There exists a myth that a ‘return to nature’ offers a solution to our everyday aches and pains. We blame computers and out modern lifestyles as the cause of all sorts of problems. However when we look at the principles at work behind the issues in modern life, we find that the same problems presided in times gone.
It was the turn of the century, when FM Alexander developed his technique. There were no computers or mobile phones. Electricity was not connected to every household, and cars were not the norm. So many aspects of life were different to our current lifestyles. How can it be that the techniques that helped the population in the Victorian era are relevant today?
Alexander Technique has a solid set of principles that go deep into human functioning. Alexander recognised the way one uses oneself will consistently affect performance - for better or worse. Improving the ‘use of the self’ then, lays the foundation for effective functioning and performance. The common element in Alexander’s time and ours is the human element. Our tendencies remain consistent, and our potential for graceful coordination also remains consistent.
Over the century, the movements and demands we put on ourselves are quite different. The tools we use have changed and our activity has changed, but the fundamental way we coordinate ourselves is the same. One would probably have to go back thousands of years to find a time in evolution where humans would instinctively respond differently to the same set of stimuli.
This phenomenon of ‘use affecting functioning’ is at the heart of Alexander Technique’s ability to apply to any given activity. Because the teacher understands the principles of thinking in relation to coordination, he or she can give constructive input into art forms of specialised skills the pupil is expert in and which are beyond the teacher’s sphere of experience.
What this means for the aspiring student is that whatever the situation, The Technique can be employed to improve the experience of it.
If the environment is the cause of the ills one is facing, a change of environment will resolve everything. The overwhelming experience of students has been that without a fundamental change in attitude, the misuse of the self in one situation will ultimately transfer to other situations. One needs here to take a personal responsibility for the problem. To embrace this at once humiliating and liberating. To admit to one has influenced one’s own downfall is to also realise that one can influence one’s own success. Herein lies the empowerment of the individual. Alexander Technique provides the framework for the implementation of this. It is returning to the self to its natural operation mode - a way of returning to nature we can do whilst still in civilisation!
Photo copyright Hiromi Kato 2015