When people first start Alexander lessons, it doesn’t take long to get the idea that it’s all about how we do whatever we’re doing in our daily life – and that this has nothing to do with learning the ‘right’ way to do things. But it can be tricky translating the new ways of understanding, and the skills developed in the lessons, into the everyday. In daily life there is no Alexander teacher by your side to guide you. Worse, you are being constantly bombarded by thousands of stimuli (external and internal) that demand your attention and drag you back into whatever your usual habits are. So, at first, it can feel difficult to connect and integrate what happens in lessons with what happens during daily activities.
At its heart, the Alexander Technique is a self-help method. It is actually quite simple but it’s not easy because it involves challenging our usual way of understanding ourselves and how we move through the world. It involves working against the habits that these pre-conceptions create – it requires a bit of a thinking ‘re-set’ which can be hard. After all, we also bring our existing learning habits to learning the Alexander Technique. It can be surprising to find something where there’s nothing to ‘get right’, nothing to ‘do’ and where our tendency to judge ourselves is not helpful. However, gradually, our consciousness can change and we can become more self-aware, more accepting and more often ‘present’. All of this does take time but the transformation is compelling and, once you’re on the journey, you’ll almost certainly find it a worthwhile one.
So, alongside this ongoing process of learning and change – and apart from the daily lying down practice – what can an individual do to help integrate the Alexander Technique into their everyday life?
One approach to take is ‘one thing at a time’. So, once you have the basic concepts from your lessons, how about trying out the following? Choose one activity of daily living – preferably something not too challenging to begin with. It could be, for example, every time you go to put on the kettle to make a cup of tea. Then set yourself the aim that every time you go to put the kettle on, you’d like to put your Alexander Technique thinking and skills into practice. Almost certainly, you’ll sometimes realise that you have been completely oblivious and on ‘automatic pilot’ – that is inevitable and it really doesn’t matter. Simply renew your intention that you’d like to remember, and to be able to stop and think next time. It’s like playing a game with yourself, enjoy it!
You might well find after a little while that, more often than not, you are more self-aware and applying some of your Alexander thinking each time you go to put on the kettle. If not, just give yourself a bit more time. And if you find that you are more aware, then you’re ready for the next challenge/game. What will it be? Maybe, every time you comb your hair, or open a door, or switch on the laptop?
We’ll gradually find that we’re able to use our ‘Alexander thinking’ more of the time. This generally leads to more interest and pleasure in carrying out our everyday activities. We’re building up our Alexander skills and we’ve put in train the process of change of our whole mind-body self. Have fun!