Have you ever found it hard to maintain your Alexander thinking?(*). You’re going along just fine, your thinking is in good shape, then something happens and it just seems to blow your Alexander thinking way off course.
The analogy I like is the Beaufort Scale, which is a tool for measuring the strength of the wind. It starts at 0 with complete calm. At 4 (moderate breeze) the tree branches are waving; at 10 (storm) trees are blown down, and at the far end of the scale (12-hurricane) there is devastation at a level most of us have never seen.
At the zero end is complete peace, like that created in a lesson. No phone calls, deadlines, emails, children, pets or cooking dinners. You consider just one activity, maybe even only a small, manageable part of that activity.
It’s great for learning, and practising, but the real world is rarely like that. In the real world you don’t get much below a moderate breeze. If you’re walking you have to dodge walls, cars, dogs and other people. If you’re using the computer it crashes or another email comes in. And so on. It’s a step up from the peace of a lesson, and it requires a higher level of mental discipline.
From there, the stimuli get stronger. As you hit strong breeze there are things like other people demanding your attention, being late, tiredness, complex activities and doing many things at once. At storm force you have things like competitions, public performances, anger, fear and illness.
It takes more mental discipline to deal with distractions higher up the scale. More practise at sticking to the process for that activity at that level.
This is all well and good, PROVIDED you realise this scale exists(**), assign your activity its rightful place on the scale, and judge your progress accordingly. I can imagine a universe where a student tackles a strong gale but assigns it a gentle breeze, and gets discouraged because it’s so difficult. But you wouldn’t do that, would you?
(*) for the record, I have. So has every other student and teacher I’ve ever talked to.
(**) FM Alexander talks about this idea, without the weather analogies. What he actually says is,” success in gaining (their) end depends upon the manner of (their) reaction not to one, but to several stimuli of varying intensity.” Universal Constant In Living, IRDEAT edition p.523