‘I allow my head to move forward and up, that my spine may lengthen and my torso widen.’
I confess to a conflicted relationship with Mr. Alexander’s Directions. Much of what I find useful in the Technique is to be found in the other two components of an AT practice, that of Sensory Awareness and Inhibition. With the kinesthetic sense invited to join the other five senses, and the person engaged in non-doing (i.e.–merely stopping a habit of use), the best Use of the Self will emerge without any further fuss and bother.
However. In yesterday’s office hours, Yildiz was describing a recent dance technique class, strenuous and demanding. She found herself repeating an AT Direction, ‘My neck is free. My neck is free. My neck is free,’ with no small amount of irony, as her neck was NOT free. She simply continued with the directing, and her neck did indeed become free. I responded, ‘That was a neurological event.’ Yildiz went on to say, ‘Yes! It was not psychological.’
The words were few and the realizations many. Slowly, it was dawning on this long-time practitioner of the Alexander Technique that perhaps Mr. A’s Directions are not about The-Brain-Bossing-the-Body. Yildiz did not need to convince herself that her neck was free, nor have positive feelings about it. She simply gave herself the Direction. It was her intention that mattered.
Directing, in Alexander Technique terms, ‘is not to train the mind or to train the body, but rather to cultivate and refine the connection between what you think and what you do.’ (Tommy Thompson, with Rachel Prabhakar, Touching Presence.)
That’s what Yildiz was up to! Much different than bossing.