Thursday, August 16, 2012

Real Change can be Effortless with Alexander Technique

I admit:  I am astonished.

Even though I'm an AT teacher and I know from experience how working on an issue indirectly (focusing primarily on the whole person instead of individual parts) can help create fundamental change...the change I just experienced in myself as I began to practice my violin this evening caught me offguard!

All my life (I've played the violin since age 4), my left hand pinky has been "weak" (well, that was my belief, anyway), which has resulted in playing with it rather flattened out on the fingerboard much of the time.  Over the years that I've been involved with AT, I've been working with changing my belief about that little finger, realizing how strong that side of my hand is, in fact. My work with this has been extremely casual, though, and I remember it mostly while teaching my students about their fingers.

I didn't work much on this issue because I never really expected to be able to play the violin with a rounded pinky--that was just beyond my reach, I thought; I didn't even bother trying to change that.  Playing that way would be an "ideal" dream for me which I did not hope to ever achieve.  It actually wasn't very important to me, either, because the results I've always gotten with a flattened pinky have been just fine for me--very much "good enough".

SO, imagine my surprise as I began to play the violin this evening (at 11:00pm, tired...) and I suddenly notice that my pinky is strong and rounded.  In disbelief, I test it out in different positions, playing different types of music...and lo and behold...I can keep it that way!  I am almost in shock -- I had to come here right away to write about it.

I have NOT worked on this issue.  I have rarely given it any thought, although I have been aware of the flattened pinky as a generally undesirable condition.

How and why has it changed, without working on it at all in the "usual" way?  How can it be that such a fundamental "problem" has changed from one hour to the next (I did play the violin a bit this afternoon and I didn't notice anything different), without any conscious will to change?

Fantastic.  This was entirely unexpected.

This really makes me wonder what other seemingly miraculous changes might be in store for me in the future!  I am in awe of the Mysterious workings of Life....Life's Wonder...and so grateful!

If you are a student or teacher of the Alexander Technique, have you had a similar experience you might like to share?  Something that bothered you that was suddenly changed one day, without any conscious effort on your part to make it different?  I'd love to hear about your experiences.


  1. Really amazing.
    I keep saying to my students: allow yourself to be surprised.... by yourself.
    Happens to me quite often, but on a smaller scale :-)

  2. What a good direction: "I am allowing myself to be surprised.... by myself." Thank you very much for your comment!

  3. A similar discovery happened to me - in fact, continues happening as I practice A.T. Decades ago, I noticed I was twisting my heel in the last moment of how my right foot came off the ground. But I decided I would put off imagining I knew what to do about it, rather than focusing on "fixing it." Years later, I was surprised to notice how my heel had stopped twisting by itself. The pattern of how my shoes wore out pointed out the change to me. Evidently, I had freed up the pathway of my hip swing and knee follow-through, which influenced the old twist in my right heel, allowing my foot to remain in contact with the ground for a moment longer.

  4. Wonderful! It's really amazing how awareness + letting go + patience can yield unexpected and positive results. Thanks for sharing this, Franis!

  5. Hi jennifer,
    Those unfamiliar sensations can be told as a better experience and a discovery for our self.

    Since, fm already discoverd all this.

    A student may discover the real 'head forward and up in relative to the total body' , after a long working days and may be even years.

    A better and better 'HEAD UP' is always waiting for us to discover.

    A best 'head forward and up' ,
    and the extraordinary
    'HEAD UP, is still there and we can experience that.

    A new idea about head and body changes and makes us to redesign and redevelop the present logic of the body , to make it better.

    How many times our present idea of right thing of body changes in a week?
    In a day?
    In a hour?

    How difficult to explain the 'head forward and up' in words.

    the head went from 'back and down' to 'forward and up' .

    On the next movement we have to do 'UP' of the head and there is no need to do FORWARD.
    The next duty of us to prevent the UP working for our benefit.

    So, i think UP is the best word in this scenario.

    And hands on guidance is the best tool.

  6. Thank you for sharing your musings, Rajesh. UP is a great word, I agree! But any words can get in the way...depending on the person, circumstance, and that even the word 'UP' can be overdone, when it is not counterbalanced with a healthy awareness of 'DOWN'. Indeed, if we do not "do" the 'UP', I agree with you that this is one of the best words we have. And hands-on guidance is one of our best tools, yes!


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