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Practice of Jeremy Woolhouse, pianist and Alexander Technique Teacher in Melbourne, Australia

Specialist in working with musicians, RSI, posture re-education, neck, back and chronic pain management. 

Articles on Alexander Technique in life - by Jeremy Woolhouse

Monthly blog articles by Jeremy Woolhouse.  Alexander Technique for daily life, music performance, specialised activities, pain relief and management.

Reviving Motivation

Jeremy Woolhouse

Motivation ebbs and flows like the tide.  Sometimes it just seems too hard to engage in Alexander Technique.  Sometimes, one simply forgets.

If you are reading this, you have probably already decided you want Alexander Technique in your daily life.  It must be giving you some value for you to want to make the effort!  What is that value?  To articulate it is to clarify it - if you are clear about why you are doing it, you will encounter less resistance to the apparent inconvenience of having to think about Alexander Technique.  Writing your motivation down can make it very tangible.

Your written motivation will be most inspirational if it gets to a value.  To say “I want to use the Technique to improve my posture” has no value statement.  Why improve your posture?  Is it because you feel more ease when you do?  Or maybe because you feel self conscious of your slumping or fear you are abusing your body?  The statement “I want to use the technique to engage my whole self effectively so I can enjoy work” has the value of “enjoyment” in it.  (You could also go on and say why you value your work)  The more fundamental the statement is, the more motivational it becomes.

Here is my current motivational statement.

I practice Alexander Technique because:

  • Through applying to myself, I am better able to teach others (value: professionalism, compassion)
  • I refine my skill and continue to evolve (value: self education, freedom to change)
  • I can enjoy playing music with ease, greater technical facility and expression (value: enjoyment, artistic fulfilment, professionalism)
  • I can be more present and comfortable with where I am right now (value: comfort, equanimity)
  • I can respond more appropriately to social situations as they arise (value: harmony, compassion)

Note that these statements are positively geared.  Rather than “I want to use the technique so I am not in pain” phrase it so that you are using the technique to create the opposite:  comfort.  Also consider if that pain wasn’t there what you’d be doing - and engage in Alexander Technique so you can enjoy that your passion with ease. 

The technique when it is learnt often appears abstract.  For the sake of study, in a lesson, we reduce the task to a very fundamental posture or movement.  That’s why we spend time working on sitting, standing and moving from one to the other.  To be able to modify patterns at such a fundamental level lays the foundations for more complex tasks.  Initially, to make change to more complex tasks is somewhat overwhelming. 

The whole purpose of the technique however is for you to be able to do something.  The series of directions one gives to oneself have meaning when they arrive at some action.  Our challenge is to connect that action to a considered approach.  

Because what we are interested in is the way you use yourself, Alexander Technique can be used in any situation.  I’m trying to make the point here that to sit in a chair or lie on the floor is not the essence of Alexander Technique.  The essence is somewhere in the relationship between thinking and activity - it is in how you do everyday activity and how you perform your specialised skills, whatever they may be.

So in reviving your motivation to use Alexander Technique, think about the things in your life you most care about and how The Technique can be integrated into them.  Alexander Technique is most effective when it becomes inseparable from activity.


Image: renjith krishnan

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