Jane’s January 2020 Alexander Technique Project: Negative directions
Jane’s January 2020 Alexander Technique Project
I’ve been playing with “negative directions” which, Missy Vineyard first described in her 1997 book, How you stand, how you move, how you live.
Robert Rickover wrote a blog about negative directions, if you want to know a bit more about them. There are also links on that page to various podcasts if you want to really immerse yourself.
This is a brief description of them, from Robert’s blog, for your information:
Alexander Technique directions of any kind are self-instructions designed to improve the quality of our posture and the way we move as we go through life. Alexander Technique teachers often teach their students to use “positive directions” such as “I am letting my neck be free,” or “I am lengthening and widening.”
Negative directions, on the other hand, are statements that say “no” to habits that you have (or possibly have) which you would like to stop. They typically begin with the phrase “I am not” – for example, “I am not tensing myself.”
Grammatically, they are negative statements, but they are a positive affirmations that you want to stop doing things to yourself that are harming you.
My initial intention was to find one negative direction to apply to the habits I have regarding a mouth issue. Up to now, I have not found a negative direction I like for that. As I have been experimenting with the one’s for my mouth, I also experimented with other ones. Here’s a selection of one’s I have been using, which strictly speaking do not meet Robert’s criteria for negative directions but never the less work well for me:
- I am not sitting
- I am not standing
- I am not walking
- I am not sitting cross legged (meditating)
What seems to happen is that my system notices where there is effort being made to do the task and lets that effort go. It lets go of the “trying” to do something. So, it stops “trying” to sit for example. Robert says that negative directions are easy to experiment with on your own. Give them a whirl and let me know how you get on?
If you fancy a lesson to support your practice in negative directions, do get in touch!
All the best for 2020,
Alexander Technique Teacher