“I have been wanting for some time to write and thank you for the great benefit I have derived from your method. I think your technique is simply wonderful.”
(Letter of appreciation written to F.M. Alexander
by Lily Brayton, from the Adelphi Theatre, London, 1906.)
The Alexander Technique can help with all of these activites – and more. Indeed, if you are interested in the cutting edge of connections between mindfulness and neuroscience, the Alexander Technique is for you!
TO BEGIN: Ask yourself 2 questions as you read this text:
- Where in your body are you doing the work of holding yourself up?
- From where are you receiving support?
Repeat these questions at different times of day, in different activities. Simply notice the answers. You have begun your Alexander Technique journey! Contact Jill to continue.
This week’s favourite blog:
Some thoughts on using Zoom from an Alexander Technique Teacher
2020 has brought many of us into the online world as never before. As a child of 1950, I barely cope with computers, cellphones, internet and social media and use them all as little as possible. I am frightened of the possibility of being ‘hacked’, of losing my identity, of losing my money, of electro-magnetic and light pollution and many scary things which I can’t name but I suspect are lurking! It is a world in which I feel I lack the skills to survive, never mind to thrive.
And then came 2020 and the pressing need to up-skill to avoid isolation.
When teaching the Alexander Technique, I often talk about ‘response to stimulus’. Stimulus can be pain, can be an upsetting telephone call, can be starting a new job, becoming a mother. What behaviours and attitudes do we call upon to meet a new stimulus? Often we don’t know consciously. The behaviours and attitudes switch on as if a mindless habit is activated. This what happened for me as I ventured into my first few Zoom meetings.
I was overwhelmed by the stimuli:
- There were so many people in little boxes all over the screen, and apparently even more on another ‘page’, and more after that.
- Someone would speak; who is it? where are they? And then someone else would speak – where are they? I’d be looking here and there trying to keep up visually with who was speaking and hardly able to take in anything being said
- And then, some people’s boxes would have little yellow hand icons waving about. What on earth are those?
- “Someone isn’t muted. Please mute yourself.” What?
- Exhortations to type your link into the ‘Chatbox’. What is that?
And so on, and so on.
I would leave my first few such meetings feeling like a wet rag, exhausted and pathetic. Everything happened so fast. Everyone else seemed to be so proficient, relaxed and able to participate. I had to step back and consider the damage I was doing to myself by allowing myself to operate without what Alexander would call ‘constructive conscious control’.
I started with my breathing. I noticed I was holding my breath, I would exhale, wait for inhalation, and repeat a couple of times. Yes, I missed who was speaking and what they were saying but I was investing in my future as a ‘Zoomer”.
Then I moved on to my sense of support, both from the ground under my feet and my desk stool under my sitting bones. And, as Alexander Teachers will understand, my breathing eased even further.
Then, I realised, partly through pain between my orbits, how I was ‘pushing’ my vision forward into the monitor, desperately trying to ‘see’ who was speaking. This was a particular issue for me because my listening involves an element of lip-reading. Discovering the ‘speaker view’ option in Zoom (as opposed to gallery view) was a great help. Speaker view + exhaling + support + allowing the monitor image to travel to my visual system and I was making progress.
I still need to work on my jaw tension but am on the way.
Jill Freeman Nov. 2020
www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdrP_XGEuWI – an historically fascinating explanation of the Alexander Technique by the first teacher qualified by F. M. Alexander to teach what he had discovered.
Of particular interest to musicians:
alexandertechniquesite.com/recommended_videos_and_websites – videos 3 and 4 relate to an internationally renowned study on back pain and the benefits of the Alexander Technique.
markjosefsberg.com/video – an interesting, amusing introduction to the Alexander Technique.
Produced by the British Medical Journal on how the Alexander Technique helps people with back pain:
A podcast about chronic pain and the benefits of the Alexander Technique:
FALLS PREVENTION – This blog addresses the topics of balance and posture:
Articles to Read
These are the first two articles I recommend pupils to read. They are very different but both convey the unique wonder of the Alexander Technique.
Articles by me: