Articles on Alexander Technique

No Easy Fix: Part II

In Part I, I started to describe Dr. R and her struggle with back pain (and the idea of a blind spot).

Dr. R comes to an Alexander teacher who tells her that her back is not the key issue in her troubles.  Dr. R does not follow this line of thinking.  When she is told that her poor overall manner of use of herself is the root cause of her pain, she blanks out.  She really can’t understand this as a concept; it is in 180-degree opposition to how she has been taught to think.  Now, she is certainly not a stupid person.  She speaks the language.  So why can’t she understand this idea?

She holds a belief: If a part is giving pain, fix it.  End of story.  She has no sense of the person as an integrated unity that works as a whole.  Her sense is that she possesses a body which is made up of separate, independent parts.  According to this model, overall use can’t have much meaning, and that is why she doesn’t understand what the teacher is trying to convey.

Bear in mind that she has been dealing with her condition of pain as it deteriorates using her medical model and taking physical therapy –which by her own admission has not helped her. Yet she cannot see any other possibility.

But here is where things get really interesting.  Dr. R takes some Alexander Technique lessons and does feel oddly better.  She enjoys the lessons and for awhile goes a few times a week.  Then, she suddenly decides to stop the Alexander work, and resume her physical therapy.  Why do you suppose this is her conclusion?  She saw results, her pain was lessening, and her overall use of herself was improving.

It is because the Alexander work demanded that her thinking undergo a shift, and this is very dangerous to a person.  Change thought; change the fabric of the self.   Dr. R knew herself largely by her habitual thinking, by the beliefs and the crucibles that carried her along in life.  This is true of all of us to some degree.  In order to make changes in our overall use, we must start to become aware of our blind spots.  This can be an unsettling experience, because those blind spots can be a line of defense, protecting our habitual self-image.  In order to make the most of the work, we must be willing to take down some armor, and be willing to see ourselves from a different point of view.  That’s not easy.

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