One of the challenges when learning the Alexander Technique is ‘keeping it going’ in between lessons. It’s so easy to lose self awareness when grappling with a busy life. Often it helps to invent playful ways to gently prompt ourselves to stay more present and embodied.
So, I was thinking that, as we go about our day, it would be really helpful to be accompanied by four friendly bees (B’s): ‘Back’, ‘Breath’, ‘Breadth’ and ‘Balance’.
‘Back’ because it’s really helpful to remind ourselves that we have one! Most of what we do happens down in front of us, so that’s where our attention tends to dwell. But, as mind-body beings, where the attention is, the rest of us will orient there too. This manifests as a tendency to pull ourselves forwards and down towards the desk/phone/meal etc. Through the Alexander Technique, we develop a more meaningful sense of our backs, and we discover how we can ‘stay back’, remaining more poised and upright, while we get on with our daily tasks. Of course, like any other vertebrate, our spine and our back plays a central role in strength and movement coordination. Alexander lessons enable us to dispense with, or reduce those habits that interfere with this coordination, leading to smoother, less effortful movement and, often, a sense of having more ‘backbone’.
‘Breath’ because it’s so easy to inadvertently interfere with our natural breathing – holding the breath while concentrating, breathing shallowly and rapidly, mouth breathing etc. In the same way that we all ‘know’ how to move well, we also ‘know’ how to breathe well. But, for most people, these abilities are buried under years of habits that pull us into different and more awkward ways of being and doing. The beauty of learning the Alexander Technique is that it doesn’t teach you how to do anything! – rather, you learn how to free yourself of the habits that are holding you back, unlocking your natural breathing.
‘Breadth’ as in breadth of awareness – the greater awareness of our self and our environment that we develop through the Alexander Technique. Greater self-awareness that comes from ‘tuning in more’ to all our many different senses. So ‘Breadth’ is for expansive awareness that fully integrates our internal and external senses – panoramic (peripheral) vision, depth of field of hearing, all our interoceptive (internal) senses and our proprioception that is essential for balance, movement and our sense of ourselves in a three-dimensional space.
And last but not least:
‘Balance’: because in the end everything in life always comes down to a question of balance. Through Alexander lessons we gradually become better coordinated and able to live more in the present, so re-discovering our natural poise, as well as equanimity of mind.