Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Alexander Technique Solution ~ Part I

When a student is first setting out to learn the Alexander Technique to effect positive change, it can sometimes seem quite difficult and confusing, because many of the teacher's instructions go against our lifelong habits and common culture.

Last week, I told my new class at the University of Cincinnati that one of the first steps in the Technique is also one of the most difficult...perhaps the most difficult.  This step consists of not trying to change something directly as soon as we notice something that we don't like. 

The Habit:
- to try to change something we don't like in a direct and immediate way (example:  trying to relax tight shoulders and neck)
- to try to fix something now
- to try hard to get something we think we don't have
- to believe that we are wrong and need to do something right away in order to be right
etc., etc.

The Solution ~ Part I:
- once we notice something we don't like/don't want, we can choose to do something different:  stop interfering with it
(example: I notice that my shoulders are tight again, and I pause for a moment before doing anything about it)
- refuse to do give consent to the usual, which is The Habit 
(example: I do not try to fix the tightness in my shoulders or make it go away)
- observe what is actually happening in the present moment, without judgment
(example: I observe the tightness without judgment, then I open up my awareness, expanding my field of attention to include other things I might not have noticed before.  Perhaps I notice that my knees are locked and my arms are being held stiffly.  Maybe my breathing is constricted)
- in this way, I give myself an opportunity to come to know The Habit (myself) more intimately.  (What is The Habit?  Me - who else?)

How can I fix something if I don't really understand it?  I need more information.  I haven't been able to "cure" myself of tight shoulders let me observe and gather more information.  If I immediately dive into making the shoulders "relax" in the usual way, tomorrow they will be tight again, and nothing will have changed.  I am a scientist, and I become my own experiment.  I am both subject and object.

One of my students commented in his journal that he had always been taught to "change everything that's wrong with me", and that it was nice to hear that there was another option.

Paradoxically, real and lasting change can only begin to come about once we stop trying so hard to get it.

*Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /


  1. Hi,
    seeing your blog ,i got remembered one famous quote which explains the alexander whole technique, i.e

    'NO! Try not, DO or DO NOT ...there is no try'.

    iam lucky to notice this quote, thanks to those who posted it.

  2. Yes! Yoda wise being! Thanks, rajesh, for the chuckle. :)


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