Freedom to Choose
“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” Mahatma Gandhi
These days, many people lead fairly busy, even frantic, lives – juggling things like work commitments, relationships, family, fitness, household chores and a social life. Sometimes it can feel as if there aren’t enough hours in the day. How then do we incorporate the Alexander Technique into this hectic schedule?
If we have the mindset that we have to put time aside to ‘do’ our Alexander Technique practise, then we are setting ourselves up with another task that has to somehow be squeezed into an already busy day. If we believe that it is a time-consuming process to inhibit and direct, that it requires effort and concentration, then we will simply be setting up a new habit which involves unnecessary tension. Also, we will be learning to apply the Technique under certain prescribed conditions such as the need to have a quiet space to ourselves, free from interruptions or distractions.
In fact, the Technique is a tool to be used in our everyday lives, in any given moment. It is not a series of special exercises. It is a way of being. Life itself is full of interruptions and distractions and constantly provides the stimuli, which can be seen as opportunities to apply the tools of inhibition and direction. Inhibition is about stopping, so that we become present to what is. Directions are preventive, they involve no doing, they are just thoughts. It is about stopping the interfering and allowing what is already there to emerge. We achieve this through constructive, conscious thinking – no doing, no effort, no concentration. Just bringing ourselves into present moment awareness with our thinking.
There is no need for the Alexander Technique to slow us down. In fact, we are more likley to be slowed down by our habitual use which results in a heavy gait, by the tense musculature that saps our energy, gives us aches and pains and prevents the easy, co-ordinated flow of movement and by the habitual stress and anxiety that creates headaches and sickness.
We may think that we are being efficient as we frantically carry on with our plate-spinning activities, but, if we are keeping those plates spinning through sheer determination and effort, sooner or later something has to give. When we are in constant ‘ready’ mode, with over-tense muscles, this doesn’t allow for faster reactions but actually slows us down and movement becomes more jerky and stiff. When we become more conscious, more present, letting go of unnecessary tension, we become more alert and alive, receptive and engaged and our muscle movement becomes smoother, more fluid. We listen better, take in more information, make clearer decisions and become more creative. With improved use, we become more poised, we function better, our sleep improves and we have more energy.
Practising the Alexander Technique doesn’t mean that we can’t be busy, but it does give us the freedom to choose how we are being busy. Using the principles of the Alexander Technique, we may still choose to multi-task, but it won’t be at the expense of our wellbeing.
Note: these posts represent my current thoughts and experience of the Technique and will probably be most helpful for existing students and new teachers of the Alexander Technique.