I have a friend with a bad back. He had surgery on it a year or two ago. And by the way he uses himself, I can tell he’s going to have nothing but trouble with his back in the future.
Despite this, he has zero interest at looking at his habits that are causing his problems.
This man — in his twenties — walks around with a chronically compressed neck and spine and hunched shoulders. There’s nothing he can do to overcome this. He can only learn to undo his habits that are causing his back problems.
This guy is big into exercise but every time he exercises, he only ingrains his bad habits deeper and deeper.
Other friends of mine find they can’t sit comfortably for longer than an hour or so. Some of them are open to looking at things they’re doing that make their spines and thighs so tight but others of them just want to be fixed. They want to go to a chiropractor or a masseuse or an acupuncturist and have their problems disappear without any effort on their part.
The problem is that if their problems are caused by bad use, their continued bad use of themselves will only cause these problems to repeatedly recur and in all likelihood get worse as they age.
I notice that most people tip their heads back, compress their necks and shoulders, shorten their backs, and gasp for air every time they speak. In all likelihood, every time they take a breath, they do a small amount of this compression to their necks and spines.
Such people will have nothing but trouble as they age. They’re living in a strait-jacket of their own habits and every day, this strait jacket gets tighter.
I know of nothing like Alexander Technique. Unlike all the other transformation systems of which I am aware, Alexander is about undoing rather than doing. You don’t layer a level of exercises on top of your bad habits of use. You learn instead to become aware of the things you are doing that are hurting you and to gradually let them go, replacing them instead with a poised and graceful use of yourself.
Many people don’t like Alexander Technique because it makes them work. From the first lesson, you’re going to have to pay attention to the signals you are sending from your brain to your body and to start reprogramming them if you want to feel better.
Alexander is all about mind-body unity and psycho-physical re-education. It’s hard work.
I have a friend who does work that beats up his body. Every morning, he wakes up with significant aches and pains. He’s a wreck.
Most of these aches and pains are unnecessary. They’re a result of him using himself poorly. But does he have any interest in looking at these habits that are hurting him? None. He just wants to be fixed. He just wants to go to the chiropractor every week and get adjusted. He loves his masseuse and his acupuncturist. His interest in taking responsibility for his own pain is zero.
I have another friend whose posture is so bad that people recoil from him. He has such a disturbed head, neck, back relationship that he can’t reach with ease into his refrigerator. He can’t pick things off the shelf at the supermarket without assistance.
Tipping way back from his pelvis, his neck compressed and head jutting forward, he’s a wreck. And the way he relates to others is equally atrocious.
How are you going to be at ease with yourself and with other people when you are doing violence to your body every waking moment?
I’ve talked to him about Alexander Technique but he has no interest. He’s too invested in his own misery and in being a victim to take responsibility for his own choices. He has no interest in looking at the things he does with his habits that keep him socially isolated.
By contrast, somebody who moves with grace and poise is likely to be at ease with himself. Somebody at ease with himself and his body is likely to be at ease with other people. There’s a great word for people like this — happy!