(Random) Thoughts on the Alexander Technique
- Only Alexander really practiced the Alexander Technique. Teachers
can only teach their own version of a technique based on Alexander's
principles. Students can only practice their own version of those ideas.
- The Alexander Technique is about prevention through inhibition
(making the decision not to follow through in our normal, habitual way
of doing things).
- The Alexander Technique is about efficiency (not doing anything
- The re-education process is not about adding something, it is
about restoring something.
- The Alexander Technique is not an "add-on" to activities we
already do. It is a prelude to those activities. It gives us the
opportunity to clear away blocks to the resources we need to "do"
activities we are familiar with.
- If something shows up in a particular situation, chances are that
it has been going on elsewhere as well (even if we haven't noticed).
- Not doing something doesn't mean doing the opposite of that thing
(it means simply not doing it).
- The "directions" (also known as orders, or instructions to
ourselves) are not
things to "do". They are a description of a state of being (when we
ourselves alone). They are preventative measures (reminders of things
not to "do").
- I am not always sure what to do. But, I can be reasonably sure
what I don't want to do and work from there.
- If the head is going somewhere and we don't want to go there, we
have to hold on (or we will fall over).
- The neck is free (as long as we don't stiffen it-or try to free
- A stiff neck (or a stiff knee, etc.) is a symptom of a lack of
coordination throughout the system. Any attempt to directly relax the
neck will only result in a further dis-coordination.
- If something good happens, back off. If something bad happens,
back off. If nothing seems to happen, back off. Take time. Be
thoughtful, Wait it out.
- When we are practicing the Alexander Technique, we are asking
ourselves to take time (stop) and not proceed in our normal (habitual)
- We all bring what we "know" to the situation. Can we let go of
what we "know" and see what happens? (without anticipating a specific
outcome).Can we actively work towards a goal without concern for how
long we will take to achieve it?
- If we are looking for something specific, we may not see anything
- The decision NOT to do something is a powerful one (and
liberating). Once we make a decision NOT to do something, everything is
- Poise, grace, lightness and ease are wonderful wishes to have.
Wouldn't it be nice to have these things (again)?
- What happens when I make a choice to leave myself alone? There is
the possibility that "right" thing does itself.
- The nervous system knows what to do if we leave it alone and
don't interfere with its ability to sort things out. The nervous system
is smarter than we think.
- Sitting and standing are dynamic (not static) activities.
"Mechanical advantage", "monkey" and "lunge" are not fixed positions
and should not be taught as such.
- We have what we need to perform the activities we choose to
engage in, if we just don't interfere.
- I can't teach anyone to breathe. We are all born with that
understanding. All I can do is make some suggestions that may help
someone not interfere with their breathing.
- Even the decision to be unconscious can be a conscious one.
- We can't guarantee that pain relief will come quickly (or at
all). We are wishing that, through our thoughtfulness, we are not
bringining anything to the situation we don't need.
- Without the decision to stop, take time, and be thoughtful, we
risk being too quick and non-thinking.
- We are not trying to replace one habit with another. We are
learning to use the Alexander Technique in order to sharpen a tool to
navigate the habits we already have.
- Old habits don't go away. We just get more skilled at recognizing
them and making choices about what to do (or not do) once we do
- When you get the urge to "do" something (and perhaps feel anxious
about it), lay down instead of following through with your normal,
of addressing the issue.
- If we take time to go to a lesson, we are already practicing the
Alexander Technique. In that moment, we have made a decision NOT to do
many things in favor of going to a lesson.
- When we have the urge to "beat ourselves up" because we have the
idea we are not thinking about ourselves enough, we can stop and
realize that in order to do this, we have already been thinking about
- Fundamentally, the job of student and teacher is the same: to
think about himself so that he can leave himself alone.
- Most of these random ideas are not mine.
- They are my paraphrased versions of things that I
have heard George (my
teacher) say again and again.
- Many of them are his versions of what Alexander or
Walter Carrington said or wrote.
- None-the-less, I will put them here to share with
- Perhaps they will be helpful.
- If they are not useful, don't carry them around like
a weight, just dismiss them.
some student comments