I wrote previously about a change that I wasn’t expecting to happen. I had attempted a variety of things to improve what I thought was wrong, to no avail, and eventually gave up trying, realising that this is not where the ‘problem’ actually lay.
People tend to think that they don’t require Alexander Technique lessons, that there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with their posture and co-ordination, that it’s only really of benefit to those who have poor posture or are in any specific pain, or are performers of some kind, but nothing could be further from the truth. Ahead of writing this blog, I’d already been considering FM Alexander’s words “The right thing will do itself if we stop doing the wrong thing.” In other words, the ‘wrong thing’ as far as the Alexander Technique is concerned is usually stiffening, shortening and tightening throughout the musculature of our mechanism in our attempts to try to get things right, as we see it.
People like to think there’s nothing wrong with their posture and co-ordination, if it comes up during conversation, that they wouldn’t benefit from lessons, they have become comfortable thinking this, however a lot of the time this isn’t the case at all and shows just how erroneous people’s thinking is. We interfere with our natural balance and poise, including our breathing, voice and digestion, in our attempts to stand, sit, walk and talk and any other activity we undertake. We do our utmost to try to stand or sit up straight, continually doing things which interfere with our natural poise, whether its slumping and slouching, trying to sit up straight as we understand straight, bending from our hips, speaking or singing as we believe we should be speaking or singing, not to mention the various incorrect conceptions we develop about ourselves which totally convince ourselves about, whilst fixing, tightening and stiffening throughout these activities. We don’t have any concept of what it means to move without effort and fluidity, given that we all have faulty sensory appreciation, in fact we really don’t know what the difference is between what’s right and wrong with us, however much we might like to think we do. We don’t just interfere on a physical level, but also in terms of how we think, what we think about and how we feel, our entire selves. We never stop long enough to question whether how we feel is actually caused by what’s happened or whether it’s far more a case of how we’re pulling down onto our torso, shortening our back, tightening and stiffening our muscles and re-acting out of fear and anxiety.We have no concept of how emotions are intertwined with our Use, how we simultaneously think and move in activity.
Back in my youth I had a lot of uncontrolled emotions and what FM Alexander described as “emotional gusts”. I could never make any sense of them and was aware that others didn’t seem to experience these, or so it seemed, and were equally unable to make sense of them. Somehow I knew deep down that something was indeed not as it should be, as others were all too quick to point out. As a result these emotional gusts were felt to be something to do with how I felt about and treated others as opposed to how I was using my own mechanism and posture. Certainly behaviour always does involve others, but if we refuse to consider what might be contributing to this behaviour, then we are not seeing things as they really are. Indeed, we may not even stop long enough to consider that what was once behaviour in ourselves might not be so dissimilar in others, something which may be more affected by a stoop, tightened & shortened muscles, posture, manner of speaking and breathing in general than we might like to admit; we are most certainly getting in the way of ourselves, interfering with what comes naturally if we do not allow the mechanism to function as it’s designed to function.
“Doing the wrong thing” in terms of Alexander Technique work includes not trying to get things right. I’m aware of my habits in this respect, I’ve always wanted to do the right thing and try to do my best in this respect, no doubt stemming from the erroneous belief that I’m somehow “not good enough” and a desire that I somehow need to be better than I am, but have come to realise that this in fact brings about the exact opposite. The more we try to get things right, in this sense, the more we fail. Instead of trying for perfection, we may discover that satisfaction can be brought about by another means, namely looking at what it is that we ourselves are doing, how we’re contributing to what we’re experiencing moment by moment and how much this is getting in the way of utilising ourselves to our fullest potential.
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