‘My brain hurts.’
This is probably the thing I most love to hear my clients say. Why? Because it means they have understood the emphasis the Alexander Technique puts on thinking: they are learning to ask their body to do something instead of trying to force something to happen. The trouble with forcing is that it is not sustainable – a typical example is pulling the shoulders back and down only for them to rise up and forward as soon as we let go of the effort. Thinking works with our bodies natural design, force by its nature, involves unnecessary effort and tension. Here are some examples of the things I ask my clients to think:
- To think of the whole spine easing into length
- To think of the space between the two shoulders opening-up
- To think of the knees coming forward as they bend
In essence, what I am doing is asking my clients to do is connect their thinking to their activity while understanding key elements of our natural design. The aim – a sense of expansion rather than contraction and the ability to move freely.
‘How did that happen?’
Familiar movements come with a familiar level of effort. Once my clients let go of their habits related to a movement, the level of effort required is reduced sometimes to the extent that they no longer recognise the movement. Alexander Technique teachers use everyday activities such as moving from sitting to standing and back again to demonstrate principles. When moving from sitting to standing works well, clients will often find themselves standing up feeling puzzled and saying things like, ‘How did that happen?’ or ‘Wow, that was easy.’ Imagine feeling this way about all your activities?
‘I love your tree.’
When I hear my clients say this, I know they have understood another vital aspect of the Alexander Technique – looking out. Looking out helps with the sometimes tricky balance between connecting thinking with activity as described in ‘My brain hurts’ above and not trying too hard as this is creates tension. The tree, pictured below, is a beautiful silver birch in my garden. When I am seeing clients at Ilkley Healing Centre, I hear similar comments about the views over Ilkley moor.
‘I’m sure you can read my mind.’
This is the comment that makes me smile the most. Working closely with clients over the years has given me the ability to pick up on subtle changes in their thinking often before there is a noticeable change in the way they are moving.
Here is an example – a client starts to stand up from sitting, as requested they are looking out to prevent trying too hard, but, as soon as they begin to move, everything feels wrong because the movement feels different to what it usually does. In early lessons clients often feel unable to trust something that feels different, so they pull their attention inwards to try and ‘fix’ the movement in some way. At that point I will usually say ‘Keep looking out’. Once they realise that I am picking up on a change in their thinking, clients often ask if I can read their mind. I can’t, but I can usually detect when something has changed in their thinking.
It is hard to explain what happens in Alexander Technique lessons. For anyone who has not yet had lessons with me, I hope that reading this blog offers you some insight. For anyone reading this who has had lessons with me, maybe you too will smile if you recognise any of phrases here.
If this post has sparked your curiosity and you are interested in finding out how the Alexander Technique can help you please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07957 981240 get in touch using the contact icons
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