Friday, February 08, 2013

W06.05 Case Studies: Véronique Druesne in Cork City, Ireland - Part One

When I was young, my mind went so fast that I often used spoonerisms like “betterful” for beautiful and better. So my mum bought me a famous Aussie book about “The muddle-headed Wombat.” A wombat is an adorable hedgehog sized native creature of Australia. In 1985 I was holding a residential workshop in the countryside, when a wombat walked in. It slowly waddled around our circle till it found an empty spot and lay down, head first, looking at everyone. We were all speechless, while the wombat promptly fell asleep. Perhaps he didn’t realize this wasn’t the bush? I say all this, because sweet Véronique uses the word “muddle” a lot – she is also like a muddle-headed wombat, and I bet she’s not the only one out there. So this is dedicated to all us muddled-headed wombats, may we never be cured!


Step 1 – Recognize Success Drivers
There is no muddle here – Véronique wants money to care for her family and teach a work she is passionate about. It’s a perfect basis to move on…

Step 2 – Find Your Niche
The muddle starts here – as it should.

I know many teachers out there still haven’t got clear idea of this. Does it help to know that it's taken me years to figure this one out? And that I still am? That almost every day I have some new insight about the meaning of an Alexander Technique niche? Right now, this online course is changing the way I work with my student teachers. A successfully niched Alexander Technique business first involves deep research and development of your teaching methodology. The best time to start preparing is when you start your Teacher Education.

Getting this step right is not about making some simple tweak on your website that will bring the bacon home: it is a soul-searching, re-engineering of your entire way of teaching. Goodbye Marj teachers, Carrington teachers, Macdonald teachers; goodbye chairwork, tablework and activity work – hallo to unique, intellectually-patented methodologies of communication that will make some people a lot of money. That’s what we are talking about here. So muddle is good. I’m in muddle too.

Véronique’s strength is her emotional honesty, her empathy with those in pain. She writes:

“My niche are women in their 30-50s with neck pain, back pain, women who want to keep their fitness, hobbies going but are finding themselves in pain not being able to do things As they used to because of muscular tension, etc.”

Véronique needs to dig into the “etc.” of the sentence “because of muscular tension, etc.” She is one of these woman – does she seriously think their worries are all about muscular tension? Of course not – there are deep, psychological pathologies at work here, thoughts and beliefs (that Véronique knows very well) that perpetuate a cycle of behaviour which has their bodies screaming in desperation for recognition.

Véronique needs to acknowledge that she knows all about their inner life, and has practical, mindbody methodologies to navigate themselves out of this painful living. This is her deep re-engineering work, but she has the clients to do it with – so start asking for permission from them. Many will welcome this deeper exploration, and soon become raving fans, telling all their friends about Véronique’s indescribably effective service.

Go deep Véronique, go deep.

Step 3 – Locate Your Community
Véronique: “I teach from a studio at the end of my driveway at the side of my house, it's bright, airy. You can see a picture on my website. You can easily park, it's easy to find. 5min from city centre.” Ideal for the baby boomer seekers ready to re-evaluate who they are…

Step 4 – Develop Service Product
The Service Product I touched on in Step 2 may freak out a few teachers: “You want me to be a counselor?! A psychologist? I am not trained to do that.” Then go get trained if you feel you have to. It once bothered me, now it doesn’t.

I would also like to remind those traditionalists who think I am desecrating the Master’s legacy to re-read “Part One—VI. Habits of Thought and of Body” from Alexander’s first, passionate book Man’s Supreme Inheritance. Alexander clearly understood that a person’s thoughts and beliefs sat at the core of the Use of the Self. He even quotes Allen Upward from his book The New Word:

“The man who has so far made up his mind about anything that he can no longer reckon freely with that thing, is mad where that thing is concerned.”

So keeping all this in mind, I decided to end to-day’s blog by telling a story. It’s a story I hope may inspire you Véronique, and others, to let loose the strains of perceived properness, and instead set forth on an adventure of a lifetime…


How I Re-Engineered My Way Of Teaching – And Got A New Service Product!
Back in 1989 I was invited to give a seminar in Washington, DC. I had been invited, because I had worked with a group of teachers in New York where I had introduced my “Alexander’s Story” workshop. This workshop explored synchronicities between my emotional journey out of alcohol addiction to Alexander’s journey out of his ‘addiction’, something I have also written about in DIRECTION Journal. My intention in New York was only to compare the stages of my emotional journey with the stages of Alexander’s journey, as he described them in “Evolution Of A Technique.”

Help! Why Are These Famous Teachers Learning With Me in New York?!
Buzz Gummere, who trained with Alexander, and was a good friend of Alexander’s brother A.R., attended my workshop. He said he had never heard of anyone doing what I was doing with Alexander’s work, and was excited to be a participant in my experiment. I felt honoured. The late, beautiful Debra Caplan also attended, invited by Bill Walsh who organized it all in his Soho apartment. So I started to tell them my story, and compare it to Alexander’s...

However, this was New York, and these people soon they made it clear to me that were not interested to sit there listening to my story – they wanted to tell their own story! Realizing I had opened the door – but terrified inside nonetheless - I became a listener. However, I knew I had their consent to explore deep and personal issues, and relating that to the process Alexander went through himself. These were all adult Alexander Technique teachers – who was I to question their decision to open up to me and others in the room? I love New York!

Feeling Nausea in Washington DC
One of the participants that day, Riki Alexander, was excited by my work, and asked if I could come to Washington DC in the next week to do a workshop she would organize with some folks she knew. I was reluctant, she was insistent, and in the end my desire to continue exploring this way of working won over my reticence at having no formal qualification to do so.

When I arrived, I was confronted by a group of 5 woman and a man: a physiatrist, two psychologists, a dance therapist and two teachers of Alexander Technique. I was blown away – how could I, who had no experience, possibly lead a workshop for these A-class people?!

I thought to myself – they must know so much more than me. I am a simple uneducated person who was following his own way out of darkness, but had no formal qualifications or skills to justify offering this work at such a professional level. However, they didn’t care. They trusted Riki, who had organized it all, so they just wanted to experience this original person (me) doing something they had never heard of anyone doing before...

A Lesson Learned - Let Go And Let God And All Will Be Well
So I started my workshop. Simply: “What is your question? What do you want to explore?” A person put their hand up, and started to speak. I was literally nauseated with fear. I had no idea what would happen... It was at that point I said to my Self: “Let go Jerry. Just trust. Say whatever comes into your head. Don’t be logical, don’t think. Just be.”

I entered the zone. I entered that place that many musicians, sports people and performers of all kinds describe as a place of no thinking, no doubt, no question. Everything works, because everything exists perfectly. It involves letting go of control, letting go of predicating or calculating or even being cognizant of what did or will happen – it’s all about now.

I can not remember much from that weekend, except the nausea I would feel each time I began working with the next participant. Because as I trusted, as I let go, I vanished.

The Vanishing…
Carol Boggs, who visited Japan many years later for BodyChance’s annual Golden Week residential in 2006, was one of the participants that weekend. Later she shared with me that she was fascinated with how I worked. Each person seemed to reach a place that surprised them - they discovered a part of their Self that had been hidden, and she wanted to figure out how I did it. So Carol decided she was going to watch me closely. How was I bringing people to a profound understanding that was entirely new for them...?

Carol told me that I kept vanishing – it was like I was not there. She said that every time she tried to watch me, she ended up watching the other person. I understood what she was saying, because it was how I experienced it too. I don’t remember anything about the content of those sessions. All I knew was that I would know when we were done. I had this sense I was travelling with each person along a path, but they were guiding me. They told me each time what question to ask, what comment to make, when to be silent, when to question. I was a listener for who they were, and I was not interfering in their process, I was merely being a witness to it.

I only ever did about three or four more of these kind of workshops, but I lost my fear of needing a “qualification” to authorize my Self to explore anything with adults who gave their consent to do so. Thank you Riki!


So Véronique – take forth your courage, fortitude, love, determination and the blessing of God, Nature, Buddha or whoever you have as a higher power guiding you. Go on – get started this week. Ask permission, then explore. Your new Service Product for a niche of people already waiting on your doorstep. Véronique, the muddle was never about who, it was about what:  your Service Product.

TOMORROW: Concluding Véronique Druesne case study with Steps 5 ~ 12, and further ways to develop this new Service Product.
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CAVEAT: Remember what Alexander said: “They will see it as getting in and out of a chair the right way. It is nothing of the kind.” Is this case-study about the “right way” for Véronique Druesne to go ahead? It is nothing of the kind. It’s intended to demonstrate a way of thinking, not a set of proscriptions, even when they read as proscriptions! My true intention with these case studies is to provoke you into finding another way to understand the same ideas.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Jerry. I will forever remember Tommy Thompson telling me something like, "I'm never afraid to do whatever I want with the Technique." I took this as excellent advice. The Technique is about applying it to whatever I's about doing whatever I want with it. Somebody doesn't like it? They can go to someone else.


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