Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to Find Balance with the Alexander Technique - Part I

When we feel unbalanced--either mentally or physically or both--it is because we are unconsciously pulling ourselves off-center.  We do this by over-focusing on one or more spatial directions to the exclusion of others.  Our body follows our awareness, and our intention directs our awareness.

For example, if we are concentrating our focus outside of ourselves on work at the computer in front of us, oblivious of the region within our bodies and the space behind, above, below, and to the sides, we will start to lean forward towards the machine, throwing ourselves off-balance in our chairs, and our heads/necks/bodies will become filled with tension.  Or, if we are aware of pain in our heart, unaware of the space around the heart in the rest of the body, and of the space outside the body, we will tend to contract/ collapse inwards towards the heart-region, causing more pain.

What we need to do to regain balance is to first find the WILL to regain balance, then notice where our focus is, stop letting parts of ourselves get pushed or pulled in one direction to the exclusion of the other directions, and open up our minds and bodies to keeping all directions in balanced awareness together.  Here are four simple steps for regaining equilibrium when you feel off-balance:

1. Can you be curious about your current state?  Ask yourself:  Am I happy and content here, in this un-balanced state?  Do I want to stay in this state? Or can I find the will to bring myself back into better balance, knowing that a more balanced state will make me happier?  

2. Notice what spatial direction you're going in, right NOW.  Where is your attention?  What are you focusing on?  Gather information.  Are all directions equally balanced, or is one direction--or several directions--emphasized more than the others?  If you're not sure what direction you're going in, take a moment to pay attention and wait for awareness to come to you.  Take your time.

Are you aware of the outward dimension? Are you aware of the space around you? Are you aware of the sky above you? The ground below you? The space in front of you? The space behind you? The space to each side?
Are you aware of the inward dimension? Are you aware of the inside of you? Are you aware of your head? heart? belly? feet? neck?

3. Remember that you have free will, and therefore you can choose to use it for your benefit. You are free to choose your thoughts and where to put your awareness.  You are free to open up the field of your attention to include more parts of space.  You are free to stop pulling parts of yourself in directions which throw you off-balance. You have a choice: you can either continue to go in the same direction you were headed in a moment ago, or you could stop.
Give yourself time to consider...think it through.  What do you really want?  In which direction(s) do you really want to go?  Would you really like to find a state of balance right here, now?

4. Choose to stop limiting your focus.  Choose to expand your awareness to include all directions, finding a lively state of equilibrium between the inward and the outward.  Are you now in a happier or more peaceful state than when you started?  Now, you can choose to continue with this practice or go on to doing something else.  If you choose to go do something else, you could first find the will to remember to practice this again next time you feel off-balance.

The easiest (and most enjoyable!) way to learn how to practice these steps most effectively is to take Alexander Technique lessons from a certified Alexander Technique teacher.
To find a teacher near you in the USA, click here: American Society for the Alexander Technique.

I'm curious about your experience with this article.
As you read through this article, did you become more aware of where your focus was directed?  Did you become more aware of other spatial directions?  
Did it help you feel a bit more balanced?
I'd love to hear about your experience with these ideas if you try them out!

*man at computer photo by David Castillo Dominici's portfolio is: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=3062
*man balancing photo by chanpipat, http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2898

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