some thoughts from our Alexander Technique Teacher, Julia Woodman
I’ve sometimes heard the Alexander Technique described as ‘Zen for the Western World’. With the help of an Alexander teacher we can learn to become more present and mindful as we go about our daily life.
It’s not just about ‘being in the moment’ though − we are, after all, embodied beings. Being more present is incredibly important but is not enough on its own to allow free and easy movement, and a better quality of life without the so-very common back, neck and joint aches and pains. Alexander lessons engage us as a whole (mind-body) in an experiential learning process in which we begin to think, move (and be) differently; over time it becomes a truly transformative process. The lessons guide us to continue to apply the skills we’ve learnt to our everyday activities, and gradually our postural support, balance and movement coordination improve. I always remember the time while I was having lessons and before I trained to be a teacher, when I suddenly realised one day sitting at my desk at work that I was comfortable for the first time, sitting effortlessly. After many years of the continual ‘yo-yo of habitual slouching / trying to sit up straight’, my postural muscle support system had gradually ‘woken up’ through the lessons and started working well again, while I was also letting go of the excessive muscle tension that I’d been using to try and hold myself up. During this period my colleagues were also commenting on how I was the one who always remained calm when our work became particularly stressful.
Through the Alexander Technique we become more aware of ourselves and how we’re responding, moment by moment, to what life presents; it enables us to discover how to lessen the habitual interferences with our natural movement coordination, balance and postural support. So yes, I think that the term ’embodying mindfulness’ is a good way of describing what the Alexander Technique is and what it achieves.