I picked up this book and I did not expect much. On the back cover, it reads: “Daniel McGowan has personally introduced more than 7,000 people in the U.S. and Europe to Alexander Technique since 1983.”
That kind of talk reminded me of my Christian upbringing when evangelists would boast about how many people they’d baptized.
Alexander Technique is extraordinarily difficult to capture in words. It usually has to be experienced in person from the hands of a qualified teacher.
I’m now halfway through the book and I am pleasantly surprised. It may be the best book on the Alexander Technique.
I love McGowan’s description of what happens when most people go to sit down:
As the person approaches the chair, the body shortens in stature as a muscular set is adopted in anticipation of sitting down. The back is then bent further, followed reluctantly by the knees until the bum makes heavy contact with the seat of the chair.
…One does not generally have a choice of how to sit down. This is because, after receiving the stimulus of deciding to do so, each attitude of the body which is adopted, step by step, during each millimeter of the journey, is determined by the step before. In other words, each minute step is the habitual straitjacket for the next one. This means that a person is a slave to habits which are very powerful because they have been repeated thousands of times during a lifetime. (Pg. 25,26)
McGowan writes that body tension reveals our mental and emotion state. “There is no negative thought-emotion which does not show up somewhere in the body as too much muscle tension. Equally, there is no positive thought-emotion which does not show up as a release of muscle tension.” (Pg. 71)