In a previous post, Mind and Body go to Couple’s Therapy, Mind and Body talked about their issues with each other, and how they hoped the Alexander Technique would help. Arrangements were made to visit a teacher of the Technique.
A few weeks later I thought it would be interesting to see how things are going with them. As it turned out, they are no longer they, but one Self. So I interviewed Self about what happened.
Me: It’s must have been a big change going from Mind and Body to Self.
Self: Yes, in many ways it was. I’ve come to realize that those two aspects on myself, that were trying to operate independently as though they were separate parts, were causing themselves a great deal of unnecessary trouble.
Me: Could you elaborate a little on that?
Self: I’ll do my best. But I have to say first of all that this new unity is quite new to me and there is a lot about it Il don’t fully understand.
Anyway, I (back then it was we) went to a very nice lady who took plenty of time to listen to the predicament my Mind and Self found themselves in – the constant bickering and blaming. Once we were finished, she started the Alexander Technique lesson.
And here’s what was so unexpected, and so amazing really. She didn’t really talk about our problems in any sort of obvious way. Instead, she used her hands to guide me into an easier way of sitting, and later standing and walking. I felt freer than I can ever remember.
Me: That must have been quite an experience!
Self: It was indeed. I wanted her to continue with that kind of guidance forever. But as she said, “I can’t follow you around all day. And, even if I could, it’s you who has to really make the changes in yourself. Right now, I’m just showing you what’s possible.”
Me: So how were you able to make those changes yourself?
Self: It was both simple and quite challenging at first. She introduced me to what are called Alexander Technique “directions” which are basically statements of intent – such as “I am free.” or “My neck is free.” or “My breathing is free.” It sounds very simple – simplistic even – but those directions can produce immediate positive results as I discovered during that first lesson.
Me: Sounds easy. What made them challenging?
Self: Well, I did say “simple” – but not necessarily easy. She explained that the way in which those directions are self-delivered is at least as important as their content. They need to have a very soft quality – nothing pushy or demanding. And they’re not to be clung to. Indeed, as she pointed out, it inevitable that I’ll forget them. When I notice that, I just gently bring them back. She also alerted me to a few common “traps” that one can easily fall into.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but it did take some time for me to able to self-direct effectively. The whole learning process made it absolutely clear to me that there was no real separation between “Mind and “Body.”
Me: Could you say more about that?
Self: Sure. As I mentioned before, I found that an Alexander Technique direction, properly delivered, produces an immediate physical change.
Similarly, putting myself in what my Alexander teacher called a “position of mechanical advantage” (she often called it the “Monkey”) or in the Constructive Rest position has a more subtle, and slower, effect of my mental state.
Me: I can see that Mind and Body have an extremely close connection. But are they actually unified?
Self: Good question! I think I’ll defer to a podcast interview for the Alexander Technique Podcast you did with Alexander Technique teacher John Macy, in which that very question was asked (by you) and answered (by him)!
You can listen to it here:
Me: Good answer Self! In fact that interview came about because I wasn’t able to come up with a good answer to the question myself.
Thank you so much for the interview Self!
Self: You’re most welcome Robert!
Me: I’d be very interested in hearing from Alexander Technique students and teachers about how they’ve come to see the Mind-Body question, based on their own experiences with the Technique. Please leave your comments below.
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