Wednesday, February 27, 2013

W09.03 Integrating Alexander’s Ideas With Alexander Technique Practice

W09.03 Integrating Alexander’s Ideas With Alexander Technique Practice

This week I am focusing again on your Service Product: what kind of Alexander Technique session do you give to you? This will determine the kind of Alexander Technique you give to others. I am fascinated by deep enquiry about the Self – a topic I touched on by sharing my personal story yesterday. Is it possible that we can include this kind of enquiry in our ordinary Alexander Technique lessons?

About this, I have a question which I will lay out today…

When you read Alexander’s books, then look at an average Alexander Technique session today, for me there is a disconnect. On the one side are these lofty ideas that concern the evolution of human consciousness, on the other side we see a person bobbing up and down from a chair, or lying on a table whilst a teacher does “hands on”, often chatting about nothing in particular while they do it.

 Something that connects these two sides is missing…

Integrating Enquiry As A Tool for Alexander Technique Teachers
What’s missing is deep enquiry – the kind of searching, profound questions that cause us slight discomfort: enquiry that bursts open the illusionary box that contains our habits of living. Of course in Alexander’s mind, that enquiry revolved around these life habits: meeting a stimulus that puts you wrong and learning how to deal with it. And the laboratory for that began with exploring simple, everyday activities. After all, reasoned Alexander, if you can’t change your behaviour in the simple act of getting out of a chair, how can you possibly hope to change more deeply entrenched behaviours?

But somewhere along the way we got lost, starting to worry about how skilful our hands are, or where the feet should be, and what was the best angle to bend the hips before rising from the chair: where is the profound enquiry in that?

However, most Alexander Technique teachers I know are switched on to deep enquiry; are themselves seekers willing to ask profound questions. So maybe getting in and out of chairs was appropriate for the Edwardian era that Alexander harks from, but how relevant is it today for those who seek profound change in their lives? What is the new “chairwork” for Alexander Technique teachers?

A New Kind of Chairwork for Our Brains To Explore
Alexander's Discoveries have always attracted people in pain. So let’s start there: what causes you stress and pain? And the answer is: the way you think. I can guess you are stressed when I see that you are using your head in a way that causes downward pressure through your spine and whole Self. But is it your head that causes this movement, or is it the thought you are entertaining that causes this movement?

Primary control, far from being a “cause” is itself only a key “symptom” of something more than mere physical co-ordination. And this is where disconnect happens – forgetting that the movements we observe in others can not be remedied alone by using our hands to invite a different movement within the system of that person. It is the thought that moved their head/spine that also needs our attention, not just the movement of the head/spine itself.

Of course our touch delivered guidance helps, particularly when a person’s idea is not held as strongly as it might have been in the past. However, in the case of a person continuing to think a thought – like me thinking “Something is wrong with me” – no amount kinaesthetic information, even from the Master Himself, can undo this thought without the active conscious enquiry of the person holding on to that idea.

How do you “undo” a thought?
Commonly, people go immediately to “think another thought” but this is precisely the same behaviour as a person in a slump deciding to “sit up straight” to make it better. It takes constant effort, eventually leaving you so tired that you deflate even further into your slump. So far from “undoing” anything, it instead added another layer of doing.

When I believe something is wrong with me and try to immediately counter that with a new thought: “Nothing is wrong with me” then all I am doing is going into denial about my original belief. It takes constant effort, eventually leaving me so tired that I deflate even further into depression, and go get drunk just to cheer me up. And that doesn’t work either.

So how do you “undo” the thought “something is wrong with me”? You use the same tools Alexander used to figure out his problem: first gather information; second analyse that information; third experiment with giving up doing what you discovered you do; fourth develop from that a new set of thoughts that turn you around; fifth gain repeated experiences to build your confidence and ability to move in a new way. Explained in more depth tomorrow!

TOMORROW: How Alexander’s Process Is A Roadmap for Undoing Thoughts That Generate Deep Emotional Pain and Depression…

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