One of the things I value most whilst having an Alexander Technique lesson is being in an environment and state of mind in which I’m able to come to quiet. Previously so much of my day was spent being busy for others that there was little room to find a moment of peace for myself so my lessons were very special in this respect. Having 45 minutes in a day to myself was a luxury.
Coming to quiet can be of great benefit if you happen to have something of an anxious nature. It gives you space to explore your postural habits in the safe hands of a teacher, not minding whether you make a mistake or not, for that is not the point of a lesson and can be a real stumbling block for a pupil. Certainly lying in the semi-supine position can be really helpful in calming down the entire system and it’s recommended to do this for 15 minutes every day on the floor with your head resting on some books and knees bent, your back resting on the floor. But for me the calming down of the system also very much occurred in a lesson, allowing a teacher to work with me, seeking to help me to release the shortened muscles which had built up over time. They weren’t ‘stretched’ in any way, but rather my teacher’s hands guided my muscles to expand and lengthen with a very gentle, sensitive touch, unlike anything else I could describe. It wouldn’t have occurred had I not been thinking of releasing and expanding myself at the same time as my teacher worked with me.
In an age where everyone is on the go and everything is so instant, it pays to find a space for oneself where one can come to quiet, to find some peace in one’s body (and in that I also include the mind) whilst equally working on expanding and coming up to one’s full height, which is our birthright. Relaxation doesn’t come into it, you are there to learn something from your teacher, but at the same time may well find that the work quietens you down, something which you may find of benefit. When I write of coming to quiet, I’m not writing about relaxation or any therapy-based treatment, but rather a thinking process whereby you are thinking of your directions, which also simultaneously brings your body and mind into a quietened state of alertness in the present moment.
Coming to quiet allows you to notice things, your surroundings for instance, also noticing your breathing, balance on your feet, for example, where the weight is distributed, something you don’t normally think about. Also noticing where your head is in space, with it weighing as much as it does. For me, having a teacher work with my shoulders is also another manner in which I can come to quiet, undoing the shortening and tension which exists there. The work brings about a state of calmness whilst encouraging a thinking process to continue which is concerned with the present moment, what you are doing with yourself right at that very moment. So, whatever you find yourself doing today, take a moment to find a bit of space for yourself, where you can think about how you are using your body, whether it’s tense and tight or free and expansive and whether you’re calm or anxious.