Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Transformational Strucuture #8


My mother loved to call me “The muddle-headed wombat” because my ideas, plans and intention shifted around like leaves in a hurricane. What I have learnt is that being muddle-headed is fine, providing you have a clear vision driving it. In fact, with clarity, muddle headedness can work to you advantage. How’s that? Well, here’s my story…

Three years ago on a bullet train in Japan—on my way to teach in Tokyo while reading a book on leadership by Pat Mesiti—I decided to open a BodyChance studio in Sydney. I had no idea how I was going to achieve that—at the time it seemed enough that I had the clarity of my intention.

I kept that clarity, organised my life around it, and finally arrived back home in January of 2010 to launch my new project. Needless to say, for those who follow my blog, it did not turn out the way I intended. It’s rare that anything does. The divide between conception and reality is never greater when bringing to life non-existent things. Luckily, BodyChance Sydney is no longer non-existent! I have two wonderfully clear and committed companions that breath life into my evolving project.

So I have a school, the same intention, but a wonderful variety of different plans. That’s my muddle-headed part. This is the message to take from reading to-day’s excerpt of my essay on transformational learning structure: intention manifests multiple possibilities—if you are stuck in one path you won’t learn. My continuing journey to create a hugely successful college of BodyChance Alexander Technique Teacher Education in Sydney continues, but it continues in ways I never imagined on my fast-moving train of three years ago. Every day a new piece falls in, every day an old piece falls out.

To realise the creation of something that did not exist before you conceived it, you need a vision of razor sharp clarity, a huge intention of ‘no-matter-what’ and an ability to think creatively on your feet, “to turn on a dime” as the Americans say. My mum called it being “muddle-headed”, I call it creativity.

Alexander had all that, and applied it in just the way I have described above. This is how great transformation in your self and in Society happens. Read it, then please: plan to change the world!



It is clear when you read Chapter 1 of Use of the Self that there was a long period when Alexander knew what he needed to do, but simply couldn't do it. Actually, this kept repeating itself over and over until finally he reached the final Stage 3 of the learning process. The first instance happened like this:

"I now believed I had found the root of the trouble, for I argued that if my hoarseness arose from the way I used parts of my organism, I should get no further unless I could prevent or change this misuse.

When, however, I came to try to make practical use of this discovery, I found myself in a maze. For where was I to begin? Was it the sucking in of breath that caused the pulling back of the head and the depressing of the larynx? Or was it the pulling back of the head that caused the depressing of the larynx and the sucking in of breath? Or was it the depressing

of the larynx that caused the sucking in of breath and the pulling back of the head?"

In this passage, you can see how his intention is clear, he is focused on testing a whether his idea of the cause is correct or not. This research focus then threw up a lot of questions that needed 'testing' so that is the process Alexander entered into…

"As I was unable to answer these questions, all I could do was to go on patiently experimenting before the mirror."

Time passes, his understanding evolves, and then he reaches a new point with a more comprehensive theory of what needs to be done…

" It is impossible to describe here in detail my various experiences during this long period. Suffice it to say that in the course of these experiments I came to notice that any use of my head and neck which was associated with a depressing of the larynx was also associated with a tendency to lift the chest and shorten the stature."

After further testing, he finally comes to a new stage…

"Having got so far, I considered I should now be justified in attempting to put these findings into practice. To this end I proceeded in my vocal work to try to prevent my old habit of pulling my head back and down and lifting the chest (shortening the stature), and to combine this act of prevention with an attempt to put the head forward and up (lengthening the stature) and widen the back. This was my first attempt to combine "prevention" and "doing" in one activity, and I never for a moment doubted that I should be able to do this, but I found that although I was now able to put the head forward and up and widen the back as acts in themselves, I could not maintain these conditions in speaking or reciting."

He carries on this way for a long period of time, slowly coming to a clear and comprehensive understanding of the co-ordination necessary to overcome his hoarseness, which is the second step of Stage 2: formulating a comprehensive and final understanding of what needs to be done…

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