Things go out of tune and hence my regular session with Quintin helps me to help myself keep tuned up.
I ignore looking after myself at my peril as my dreaded Achilles heel of chronic indigestion will come back if provoked. The warning sign is a hint of indigestion and I know then to come back to the principles of what one learns in an Alexander lesson.