Ever since I started teaching the Alexander Technique nearly 40 years ago, I’ve wondered why some students stop taking lessons after the first one or two – despite experiencing significant improvements in their posture and the way they move. Changes they and their friends and family have noticed.
It’s a small percentage of students, but included my 3rd student! Fortunately I was prepared for this by Paul Collins, one of the Directors of my teacher training course in London.
“The point when real change starts to happen is a dangerous one. That’s when some of your students will just disappear.” He said that to a group of us trainees, without giving any explanation.
Over the years I’ve asked many other teachers if they’ve had the same kind of experience and almost all said “yes”.
My obsession with this question eventually led me to do a podcast interview for the Alexander Technique Podcast with Mark Josefsberg, an Alexander teacher in New York City. I had come up with a list of 4 or 5 possible explanations and we discussed them all in our interview titled Why Do Some Students Take One Or Two Lessons And Then Quit Even Though They And Others Have Noticed Major Benefits which you can listen to here:
Recently I’ve been reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and was struck by something he wrote which is closely related to one of my possible explanations – but now stands out for me as an aspect I had not fully considered.
Here’s what he wrote:
The ego’s needs are endless. It feels vulnerable and threatened and so lives in a state of fear and want. Once you know how the basic dysfunction operates, there is no need to explore all its countless manifestations, no need to make it into a complex personal problem. The ego, of course, loves that. It is always seeking for something to attach itself to in order to uphold and strengthen its illusory sense of self, and it will readily attach itself to your problems. This is why, for so many people, a large part of their sense of self is intimately connected with their problems. Once this has happened, the last thing they want is to become free of them; that would mean loss of self. There can be a great deal of unconscious ego investment in pain and suffering. (Emphasis mine)
What I take from this is that if an Alexander Technique student is indeed “intimately connected with their problems”, and those are the very problems are why he or she came for lessons – well as a teacher you may have a serious challenge on your hands.
And your student might well disappear as soon as it’s clear that the Alexander process is working for them.
I’d love to hear of other teachers’ experiences with this phenomenon and any thoughts on how best to deal with it. Please leave your comments below and/or on Facebook.
Image Copyright : Leslie Banks