What Interests You Frequently Does Not Interest Those Around You

When people ask me what I do for a living, I say I teach Alexander Technique. Most of the time, people ask me, what’s that?

Most of the time, I answer, “It is a way of noticing how you respond to stimuli and how to let go of those responses that don’t serve you.”

Some of the time, I figure that answer is not going to cut it, so I shorten it to, “Alexander is a movement technique. It’s about learning to move the way the body likes to move.”

I try to adopt my definitions of the Technique to my audience.

My friends want me to succeed with my new business but most of them have little interest at examining their habits and learning to let go of their responses of needless tightening and compressing. They have other things on their mind. They know they don’t have good posture, but it is not severely restricting their life. They’re able to do everything they want to do how they want to do it. They feel no need to learn Alexander Technique.

With such people, I frequently show them easy to do exercises that will alleviate their back pain. These exercises are not Alexander Technique, but they’re mechanical things you can do to make your life easier.

Alexander Technique is not for everyone. It demands a lot of concentration and a strong desire to look at your habits and to reprogram your responses to life. For people not interested in this, physical therapy or acupuncture or craniosacral therapy or yoga or walking might be better suited to their needs.

So I don’t prescribe Alexander Technique to everyone I meet. I never say, “You really need to do this,” even if I think they really need to do this. It is more important to me that I accurately read where somebody is at and then, if they are open to it, to offer suggestions to help their life that frequently have nothing to do with my work.

I’m like the sales lady at a department store who hears what the customer wants and then directs him to another store, one better suited to his needs.

Similarly, I don’t think Orthodox Judaism is for everyone. It is certainly not necessary for non-Jews, who are generally better off exploring the religion in which they were raised and finding ways to make peace with it. You don’t have to believe in all the tenets of your religion to get benefit from it. You can be an atheist but still go to church every week for social or business reasons or for the health of your family.

Many Jews are going to find Orthodox Judaism impossible. A Yiddish club or a Jewish book group or a Reform Temple or a yoga studio will be better suited to them.

Sometimes I’ll leave shul early because I just can’t take being around so many people. I have to get outside and walk. My social anxiety has kicked in. Sometimes I have things I’m anxious about that after I’ve said my prayers, I dash out to struggle with my computer problems or other issues.

Sometimes I have such a hard time with prayer that I stay in shul but I might walk to the back and shmooze or I might pull a sefer (book) off the shelf and read or take down a Talmudic tractate and study.

I’m not for running into concrete walls unless it is absolutely necessary.

When I was younger, I was always trying to force things, trying to push people to do things they didn’t want to do, trying to push myself into things I was not suited for, I was making commitments I could not live up to. In my old age, I want tranquility.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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