so i’ve been going to school to study the teaching of the alexander technique. it’s been quite a surreal experience actually and really difficult to describe. i am starting to expect some things about school to be similar to previous experiences but never the same but mostly more and more i just sort of sit back and wait to see where the ride takes me.
sometimes i think this may be half the point of the whole thing actually.
there’s all these little sayings “it’s just a little bit of nothing” or “it’s like snow falling off a branch” or (my personal favorite and borrowed by me from robert heinlein) “when waiting is full” or whatever and when you start trying to explain to your friends why you’re spending eight thousand bucks a year and many many hours of your time going to school to throw balls and crawl around on the floor and yield to the ground and examine your habit and practice doing alexander within the context of familiar (or new) activities and sitting around talking for hours about what you’re experiencing. well my friends look at me like i’ve gone out the woo woo window.
trying to explain this and the profound effect it’s having on yourself is really hard to do i’m just saying.
somehow, with these weird little exercises and movement explorations and hands on work and story telling with each other and from our teacher and visiting teachers, somehow we start to see our patterns. our sets and habits. the ways we unconsciously, every second of our lives, use our selves to get through the day.
i realised recently that I had been bracing through my legs since i was an incredibly small child. i was bracing against the bullying and emotional abuse in my life and holding on for dear life through my legs; this somehow resulted in a love-in with my legs in which i thanked them for holding me when nothing else would, these are heavy things to learn about your self. finding out that you clench your jaw and grip the earth with your toes when you feel defensive is a nice way to help yourself out of that set response and find another option.
once you learn to see your habit you have the option of letting it go or using it. you never know, sometimes i may want to brace against the earth just like i chose to do a really really long time ago… but maybe i don’t need to do it so much that i never let go. maybe i can let go and the earth will still be there to hold me up.
lately in class we’ve discussed the idea that vulnerability is it’s own kind of strength and that it takes strength to be strong. we’ve discussed passing through evolution in the womb. we’ve playing games with weight and with our intention that had us laughing our faces off. we’ve considered the infiniteness of our awareness and the fascination of peeling a tangerine; it’s the most indescribeable and wonderful experience.
we are learning to be present. to be WITH ourselves where we are instead of being someone, somewhere or some when else. to receive the people around us with compassion and open ears. to yield to the earth and thus receive the support of gravity. to release our habits and allow our bodies (which are us so ourselves) to come into the perfection of support they were built with. it’s so much less work to just BE after an alexander lesson; and after a week or two week long intensive it feels impossible to ever work as hard to be again as you did just a week or two ago.
getting out of your own way. if you get out of your own way and stop doing the wrong thing the right thing will do itself.
it’s such a simple statement you know? the right thing will do itself.
and doesn’t it sound totally impossible?
it really does except i’ve felt it. as a result of examining my habits around things as varied as practicing pilates, using my phone, reading a book, singing, leaning against the wall, sleeping etc etc i’ve found myself to be calmer, living in an easier body, eating less, doing better therapy (and better therapy makes me a better alexander student for legendary amounts of win all around) recovering faster, sick less, happy more, insta reacting less and far less stressed about the small stuff.
it is truly amazing how much the way you use your body (which is you, you are your body you aren’t in it) and the way you think and the way you react emotionally are all parts of the same patterns. the other day in class i felt my ribs fall back between my shoulders and my body come into an easier alignment and i heard myself remark “oh! i’m ahead of myself!” and that’s true in all the facets of my life. i plan ten years out but not two.
i’ve heard myself say all sorts of things about the way my body feels that exactly match the emotional reality i’ve been living. but the part that’s the most fascinating? once i noticed the push pull i was constantly doing with my limbs (pulling my arms down and simultaneously holding them up, pulling my jaw back and in and my lower teeth up in behind the uppers) i started letting it go and somehow my emotional life is following the same path. way less push/pull and way more calm stability. and this kind of experience just keeps happening, just keeps deepening and just keeps releasing the me i didn’t even really know was hiding inside. as i let go of the wrong thing the right thing does itself… and it’s ever so much less work.
doing all this with a competent therapist around is exponentially better by the way. each illuminates the other and somehow both teachers are sending me down an integrative path that calms the chatter in my mind and brings my wish for myself in line with how i use myself. it’s utterly indescribeable but i do know one thing for certain.
every one of my movement students thinks that i’m a better teacher now… and one of them even bounced with joy when i told her i had a school week coming up “oh good, i love it when you go to school, you always come back so inspired!”
what more could i ask for as a result?