A few weeks ago, an Alexander Technique student emailed me the day after his first lesson. Here’s part of what he wrote:
On my way home from yesterday’s lesson, I continued to experiment with the Alexander Technique direction you showed me – “I’m free”. I used it walking to my car, driving, and walking into my house.
It had been a long day and decided to chill on the sofa and watch a little TV before having dinner. I sat down and was just about to reach for the remote, when I felt my whole body tighten! At first, I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but then it hit me that I was actually tightening myself. Almost like I was compressing myself downward into myself.
So then I thought maybe using the direction would help me stop that tightening. I did and immediately noticed a big change in my breathing and a weird kind of message that I should stand up and move to a nearby chair that wasn’t as squishy as the sofa. Now I felt much easier and watched TV for a half hour and then had dinner with my wife and 6 year old son. My son glanced over at me and said I looked taller.
After dinner, out of curiosity, I sat in the sofa again and immediately felt some tightening and moved back to the chair which felt much easier to be in.
The sofa, I later learned, was very soft, provided poor support, and encouraged the kind of internal collapse the student felt. That had always been the case, but this time my student had a new awareness of it’s effect on his body – and it didn’t feel good. After a few more lessons, he told me he hardly ever used the sofa anymore. “When I want to be comfortable”, he said, “I just use one of the directions you showed me. I can do that standing, sitting, walking, whatever.”
He realized that when he wants ease, the best way to find it is to use his own thinking, very lightly directed. But if instead he made a choice like “relaxing” on the sofa, he was really collapsing into himself – compressing himself, and actually removing ease from his life.
Where do you look for ease?
If it’s by doing something, like exercise, or taking in something like food, drink, pills? Or, like my student, inadvertently collapsing your body into soft furniture? How helpful has that been?
If you method involves the use your mind – meditation, prayer, or Alexander self-directing, to name just a few examples – how has that worked?
I’d love to hear about your experiences below and/or on Facebook.
(I received this in an email from Sam Garner who lives in London, England and I thought it was important enough to include in the blog itself.)
You may be pleased to know, I have implemented my first piece of Alexander technique practice by buying a new sofa!
I noticed, like the guy who wrote the letter in the blog post with the upside down, very relaxed dog.., that when I sat to watch TV taking up my usual spot on the sofa. Taking the time to assess my mood, thinking about my breathing, and how my body felt I was clearly uncomfortable, unsupported and began getting stressed and agitated. So I moved to sit in my wife’s chair, I was instantly far more relaxed and happier.
So that weekend I bought a new sofa (I couldn’t stay in the boss’ chair, lol) – an electric recliner, far more substance over style than we would have normally gone for, but it’s definitely going to be for the best! Thank you!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention an Alexander Technique procedure called Constructive Rest which is a great way to let go of harmful tension and bring ease into your body. It can be extremely helpful for anybody, not just Alexander Technique students. Find out more about it here: AlexanderTechnique.com/ConstructiveRest
You can learn more about Alexander Technique directions here: BodyLearningCast.com/teachers/directions If you’d like to learn a direction specifically formulated for freedom and ease, listen here’s a recent podcast I did with Imogen Ragone, an Alexander Technique teacher in Wilmington, Delaware:
OK, I hate to post a blog without including a relevant Country Music song if that’s possible. There is, as you may know, a Country song titled “Looking for Love in all the wrong Places” which inspired the title of this blog. But it’s not a song I like. But I’ve always loved this funny/sad song – and it definitely has a strong “ease” component!
Image copyright: chalabala / 123RF Stock Photo