You are studying the Alexander Technique. You’ve taken lessons for weeks or months or years. Maybe you even teach the Technique. You’ve read some or all of what F.M. Alexander wrote. You’ve read some of the other literature on the Technique. You understand most or all of it. And yet…much as you enjoy your lessons, enjoy teaching, you have a nagging feeling that something is not quite working as it should be, that if you were more conscientious, more awake, that things would be better.
You apply the things you’ve learned in your lessons to your music, juggling, dance, tennis. You pay attention as best you can when you sing, stare through a microscope, work at a computer, eat supper. You try to pay attention as best you can, and yet… Continue Reading »
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I just read A Stroke of Insight. The author investigates the right left brain dichotomy relating the experience of having a stroke that obliterated her left brain with its verbal analytical capacity, and her eight year rehab, through the lens of her profession as a neuroscientist. She describes the acceptance and bliss that the right brain, flying solo, experiences. The book struck me as relevant to my difficulties with singing. I am eager to relate the author’s ideas to The Alexander Technique. Reawakening surrender flow intuition sensation as a vital mode integrating it in a much more equal balance with the left brain’s judgement and analysis would help and is what I remember of the act of singing when it was working. When judgement and analysis become dominant in Alexander, rather than just a part of it, the Technique can stall until the balance is restored. I would love any comments. The Alex. Tech. is a continuing delight every day. -Holly Alonso
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For those of us involved with the principles of the Alexander Technique, we are always searching for ways to use ourselves more efficiently and to develop tools to stop old habits from wrecking havoc in our lives. On that journey, we get to learn new things and try to get better at the driving interests of our lives. For some of us, that’s music. For others, dance, athletics, writing, chess.
My long-standing passion, tennis, has helped me refine my ideas about the ways I learn. It isn’t always a pretty picture–as a matter of fact, it is often frustrating as can be–but the wonderful thing about physical movements is how concrete they are. I can see the manifestation of my ideas played out in front of me. I can see how fatigue, fear, anger, frustration, all interfere with clear thinking. When I can calm myself down, stay in balance, not react prematurely, my game dramatically improves. Most, maybe all of us, have had that experience.
Combined with the knowledge that how we think affects how we function, it also brings home repeatedly that we need to know what we are aiming for. We need to build the actual skills to accomplish what we are interested in. If I don’t know how to hit a certain shot on the tennis court, no amount of freeing my neck is going to magically make it happen. We have to really understand the means to the end. That balance, between building skills directly and building the self-awareness and confidence to send the directions that are going to create the best environment for learning, has always fascinated me. Perhaps the goal becomes, to paraphrase Alexander, that the means become the ends. That the best way for me to free my neck is to hit the tennis ball. Then the shot I hit teaches me, in a concrete way, a bit more about the way I think.
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When you ride, you are engaging in a holistic partnership with your horse. If you’re feeling tense, how can your horse be soft and supple? If you’re sitting crookedly on your horse, how can he move in a straight path? If you feel out of harmony with yourself, how can you expect harmony with your horse?
You can learn to release tension and over-efforting, to sit into length and depth, and to nurture a sense of inner harmony—all of which will help you to be more successful in creating harmony with your horse.
Many riders learn how to achieve this through lessons in the Alexander Technique, whose principles are fundamentally the same as those of classical equitation. Both focus on achieving integrated and supple movement, without the use of force, through the delicate exploration of balance and an easy liveliness in activity.
As you develop this postural and movement awareness in the Alexander Technique, you can also work on un-doing patterns that interfere with the best use of your self, including emotional and mental patterns. For instance, do you ever come to your riding in a rushed or harried emotional state, or distracted by negative self-talk? You may not even notice these emotional or mental habits, but if you have them, they are getting in the way of your best riding self. Continue Reading »
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