Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Directed Freedom

Tropism of the vine
Somewhere along the way of taking Alexander Technique lessons, I began directing my thinking when I got out of bed during the night.  Oftentimes I just trudge off into the night to take care of business, but when I remember to pause and direct, the connection with my relaxed self seems valuable.  Last night I woke, got out of bed, and gave myself the negative direction* of "I am not compressing my neck."  Simple and in some ways a bit easier to comprehend then the traditional AT directions.  A sense of connection from my head to my feet, had me begin walking as if an AT teacher had been working with me and was now guiding me to take my first steps.  Powerful moments of freedom, harmony and ease fostered by a simple directive thought.  I'm not sure that I have ever achieved this freedom of use so easily.  As David Jernigan pointed out in our AT class tonight, I did have the collective knowledge of all the previous times I have directed my thinking and been guided by various teachers at my disposal.  I am certain these past experiences did come to bear positively on these steps.

Later in the evening, I woke again.  When I got out of bed, I paused, but this time I began thinking about what did that feel like when I woke the last time.  Seasoned Alexandrians will notice that I was attempting to feel my way back into a freedom of use rather than, use the means whereby the earlier freedom had been obtained.  What happened to my thinking?  Noticing this I smiled, but the urgency of what had awakened me took precedence and I moved on.  Two different but vivid illustrations of the power of direction and how easy it was for me to forget to direct and attempt to access the feelings of the previous freedom. 

* Negative or Inhibitory Directions were put forth by Missy Vineyard and I have listened to two podcast by Robert Rickover on this subject.  My experiments with them are yielding positive results.  More on this in a later post.


  1. Hi Patrick. I wholeheartedly embrace the idea of "negative directions". It helps lessen the temptation to "do" the directions, and puts us into the best state for a good use of ourselves: non-doing. As Alexander is sometimes quoted as saying, "If you stop doing the wrong thing, the right thing will do itself." You obviously found this to be true from your own experiences. To simply think to yourself, "I am not compressing my neck", is a beautifully simple and highly practical way to let the right thing "do itself". Thanks again for such a thoughtful post.

  2. Many thanks Bill. I have been exploring & experimenting with "negative directions" once again for the past couple weeks to great benefit. I am amazed at how simple they are to use and yet how powerful a process they usher in.