I’ve never been what I consider to be smart or even street smart. I wore hand-me-down clothes as a kid, lace-up shoes with padding stuffed inside just to keep them on my feet, listen(ed) to classical music, read a lot and found I failed at sports so from the early beginnings of my life I definitely did not come across as being smart. Added to which I always wanted to feel accepted, to fit in and yet continually discovered that I didn’t, of course I was completely off balance in the first place.
Comparison involves estimating, measuring or noting the similarity or dissimilarity between things, it may also involve us being unhappy with some aspect of ourselves. In other words, comparison stems from a pattern of thought which involves viewing things as better or worse, e.g. we may wish that we look a certain way, are employed in a particular area of expertise. so that we become successful and popular from our own perspective and in the eyes of others. When we make comparisons, we may also begin to become critical, rather than considering things from a wider perspective. I have fallen into the trap myself many a time of comparing myself. Perhaps those hand-me-down clothes weren’t such a bad influence after all for they sure were individual, green and tan corduroy trousers being one such item I recall. Holidaying in countries under Soviet rule during my schooldays raised more than a few eyebrows, it was certainly different to Benidorm and the Costa Brava. Indeed individuality need not separate us from leading a fulfilling life amongst everyone else, but rather enrich our lives amongst those with whom we come into contact.
Increasing awareness and working towards lessening this habit of comparison in the face of expectation started to change gradually whilst taking Alexander Technique lessons. As I learned to stop the interference of my poor habitual use and direct my attention towards thinking of lengthening as opposed to collapsing, my entire frame began to expand upwards and outwards, so too did my thinking and vice versa. Here at last was something practical, the focus being on restoring the natural functioning freedom and balance which I have at my disposal by encouraging me to stop and observe my habits whilst thinking of freeing my neck and leading with my head. The manner in which I had previously used myself being based on unconscious feeling rather than on reason and very much one of narrowing. Of course we all do compare, however this can lessen the more we take time to keep returning to stopping and considering our responses. Learning to realise how our thinking is reflected in our movements, what we may initially critically perceive of as our failings, inadequacies and weaknesses may actually transpire to be our best teacher.
We all have the wish to be successful but our response to comparison can cause us to narrow and minimise ourselves still further as we shorten our entire musculature in the face of expectation. Very much focused on the individual, how it might be possible for an individual to release unhelpful tensions within themselves, hands connecting from a spine which is at length and in balance, encouraging similar length and expansion in another individual can indeed bring about a shift in awareness and thinking We may not be perfect, but everything of which we are infinitely capable is in process if we choose to allow it to be so. Being smart, for me, involves some smart thinking where everyone is a beginner.