What does driving a car have to do with Alexander thinking?


This week in class, I was talking with one of ACAT's soon to be graduates. We were talking about the quality with which we work with Alexander Technique directions*. It is all too common to try to turn the directions into subtle muscular activity, or hyper focus on them to make sure we are intending and implementing them.

I asked him if he drives, and though he doesn't currently own a car, he does know how to drive. "What if sending the directions is similar to how you drive? You can have a conversation with a passenger, listen to the radio, attend to the traffic around you, using mirrors, navigate with road signs, and keep a generally global awareness. Maybe when we direct, we can have that same easy, expanded awareness of all that is going on around us."

As a beginning student myself, my challenge was to remember to apply the thinking in between my lessons. My daily life was so full and demanding, and my skill was so new, that I could go long stretches of time without remembering to think the directions. My students report a similar challenge themselves.

I am going to explore this approach to directing with my students. As a teacher, I can be prone to being hyper-vigilant about staying aware of my own application of the directions while I teach, but as the years go by, I realize being more easy going and expanded as I teach is more effective.

If you are familiar with Alexander directions, let me know how this idea resonates for you.

*Here is a common version of the directions: "I allow my neck to be free, to allow my head to release forward and up, to allow my back to lengthen and widen, to allow my knees to release forward and away."