by Witold Fitz-Simon In genre fiction, movies and TV, there is a type of story known as the procedural. The classic version of this type of story is the Police Procedural, best exemplified by the TV show “Law & Order.” The crime is committed and the detective is on the case, using forensics to search out cues, canvassing the neighborhood for potential witnesses and piecing together the truth. A good police procedural can be riveting. Each clue uncovered, each witness questioned can build up to a fascinating portrait of passion, of greed, of intrigue. The Alexander Technique can make your mundane daily routine just as interesting, even without the drama!
One of the key ways in which we can get ourselves in trouble in life—doing things like stressing ourselves out, or giving ourselves repetitive stress injuries or back pain—is by not paying much attention to the how and why we’re doing things. We go for the end result of our goals without being mindful of the choices we make to achieve them. This puts us at the mercy of habit: a history of behaviors that get the job done, but not usually in the most effective way possible. And if those habits have in them the seed of mis-use of our bodies, or emotional unease, then we can only add to our problems no matter what we do to get away from them.
Be Your Own Detective!
The solution to this is to be more like the police detective in the P. D. James mystery, or the Crime Scene investigator in the TV show. To pay more attention to the process and the details. In the Alexander Technique there are certain practices that you do over and over again in a lesson like sitting, standing and walking around. Even though there is a lot of repetition of these activities, we don’t think of them as exercises.
The idea of an exercise is something that you can learn to get right once and keep doing the same way, often quite mindlessly, to achieve a goal. In the Technique we think of the activities we carry out as “procedures.” You might spend a lot of time with your teacher sitting and standing, but the point is not learning to sit and stand correctly. The point is to become aware of how you approach the activity. What is your intention when you do it? What do you think about. You must become the detective in the mystery of your own life!
Get On The Case!
Try this right now, if you have the time. Do something simple and easy: stand up and sit down, or reach out and take a sip of your drink, if you have one at hand. Whatever activity you have chosen try it once or twice without thinking about it very much.
Now that you have your chosen activity fresh in your mind, take out your mental notepad and pen and interview your prime witness, yourself. Ask yourself these questions:
Did you notice anything special about what you just did? What were you thinking about as you did it? What did it feel like to do the activity?
If you don’t have any concrete answers, try the activity again a few times and see what you come up with.
Okay, now you’re going to put the pressure on your witness and ask for more details:
What was the first thing that you did to carry out your chosen activity? What part of you did you move first? When you moved, what happened to your neck? Did it get tense or was it easy and free? What was the quality of your movement? Was it rushed and effortful? Was it lethargic and slack? Was it easeful and effortless?
Let’s change tack here. You’re going to put on your forensic scientist hat and try some experiments.
Think about doing your activity again, but stop for a moment before you do it. Notice if you have tensed up in preparation. If you have, let everything soften, even if just a little bit, and try it again. What happens when you do it again this time?
Next time you do your activity, notice what you do with you head? Does it move in the direction you are moving, or does it seem to be heading somewhere else? What happens if you let it lead the movement in some way?
It doesn’t take much to go from rushing around mindlessly, oblivious to what’s going on around you, to having a bit more awareness of yourself and your environment and to start to change the way you do things. All it takes is curiosity and interest, and applying that to yourself. And if you need a little help, take an Alexander Technique lesson with a qualified teacher. You’ll never be bored again!
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.acatnyc.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/After-crop1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]WITOLD FITZ-SIMON has been a student of the Alexander Technique since 2007. He is certified to teach the Technique as a graduate of the American Center for the Alexander Technique’s 1,600-hour, three year training program. A student of yoga since 1993 and a teacher of yoga since 2000, Witold combines his extensive knowledge of the body and its use into intelligent and practical instruction designed to help his students free themselves of ineffective and damaging habits of body, mind and being. <a href="www.mindbodyandbeing.com">www.mindbodyandbeing.com</a>[/author_info] [/author]