‘Gently, but with undeniable will,
divesting myself of the holds that would hold me…
I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.
All seems beautiful to me.
–Walt Whitman, 1856
Did Whitman study the Alexander Technique? You might think so, reading this excerpt from his poem, Song of the Open Road. But no. Whitman’s words preceded Mr. Alexander’s birth by 13 years. Mr. A. was born in 1869, when Whitman was most likely undertaking yet another revision of his epic work, Leaves of Grass.
Long before Frederick Mathias Alexander (FM) lost his voice performing onstage, years prior to his launching of a self-study which formulated his principles and ideas, Whitman eloquently described the experience of benefiting from Mr. Alexander’s work. Applying kind and conscious thought to the stopping of ‘the holds that would hold me,‘ mind and body patterns can change, thereby allowing for the emergence of our best selves. ‘Divesting myself of the holds‘ is a key practice of the Alexander Technique, called ‘Inhibition‘ by FM.
Students report, and I concur, it’s a challenge to describe ease and poise in the Self. Thank you, Mr. Whitman, for providing Alexander Technique practitioners a few words worth pondering—–