I was flying from Chicago to Lincoln, the second leg of a trip back from a teaching trip to Toronto. Still a bit tired from getting up at 3 AM to catch my first flight, I dozed off for awhile. When I woke up, I peered down at the cornfields and little towns of Iowa and then reached for a book to read.
At that moment I noticed a little twinge of pain in my right shoulder area. Without thinking about it, I wriggled around a bit.
But the pain persisted.
And that’s when I had my epiphany:
I’ve been teaching the Alexander Technique for over 35 years, and thinking and writing a good deal over the past few years about gravity and how we can use it to improve our posture and movement patterns. But now, at the moment of noticing pain, I reverted back to my old, and ineffective, response of just moving randomly and hoping it will go away.
Once I became aware of what I had done (and not done) I mentally connected with my seated center of gravity (in the middle of my chest, pretty much at the level of the bottom of my sternum) and then lightly thought to myself, “I am free to lift my seated center of gravity.”
The pain disappeared at once and so I shifted over to the Alexander Technique direction “I am free.” No need to continue lifting, after all, and the “I am free” direction prevented me from dropping back down again.
Still no pain.
Because I’ve been practicing directions for so long, I don’t usually bother the kind of test/experiment of using them, tossing them away, and then bringing them back and noticing what happened during the transitions. That’s a great way to start off, but over time usually becomes unnecessary. However this time the effect of directing was so obvious and so immediate that I decided to just play with it for a couple of minutes.
Each time, I used the direction sequence, it created a pain free state. And each time I threw it away the pain returned. By the time I landed the pain had faded away.*
And that’s the beauty of Alexander Technique directions. They allow you to choose freedom and ease, whenever and wherever you you want it.
Even in the friendly skies, on a sunny Sunday morning, high over the American heartland.
* In retrospect, I think the pain was probably caused by a nerve that had become compressed by a bit of a slump I had fallen into on the flight.
You can learn more about Alexander Technique directions, and how to use them yourself, by clicking here
And you can learn more about the way gravity and the other fundamental forces of nature operate on us by clicking here
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