I’ve been thinking about hope a lot lately. Mostly because what I have experienced and what I have seen others experience in DiscoverEase in Movement classes gives me hope. I have seen people with difficulty moving due to pain start moving with curiosity, ease, liveliness, strength, balance, wholeness, range of motion and even dance. I have observed musicians with pain rediscover comfort, joy and fulfillment in their playing. I have witnessed people growing as they discover more possibilities in their body and the possibility of choice in their response to the stimuli of life. And I have learned more about neuroscience and the ability of our bodies and brains to continually change and heal and grow no matter what age. I have discovered new possibilities of non-doing and direction in my self that help me to take better care of my self and to continue to learn and grow. All of this gives me hope.
It’s easy to despair. There is always the possibility that things will not go well, and they often don’t. Pain can lead us to despair. Hope is not faith that everything will go well, and it is not a passive acceptance of things as they are. It is, according to French philosopher Gabriel Marcel, continued movement toward something more. There is always the possibility of reaching further toward a self that is never final, but that always has the possibility of more. Marcel wrote that hope is “the act by which … temptation to despair is actively or victoriously overcome” and that hope implies “confidence in a certain process of growth and development” that respects our own “personal rhythm.”*
So the experience of hope is grounded in a process of continuous growth and development in the here and now. This is why I practice the Alexander Technique. Practicing the Alexander Technique is a means of embarking on a process of growth and development beginning with where we are. It helps us to be aware of what is really going on in our mind-body self here and now as well as, and in relation to, what we are doing or plan to do. This awareness combined with the Alexander Technique principles of head-spine coordination, non-doing and direction helps us to discover options and to get unstuck from where we are so that we can move forward in the direction we want to go – physically and in every other sense. It doesn’t propose a state of perfection – of posture, movement or thought – but rather it is a process of continual improvement, by which we become more aware of what we are choosing unconsciously and become more able to truly choose what it is that we want to do as we go about our activities. The Alexander Technique invites us to explore options – of posture, movement and thought – that didn’t exist before, and options give us more opportunities for hope.
Life has its dark moments, and each of our processes of growth and development will likely include difficult times. But we can count on our ability to change and renew ourselves – even down to a cellular level and up to a perspective level. The Alexander Technique proposes a means of allowing change and renewal in ourselves, and a means of staying present in our body in the moment, appreciating the process, in order to move forward into the unknown with an optimal use of our energies and the hope of better functioning, well-being and influence for good – for ourselves and our world.
I appreciate all of you accompanying me on my journey and allowing me the opportunity to accompany you on yours this year. I look forward to our continued journey into the coming year.
Happy new year!
Wishing you hope and confidence,
DiscoverEase in Movement
* Bloeser, Claudia and Titus Stahl, “Hope”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2017/entries/hope/>.