Saturday, 1 February 2014

On 13:54 by Victoria Stanham   No comments
Among the most tangible and long lasting benefits that the Alexander Technique has afforded me there is the "learning to do".

To do what? Well, "to do" simply, anything.

Before finding the AT I used to believe that there were some things that I "couldn't do". My excuses for "not doing" were several: I don't have the talent, I don't have the strength, I wasn't born for this, I don't have the body for this, I'm too short for this, I don't have enough energy for this, etc.

Today I know that several of the things that I wouldn't allow myself to even try to do (so as not to disappoint myself) are within my reach if I dare try them. Perhaps I won't do them like a pro, but I can do them; I may take longer to accomplish them than he or she who has the "adequate" strength, ability, talent or body for the activity, but I can do them anyway; and, above all else, perhaps I don't reach my goal in the expected or imagined way, but reach it I do!

The Alexander Technique has been for me an invaluable training in a way of facing any activity. It puts forth a series of steps, which are simple and doable for anyone who wants to follow them.

When I receive any stimulus that asks for an action/reaction, the steps are:

1. Stop before acting/reacting, (so I can "return to myself" and think)
2. Recognise what it is exactly that the stimulus is asking of me
3. Decide how I want to respond to said stimulus
4. Recognise what I need to stop doing, and what I need to do instead, in order to respond
5. Give permission for the execution of my chosen response
6. Monitor/observe the effects of my response during its execution

For example, let's say that my phone rings in the next room to where I'm writing this blog. My habit would be to jump out of my chair automatically and run to answer it. 
However (if I manage to stop myself before dashing off) I could also hear the stimulus of the ring that interrupts my current train of thought and:

1. Stop in its tracks my impulse to run and, instead, let go of everything that became activated by my habit (and breathe!)
2. Recognise that, though the ring might be demanding a response, it is I who chooses which response to give it (breathe again!)
3. Choose a response: picking up the call or ignoring it (breathe!)
4. If I choose to answer the phone, I let go of my blog (physically, mentally and emotionally) and I focus on the action of picking up the call (I keep breathing, and throw in a smile for good measure)
5. I direct myself (mentally, physically and emotionally) through the action of picking up the call (still breathing)
6. I try to observe the quality of my action during the call (I stay tuned to myself) as much as the intensity of the stimulus allows (and I keep breathing)

When I'm having an AT lesson I have the added advantage of the "sensitive mirror" of the teacher's hands. My teacher helps me recognise those places in me that haven't yet let go of my habitual response, and thus my sensory appreciation of myself is heightened. This refining of my sensory appreciation is what then allows me to have a more efficient and effective response to stimuli; and as I improve the use of my energy, everything becomes lighter, more ejoyable and more satisfying.

Now I find I have energy to spare! And this surplus I can use to do even more of what I do want!

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