Alexander Technique in East Yorkshire

Alexander Technique project October 2019: Finding Spaces

A few weeks ago I learned a trick that birdwatchers use to find birds in trees. They don’t look for the bird outline, they look for the spaces that they can see in a tree and are much more able to spot a bird outline.

I hear birds in my garden but many times I wonder what kind of bird is producing such a beautiful song. I generally search in vain for the answer. With this new superpower, looking at the spaces, it was a joy to spot the Robin amongst the branches, following me from bush to bush, eagerly waiting for worms, as I worked in my garden.

I got the tip from a fabulous piece written on the 9th September 2019 on a Facebook page called The Feldenkrais Guild UK.  They have been writing regular pieces which I have often shared to my Facebook page. The pieces made me aware of how similarly Alexander & Feldenkrais saw their work.

The topic for my “project” this month grew from reading that piece because the writer offered a way of applying the birdwatchers trick to the body.

The writer (who wasn’t named with the article otherwise I would definitely credit them) suggested we could sense our body in a similar way to finding birds in trees. They invited the reader to look for the spaces, the gaps, the places that are currently not known in the body.

I began to explore the idea of looking for spaces round my body. First of all I did it in the way that I look for lost things. Casually, then becoming rather intense.

I started off this body search in all the usual places. Then, just like I do when I have lost something, I began looking in the more unusual places. As my searching intensified, I lost my connection with the world (just like when I am beginning to panic because I have to find something). I was “end-gaining.”

Alexander Technique training tends to promote a way of being aware of the body whilst keeping an open focused awareness.  I was doing the opposite. I had a very narrow focus as I scanned my body. I then wondered how I might do it differently. Do it lightly.

I played with noticing discrete body areas with single point attention by doing a body scan and pausing at each area as I worked through the body. I then did it by opening up the possibility of having both the world and the part in my awareness.

I changed to noticing bigger areas.

I then opened up the possibility of finding the spaces by noticing my whole body. More of a light, gentle, easy approach. Enjoying the present moment and it’s sights and sounds at the same time. I flipped from one mode to the other. Single pointed focus to open focus.

There will be many ways to do this. It’s a work in progress.

I am playing around with how to do it so that I don’t end-gain and become so body focused that I lose connection with the world.

For me, opening my awareness as I scan, changes the intensity and the end-gaining (or doing) becomes more non-doing. It brings me into connection to both myself and the world around me. With the latter, the world and I are present, seamlessly.

Maybe you would like to experiment with this? Let me know how you get on?

Perhaps we could play with the process in a lesson together?

Jane Clappison MSTAT
01759 307282


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