What is the Alexander Technique like?

Early on in my teacher training a family member was trying very hard to understand what I was studying. We had a conversation that went something like this.

“How do I do this for myself?” Thoughts on this common question after early lessons

Quite often after a lesson, particularly an early or first lesson a student will ask me ‘How do I do this for myself?’ And quite often my reply will start with a question:

“Who just did it now?”

Feel the fear and…. think differently

I’ve been giving some thought recently to different experiences I have had when following the approach of ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.

This came to mind recently when I was watching the world gymnastics championships. As I watched I recalled a situation from my childhood.

My gymnastics club was taking part in a local area competition. I was very excited but also worried because I could not do the routines for the beam and the asymmetric bars.

I was scared waiting to go on the beam. I could do the individual components but not link them together without falling off. Everyone did the same routine at this competition. All the people who had just gone ahead of me completed it very well, including adding extra moves.

My turn came. I fell off at least 4 times.

Next came the asymmetric bars. Although I had been dreading the beam that was nothing compared to the asymmetric bars. I just wanted to get the beam out of the way but I actually wanted to do well on the bars!

One of the main components of the bar routine was a skill I had not yet mastered. It was a backward circle. If you did not complete this you could not move in a linked way to the next skill. I’d like to stress again that I had never, not even once, managed to do it!

This time as I watched the people ahead of me something changed. I saw how they were doing the moveI watched the person directly before me and the whole thing ‘clicked’. I moved through the start of my turn in a daze and started the routine – I did an absolutely perfect backward circle (and a decent rest of the routine too).

Learning to listen

My recent procrastination slump got me thinking.

I was wondering what was beneath the surface. I expected to experience fear caused by resistance to change because I was making a big step into a new way of living but I felt that there was something else going on.

A recent event clarified things for me and I realised that something else was mixed in – feelings brought about by choosing an approach which was not quite right for me.

The result of this mixture of feelings was procrastination. I know a lot of that was down to resistance to change, resistance to moving away from the way I am now to a different and as yet unknown way. Changing from the person I was in the past and to an unknown future me.

We all fear the unknown so the source of that kind of fear was clear.

But what about that other bit? The ‘this is not quite the right option for me’ part. How did I miss that? How do I notice that in the future?

Well, there were signs that I could have noticed – if I had been listening.

My body, my self was trying to express something which I did not have an expression for in words or in tangible thought. But I had a feeling. Something felt wrong.

I had been listening on many channels but the one channel that the information was available through was the channel I was trying very hard to silence because this channel felt darned uncomfortable. And that was the point!

Feeling the fear …and doing things anyway

I realised after the slump I wrote about in my last post that one of the things that was causing my procrastination was fear.

Fear of what?

Of making a mistake, looking silly, not being able to answer questions I was asked, making a hash of things. And also of succeeding and not being able to cope with the demands that came with it.

Going to explore this a bit more in my next post – it needs some thinking about!

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