Learning not to do

Instead of thinking of the Alexander Technique as being about posture, I find it more helpful to think of it as becoming more aware of what you are doing with your body and what we’re doing with our bodies on a daily basis is something common to all of us, except that exactly what we’re doing is individual to each of us. Either way, we’ll find that there is always room for improvement. It’s what you’re doing with yourself that causes the pain & poor posture, whether on a physical, mental or emotional level, nothing more, nothing less. Learning to undo what you’re doing is actually what it’s all about and is a continued art and practice.

So how can you learn to undo what your’e doing? Well, it’s a gradual process and as such takes time, something most people don’t allow themselves. Certainly if you decide to take some lessons, then a teacher will help you detect where it is you would benefit from undoing and where more conscious effort is required, it’s not necessarily just a question of undoing everywhere. A teacher’s hands help you to retrain your response, your reactions and indeed your habitual way of thinking. Whilst they are working on your body, this in turn has a very profound affect on one’s thought process, emotional balance, reasoned awareness and so forth. What we think of as our posture is very much influenced by these, in fact they could be said to be the cause of our posture. By encouraging a more expansive and lengthened stature, this in turn brings about a more expanded sense of ourselves which prevents the shrinking and narrowing of ourselves in response to circumstances we may encounter. We find ourselves connecting with our surroundings more and how we are in the moment rather than focussing too much on how we are feeling, what has happened etc. Of course we all have emotions, but forgetting about our body’s sense of poise whilst we experience whatever emotion we’re experiencing is not helpful to our sense of where ‘UP’ is. We can become so absorbed by how we’re feeling that we don’t even realise how this is having an influence on how we’re using our body, the two are that inextricably linked. If your response is to pull down, both physically, mentally and emotionally, then thinking the opposite of this is something which requires time to learn You cannot possibly learn it in an instant, it’s akin to the dedication required when learning how to learn to play a musical instrument. Learning the directions of the Alexander Technique is relatively simple, yet it takes time and patience to actually apply them to our movements.

Of course we all have periods where we’re pulling down more than usual, in fact we tend to pull down all the time, we’re probably just not aware of it. Pulling down shortens and narrows you, you may be feeling down and this is may be what’s causing the shortening and narrowing. It’s the pulling down which we are seeking to prevent, instead we want to encourage thoughts about finding what it means to be in the upright, to find the ‘UP’ and the width within one’s body, across the back, shoulders and wherever else we might be shortening our musculature. If we have the habits of worrying and reacting with emotional gusts, this is also a form of dong which shortens and narrows, without us realising it and emotions such as these which are stored up over decades do nothing to bring about an expansive sense of poise.

Instead thinking about where we might like a bit more height and width around our bodies puts us in touch with our bodies in a way which we’ve perhaps never experienced before. Perhaps we’ve never really considered our bodies, or indeed how we use them whilst undertaking everyday activities, and yet we inhabit our body, very much so and treating it with the respect it deserves will benefit the whole of us, mind, body and spirit. Undoing our doing, it takes time to become aware of where we’re actually doing the doing and how this affects us, not to mention how we learn about how we might begin to undo our doing. Certainly a teacher will be able to help in this respect, with their words and hands guiding you into a more non-doing manner of moving and thinking. Calm and reason can be restored if we allow ourselves the time it takes to learn all this, indeed it takes a lifetime of doing and learning not to do.

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