Was God the first Alexander Technique teacher? — 15 Comments

  1. Hi Robert,

    Ah, interesting and funny coincidence in the timing Robert – just yesterday as I was off to teach at Trinity Laban here in Greenwich I came across this little proverb (?) written, in capital letters, high up near the roof of Greenwich Market:

    Something to do with trading undoubtedly, but in keeping with all the stiff -necked stuff!
    Not sure of the provenance of this, but it kept my teaching lively for the day.


  2. I love this post, Robert, especially because I love to hear from Alexander Technique teachers who are not afraid to talk about God in the same breath as the Technique! There are quite a lot of references to stiff necks in the Bible, and I find it interesting that they are sometimes combined with messages about hardened hearts–something we AT teachers don’t talk about much. Here is a source I just found for some quotes:

    It’s a humorous question to ask if God was the first AT teacher. I think the answer depends on how one conceives of God, and how one conceives of AT.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I think there are 19 or 20 references to stiff-necked in the Bible – mostly in the Old Testament, but some in the New.

      And as you said there are references to hardening the heart (the Pharoh, for example) and I believe “heart” usually is a reference to “head” or “body”.

  3. This is very good description, and i loved 2 sentences very much.
    1. God is the first and the best alexander teacher.
    2. F.m.alexander is the first and the best human alexander teacher.

    • Thanks for the comment Raj.

      Actually neither of those quotes appears in the articles. Personally I don’t think either God or FM was the best teacher at all – certainly not God – unless His teaching role was to get the ball rolling so to speak and then outsource the details to us mere mortals.

  4. First off, who is this “He” you keep referring to? My God is neither male nor female, or else is both. And I don’t think of it as “God” but that’s another matter entirely. Of course, the OT God is pretty darn male. Still, AT teachers like to be precise in their laguage, so be careful there… 🙂

    Secondly, I really love when AT teachers can connect spiritual growth with bodymind learning. One needn’t believe in God to play with the idea in our work. “Stiff-necked” is a good description of being habitually on full alert, frozen and unable to respond in the moment. In the Old Testament it seems God wants us to obey rather than think for ourselves, which seems like the opposite of what Alexander work is all about. Until you consider that to “obey God” might just mean remaining open and flexible to whatever arises, or going with the flow, as we used to say back in the dark ages of the disco era. To follow God could mean to stay open to what Quakers call “continuing revelation,” or in Alexander parlance, “the means whereby” rather than the end one wishes to gain.

    Well, I could go on and on, but I won’t. This is a really interesting topic for consideration. Thanks for putting it out there.

    • Hi Amy,

      You’re correct of course – should have been He/She or something along those lines.

      Interesting point about what God actually wanted – did He/She want us to obey Him/Her or be flexibly in the moment?

      I have no idea!

  5. You’re right of course – I should have said He/She.

    So…as you ask did He/She want us to merely obey or be flexibly in moment? I have no idea – could be He/She was conflicted about this…

  6. I’m glad I came to read this a second time (a winding in if you like) and took comfort in relaxing my neck enough to read the comments. Perhaps the NT is all about continuing revelation (curiously the last book in it too)- the miracle of the present, inhibition, choice – forgiveness to turn around and around habitually if you so desire. The OT can be useful but its not my heritage…or is it?
    Since discovering AT I have had to steer off into Quantum Theory some Jung and Newton, movement and somatic practices just to keep the stream of questions alive more than anything. AT was my constant reference and reminded me to remember Tich Nat Hahn and stop using the dishwasher.
    If neck flexibility is a requisite to flow then punishment for bad behaviour aids the wave along, metaphorically speaking.
    I like the idea that G_d is Love and that finding out what Love means for us and then actioning is a big part of the journey. Church is all around when we look.

  7. I loved this post as well! Maybe it is nit for everyone, but personally I think it is great to ask this question, especially in such a nice and hunorous way as you do here. I have been thinking for a while of alle the words we have in our language that do describe bodily appearances, but that also have a deeper psychological meaning – like stiff-necked. A very interesting field, glad that you brought it up!

  8. Complex)
    (4) They running forward with necks outstretched, their heads uplifted, their gaze returning not towards them, and their hearts a (gaping) void!

    (سورة ابراهيم, Ibrahim, Chapter #14, Verse #43 the Quran

  9. God was definitely the first Alexander technique teacher, but have you thought about that, that He was also the creator of the neck and the whole human being? Of course He knows exactly, how we should use our neck and our whole bodies – He has made us. And He also knows very well, how to communicate with us at any time or situation. When He finally decides to punish people for being stiff necked and with a hard heart, it usually comes after years, decades, sometimes even hundreds or thousands of years of trying to gently coax people towards the right decisions. Sadly it happens in this world, that people just won`t listen to gentle words. Sometimes people just won`t listen, before it really hurts. I probably wouldn`t have the patience to learn Alexander technique, if my body would hurt less than it does. Human beings tend to be lazy and not very interested in changing the way they think without a good reason. Pain can sometimes be that reason.

Leave a Reply to Robert Rickover Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>