Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Go to the Mirror Boy

                                  Photo by Sukanto Debnath

The themes of this piece by The Who crashing through my mind, those power chords urging my body to move as I title this post. Like Tommy I have recently had to go to the mirror to find something about myself. Looks as if this search will take more than one trip which is fine, especially since the message I found in the mirror tonight was one of process. I must be with the process and trust the process. Then the freedom I am looking for becomes possible.

David Jernigan the Alexander Technique I have been studying with has a wide full length mirror in his practice studio where he gives his lessons. Three weeks ago I turned to face this mirror during the lesson as I was preparing to play. There was David and another student in the room and me in the mirror. I found this experience of performing in front of the mirror very unnerving. Very difficult to look into my eyes with others watching me. I eventually turned away from the mirror at David's suggestion that evening. A little too much was going on and I was lost.

Last week I again confronted the mirror during a lesson with just David and myself. I can no longer accurately consult this particular experience but I was eventually able to play through an entire piece in the mirror. David's hands guiding me, showing me possibilities of lengthening and widening.

Tonight in class with two other students I again choose to turn to the mirror. I was attempting to give the directions but wanted badly to pull this off. And of course I did not. Began a different piece but still too much. David worked with me on lengthening and drew my attention to the room, but still the ability to play eluded me.

I stepped to the side and began again. Finding my body and my breath. While directing my neck to be free I connected with my guitar and began to play Here We Are, a piece that begins simply enough. I could now hear myself playing and then slowly I moved towards the mirror. I played. By going stepwise through the process I was able to accomplish the task.

My earlier efforts were grasping at the music. My mind was wandering, instead of either being quiet or thinking constructively. I realize now I always have the permission to take the time I need to become present while in the class, yet my end gaining takes over. I want to be able to manifest my awareness and take off.

As David was working with another student I heard him say " If the mind will not be empty, it is better to direct our thinking constructively." He went on to add to "use only as much thinking as necessary." Focus on the music and trust the Alexander process to support your playing.

This last comment on trust helped me recall a conversation I had with Robert in October of last year. He told me of an experience where he knew that he could always trust music to be available. The question remains can I be available to music?

As the song from Tommy said: " No machine can give the kind of stimulation needed to remove his inner block." With this I agree.  I am finding through my meditation practice, Qi Gong, and the Alexander Technique there lies a range of possibilities that previously have been hidden. Back to the mirror.


  1. It's interesting that you practice AT with your teacher's help while you are playing your guitar. I meditate and practice yoga. I will do a yoga session just before I play my violin and see whether I'm still opening up from deep within while I play.

  2. Absolutely, do it more than once. Let me know the results.