Diane Ackerman, in her 2008 book, Dawn Light: ‘Here only this once and never again, I want to stop ten times a day, stop whatever I’m saying or doing, and behold the human pageant with its uncountable dramas…’
Stop. Behold. And in the pause between, something new can happen, in our bodies and in our minds. That pause, termed Inhibition by Mr. Alexander, is a primary practice of the Technique. When Ackerman stops, the world expands beyond her words and actions; she includes in her thinking ‘the human pageant.’
Here’s a way to work with The Pause, courtesy of Barbara Conable, from her book, How to Learn the Alexander Technique:
‘Whenever you notice that you have cut out half your experience by losing awareness either of yourself or of your world, simply open attention to the other half.’
Example: Tornado sirens sounded several times around midnight as rain pounded on the roof and lightning lit up the bedroom ceiling. Our little corner of the world was spared, but nearby, in the Dayton area, tornadoes caused extensive damage in the night. Scrolling for news feeds and watching videos of the aftermath, I finally noted my attention was exclusively on the computer screen and entirely with the anguish of those being interviewed. Hmm. ‘Open attention to the other half,’ Barbara advises. In this example, the ‘other half’ is me. Sit bones contacting chair seat. Right foot crossed over left. Cork floor in contact with sole of left foot. Returned to myself while also taking in the dramatic reports of the storms.
Your turn! It goes both ways. Ackerman opened her attention to the world, and I needed to open mine to myself. Ten times a day is her wish, but I’d be happy for you and me to stop and behold just once or twice today. Be safe, heed those sirens, and practice The Pause–