Alexander Teachers could be considered “change agents” for the individual. We help our students expand ways of being in thinking, movement and behavior.
That can seem vague and hard to articulate, and many Alexander Teachers find ourselves momentarily tongue-tied when someone asks: “What is the Alexander Technique?”
I can’t speak for others, but for me, the reason I don’t have a succinct and canned answer is that change is a huge topic, and I want to relate my answer to something relevant for the person asking.
When I think about the changes I have seen in myself and my students, one common element is that it takes time, and lots of repetition to make lasting change.
Alexander Technique facilitates change by providing a conscious, deliberate process that can be repeated and applied to a variety of situations.
The tools are used in present time, and facilitate more presence, novelty and creativity in responding to what is happening in the now.
My title for this blog is partially ironic, because as much as we may embrace change, much has been written about how humans don’t like change.
There are many theories out there, I’d like to speculate about this from the context of Alexander Technique.
One reason we repeat movement patterns and behaviors is because we are familiar with all the sensory experiences associated with it, and this saves us time. As an example, interlace your fingers. For most of us, we always put the same thumb on top. See what happens if you unlace your fingers and switch which thumb is on top.
Habitual patterns save us time. We are free to put our attention on the many demands competing for our attention. Alexander discovered that some of his habitual patterns cost him dearly, manifesting as chronic hoarseness, an occupational death sentence for an actor.
When is a habit a problem? That’s hard to pin down, but in the context of an Alexander Technique lesson, I explore habits and novelty with students, regardless of whether a problem has been identified or not. Since there is a consistent methodology that can be applied to solve the problems of habit, I teach my student the methodology and she can apply that throughout her life, when she chooses. That way, if she is knows a habit is a problem OR she’s not clear, she can explore a more efficient, less stressful way to do things.
Perhaps the idea of embracing change seems daunting at the start of something. Some changes are chosen and some happen to us, without our desire or consent. For me, having the Alexander Technique as a tool has made it a less fraught, less daunting and more possible to embrace change.