Learning how to usefully self-direct yourself in an effective way is one of the most important skills an Alexander Technique student acquires from lessons in the Technique. It is, to use the title of F. M. Alexander’s second book, truly what “Constructive Conscious Control” is all about.
And to borrow from the title of Alexander’s third book,* self-directing is what enables you to improve the quality of your use of of yourself – how you use your physical mechanism as you go through your day’s activities. Sitting, standing, walking, driving, sitting at a desk, cooking, singing, sports…whatever you do.
Learning how to effectively direct yourself is a skill that does take a bit of experimentation and practice. Alexander Technique directions themselves are incredibly simple. But we humans often like to take something simple and make it more complex, for example by analyzing or judging, or trying to make it happen, or getting caught up in the results of our self-directing.
(If you’re not familiar with Alexander Technique directions this is a good place to learn about them: New Developments in Alexander Technique Directions In particular, I suggest listening to: Effective ways to use Alexander Technique Directions and to: A Brief History of Alexander Technique Directions)
The rewards of learning how to drop all that extra stuff is well worth the investment. It allows you to go through life without unconsciously creating restrictions in your body.
And that makes you’re life a lot easier, and a lot more fun!
I’ve always been intrigued by the Alexander Technique self-directing process and how it can be improved. In particular, I’ve wondered if its possible to expand, or lengthen, the use of directions without adding the kind of effort or chatter that prevents them being effective.
Effective Direction Extension – that’s what I wanted!
Recently I’ve been reading Eckart Tolle’s** book, The Power of Now, and came upon this simple exercise:
Close your eyes and say to yourself: “I wonder what my next thought is going to be.” Then become very alert and wait for the next thought. Be like a cat watching a mouse hole. What thought is going to come out of the mouse hole? Try it now.
Try it for yourself right now.
You might find that another thought doesn’t appear right away.
I started experimenting with following my self-directions with Tolle’s question. I then use the little “thoughtless” gap that appears to re-introduce my original direction, or another direction, followed again, of course, by the “I wonder” thought. This procedure allows me to effortlessly repeat a direction, or switch to a new direction, for a much longer time than I had in the past.
If you’d like to experiment give it a try. The process can be continued for as long as you like. Personally, I find that after a few minutes I get a little bored with it.
But not so bored that I can’t easily be drawn to repeat the process.
I’ve also experimented with some of my students (both in-person and distance learning) and it seems to be helpful for them as well.
So, once again, I’ve enlisted my colleague Imogen Ragone to explore the process herself in a short video session:
Let me know what you discover, below and/or on Facebook.
* Alexander’s third book is titled The Use of the Self.