The Wisdom of Pausing

IMG_2470Pausing is the second key that unlocks the door to change. (The first being awareness of habit, as mentioned in my first blog).

The Alexander Technique offers many unique skills and principles that enable change, but the concept of pausing in order to respond rather than react to a stimulus seems to be a universal wisdom.

Neuroscientists recognise this pause and its importance, our parents and grandparents recognised the usefulness in pausing and ‘count to ten’ before responding to tricky situations. In meditation it is also important. I have been reading a wonderful book called ‘The Book of Joy’ by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in which I found this great quote.

“Meditation is a profound way to develop our ability to escape our fight-or-flight reflex and extend the pause between stimulus and response to act with intension rather than just react out of emotion.”

This is exactly why in lessons we learn to pause, or in Alexander terms inhibit, before we react in a habitual way. Inhibition gives space to think and then direct our response so that we can use our bodies in a more free, co-ordinated and poised way. Our thinking brain helps us deal with our emotional brain and its effects on our bodies (the fight-or-flight response), as well as giving us the chance to do daily activities with less wear and tear on ourselves.

Alexander inhibition or pausing gives us choice, we can pause, inhibit our habitual reaction and either do something different with direction (with more co-ordination), not do anything at all, or do it the same old way but from a place of conscious choice. We practice this in lessons, we can apply it to anything, from getting out of a chair, walking, practicing a yoga pose, using a laptop or playing an instrument. After practice this only need take a moment, not even a second!

Alexander inhibition is not just about letting us use our bodies more freely, it enables us to respond in any given situation with more consideration. For example; in a tricky conversation with a colleague or loved one we might have habitual ways of reacting to particular information which isn’t helpful, but we find just happens! Pausing and noticing this habitual tendency, noticing our emotional and physical reaction, can be helpful, its gives us more choice in how to respond. Do we want to do the same old thing or choose a new, maybe more helpful response, after a few calming breaths.

Lastly, on a slightly different time scale, we can pause for 10 minutes, and enjoy the restorative power of constructive rest or lying in semi- supine. A wonderful new habit to put into our daily routines. For more information on this see my Top Tips Page…… or come for a lesson and find out more.



Author: Esther Miltiadous

Alexander Technique Teacher, North London, U.K.

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