Q: When you are going about your Alexander Technique, what is the right way to think?
A: It’s a trick question.
I know, a bit mean of me. But you’d be amazed how many students ask, in various wordings, “What is the right way to think?” And it usually takes a while of repeating the question before the student takes in that I mean what I say. There is no “right way to think”.
There are better ways to think, and worse ways to think. And we will cover them in lessons, many times. But no matter how many different activities you bring to your lessons, there are always more circumstances in life outside the teaching room.
A chair that is slightly lower.
A deadline that got moved.
An unfamiliar kitchen.
You need solutions right there and then, not next week when you go for your lesson. So how do you get around this problem?
One good answer (please note I didn’t fall into the trap of saying “The answer”!) lies in a wonderful picture-blog by Jen Mackerras(*), where she talks about mindset and the work of Carol Dweck. About half way through, a slide caught my eye:-
“Is this a useful way to think?”
This idea has a good pedigree, all the way back to FM Alexander himself. Writing about how you should judge his – or any other – self-help technique(†), he was very clear on his criteria for success:-
“Judgment must always be made… on a general basis in the process of living and all-round usefulness”
If it’s not useful thinking, then discard it. Ask yourself “What can I replace the ‘not useful’ with?” If it is useful thinking, keep going. Follow it up with a question like “What is useful about it?” or “Why is it useful?” or “How could I make this ‘useful’ even more useful?”
Whatever your thinking pattern, all-round usefulness is a pretty handy goal to be aiming for.
(†) Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, IRDEAT edition p.374
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net