Often the last word of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. Engage! Delivered by Patrick Stewart in the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, he is directing the ship to begin its next adventure.
Patrick Stewart has a gesture that partners the verbal command. With a forward movement of the forearm, hand beautifully aligned, fingers lightly together, he speaks and gestures, simultaneously. I never fail to relish this delivery of Stewart’s, which embodies both the captain’s confident, inquisitive character and the excitement of space travel, all in one sweep of the arm.
Play a little Alexander Technique self-observation game with yourself. Watch, with a spirit of kindness, gestures you habitually use. When in conversation, I often run a hand through my pixie cut head-of-hair. I’m guessing it’s a bit of self-soothing, being an introvert at heart, and an extrovert by training. The hand tracing my head’s surface also gives me a tactile sense of its circumference, a kinesthetic awareness essential to optimal balance of head on spine.
Self-observation was Mr. Alexander’s primary path to developing the Technique. Using mirrors and carefully observing habits of use gave valuable insight into his acting skills. He discovered his best stage performances integrated mind and body, what he came to term ‘The Self.’ He no longer suffered from vocal fatigue and hoarseness. He left his acting career, instead devoting himself to assisting other thespians, and also musicians, dancers, and professional writers in pursuing their art with greater ease.
Initially, I studied the Alexander Technique at the recommendation of a teaching colleague, after falling on ice-covered concrete steps. Pain was a constant companion, and the Technique gave me a way to recover well-being, after all medical options had been considered and tried.
With the easing of physical discomforts, I then found the Technique an excellent practice for living in the present moment, and for this too, I love Picard’s pronouncement. ‘Engage! Live! Be Here!’ Full-out living, fully present. It’s my wish for you and for me on this last day of Winter.