Welcome back. Yesterday we were talking about being Creatures of Habit and I promised to tell you about me.
I remember being horrified to realize that I was contracting my neck severely, every time I moved, and then to discover that I could not control this behavior. Try it again; try not pulling your head back into your neck as you get up. (And try not to achieve this through the unfair and unproductive means of stiffening your neck like a block of wood. Try to simply not do something you usually do!)
F.M. Alexander noticed habits of his own that he determined were at the root cause of losing his voice and thereby, threatening to ruin his career as an actor. He discovered a pattern of compression along the spine and through his joints, all the way to gripping the floor with his feet. He was tightening his throat and neck and throwing his head back and his chest out.
Have you ever tried to change a habit and then noticed just how tenacious they can be? F.M. (as he was known) discovered this difficulty. He reasoned that these patterns of contraction and compression were connected with the difficulties he was having with his voice. He tried telling himself not to do them, but when he’d begin to actually speak, he discovered that he reverted right back to his old habits.
F.M. figured out a way to deal with his harmful habits; he trained himself to stop and to allow a proper expansion along the spine and through all his joints. He realized that indirectly, in the process of this work, his problems cleared up. He noticed this same pattern in most of the civilized population around him and began working with others and had similarly good results. This is a very streamlined and watered-down nutshell version of his story, but this is the root of the Alexander Technique. It’s about habits and conscious control. In his search to solve the problems he had with his voice, F.M. Alexander not only discovered a way to control and direct his own posture in activity, but also discovered a way to deal with habits that affect the entire, “psycho-physical being” (his words).
Applying the Alexander Technique to our habitual reactions to life situations is empowering and freeing. It’s about human potential and consciousness and it provides a powerful tool that you can apply in your life as well as in your body.
About habits again…..I like habits; they make life easier. The more good habits we cultivate, the better our rose garden will look.
To tell you the truth, I even like dandelions and enjoy blowing their seeds, but I’d rather not have too many of them in my lawn. Give me just enough to keep me humble and remind me not to take my life – or my garden – for granted.