What is the Alexander Technique? It is a way of re-educating ourselves to be genuinely who we are, of letting go of unnecessary effort, unconscious tension and habitual reactions that interfere with our ability to be at our best, healthy, integrated in body and mind, balanced, dynamic, with reliable feelings and conscious control over our reactions. Experience will show you that it is much more, but I think that more than anything, the Alexander Technique is a way to change our thinking about our own selves to let go of what we don’t need.
Many people think that the Alexander Technique is postural education. That is perhaps because a change in “posture,” or rather, how we hold and coordinate ourselves, is one of the most obvious consequences that occur. That is because “posture” is also an automatic reaction that we make to different situations in life, such as standing, sitting at the computer, behind the wheel or on a horse, picking up a child, playing an instrument, exercising, dancing and everything else. But these automatic reactions are habits. They are patterns of behavior both conscious and unconscious that involve all of our self, including the mental, physical and emotional parts, from overt reactions to the tiniest response of our nervous system.
Our lives are tremendously dominated by habits. We live day to day with unconscious tension due to the inappropriate importance that we give to the ends that we wish to gain: sing “well,” finish a job on the computer, dance balanced on one leg, get somewhere on time, and even getting out of bed and brushing our teeth. We forget about the “how” in our desire to achieve our ends. We forget about our selves. The Alexander Technique brings our attention to the process. It brings our habitual interferences (of tension, fixed thinking, fixed joints, etc.) to a conscious level, allowing us to notice what we are doing and allowing us a space to not react. In this way we learn a new way of responding to the stimuli of life instead of reacting automatically, by consciously deciding what we don’t want to do in order to allow our natural functioning to happen by itself.
F.M. Alexander said we are like a broken compass. You wouldn’t use an uncalibrated GPS to find your way. We trust in our sensations to know if we are “right.” But how can we change if we are using our uncalibrated instrument to guide us? This uncalibrated instrument involves the important relationship of head, neck and back. We can learn to improve this relationship to use ourselves in a more efficient, healthful and integrated way. With practice we can re-calibrate that instrument. We can learn to think of directing our selves, using our thinking to guide us and to stop when faced with the stimuli of life. We can improve our general use of our selves, improving our coordination as well as the reliability of our sensations, allowing the whole of our selves to work together, and discovering an ease and freedom of movement and being. We learn to leave our selves alone so that our whole self can function by itself, naturally. In this way we take care of ourselves so that we don’t hurt ourselves or to help ourselves recover, develop our abilities to our full potential, and change our way of thinking from rigid and automatic to expansive and conscientious.
The Alexander Technique includes much, much more because it is a field of education and investigation. It is a “pre-technique” for all techniques, because it helps us to stop doing things we do unconsciously that interfere with our ability to do what we want to do.
For those who want to experience (because the Alexander Technique is above all experiential), there are two free introductory classes this Friday, April 1 at 11:30 and 19:00 in Palermo, Buenos Aires. All are welcome. For more information, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.