Let me tell you a story. It concerns one of my first lessons of the New Year, which happened to be a riding lesson. We were working on letting go of unnecessary tension through my student’s lower back, hip joints and legs, with great success. When she set off again with the new, flexible approach, at a gentle walk, it didn’t feel like riding at all. She was moving very differently, and the horse was moving very differently. Just walking, but easier, smoother and more connected. My student, a very experienced and talented rider, was quite mind-boggled, as you might expect given the scale of the change.
What do you think was her response? Was it:-
a) “This is a whole new approach: I’ll start with something easy, and give myself time to build up to more difficult stuff.”
Or was it:-
b) “Oh no! I don’t know how to canter(*) like this.”
What would your response have been?
Would you have accepted the need to give yourself time and space, and started with a simple task, or would you have tried to leap to that really complicated thing that’s on your mind? Leaping is a very human response. People often come to Alexander Technique lessons because they are desperate to fix something very difficult. So when they improve radically within a lesson, it’s very tempting to take the new, precarious skill and use it for a major challenge. Immediately.
This is not a strategy designed for success.
There’s a reason why the lesson happens in a relatively tranquil environment. No kids, pets, bosses, deadlines, phones or examiners. Just space, time and encouragement to try things a bit differently.
I know that my student will give herself that space and time, once she has got over her dismay. She will work gradually at the letting go of unnecessary tension, and accept that she will feel like a complete novice for a while.
But what about the rest of you? Can you accept being a beginner again, for a little while, in order to become much, much better?
(*) for the non-riders, canter is faster and a lot harder than walk
Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net