How can I improve the way I’m functioning?
Those two projects, not necessarily in that order, could provide a 5 second description of what a student of the Alexander Technique learns.
They could be the basis a short answer to the question, “What is the Alexander Technique”, when you want to make your interaction with the questioner as short as possible – going through customs, for example.
They might also be a good answer to that question if you want to provide an opening to further discussion. If that happens, you’re likely to come up against another question like this: “Well, how is that fundamentally any different from ____?
Here are just a few of the hundreds of methods, disciplines, processes etc that could end up in that blank: psychotherapy, life coaching, religion, mindfulness, physical therapy, meditation, tai chi, laughter therapy, prayer, yoga – the list could go on and on.
So is the Alexander Technique fundamentally different, perhaps even superior, or more effective, than these other processes?
My personal answer is that the Alexander Technique may be unique in focusing on how our minds and bodies interact and how we can use our conscious thinking capacity to improve our physical functioning.
But that helpful use of our thinking has to take into account the way our brain and the rest of our body is structured, and the complex nature of interactions within ourselves. To do that, we need to become students of ourselves.
For our founder, F. Matthias Alexander, mind and body are really just 2 aspects of the same thing and that every aspect of ourselves is connected to, influences, and is influenced by every other aspect. That basic understanding lies at the heart of his thinking, and of the Technique he developed.
I don’t know of another process that views the human condition in quite that way. And because the Technique focuses a lot on the quality of our postures and movements – which can be observed by ourselves and by others – it’s relatively easy to test it’s effectiveness when we’re applying it to ourselves.
The Technique certainly has a lot going for it, but it’s not for everybody. We’re all unique beings and some of us have temperaments better suited to other approaches to self-improvement.
But if you are looking to find a way to improve your life, and find the basic ideas of the Technique intriguing – or perhaps know somebody who has benefited from it – taking a few lessons or group classes could be one of the best decisions you ever made.
As I said, this is my own take on the Alexander Technique and is certainly not how all Alexander teachers and students view it. I’d love to hear your own answer to the question “What is so special about the Alexander Technique?”, below and/or on Facebook.