A doe has been in the back garden since yesterday afternoon, her front hooves tucked under her like a cat, her ears trimmed in black rotating like the disks of an observatory. Her eyes are dark and luminous, ringed with long thick black eyelashes. Why she is there, I do not know.
With dear friend Paula at the house for afternoon tea, we mused on the deer settled in the asters. Is she near death, about to give birth (wrong season), hit by a car? As we wrapped up our visit, Paula said, ‘Maybe she will rest and be alright.’
Calling the Ohio Wildlife Center for help, they requested photographs for an assessment of the doe’s condition. All agreed her coat is healthy, her face lovely and alert. Thinking perhaps a hip was dislocated in a possible encounter with a car, it was explained to me deer will recuperate, or attempt to, with a long period of rest.
There’s beena lot of resting going on in Alexander Technique class, too. Each session begins with Constructive Rest. It’s week ten of the semester—an operetta was performed by several AT students over the weekend, dancers are preparing for their upcoming concert, and academic demands are high for all.
To eachof us today, those with two legs and those with four, rest well and be restored.
Clothes washed, dried, folded and returned to closets and drawers, all while composing a blog post, writing Pelotonia donation thank you notes, reading student assignments, finishing up today’s class preparations, and making travel plans for a September Pittsburgh trip.
And while a busy day benefits from a few minutes (or more) of Constructive Rest, we cannot remove ourselves from the day’s business for very long. That leaves us with the challenge of being at ease even in the midst of crossing off items on the To-Do List.
This is the very place where the practice of Alexander Technique principles are to be practiced and applied, right in the middle of it all.
Example: I’m standing at the open washing machine, trying to get the last little squidge of detergent out of the bottle. To that end (End-Gaining, indeed!), I catch myself leaning my entire body to the side, along with the over-turned bottle, as if shifting my weight will coax out the last dribbles. I’m uncomfortable. This is when I could mentally slap myself on the wrist, but no. Instead, it’s a rueful laugh, and back to weight on both feet. Now at ease, I can wait for the remains of the detergent bottle to empty.
Learning the Alexander Technique is not about acquiring perfect posture, or flawless Use of Self. No. It’s about observing Self, and either choosing to continue as we are, or to make a new choice for how we wish to respond and react to the present moment.
Poise and Presence is three years old. With the exception of a hiatus in 2018, weekly posts have been the norm. Readers appreciate knowing there will be a little something from Poise and Presence on a regular basis, and the routine of getting a post ready each week provides me with an on-going opportunity to practice Constructive Use.Three Alexander Technique principles are required: Awareness,Inhibition,Direction.
First, I cultivate an awareness of my physical self, a kinesthetic sense of what it is like at any given moment to be living in a body. Secondly, having noted I am more than a mind, I practice Inhibition, which requires me to pause, observe a habit of use, and see what might emerge if I just quit doing what I habitually do to write a post, (i.e.—pull legs back and under the chair, applying undue pressure to my toe joints, contract my arms in toward my torso, thereby reducing my width and diminishing breathing capacity.)
Having activated my kinesthetic sense, pausing/stopping to note a habit of use, I can then give my Self what Mr. Alexander termed Directions. His: ‘I allow my head to moveforward and up, that my spine may lengthen and my torso widen.’ Mine: ‘long spine,’ or ‘length and width.’
This is Constructive Use of the Self, a way of thinking in activity which benefits our well-being. And when you find yourself with a few unscheduled minutes, I recommend Constructive Rest. It’s the practice of resting thoughtfully, altering our relationship to gravity by lying down in semi-supine, lengthening and widening.
Constructive Use AND Constructive Rest are essential components of an Alexander Technique practice. Take your pick!
Greetings, dear readers!The season of flurry and fuss is upon us and a few Alexander Technique ‘words-of-wisdom’ are in order. Let’s re-visit the benefits of Constructive Rest. Changing your relationship to gravity, even if only for a few minutes during the day, can have restorative effects.
This change happens when you lie down on your back, feet on the floor or yoga mat, hands comfortably at your sides or resting on your chest. Choose a firm surface, and prop a thin paperback book or two under your head. That’s it. You have given yourself a little present. And as you return to uprightness for your day, CR is truly ‘the-gift-that-keeps-on-giving.’
If you’d like to get fancy, you can, while lying prone, also give yourself a couple of prompts. “My neck is free.’ Or—-‘I allow my spine to lengthen and my torso to widen.’ Activate your kinesthetic sense by giving your attention to the places where your body is in contact with the surface on which you are lying.
And then, it’s on to the business at hand, with light in your eyes, and a lilt to your step!