by Lisa Lutton, Alexander Technique Teacher, Yoga & Dance Teacher, Reiki Practitioner
The Alexander Technique can help you recognize and change the habits that cause tension, strain, and pain in your body. It’s based on a simple hypothesis: all of us humans approach our lives with more effort than we need. Lessons in the Alexander Technique are about learning to recognize and release the unnecessary tension. It’s a process of learning to subtract effort. We learn to trust the natural intelligence of the body, and we learn to stop interfering with it. Most people seek out an Alexander Technique teacher because they are in pain. Whether it’s back pain, neck, shoulder, or knee pain, RSIs, certain kinds of headaches, sciatica, or one of many other types of pain, the Alexander Technique can help. Some people come because they’re concerned about their posture, or they want a different way of dealing with tension, stress, and fatigue. The Technique is remarkably effective at transforming all of those things, without pills to take, special equipment, or exercises to do. How? The first step is to pause. Try it out right now. Suspend any rush to finish reading this, and take a couple seconds to do nothing and wait
Really, I mean it. Take time. Look away from the computer and don’t do anything for 2 or 3 seconds.
How was that? Did you notice any shift in your body or your state of mind? If your answer is no, know that you’re not alone. In my pre-Alexander Technique days, there is no chance I would have felt any change from verbal or written instruction. I was so entrenched in my habits that I needed hands-on support in order to feel what it would be like to leave myself alone for one second. That’s why, traditionally, the Technique is taught in one-on-one lessons, so the teacher can communicate that sense of spaciousness on a physical level through really gentle touch. It’s a pretty amazing feeling.
Maybe you did feel a difference when you paused a moment ago. When I paused during my writing, I noticed that my breathing returned to a fuller, easier state. I hadn’t known I was holding my breath as I wrote, but the pause revealed my tension pattern. Now that I’m aware of my habit, I have a choice about whether I want to keep doing it or not. In his book “Insight Dialogue,” Gregory Kramer says in support of pausing, “Just as it takes energy to alter the momentum of a massive moving object, it also takes energy to interrupt the forward push of habit-mind.” Maybe you felt that push when I asked you to pause earlier and stop reading. Our minds don’t want to stop, they want to push forward, and when they do, there’s not much chance that we’ll change our habits or even notice them.
There’s much more to the Technique than pausing, but that’s a great first step. I invite you to insert little pauses throughout your day today, and see what you notice as you begin to leave more empty space. Pausing is especially advised during heated arguments, uncomfortable social interactions, and when you’re certain you don’t have enough time. In other words, in those situations when we are least likely to remember to pause!
If you’d like to feel what it’s like to have more spaciousness and ease in your body, I’m offering a 50% discount on your first lesson through November 15th. Please contact me directly to schedule.
All my best, Lisa