“What can I do to help myself?” This is the most common question that students bring to a lesson with me. Most people come with a problem to solve, or a pain to get rid of. And my answer is always, in some form, as follows: seek a pain-free pathway for the most simple movements of life. If you can find it, follow it as far as you can into action. Make this a daily practice and you will find your way to what you desire most – whatever your passion is. If you donʻt have pain – just stress or discomfort – the work is the same – just without the pain! Itʻs about learning to make use of sensations that many of us ignore until the pain kicks in.
Thatʻs what the Alexander Technique is about. Thatʻs what an Alexander Teacher can help you learn. The daily practice of finding your way to what you desire most – without causing yourself injury, pain, stress, to get it. By studying the basic building blocks of movement (like walking, sitting, and standing), we can see our whole self and change what is not working in how we think, how we move as a whole in relation to gravity.
Over the next few months, Iʻm going to tell a series of stories about a series of physical injuries, the resulting pain I felt, and the pathway I found out of the pain. In every instance, there were people to help me with the initial phase of treatment: recognition of the injury came from PAIN, which led to a doctor, receiving a diagnosis of some kind, and then either surgery followed by “physical therapy,” or just “physical therapy.” Then, after that – the rest was up to me! And “the rest” is the most important part. In almost every case, I was told that I would not heal or function normally again. In almost every case (but not all, and thatʻs an important part of the story), this turned out NOT TO BE TRUE. In every case, I enlisted the help of what I now know were very fine Alexander Technique teachers, and in each case I saw how what had led to the injury stemmed from how I was living my whole life. And in each instance I had to change myself – my attitudes, my ways of being, my way of moving, my way of thinking about my moving.
Iʻm not going to gloss over the fact that this is work. But to me, itʻs the work of life, itʻs what life is about, and I LOVE IT.
Here is a list of injuries that I have healed from completely – the initial injury site no longer bothers me at all:
– sprained ankles
– sprained knees
– damaged knee caps (well, maybe a little…..but not much)
– tindinitis in elbows, wrists, and hands
– ganglion cysts
– bursitis in shoulder
Stay tuned for more stories! In the meantime, here is a video of a beloved Alexander teacher, Elisabeth Walker, working on a simple lunge with a young man. Itʻs actually one of the most complex movements, according to his students, that Mr. Alexander liked to work with….but donʻt be deceived. You can imagine that doing anything else AFTER practicing a lunge this way would feel light and easy. If you were feeling crappy or crabby before, you probably wouldnʻt be able to continue feeling crappy afterwards. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=-STQhgWH9Ec&NR=1]