Leap of Faith

I never cared for this kind of leap of faith.

When I was in Sunday School, many, many years ago, we were given a little pamphlet about – not surprisingly! – God.  More precisely, our belief in Him (always a male, back then) and it was recommended for those who were not sure He existed that they take a “leap of faith” in order to get with the program.

I remember being very puzzled by this. First it had never before occurred to me that He might not exist and the pamphlet had the immediate effect of sowing seeds of doubt in me.

Second, I couldn’t imagine what a leap of faith would entail.  Images of jumping across a deep pit entered my mind and I decided that wasn’t something I was prepared to do just then.

Also, I would have to wait until I died to find out if my leap, even if I could pull it off, was justified and that just seemed way too far into the future.

It’s a bit ironic that as a teacher of the Alexander Technique I am always suggesting that my students take leaps of faith.  I suggest they experiment with using an Alexander thinking process (sometimes called “directions”) with as little as possible in-the-moment concern if the process will be effective or not.

A leap of faith on their part certainly, but one quite different than the one I rejected years ago in two important ways:

First, the stakes are a lot lower.  I ask them to experiment with a new thought about themselves as they move.  These results might be good, or they might not.  Either way there’s very little risked on their part.

Second, the waiting time is not dozens and dozens of years, but perhaps 10 seconds or maybe half a minute.  It’s a very, very short leap indeed.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about that you could try right now:

Take a short walk around the room you’re in.  Then, as you continue walking, add this thought: “I am not compressing myself” very lightly a few seconds.  Then let go of that thought and switch back to ordinary walking, then back to the “I am not compressing myself” version.

Did you notice any differences in your walking when you switched back and forth?

One key part of this experiment is the lightness of your “not compressing” intent – and the sure knowledge that you’re almost certain to forget it, and than when you notice that’s happened,  you can just gently bring the intent back.  If you catch yourself concentrating on this intent, trying to hold onto it, let go of that holding and return to a very, very light – and forgiving of forgetting it – intent.

A second key part – and this is where the “leap of faith” really comes into play:  be as little interested in the results as possible – during the experiment.  The time to make a judgement about the effectiveness of this kind of experiment is after it’s over.

(In an earlier podcast,  Alexander Technique tip from a Card Shark, I wrote about this kind of self-directing process in a bit more detail.)

So there’s an example of an Alexander Technique leap of faith – an easy and powerful way to experiment with Alexander Technique self-direction.


Were you able to utilize the process I just described?  If you ran into obstacles, what were they?  Did you notice positive changes in your walking from using this process?

I’d love to hear about your experience.




Free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Leap of Faith — 9 Comments

  1. hi robert,
    the leap of faith makes the changes.
    f.m says if we do always what we are doing(habitually) , no change at all.
    some risk, some leap as you said, is inspiring.

    but while walking in a room , ‘ iam not compressing my neck and my head going forward,
    and my knees forward and my back( torso(hips)) going back’ , is a big leap i think.

    i may have to take 100 leaps to get the end.
    but for others may be 1 or 10 leeps may be enough, but they just have to believe f.m.

    • Hi Geetha,

      Thanks for your comment. My suggestion is to keep the negative directions very short and simple – “I’m not compressing my neck” – not adding extra stuff. Just confuses the mind.

  2. Love this! Thank you.
    Years ago at the annual Sweet Briar Alexander retreat, the theme of the week was “One, Two, Three ______________”. That open interval was so full of the motor ‘intent’ to leap, to go ahead and just fly! The memories of childhood where you simply played into movement, so full of potential and “I can”, without the worry that impossibility was not an option. Now, at 64, I can still so readily recall the feeling of potential that brings me right into the sphere of mobility. If I find fear starting to out pace my joyous momentum, I just remember Marion Milner’s famous words –
    not “what should I do”, but “what are the facts”? I ‘offload’ my worry onto the world and feel the thrill of leaping.

  3. Hi robert,
    i cant separate the neck direction, from other directions as a whole .

    Even to make simple direction also, i wont separate from the whole ‘one after the other all together’ with the daily stimulus.

    I think the ‘whole direction’ , first confuses and next becomes a daily habit.

    I liked your blog very much.

  4. Hi Robert, I really love this post, thank you so much! I usually have “too much to do” when I’m online to actually try out little experiments like this, but I’m really glad that I took the time and made the “leap of faith” to try this one right when you suggested to, before reading further. I found it very interesting. My habit was to doubt that it was “working” and try to assess whether it was “working” or not, but I was able to inhibit that and go back to thinking “I am not compressing myself” again and again. Then, when I remembered to stop and go back to the “usual” way, I received immediate feedback that I was starting to subtly pull down and shorten myself. I switched back and forth as you suggested, and had the same experience several times. I was delighted to discover these habits, and delighted to be able to experience the difference immediately. Thank you again, and bravo for making this post so light and clear.

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