From the category archives:

Posture

Pandora’s Box

March 18, 2011

During my 30 years of teaching I have often observed how disturbing it is for pupils when they come up against a totally new sensation of themselves.  They tend to feel odd, misplaced, and peculiar.  Indeed, they are often alarmed by the sensations that flood them.

Time after time they will try to edge themselves back into the twists, distortions, and holding patterns that they are familiar with.  Even though they can see for themselves in my 4 mirrors (or in my photos of them) how distorted and twisted up they are when they are left to their habits.  Sometimes I will have to remind them 20 times in less than a few minutes not to sink back into a habit.  That whole time they can plainly see that the habit is a distortion.  They would like to be free of this distortion, which is why they are coming for lessons.  But they still go to the familiar, so that they won’t feel “wrong.”

It takes a lot of humor and good will for us to take this information in stride.  I actually tell every prospective pupil, that in order to work with them I will need two things; they must have a sense of humor, and they must be a good sport.  That is because this work is an undertaking which encourages a real shift within oneself and in one’s very way of being on this planet.  It is to open up a wonderful, terrible Pandora’s Box full of personal fears, talents, doubts, and false beliefs.

So if you are taking lessons or if you think you may want to start lessons, prepare to keep a good humor and be a good sport because to change the habits of a lifetime is “mind-blowing.”  You will open a door into your very Self and discover a wealth of new possibilities.  No other discipline I know can help us to facilitate this process as effectively and reliably as the Alexander Technique.

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What Does Your Posture Reveal?

September 17, 2010

I recently had a chat with someone about the Alexander Technique, not about what it is, but what it is NOT. This person thought that the Technique had to do ONLY with “good posture and standing up straight.”  This idea of “good posture,” or standing up straight, implies something fixed, rigid, and set, definitely NOT what we are after with the Alexander Technique.  It also assumes a split in the person between some true self (inside) and a physical posture (outside).  It’s important to realize that posture is attitude, and, because the human being is whole, posture is a reflection of the entire state of being.

We are sending out information all the time about how we feel about ourselves, and what we perceive in our outer world. We project the shyness that we want to cover up, those tensions and nerves we are trying to calm, that boredom we are trying not to show, our fears and our belief that we are not good enough, or just not enough.

When we see a very young child about to take his first steps, we see a human being totally free of all this clutter.  At this age we have not learned the fear, self-doubt and perfectionism that will get locked into our bodies (our entire selves, really), leading to the distortions and patterns of mal-coordination that we will spend a lifetime fighting against.  This is a state of conflict of the self and it is not a simple matter of an odd walk, or twisted hunched shoulders or a stooped back or whatever.  This is an attitude, and is a summation of who we believe ourselves to be and where we see our weaknesses.

We are all striving to succeed, making great efforts to do well, be liked, find love, and “get ahead.”  In fact, the way we pressure ourselves actually makes it harder to attain these goals and we often burn ourselves out “trying to be right.”

If that weren’t enough, we look very unattractive, all pulled around and deformed, slumped, lopsided and totally awkward. Walking around looking like an unmade bed is not helpful when it comes to our romantic life, is it? Alexander Lessons help us see ourselves objectively so that we can totally stop sending messages that don’t help us in life.

Here is an interesting link about exactly this issue.

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Look up in any dictionary (in any language) the word “posture” and the definition is attitude. That means that if you think you have “bad” posture your attitude about yourself and yourself out in the world could be vastly improved with Alexander Technique lessons.

Alexander Technique lessons will help you change deeply within yourself. This isn’t a matter form without content. The Alexander Technique is not about being straight and walking with books piled on your head. Not at all. With lessons, your entire attitude about yourself will improve and you will find that you are more easy going, and a happier person. This will be seen in your posture.

It is fascinating that there is absolutely no split in us at all. None whatsoever. We have believed since the Greeks that we exist in parts: mind, body, spirit. We have only to see a pregnant woman and ask her if she is physically pregnant. Be prepared for a big laugh. She will tell you she is totally pregnant. She is emotionally, physically, financially, mentally, intellectually, spiritually, socially pregnant.

When we see someone with Down’s Syndrome on the street, we can see the total integration as well. This person walks, talks, thinks, moves, eats, sleeps and lives within this syndrome. Is it just his postural stance that gives it away?

Your so-called “posture” screams out a message about your whole person. What message are you sending out?

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I believe that many of us have had the experience of being in a conversation or social situation in which we lacked self-possession. When after it was over we thought to ourselves, darn it! Why didn’t I think to say this…or that…. Why didn’t I make this point? I should have said….

So what has really happened there and how can the Alexander Technique bring us back to a state of self-possession, and help us to think on our feet?

We were in a moment where we were unable to think clearly. We had the information but we were too boggled or too hung up or tongue tied to make our point. In hindsight we believe we missed a chance to contribute to the situation. We fumbled and we fear we missed a chance to make our point. This sort of thing, when it happens repeatedly, can lead to the loss of a job, or to the undermining of our faith in ourselves, or it can simply give others a misleading impression of what sort of person we are. In any case, it is not a good habit because it makes life harder not easier.

How we apply the technique in such a situation is to stop and observe what we are doing to ourselves, so-called Physically I mean, though it is the entire person really. Is your neck free? Is your head able to allow itself to float easily up off your spine? Is your torso allowing itself to lengthen and widen? If we use the Alexander Technique to develop the capacity to stop and think we are really learning to connect with ourselves.

What we are doing here is learning to be less flustered. In purely social situations we can become less shy and more easy going and actually happier to be meeting new people. But in every case this leads us to a greater sense of self-possession and freedom and ease within ourselves. Can you start to understand how all these things contribute to a happier person?

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