On Living the Revolution.
As I get ready to head back to London to teach the Alexander Technique, I am reminded by something a student said during one of my last visits. When cued to express what she noticed as she got into better coordination she said; “no gap”. I chuckled and exclaimed “mind the gap”, having seen that message in big bold letters countless times since entering the country, but that wasn't the only reason I enjoyed it. It is a rich image to explore in relation to teaching as well as the current political climate in which perception and belief is often mistaken for truth and knowing.
The warning phrase issued to rail passengers to take caution while crossing the spatial gap between the train door and the station platform points to an actual physical gap. A fact that all of us can agree upon. No alternative fact could convince us otherwise. There is a gap, period. It is one to pay attention to, or you might hurt yourself.
The student's sensation of 'no gap' was just that; a sensation of being whole with a whole world. This sensation gives us clues about how the student experienced the change, as opposed to reporting the ultimate reality. The change might more appropriately be described as all her parts working better together than actually becoming whole. She was already whole, and so was the world. When we are squished together for one reason or another, we don't function as well as we could and this can result in feeling disconnected, apart from the world instead of a part of the world, and it often leads to depression, stress, anxiety, pain or confusion.
The truth is that wherever we are on a spectrum of tension, necessary or not, we are always whole, always connected, whether we think about it or not, feel it or not - that is how we are built. Our senses are comparative, designed to detect change, which explains why our sensory feedback can arrive on a spectrum between true and false.
What happens in the space between our physchophysical experience and reality is one of the main reasons why it can be difficult to change an existing pattern. F.M Alexander called this faulty sensory appreciation. It happens when we get a glimpse of a better improved way of moving (includes thinking & communicating), behaving or performing, but then quickly revert back to what we are used to because the new way 'feels wrong' in comparison. This is a dance between what is, in truth, a better use, and what we have come to believe is 'the right way' due to the time spent dedicated to a certain pathway.
The perceived gap is as real for each person, as any train-to-platform gap is for everyone collectively.
It serves a very important purpose – it is there to alert us to mind, to pay attention to what changed, so we can adjust, stay out of trouble, or get into some - if that is what we choose. It exists so that we can hear ourselves and others, reach out for support if need be and find our way back home. We need to be sensitive to what our senses are telling us in order to act more consciously, to update the way we move in the world, and to stay more aligned with our values and desires.
With time and practice we can re-educate ourselves in order to gain a more accurate sensory appreciation and understanding about our use in situation and circumstance, and a greater resilience and empowerment in challenging times.
As leaders in our world build greater gaps (including the inverted ones calles walls), as they encourage greater seperation and segregation, generate hate and fear as opposed to love and safety, attempt to gas-light us or in other ways blatantly mis-use their power we need to remember that in each and every moment we have the ability to respond constructively, lead from a place of connection and invite them to follow us.
As leaders of our own lives and as students and teachers of eachother we do this by minding the gaps: by seizing the opportunity to learn as gaps appear - real and perceived. We need to pay attention to our assumptions, judgments, convictions, beliefs, projections, interpretations, privilige and analyse how these impact how we move, behave and perform.
Discovering the gaps and revealing the connections is key in the process of all learning and change. Change requires process; we have to go through one and let ourselves be moved by it in order to truly learn and integrate. If we are holding onto beliefs that does not serve us or other people, if we ignore the gaps, we will only be stuck resisting change. Change is the only constant thing, and that needs to be our focus if we want to evolve.
The process we engage when using the Alexander technique is a moment by moment process of cultivating conscious choice in direct relation to stimuli, as opposed to seperate from it. We evolve through our experience, not by side-stepping it or surrendering to defaults based in perceptions and beliefs that are removed from the dynamic reality of our interconnected world. When engaging in this kind of process our response-ability dilates. The pool of consciousness and choice becomes greater, and psychophysical integration, i.e real change, is possible.
When we dilate it makes us more available for connection and generates a better quality in our relationship with ourselves, and anyone or anything around us. If we stay curious about how to bridge the gaps in ourselves, how to integrate who we are and who we think we are, what we do and what we think we are doing, it will help us see others from a place of compassion, and to see what we all have in common. It will reveal that we are one kind; humankind. It will reveal that we are part of nature, not seperate from it, and that when we hurt anyone or anything we also hurt ourselves. These are facts.
By cooperating with the deep knowing that we are all part of an interelated whole, like Martin Luther King said it in Oberlin, Ohio 1965; “by living out this fact, we will be able to remain awake through a great revolution”.