When will you finally get it? — 18 Comments

  1. ‘Don’t do the thing, you don’t want to do’..enjoyed the video & interview/discussion Robert. Useful research for my next class tomorrow.., ‘learning to create a delicate movement, not recreate a feeling. Thanks, Mark.

    • “Don’t do that thing you don’t want to do,” that’s so laughable.
      But it’s a negotiation skill directive as well: “Don’t tell your opponent to do to you what you don’t want them to do. ”
      Another way of saying the same thing is…
      If you check in and make a judgment before you’ve made a move in a new direction, you’ll spot your habits. If you use your ability to find out what happened after you’ve experimented, you might find something new that made things easier for you. Make sense?

  2. It was fabulous to hear you and Michael talk about Marj! I often heard “Marj stories” from my teachers, Bruce and Martha Fertman, when I was training to be a teacher at their school in Philadelphia. I have now taught “the work” for 10 years, and I can totally agree that at its deepest, most profound level, this work is spiritual in nature and Marj was certainly one of its “masters.” If we truly accept the unity of the Self, then the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual are all intertwined in one whole. To access one of the these dimensions in a conscious way is to touch all of them, to a greater or lesser degree. For me, practicing the Technique is my “spiritual practice.” People who have never delved very deeply into the work look askance at this when I am bold enough to admit it, but it is true. Yet my college students often describe their AT class as “like meditation” when they tell their friends about it. I think the ones who do this experience this deeper aspect of the work, even though I don’t go into that aspect except to mention it in my beginning classes.

    Thanks for this posting!
    Sally Ahner

    • I feel the same way about A.T. being my spiritual practice. It gives me a practical way to make come true my abstract values and hopes in a way that opens outcomes rather than narrows them. It’s as if my own unfamiliar potential is my friend instead of a self-preservation, resistant threat. Strangely enough, that’s really laughable.
      This is what happened for me one time when I “got it” fast:
      Marj was doing her last lesson for my teacher training class for that visit. It wasn’t my day to be in class, but I got my business obligations done and walked into class late anyway. I said to myself, “Who can know, I may never get to see this Marj again…we could die.” As an activity, I sang a song, ~”This Moment…is different…than any…before it…This moment is different…because it is now.” ~ Marj said to me, “You have time to take a breath, but you won’t use that time!” I walked out of the room and realized that her observation was a thread permeating my whole life. It completely “blew my mind,” like a psychedelic trip. I cried. I walked back into the class, dropping a lifelong habit of letting all my air out before I started to say anything. I had this insight that I had put that habit in place when I was a child to seem non-threatening because I was so much taller than all my friends…a habit I didn’t even know that I had until that one little comment of hers.
      Marj used to give us a “merry send-off” in the last lesson. Meaning, she’d nudge you farther than you had gone before. What she would instill in us was like a time-bomb that would go off about two or three days later… The results: psychological insights on par with psychedelics, gestalt therapy or a life-changing brush with death from a Zen Master.
      Marj definitely deserved her reputation!

  3. Pingback:Mind your Manners | Body Learning Blog

  4. Great post Robert!
    When it comes to the Alexander Technique, I believe I’ll never get it. I also think that F.M. Alexander himself never got it. For me, that is one of the beautiful things about the Technique.

  5. I first knew Marjorie and her teachings in the mid-70’s. To see this clip from the 90’s is both humbling and empowering. Marjorie is here kaiphosed (upper spine hinging forward), as a result of osteoporosis, a condition of aging. But her understanding of FM’s insights is direct and unchanging; from where ever you are, ‘ease up’ is the right condition, melded with the right Direction. The premises of the Alexander Technique teaches one to make the best of whatever you’ve got.

    • Excellent point Stuyvie! Even more amazing was her work in the early 1990s after the workshop from which most of these clips are taken.


    • Yes, good point. We who have been trained to spot subtle changes in movement quality see things in the videos that are not apparent to untrained eyes.

      It doesn’t matter how you’re shaped to start with – improvement of ease can be experienced from any starting point. Most people in Marj’s situation would find that their balance is compromised, but Marj managed to cope with it…and convey clarity of intention in offering “direction” to others in addition!

      Didn’t A.R. Alexander teach from a wheelchair after a horse accident?

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