I like the spread of how the Alexander Technique works
There’s a kind of Spiritual side to it:
the joy of moving my body that I had not noticed before
and thinking ‘that’s quite good’.
This is the 7th interview in a series of interviews I carried out with people who have had Alexander Technique lessons. Here are Seb’s answers to a simple set of questions I asked him about his experiences.
What drew you to the Alexander Technique (AT)?
I found out about the Alexander Technique via an acquaintance and following our discussion decided to try it for migraine. I have now had a year of lessons and think I am just scratching the surface of the technique.
What impact has doing AT had?
On daily activities:
Seb has begun to question and to notice things that he previously had not. Now, he says things to himself like: Why is my face is so tense? Why am I holding my shaver so tight when shaving? I can do it with less effort, I can do it differently.
Instead of standing in a queue for tea at work and distracting myself with thoughts/getting irritated that the queue is so long/looking at mobile, I notice standing. I “play around with it.”
Conference calls at work often got me irritated. I now realise I can sit back and notice other things, not just the irritation about the call but what is around me, so I don’t get sucked in.
I no longer feel, when I wake up in the night, that I have got to get up and read. I used to. Now I can enjoy just laying down and noticing things about laying down.
There is a joy in noticing.
It’s not like a huge “wow” but rather like noticing a robin in the garden.
I have had a session with an AT and running teacher and have added the tips I was given into my running. I would say when I run now, I feel taller, and that I’m running more straight. When I try going back to my old style I feel “low” and more laboured.
I also like that I can be aware of different “layers” of vision, of things away from me and me in that field of awareness. I had a very spiritual moment when running when I realised I was part of a wood I was running in.
I had ankle discomfort when using a rower and so I decided to pay attention to it and notice what was happening. I now have my shoe on less tight and I notice more about my ankle. Rowing now is certainly better on the ankle as I can feel there’s less stress on it and movement is more fluid. I notice how I am rowing and try to use my arms more.
Was there anything unexpected about AT lessons?
Although Seb told me he didn’t have any expectations for having AT lessons, he didn’t think it would be so simple.
Seb studies Zen and said he found the technique very Zen-like, so much so, he often finds himself talking about the parallels to Zen during his Alexander lessons.
You have had lessons for a year. What makes you continue the lessons?
Everything I raised with my teacher (to their credit) has been answered. For example we spent some time looking at how I work at a computer, how I use my mouse, and that I don’t have to do things like I used to eg I don’t have to have my hand on the mouse all the time.
I notice things have changed, I have increased awareness.
I like the spread of how it works i.e. from my migraine improving (though I have also changed my sleep hygiene and diet), to noticing my ankle when rowing, to running, to decreasing anger at a conference call.
I like that Frederick Matthias Alexander did not “pigeon hole” AT. I get a sense he was careful about that.
I see AT as a practice.
It is a gradual process, a gradual realisation, not a sudden one.
That’s the best way to learn something.
That’s how the world works.
Many thanks to Seb for giving up his time to answer my questions!
Jane Clappison MSTAT