The Power of How: A journal about The Alexander Technique and Movement

The Right and Wrong Way to Snuggle a Cat: An Indirect Procedure

I have done EXTENSIVE research on this topic.

I am hampered in my research by the fact that my cat, Punkin, is extremely snuggle prone. She loves to snuggle so much that itʻs nearly impossible to make a mistake.

That said, I discovered that the one mistake I can make is thinking that I can decide ahead of time what form the snuggle will take. Hereʻs what happens if I pick Punkin up off the ground and try to snuggle her a MY level, in MY time:

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Sheʻs so strong, sheʻll just push of my body and jump away.

Using the brilliant idea (from F.M. Alexander of course!) of non-doing, I decided to NOT snuggle Punkin. To place my body LOWER than hers, and wait for her to approach me.

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And…..I waited some more. Feeling pretty relaxed now! Itʻs nice.

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September 9th, 2013 • 4 Comments

LETTER TO A FRIGHTENED PERFORMER

HOW TO BE FREAKING OUT AND PERFORM AT THE SAME TIME

FM Alexander: “ Knowledge of the self is fundamental to all other knowledge”

There is a difference between the heightened excitement of performing – and paralyzing fear. For many of us performers, real confidence in our craft did not come no matter how hard we studied, no matter how hard we worked. For many of us our training pushed us too fast, past what we could actually understand in an embodied way. We lost our access to the balance and coordination that was once natural to us as children. We understood the techniques of acting only “conceptually,” but were not actually able to do what we wanted to do – and we knew it. It scared us to be unable to do what we wanted to do. There are many reasons that this happens to highly skilled performers. No matter what the reason is, I know of no better solution for performance anxiety, chronic patterns of injury, or lack of confidence, than the Alexander Technique.

I don’t mean to say that you will be free of fear while performing because that would be ridiculous, and no fun. What I mean to say is that you can learn how to work with it. It wasn’t until I really accepted my extreme sensitivity and anxiety that I was able to reliably freak out and perform at the same time.

You are an individual, and the way you “work” is therefore unique. A lot of stuff about you is the same as other folks – you are a human being, after all – but you are also one-of-a-kind. Individual attention is therefore necessary to discover the relationship between what you are thinking, and what you are doing. An Alexander Teacher is one of the few educators that can help you discover this incredible connection between your inner self – your mind/spirit/energy/experience – and your outer self – your way of moving through your world and how you affect others.

Looking for a solution for paralyzing fear outside yourself is common, but not effective. The only thing you really have control over is what goes on inside your own body. The Alexander Technique gives you a reliable way to establish and maintain balance, coordination, and control in all situations including high stress. A good teacher will connect you with your own inner sense of yourself even when you are freaking out! If this speaks to you, I urge you to find an Alexander Technique teacher near you and find out more about it.

To find teachers in the USA, go to: www.amsatonline.org

CLARE IN THE MOMENT OF PERFORMANCE:

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photo by Dona Ann McAdams

August 23rd, 2013 • 2 Comments

RIGHT WAY/WRONG WAY: LATE SUMMER GLOBAL WARMING EDITION

Whew. Finally itʻs cooler outside, you want to breath some fresh air, do your part to combat global warming. Turn off your AC, roll your shirtsleeves up, and open the window!

EASIER SAID THAN DONE! Here in my Brooklyn rent-a-home, weʻve got some windows that open like a charm, and some that seem to weigh 100 lbs. Yes, there is a wrong way to open a window:

1) Brace your legs.

2) Grab the window and lift it by hiking your shoulders up towards your head.

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3) When that doesnʻt do anything, haul your head and shoulders back and down behind you while arching at the lower back. Viola, the window is open, and your back is in spasm.

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Now for the right way to open a window:

1) Donʻt make assumptions about how hard it may be, just touch your fingers to the bottom of the window pane.

2) Unbrace your legs

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3) Leave your head where it is, and get a good strong connection from your fingertips to the window by sending your elbows out and slightly down, not squeezing your armpits. This may actually send your head up a little instead of pulling it back and down.

4. Once you have a good strong connection with the window, release your head forwards and up towards the sky outside your window, your back away from the window and towards the wall behind you, and your knees forward towards the window wall. You will feel your feet spread as they give your arms something to push away from.

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5. Keep sending all your parts in opposing directions as you lower your whole body from the ankle, knee, and hip joint, and send your arms away from your back as you lift the window with EVERYTHING.

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Viola! Open window, stretched back.

Iʻd love to hear from you – is there anything you are struggling with that seems like it should be simple and easy enough – but every time you do it your grip your neck and shoulders and strain? Let me know and Iʻll try to find a solution!

August 12th, 2013 • 2 Comments