The first step to being able to use the Alexander Technique is to become aware and mindful of our habits. The useful ones (that allow us to live in a poised and balanced way) and those habits that hinder our good co-ordination. This awareness plus the skills that Alexander Technique teaches allows us to change; so that we can use ourselves in the way we were designed to and make life easier.
Change is really why we have come to the Alexander Technique; we want to change our thinking so that we can change the way we move, that we might, for example, be in less pain or play our instrument better or deal with anxiety more effectively.
But sometimes as we become aware of our inefficient habits we get frustrated or annoyed that we are doing these things. We forget that this new awareness is the key. That now we have the choice and ability to change. The awareness plus AT skills gives us the knowledge and skills to choose a more useful way of doing the things we do.
There are 3 qualities I have found that really help this learning process be one of more ease.
1) Inquisitiveness – being curious about our thinking and how we use our bodies in our everyday lives. It really helps having this mind set, as it leads to being more playful and interested in the process.
2) Self Compassion – Its important to remember to be gentle and kind with ourselves and our habits. For one thing frustration and anger manifest themselves in muscular tension, the opposite of what we want to achieve! Secondly, most of the time these seemly unhelpful habits came about for a reason, that may have been the only way we could deal with a situation at the time, so lets be gentle with ourselves.
3) Allowing ourselves to be ok with the unfamiliar – Habits often make other options feel wrong or weird. This is what Alexander called Faulty Sensory Awareness. For example, if we are use to standing in a very military posture; chest out, shoulders back, chin high (which was a habit of mine!). When we come into balance we may feel like we are slumping forward – even though the mirror confirms that we are not. As we gradually become more familiar and repeat this new habit it then becomes more comfortable. We need to risk feeling ‘different’ because change is what we are trying to achieve. After all we can not change and keep thinking and doing things in the same old ways!
So, pause, think of these qualities, have fun, be gentle and enjoy the new you!