Make it so – Jean Luc Picard, Captain, USS Enterprise
Obviously a lot of crew members, machinery and computers had to be mobilized to fulfill the Captain’s order. The command structure of the Enterprise was such that more often than not, it was quickly and efficiently “made so.” Jean Luc was then free to continue focusing on the big picture – be it the attack of a Klingon war ship, trouble with the Borg or Q, or an unexpected and messed up situation on one of the planets they were exploring.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way for us to make a decision about how to improve the way our body functions – perhaps improving our posture, or releasing harmful tension – that we could then just “make so” as we went about our lives?
Well there is, thanks to a man named F. Matthias Alexander. Alexander was not the kind of guy you’d see on the Enterprise. He was short of stature, seemed to always be wearing dark suits, and personality-wise not one to fit in with any kind of command system.
Nor did he have the kind of specialized training that Jean Luc and the other Enterprise crew members went through. He was largely self-taught and his early career path involved acting and reciting.
He was born of humble origins in a distant outpost of the 19th Century British Empire, long before anyone was thinking about exploring the “new frontier” of space. The frontier territory in which he grew up, Tasmania, was a penal colony for British cast-offs and the site of systematic slaughter of the island’s aboriginals.
A serious vocal problem caused him to take a close look at what he was actually doing with his body while reciting and acting. His investigation enabled him to solve his problem and, in the process, make some fascinating discoveries about how our thinking affects our actions – discoveries that formed the basis of what is today called the Alexander Technique.
Alexander came up with two very specific mental processes – “directing” and “inhibiting” in Alexander Technique jargon – that allow us to identify habits of thought and movement that are getting in our way, and to systematically release them. (Alexander’s inhibiting has nothing to do with Freud’s use of that word – there is no repressing thoughts and feelings in Alexander Technique teaching.)
By using these mental processes we can make a decision about how we want to change the way we function, and then “make it so.”
Of course Captain Picard’s commands had to do with what he wanted to be done, knowing that the people and equipment on his ship were organized in a way that it would indeed be done. Alexander, on the other hand, was concerned with how we human beings function in whatever activity we choose to do.
Picard’s commands usually took effect almost instantly. The processes for change that Alexander developed can take longer to be fully implemented – our brains and bodies are far more complex and intertwined than than any bio-mechanical system, even one as complex as the Enterprise. But, as Alexander said, “We can throw away the habits of a lifetime in a few minutes if we use our brains.”
We can, in other words, we can take the steps needed to “make it so.”
Here’s a podcast interview about Alexander Technique “negative directions” – which combine directing and inhibiting, the two key mental processes that Alexander developed:
Other podcasts about negative directions can be found here: bodylearningcast.com/teachers/negativedirections