“Seeing is believing”
You’ve probably heard that old chestnut, but have you heard the other half of it?
“Seeing’s believing, but feeling’s the truth”
Old Thomas Fuller(°) got it right. People do believe their feelings, at least when it comes to movement. Let me transport you to a typical Alexander Technique lesson.
The student is doing an activity – let’s say sitting in a chair. He (or she) is clearly doing something while they sit that takes a vast amount of muscle effort – let’s say pushing back against the back of the chair. However, they are blissfully unaware of it. If I ask what they notice, they don’t know they are doing it.
More importantly, if I tell them, THEY DON’T BELIEVE ME. They feel like they are sitting lightly and easily, and for them, the feeling is the truth(^).
“If I was doing that, I would know about it.”
“There’s no way I could do that and not feel it.”
“I can’t be doing that. I would feel it.”
FM Alexander encountered this myth(˜) in himself, much to his dismay. Looking in a mirror he saw that “I did not put my head forward and up as I intended, but actually put it back. Here, then, was startling proof that I was doing the opposite of what I believed I was doing and of what I had decided I ought to do.” (*)
How do I convince these students? If they can sense how they change when I do hands-on work that might do the trick. Sometimes feedback from the rest of the group is enough, or taking a photo to show them. Sometimes I never do convince them. The myth is too strong.
(°) From Gnomologia (1732), via Wikiquote; written in the 18th century by Thomas Fuller. It turned out to be tailor-made for this blog (thank you, Thomas).
(^) I’m not making these quotes up. They are real quotes from real lessons.
(˜) If you are curious about the first four myths, check them out here:-
Myths #1 http://goo.gl/h51VAx
Myths #2 http://goo.gl/xcbr3s
Myths #3 http://goo.gl/NqbDo9
Myths #4 https://goo.gl/1VfbLE
(*) FM Alexander, ‘Use of the Self’ p.417, IRDEAT edition
Image by Kadres via pixabay