Monday, February 7, 2011

How Do You Think?

                                   Photo by: Tj Matthews
This was a tweet posted by Missy Vineyard, an Alexander Technique teacher on twitter last week. 

"Common question: How do you FEEL? More important question: how do you THINK? Think for change--with the Alexander Technique."

This morning, every one I encounter at work are asking one another - "How are you feeling?"  Today this was a reminder, an invitation for me to think constructively about how am I using myself.  Am I aware of my neck, my back, my legs, even my breathing?  In becoming aware, can I allow myself the opportunity to release my neck and head, to allow my spine to lengthen, to notice what inane thoughts I might have been thinking when the question entered my ears.  

Convenient to clandestinely have my colleagues bringing me back to the present moment.  I wonder what would happen if I began asking them "How do you think?"  Perhaps some enlightened conversation would ensue, more likely some "Look I'm busy today."  Who knows?  Incorporating constructive thinking has become increasingly important in my day, with positive impact on my music making.  My wrist, left shoulder, and neck have not had any liniment rubbed into them in months.  Since there has been no pain, I rest better. According to feedback from others, my playing has improved, and several people have even commented that I have better "posture."

The past few days while working on a difficult section in a piece of music, I found that by incorporating the AT principle of inhibition, I found ways to introduce ease into my left hand, thereby improving my execution of the phrase.  By repeatedly coming back to myself, and using AT, I was able to practice in a way that was both effective and efficient.  With this increased awareness, I could also notice when it was time to let go of this particular practice and move onto something else.  Then with a refreshed mind, I could begin again, and again. 

Smiling as I realize tomorrow and for the rest of my days, that the same question will be asked of me and others, and that each time I hear this " How are you feeling," I have the opportunity to pause and address my thinking.  The hour is getting late and I need to spend time with my guitar. But first, a lie down.  By the way -  How are you thinking?


  1. Both the feeling and thinking are rooted in our bodies, right? I love the way you interconnect all aspects of the human Be-ing experience.

  2. Hi Patrick. By observing our thinking we not only open up the opportunity for change, but also, we give ourselves the means for finding consistency in the quality of how we carry out our activities. I'm always asking my students to especially observe their thinking process when they are having a particularly "bad" or "good" day practicing their instrument. By first noticing what they are doing in their bodies that might be interfering (or helping) with playing music, then tying that into how they're thinking in that moment as they play, they are able to cultivate a clearer understanding of the relationship between thought and action. Thanks for another beautifully clear and helpful post.