Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words

by Brooke Lieb (Originally published 3/13/00)


F. M.  Alexander: "You want to feel out whether you are right or not. I am giving you a conception to eradicate that. I don't want you to care a damn if you're right or not.  Directly you don't care if you're right or not, the impeding obstacle is gone."

This week, I used the mirror a great deal with my students. We directed the people we saw in the mirror as a way to assist inhibition and direction; and to help us from bringing all our awareness inside to our feeling sense to judge whether we were right or not.

By looking out and continuing to see what is in your field of vision, you are helping remove yourself at least one degree from "feeling out" whether you're getting it or not. By seeing, I mean an active intent to allow visual images to register in a fresh way each moment. Often, because we are familiar with the visual environment we're in, we don't really see in "real time". As I'm writing this, I am aware of the colors of the keyboard on my iMac, how far away my fingers on the keyboard are from the surface of my eye, the subtle patterns woven into a cloth I have draped over a screen in my office, and the grain in the cabinet in front of me among other things. At the same time, I am thinking my directions and feeling some of the tightness in my shoulders, the tension in my hips as my legs are crossed, etc. I am now able not to grip so tightly there without getting lost inside my body.

You can explore activities such as sitting and standing, or bending down to pick things up while looking in a mirror, and see what it is like to direct yourself while you do this. See what you can observe in the mirror. Can you tell how high your spine is, where you tailbone is, where you knees are, where your lower legs meet the top of your foot by looking?

(This post originally appeared on

N. BROOKE LIEB, Director of Teacher Certification since 2008, received her certification from ACAT in 1989, joined the faculty in 1992. Brooke has presented to 100s of people at numerous conferences, has taught at C. W. Post College, St. Rose College, Kutztown University, Pace University, The Actors Institute, The National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Dennison University, and Wagner College; and has made presentations for the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Scoliosis Foundation, and the Arthritis Foundation; Mercy College and Touro College, Departments of Physical Therapy; and Northern Westchester Hospital. Brooke maintains a teaching practice in NYC, specializing in working with people dealing with pain, back injuries and scoliosis; and performing artists.