Alongside horrific wars waged on civilians and the accelerating climate crisis, the emerging dominance of artificial intelligence (AI) poses an existential crisis for us all. It’s not yet clear where AI may ultimately take the human species and, arguably, it may take us beyond being human .
Humans have always been embodied – we are whole mind-body beings. FM Alexander called this ‘psycho-physical’ unity; the mind and the body are indivisible. This means that everything we think will be reflected or manifested in us physically in some way, and vice versa. That might sound like quite a claim but let’s take a simple example to illustrate the point – start doing some complex arithmetic for a few moments and then pause to notice yourself. Are you holding your breath, is your brow furrowed, your lips pursed etc? So, even a seemingly abstract or ‘mental’ activity involves more of us than solely our mind.
Despite this fact of life that the mind and body are inseparable, we have endured a couple of centuries of cultural and philosophical dualism, and this has affected the way we perceive ourselves. While we are all embodied, our own sense of embodiment will vary according to our life experience. For example, as a generalisation, a dancer or sculptor will tend to have a much stronger sense of embodiment than say an academic or an accountant.
Some of us might feel like we have a clear and solid sense of self but, in reality, this might only apply to our sense of our mind. Before taking up the Alexander Technique, I had little sense of my physical self and I identified solely as my thinking mind. Others may find themselves often overwhelmed by different physical sensations. Yet others may simply feel adrift in life. Perhaps relatively few people are lucky enough to have a sense of being a harmonious whole mind-body being.
Learning and applying the Alexander Technique gradually re-balances us as embodied thinking beings. It can take time before developing more of a sense of ourself as whole mind-body being but it’s a worthwhile journey.
If only the biotech billionaire entrepreneurs intending to upload ‘themselves’ onto a computer to achieve eternal life would take up an embodying practice such as the Alexander Technique. They might just realise that ‘oneself’ is not just a thinking self.