I was talking about the Alexander Technique to a new friend today.
I said it was a way to notice your responses to stimuli and to let go of those responses that don’t serve you.
He asked me how is that different from neuro-bio feedback?
I had never heard of that. All I knew was the Technique.
“So how do you reprogram people’s responses to stimuli?” he asked me.
“Most of the work is getting them to notice,” I said. “Most of the work is helping them to become aware of their habits. So a teacher might work with a student getting in and out of a chair. Folding and unfolding the limbs is a big stimulus and most people in response to it deform their torso, hold their breath, and crunch themselves.
“We also work with speaking, walking, running. Any activity. You could define the Technique as a way to expand into an activity rather than contract, which is what most people do.”
He asked me to look around the crowded room and point out the people with the best posture.
I looked around and couldn’t see any adults who looked aligned. Then I saw the kids. The ones under eight were not yet deformed by school. They had good use of themselves. They moved fluidly with their heads balanced on top of their spines.
“So what do you do in the more advanced lessons?” he asked after I told him I’d had more than a thousand lessons (and that the average person can grasp the basics of the Technique in half a dozen lessons).
“The same things as the beginning lessons,” I said. “Each lesson is new. You’re not learning how to get in and out of a chair, for instance, in a particular way. You’re learning how you respond to stimuli. With each lesson, you can shed layer after layer of interfering tension patterns.
“Some days, for instance, I’ll spend most of the time working on my voice and letting go of interfering tension on my face and in my neck and back. Other days I’ll work on walking or picking things up. Some days I’ll lie on the table and the teacher will help me to let go of my muscular holding patterns from my ankles to my head.”