Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Transformational Structure #3

Continuing my series on how to structure a group: today The Power of Wish.

For those just tunning in, the point I have been making (to save you time) is that the first job in any transformational relationship with another person is ensure that THEY are driving the process forward from within their own energy/cognitive construction. If you run the show, you get more of yourself. If you facilitate them to lead, you unravel a mystery…

The greatest compliment I can remember receiving was in Washington DC when I ran a workshop with some AT teachers, a Psychiatrist, a Dance Therapist and a couple of Psychologists back in the 80's. I had been invited as I was exploring "emotional directions" at the time, and how we need to recognise those if we want fundamental change. One of the participants came to me at the end of the workshop and said she gave herself the task to watch how I worked. However, she said she could never "see" me, it was as though I wasn't there. No matter how hard she tried to watch what I was doing, her focus was always drawn in the unfolding world of the participant I was dialoguing with.

Wow was I pleased with that! I do think a great anyone "disappears" in some way, just as a great translator, actor, musician or any other performer subverts themselves to facilitate the ideas, character or music that are being communicated. When we notice the "performer" as opposed to what is performed, I think ego is butting in and telling us "Aren't I great?". And of course – I know all about that.

This is how that principle, albeit slightly differently, is clearly evident in Alexander's own journey…



[Quotes all from Use of the Self, Chapter One: Evolution of a Technique.]

Alexander wanted to be an actor – that was his overall wish. It was a positive and concrete thing:

"From my early youth I took a delight in poetry and it was one of my chief pleasures to study the plays of Shakespeare, reading them aloud and endeavouring to interpret the characters. This led to my becoming interested in elocution and the art of reciting, and now and again I was asked to recite in public. I was sufficiently successful to think of taking up Shakespearean reciting as a career, and worked long and hard at the study of every branch of dramatic expression. After a certain amount of experience as an amateur, I reached the stage when I believed that my work could stand the severer test of being judged from the professional standard, and the criticisms I received justified me in deciding to take up reciting as a profession."

Whilst this was his clear wish the obstacle was the fact that he kept losing his voice:

"All went well for some years, when I began to have trouble with my throat and vocal cords, and not long after I was told by my friends that when I was reciting my breathing was audible, and that they could hear me (as they put it) "gasping" and "sucking in air" through my mouth."

When a student comes to a class, they may start by only talking about the obstacle, which is a natural thing to do. However, it is important for the teacher to unlock the wish that stands behind the obstacle, as that is the key factor motivating the student. It alone can determine how effective the lessons become. For example, the student may want their lower back to get better, but why? So they can spend more time playing with the kids; so they can advance in their job; so they can go back to leading their 'normal life'. The 'wish' needs to be expressed in the positive, not the negative.

The point to take from Alexander's own experience, is that the bigger the wish, the stronger the drive of the student to apply what you teach them. Unlock that energy in the student, and you have completed half of your job. Ignore it, and lessons will be like walking through mud, with the student always looking to you to supply the drive and energy of the lesson.

Alexander's wish was huge: this is clear when he writes about his emotions while considering the obstacle he was facing:

"My disappointment was greater than I can express, for it now seemed to me that I could never look forward to more than a temporary relief, and that I should thus be forced to give up a career in which I had become deeply interested and believed I could be successful."

Having a wish, or rediscovering the wish that energizes us, is an essential piece of our learning plan, but one that is often ignored in today's teaching environment. Our "great students" are usually the ones who have this wish in place! If we understand this, we can support all our pupils into becoming "great students".



The role of research in bringing about transformational experiences…

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