by Jeffrey Glazer Group classes can be a great way to learn the Alexander Technique. I recall a vivid example of one group class when I discovered the power of the mind/body connection, and realized how much my thinking was affecting my body.
During this class we played a simple game. The students all stood in a circle, and the teacher introduced a soft, squishy ball to toss to each other. We were supposed to make eye contact with someone in the circle before we tossed the ball to them.
As we began, I didn’t notice much. Then the teacher asked us to tune into our bodies. It was then that I noticed a tightness in my neck, that I was clenching my jaw, and more or less holding my breath in anticipation of the ball being thrown to me.
Gaining a New Perspective
The teacher then pointed out that there were no penalties for dropping the ball or making an errant throw, no winners or losers, and no time limit. In fact, we could even let the ball drop in front of us instead of catching it. That’s when something clicked. I realized I was bringing the same attitude to this game that I brought to many other areas of life. Namely, that I was supposed to be right, good, and not mess up. I assumed the goal was to catch the ball, make accurate throws, and look good doing it.
I decided that the next time the ball was thrown to me, I would let it drop. But the instant the ball was thrown my way I found myself reacting and trying to catch it. It took a few times before I was able to stop reacting and let the ball drop. I had finally opened myself up to something different, a non-habitual reaction to a ball being thrown my way. Then I noticed my neck and jaw weren’t so tense anymore, and I had stopped holding my breath. The next time the ball was thrown to me I did catch it, but it was a choice rather than mandatory. The traveling of the ball through the air and into my hands seemed to happen in slow motion, and my movements were fluid and spontaneous.
Choosing How to Respond
I realized that my thinking really did affect my body, and not just in this game, but in all walks of life. I had learned that before reacting to something, I could decide how I wanted to respond. My habitual attitude of “catch it or else!”, only created fear in my nervous system, which I reacted to by clenching my jaw, tensing my neck, and holding my breath. Once I changed my thinking to allow for a choice, I was in a state of poise, so that during the times when I decided to catch the ball, I did so with greater ease. Most importantly, the chronic pain in my neck and arms began to dissipate as I let go of the tension in my neck and jaw, and stopped holding my breath.
What’s great about the Alexander Technique is that it paves the way to do something differently, with more ease and poise. Beginning this January, ACAT will be offering drop in group classes. Come for a class and experience for yourself how the Alexander Technique can help you.
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/jeffrey.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]JEFFREY GLAZER is a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. He found the Alexander Technique in 2008 after an exhaustive search for relief from chronic pain in his arms and neck. Long hours at the computer had made his pain debilitating, and he was forced to leave his job in finance. The remarkable results he achieved in managing and reducing his pain prompted him to become an instructor in order to help others. He received his teacher certification at the American Center for the Alexander Technique after completing their 3-year, 1600 hour training course in 2013. He also holds a BS in Finance and Marketing from Florida State University. www.nycalexandertechnique.com[/author_info] [/author]