Thursday, March 26, 2015

What Is the First Wrong Thing

Stop doing the wrong thing and the right thing will do itself -  F. M. Alexander

The aim of the Alexander Technique is to introduce harmony in how we use ourselves by cultivating freedom in the relationship of the head and neck.  In AT lessons, the hands of the teacher guides us into this freedom.  A feeling of lightness and ease ensues.  After performing an AT lie down I can generally sense this for myself.  FM Alexander put forth directions we are supposed to think to allow this freedom to arise.  This is much more elusive.  Difficult even.  Why is this so? 

Today as I sat down to practice guitar I found my breath, then began working with the AT directions.  Certainly I have found value in this and have conducted countless AT experiments over the years. Much ongoing valuable instruction, and a real desire to reliably introduce this freedom that comes from the technique has been crucial.   This morning I heard myself ask when and/or where does the wrong thing begin?  Momentarily I was stunned, then some quick answers arose - habit, faulty sensory awareness, and even a general lack of awareness.  Still where does it begin on this day?  Does this lie within the body or the mind?  In my view these are inseparable, and the problem is that they are frequently not operating in harmony.

The first wrong thing I'll posit is a lack of attention.  Plain and simple, not being where I am.  The good news is that this can be transformed. The second wrong thing is holding onto or going for a position I think is right.  The third wrong thing is not being able to sustain my awareness of myself over time leading me back to the first wrong thing. 

To the degree that I've had success with AT, I attribute to great instruction from the likes of Frank Sheldon, Sandra Bain-Cushman, David Jernigan, Pedro de Alcantara, and William Conable.  Missy Vineyards book How You Stand, How You Move, How You Live: Learning the Alexander Technique to Explore Your Mind-Body Connection and Achieve Self-Mastery has been invaluable.  As has been my practice of Zen.  Just sitting, observing my thoughts and generally choosing what thoughts I want to manifest while following my breath is the key for my use of the Alexander Technique.  I just need to remember to pick up the key and apply this work over time. Then pick up the key and apply again; and again ...

Photo by Joao Vincente

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