Our lives generally ‘happen’ down in front of us – most of us begin sitting at a school desk which is later replaced by an office desk; we spend our time on mobiles and looking at screens, and doing things that tend to draw our attention inwards and downwards; and, in this era of Covid, many of us are spending even more time on-screen in online meetings and leisure activities.
So why does this matter? Well, because we’re mind-body beings, wherever our attention is the rest of us ‘wants to be there too’. That’s why it’s so easy to end up hunched over the laptop – our attention is absorbed in the words and images on the screen and, as a result, we unintentionally pull our whole self down towards it.
We evolved for a different type of environment and lifestyle, one of movement and open spaces. Yet, over just a couple of hundred years we’ve had to adapt ourselves to a very different world – one of machines and technology and a more sedentary lifestyle. Because adaptation to the world we live in happens mostly subconsciously, we don’t always make the best choices but rather adopt habits that ‘get us through’. So it’s possible to sail through a whole day on automatic pilot, with no or little awareness of how we’re sitting, moving, carrying, or even how we’re breathing. What’s more, our culture elevates the importance of the thinking self over that of the physical self, so we may not consider the way in which we do things to be of much interest – unless there comes a time where it leads to pain or injury.
This is where learning the Alexander Technique can be so helpful. It provides us with a set of very practical skills, or ways of being and doing, that enable us to look after ourselves better. Through the experience of having Alexander lessons, we re-discover our ability to think spatially as an embodied self, to develop a greater awareness of ourselves as we move through daily life – all of which benefits our physical and emotional balance, and sense of self. Life becomes much more three-dimensional.
One simple example: as you’re reading this, are you only seeing the words on the screen, or are you seeing in 3D? If you were aware of the rest of the room beyond the screen even while reading, then you’re likely to find yourself being less hunched over than if you were only seeing the words on screen.
Depending on your local Covid restrictions, it may still be possible to have in-person Alexander lessons. And if we end up in another lockdown, ironically you may find yourself on yet another Zoom but this time for an Alexander lesson which might just help you escape from a 2D world.