Friday, June 04, 2010

Transformational Structure #4

This is the fourth installment from an essay I wrote for the Lugarno Congress for Alexander Technique teachers in Switzerland in 2008. In that sense it is written specifically for teachers of Alexander Technique, but as a plan it is generic—anyone working in the field of transformation of restricting cognitive constructions (and name me one that isn't) will understand and use what I am writing about here. To save you time, there is a short synopsis just before the article proper!

However, before then – what is topical for me now? As I write tonight, I have completed the first day of a seminar on internet marketing—how FaceBook, Twitter, a Website, Mailing List and Blog all converge together to create a "story' for people which is compelling enough for them to tell their friends and eventually buy in to the service you (I) am creating.

For your business to work, it best grows out of your life purpose and passion. This is true of me. All my life—since the mystical (hysterical?) calling that prompted me at 18 years to resign from Australia's most prestigious performing arts school (NIDA) to pursue a career (vocation?) as a teacher of Alexander Technique—I have done nothing else. My first lesson was in 1969, so here I am, 41 years later, still doing the same thing.

And I am calling out for support - people who share my vision that Alexander's discoveries is one of humanities greatest gifts to itself, and 116 years after the first AT lesson was ever given in 1894, it is still crying out for visionaries bold enough to claim the mantle it so self-evidently deserves!

Is that you? The please contact me... Especially if you are in Australia now!


My big message from to-day's seminar was: do your research. This is my article topic today—you can't figure out how to navigate your way if you have no idea of your starting point. If you are in Sydney, how is a map of Tokyo going to help you find the Opera House? This is how it is for me building BodyChance in Sydney. Can I assume a successful formula from Japan is repeatable in Australia? Who will come here? What are their needs? Can they afford it?

As in a workshop, so in a business, so in your marriage, addiction or vision. After identifying your purpose and passion, now comes the time for collecting information…




Research means gathering information about the obstacle: What does the student already know? What can they tell you about it?

There is a lot of information already available about what we are doing, how things are happening in our world, so collecting all this information within your field of attention is important for being able to do the next step of analysis.

Researching and analysing are two interdependent activities – talking about them as separate steps is slightly misleading. For example: a new way of analysing data can lead you to a different kind of research. So they always operate in tandem, each one becoming a support for the other.


The aim is to help the person know:

i - how to seek information about their own co-ordination in relation to corresponding information about their behaviour in seeking their wish; and

ii – how to use that information to recognize their obstacle(s) in a new light.


Firstly, your student may be holding valuable information that they don't even realize has bearing on their wish. It is important to listen to them, to help them put together all the disparate facts about their current situation that they already know. It is better to let the pupil tell you about themselves, before you start telling them things about Alexander's discoveries.

Con-currently, you help them along the research path by using one of the most valuable tools you have: your touch. The teacher can use touch to awaken within a person a recognition of what is going on within a totally new framework of reference: Alexander non-doing and head co-ordination primacy. You 'reframe' the obstacle for them.

We are training the student to consciously manage their co-ordination whilst in pursuit of their wish. Under this heading comes the basic concept that head movements govern vertebral co-ordination, which in turn governs the use of the limbs. At this stage, the student knows basically nothing about this – the teacher's role is to awaken this area of knowledge within the consciousness of the student, and then demonstrate for them the diverse and powerful applications it has for researching and analysing what is going on in their lives in relation to their wishes.


The first information he gathered was recognition of two facts, things that he already knew before he started:

" When I set out on this investigation, I had two facts to go on. I had learned by experience that reciting brought about conditions of hoarseness, and that this hoarseness tended to disappear, as long as I confined the use of my voice to ordinary speaking, and at the same time had medical treatment for my throat and vocal organs."

These were facts, the analysis came next. (see next instalment: Analysing/ALEXANDER). Although it is not immediately apparent, close reading of the first chapter of Use of the Self reveals that there was in fact an extended period of collecting information by Alexander in his visits to numerous doctors and voice therapists:

"I therefore sought the advice of doctors and voice trainers in the hope of remedying my faulty breathing and relieving my hoarseness, but in spite of all that they could do in the way of treatment, the gasping and sucking in of breath when I was reciting became more and more exaggerated and the hoarseness recurred at shorter intervals. The treatment I was receiving became less and less effective as time went on, and the trouble gradually increased until, after a few years, I found to my dismay that I had developed a condition of hoarseness which from time to time culminated in a complete loss of voice."

Notice a few things in this passage. Alexander refers to "doctors and voice trainers" in the plural, so we can deduce his research involved visits to at least four different people. Later in the same passage, he writes "…as time went on and the trouble gradually increased until, after a few years…" so we know that this stage of his learning plan lasted several years. If you think about that, why would you want to skip over this stage of the lesson with your student so quickly? It is clear, when you read what follows, that this period of his learning helped Alexander develop a view about what was going on.

Another important aspect is to understand that 'research' can involve gathering information by testing the obstacle through contact with different modalities. Alexander's process of discovery does not exclude seeking help within other areas of knowledge or alternative techniques.


NEXT: Gaining insights from the information you collected or "When the Fun Starts"…

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