This is often what people say when they have had a couple of sessions learning the Alexander Technique and putting it into practice. When I ask what they were expecting the answer is usually, a series of exercises to do, or definite feedback along the lines of that’s right and that’s wrong.
A big part of learning the Alexander Technique involves being open to doing things in a new way, to becoming more aware, to learning the art of non-doing (more on non-doing in a future post) and to changing habits. Ultimately it is about focussing on how you go about something rather than the desired end. You might spend a lot of time in lessons stopping, not trying and non-doing – this is not what we’re used to in other parts of our lives and might not sound that interesting, but it is amazing what you find out.
That feeling of going into something expecting one thing and finding another can be challenging, and even off putting for some people. However, staying with it can be liberating, it can be a relief not to have to find the ‘right’ posture or do things the ‘correct’ way.
The Alexander Technique is a process which you can apply in everyday life, anytime, anyplace, anywhere. It is about being curious and trying things out, what happens if I think stop and notice where I’m holding tension before I do something; what happens if I invite something to be different. In other words, it involves increasing awareness, being present and thinking a bit differently.
Alongside this, the Alexander Technique involves becoming interested in the way we were designed to move. To do that we look at ‘living anatomy’ – applying knowledge about anatomy to our moving selves. I find it fascinating that although we don’t consciously think about where our head/neck joint might be or where our hip joints are, we operate according to some out of conscious idea of these things. Ideas which are generally not very accurate. By helping people become more accurate in these ideas, you open up different ways of moving or being or standing.
I have found that most people who are open to giving a go to something unexpected, who are willing to trust the process, let it unfold and gradually develop their understanding, enjoy learning the technique. They become skilled at applying the technique in their own lives and in their own way to issues that are challenging for them. In doing so they get to know themselves better and find new, more comfortable ways of being.
At the start of Alexander sessions, people often say ‘it isn’t what I expected,’ by the end they often ask, ‘why isn’t everyone taught this at school?’
If you think you’d enjoy finding the unexpected, why not give the Alexander Technique a go.