Thursday, September 20, 2012

Positive Resistance to Stress, with Alexander Technique

I have been experiencing a great deal of stress lately, due to certain circumstances in my life, and that leads to a sense of internal pressure to deal with all of it somehow.  I find it interesting to take a moment and observe this phenomenon in myself and how it plays out.

The Old Habitual Way: 

stressful situations lead to:

  • sense of pressure from outside, "a burden/weight on my shoulders", etc.
  • habitual reactions made up of a combination of fight/flight/freeze responses in mind and body
  • which leads to heightened anxiety and other unpleasant feelings and emotions,such as annoyance, irritation, anger, frustration, sadness, sense of hopelessness/helplessness, etc.
  • negative thinking
  • strong desire to do something to get rid of these unpleasant feelings
  • addictive behavior often follows, such as sugar-consumption to make myself feel better in the short term but makes me feel worse soon after
  • more unpleasant feelings: back pain, brain fog, repetitive thinking, etc...
  • vicious, destructive cycle

The New, Conscious Way: 

When I remember to STOP for a moment, so that I can think and apply my AT skills, I am more empowered to change how I react to stressful situations, which I often cannot change directly (for instance, sometimes the stressful situation has to do with another person's actions, or even the weather), and I have a chance to break the cycle and transform it into something positive.

stressful situations lead to:

  • some, but less, of the old reactivity (or if I'm really mindful, I can skip this unpleasant part altogether!)
  • recognizing that outside pressures come with an inward direction (it feels like things are pushing in towards me, trying to compress me and make me shrink)
  • instead of fighting that inward force, I can notice and allow it, accept and go along with it
  • this brings me inward to my heart - the seat of ego, as well as the seat of Consciousness; I realize that I can choose Consciousness, and be grateful that I have been brought back to my heart, getting in touch with my true Self again
  • once I'm centered again, I see that I have a choice:  I can continue focusing on this inward direction, and/or I can re-balance myself by remembering that the inward can also shine outward
  • choosing to shine out from my center, I can aim my whole self into expansion, aiming up-down, left-right, forward-back, etc. - but without losing awareness of my heart-center; ideally, I will continue to remember that inwardness and outwardness are equally necessary, and I will allow for both directions to support me as I continue on into my daily activity
  • this gives me a great deal of confidence as I face outward pressures with a positive resistance
  • aiming in-out brings me back to the awareness of my inner strength and helps me apply it constructively in relation to the challenges that await my response on the outside

This works SO well; I wish I could remember it every time I'm faced with stress in my life!

p.s. It can be hard to know how to aim yourself (body and mind) in space; this is what an Alexander Technique teacher is trained to help you  do.  Taking some lessons to learn these great skills is REALLY worth it!


  1. For me - today - right now - this was the perfect impulse!

    Thanks very much!

    Bremen / Germany

  2. I'm so glad you found this post useful, Stefanie! Dankeschoen!

  3. hi,

    an athlete runs 100 meters with in 30 seconds with out alexander technique thinking.
    i think this has no importance at all while doing the alexander technique.

    alexander technique aims to run 10 kms with conscious speed and with satisfactory muscle tension and with out more or less tension till the end.

    1. Thank you for your insightful comment, Rajesh. I very much appreciate your point, which is about the means whereby a goal is reached; with 'being' (and 'well-being') having primary importance, over 'doing'. To me, whatever is motivating a person towards a goal is of importance. If a person is motivated to run 100 meters in 30 seconds, I believe it is possible to do so with Alexander Technique thinking, without compromising well-being.

  4. Hi jennifer,
    i think alexander directions should be explained with a teacher hands.
    how much difficult to explain the ,
    ' lengthening and widening of the back(torso)' by using words with out hands.

    Why we are doing the lengthening and widening?
    What is the aim of this?
    What goals this leads?
    What other parts effect this?
    How to DO this?
    How to Non DO this?
    Preventive measures to do this?

    I think all this can be explainable with in a short period under the golden hands of the teacher to the student.

    And thanks for the blog.

    1. Hi Rajesh,
      Yes, we are so fortunate to have learned a way to use our hands to illustrate the meaning of our words, from F.M.'s shared experiences. Using just words - or just hands - makes our work nearly impossible. It is interesting to note that F.M. believed, at first, that everyone would understand what he meant just from reading his books. And yet, they didn't really understand fully what he was trying to convey until he joined his hands to his words. Yes, we are very fortunate to have both! I think we teachers do well to work on both skills - our use of words as well as the use of our hands.
      All best to you!

  5. Great post I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this interesting and knowledgeable article.
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