Last week I described the idea that there is a threshold of change. Below it we can pretend change is not happening. Above it, the change is too big, too personal, too all-encompassing to ignore; and we have to deal with the challenge that it presents us.
So which side of the threshold does the Alexander Technique sit? Without doubt(*), on the “cannot ignore it” side.
Let’s say you’re having a really good Alexander lesson. Even in something as deceptively small as bending your knees, the scale of the physical change and its mental impact can be huge. FM Alexander describes it this way:-
We get into the habit of performing a certain act in a certain way, and we experience a certain feeling in connection with it which we recognize as “right.” The act and the particular feeling associated with it become one in our recognition. If … we adopt a new method … we shall experience a new feeling in performing the act which we do not recognize as “right.” (**)
The important words here are “new feeling” and “right”. ‘Feeling right’ is intrinsic to your view of the world. If you try doing something that doesn’t feel right, your brain and body will start kicking up an enormous hullaballoo. If you don’t believe me, try walking around with your shoes on the wrong feet for a few minutes. That’s the hullaballoo I mean, and it’s not something you dismiss lightly.
And once you start to get good at the Alexander Technique, there is no sneaking this underneath any threshold. You are doing it most (or all) of the time; in (nearly) every movement; at such a basic level that it changes your idea of what something is, and possibly even the nature of the person (ie. you) who is doing it.
In the words of one of my students:-
“the change is too subtle to notice and too comprehensive to miss”
Which is one of the reasons regular lessons with a supportive teacher are so helpful. Not to learn the ideas. But to gradually adjust to the change with support and encouragement and a good sense of humour.
(*) Maybe not at the very beginning. It takes a while to adjust to the new ideas, and to build up your own Alexander skills.
(**) FM Alexander, Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, IRDEAT edition p297