On POSTURE vs MOVEMENT
When I say I teach the Alexander Technique, as an answer to what I do, people usually either have no idea what it is, or they ask;
- It's about posture, right?
It is about conscious movement in activity - HOW you do what you do at any given moment. The activity can be anything and the Technique gives you a constructive process to use in order to restore coordination or prevent patterns of uncoordinated movement, behavior, and performance.
Posture is a holding pattern, a position, a place, that cooperates poorly with the truth of our moving selves. It is a physical expression of being out of coordination and that is often what we observe in ourselves and other people. Focusing on posture reduces us to bodies, in the sense that it includes only our general shape and perhaps bones and muscles. It gets us into a 'body and mind' thinking instead of cooperating with the truth that we are whole human beings in a whole world and that everything is connected.
As a colleague of mine recently said; perhaps poise is a better word. Poise is a more dynamic word as it suggests balance, which is constant movement. If I had to pick one word of what the AT is about it would be RELATIONSHIP; of the whole to the parts, and the parts to the whole, in constant conversation, i.e. coordinated movement. It is about how we respond in relationship to ourselves, other people, circumstances; the world that surrounds us at any given moment, in any activity.
I teach WHOLE RELATIONAL COMMUNICATION in the moving now.
You might say: but isn't this really just a word preference discussion? Posture is just a word, and you could use it to describe the Technique. Yes, if you define the word as a moving relationship, without attaching any rigid or static belief, you could say the Technique is ALSO about posture. However, today there is an overwhelming amount of people that have immovable beliefs connected to the word and so I find it limiting and unhelpful, both in regards to how people move using it, and in general as it relates to the whole of the Technique.
Posture separates, rather than integrates us and is connected to 'parts-thinking' as well as a 'right-and-wrong' world, where we try to put everything in the 'right' place; a culture of fixing. When I was going through my Alexander Technique teacher training I came in one day in turmoil - things I had closed the door to in my life had literally started breaking down the door and I was fighting to stay composed. When it was my turn all I could say was:
- I have been having this pain in my knee, I am not sure what is going on.
My teacher responded: “we all know this is not about your knee”, and yes, I did know, my teacher knew, the whole room knew, because partly they know me, but also because I was doing what I believe many of us do when we are in chaos and things are too hard to deal with in the big picture – we focus in on a part, preferably physical because those parts are safer to look at, they distract us from the whole and then we don't have to look at our lives and answer the question – what am I doing that is causing my dysfunction?
Instead we have already made our answer - 'It's just my bad knee (insert your part of choice) that is acting up', as if it was its own separate unity acting on its own accord. From this place it is easy to pass on the responsibility and say - now can you fix my part? Instead of: can you help me unravel what I am doing that is causing this part to hurt?
The Alexander Technique is an educational process which allows you to train your response-ability and ask for your whole self to function better in relationship and then if you still experience discomfort in a part, then looking at the part might also be helpful, but whole always comes first.
This is when experiencing stress, discomfort or pain in relationship to HOW you move in your life whilst doing what you are doing. Pain in relationship to a mechanical injury naturally needs to be looked at by a physician. Visiting an Alexander Technique professional in the process of healing a mechanical injury, however, can be very beneficial in order to create healthy compensation patterns.
As you integrate the use of the Alexander Technique into the fabric of your life, it is about the ability to respond to stimuli with conscious choice, about coordination and intention; carrying yourself and your ideas forward; creating your life as you want it. The Alexander Technique is, in the words of my teacher Cathy Madden:
Conscious Constructive Kindness to Yourself
Cooperating with your Design
Supporting your Dreams