If you read FM Alexander’s books, you will find they are stuffed full of his ideas on change. The need for change, how to go about it, how not to go about it. In fact, it’s a fundamental part of the Alexander Technique. But most students struggle with the idea.
I’m wondering if changes fit onto a sliding scale, with an important threshold. Below the threshold, it doesn’t really register as ‘change’, and is more easily acceptable. Alexander puts it as being prepared to change ‘within a narrow groove’(*). Above this threshold we can’t pretend it is something else; and we have to face up to the consequences.
1. The doctor tells you to take a pill every day. It might have a big effect, say in controlling blood pressure, but swallowing one small pill with your breakfast is no big deal. It’s easy to dismiss.
2. You decide to eat a healthy diet. This has a bigger impact, and is harder to dismiss. It affects every meal, and requires lots of self-discipline, especially if (like me) you love chocolate and find green veg a sore trial. But it’s still just tweaking the outside factors in your life.
3. You take up a new sport because you can no longer manage a more strenuous one – say golf for tennis. Hmmm. This is hovering on our threshold. Not because of the sport itself, but because of what it says about you. The fact you can’t run as fast or hard as you used to, or that your knees hurt all the time. That isn’t change in the external factors, that is change in you.
4. You get promoted, from writing computer programs to managing the department. Now this is way over our threshold. How you interact with other people, your aims, the skills you need are all different. This is not a narrow groove, it comes from inside of you, all day, five days a week (or more). Many people really struggle to make this sort of transition.
What do you think? Have you encountered a similar sort of threshold, or am I talking nonsense? Do drop me a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Next week, I’ll look at where the Alexander Technique fits into this sliding scale.
(*) FM Alexander, Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, IRDEAT edition p.271