Thursday, January 22, 2015

Little Directions

Tuesday night I was able to rejoin the Alexander Technique class with David Jernigan and others after an absence due to participating with The Field and then traveling.  Another student who has been working with AT for a few years now brought up a practice that he, David and I undertook 18 months ago.  For the first 5 minutes of our day we would work with AT.  For me this took the form of sitting on the side of the bed and thinking through the AT directions.  Three minutes into this practice today, I noticed my right shoulder & arm just let go. Just a little shift, but merely through offering thoughts of direction to my body Was the shift due to something held in my sleeping posture or just a habitual manner of my overall use?

Moving to the kitchen to make coffee, I again directed my thinking via AT.  Appeared so easy when not encumbered with the concerns and actions of my day.  The term "little directions" arose at this time.  Little as in a brief time to apply the technique in the mundane activities of life.  Seems I can find freedom in my use a bit easier than when guitar in hand I aim to make music.  The actions of playing an instrument are certainly more complex than sitting or standing and there is the emotional concern of how do I sound or why am I not making progress with this musical section.  One premise of AT is that how we do one thing is how we do everything.  Hence freedom in a simple act interpenetrates the more complex actions we undertake.  And merely by a little thought, a little direction before moving.

Later in the day as I moved to my guitar practice, I paused and directed again before opening my case.  My wish was to open my case to freedom and allow this to inform my playing.  As I worked on a few different parts from various pieces I was patient, pausing to direct frequently.  With this heightened awareness I saw that I was trying to help my hands rather than allow them to execute the musical phrases.  Helping took the form of leaning into a phrase with  my upper body; tightening my right thigh or gripping the floor with my feet.  Get out of the way, but how?  Little directions - forward   up   long   wide   . Direct out of the way; away from habit and pause again.  Direct my way to freedom a little bit at a time.  Smiling as I see a habit of holding onto life when I need to let go to life freeing up just a little.

Photo by Fiona McAllister

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