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Practice of Jeremy Woolhouse, pianist and Alexander Technique Teacher.

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, specialised activities, pain relief and managment.

Removing interference

Jeremy Woolhouse

Alexander Technique is a process of removing interference.  Without interference, concept flows into action effortlessly.  Restrictions of physics still apply, so a conceived ideal may not be possible, but performance will be closest to intended, and most rewarding to the performer, when interference is minimised.

External factors

There are external factors which influence performance, limitations of our anatomies, physics, the environment we are in and others we are interacting with.  Yet an accomplished performer will incorporate all these elements seamlessly.  External factors themselves are not limitations.  Some may even become a catalyst to heightened performance.

When something is not working at optimum, and is not compromised by external factors, we can say there is something internal which is interfering with the organic process of concept leading to performance.  Interferences will manifest as tension, tendency, hesitation and so on.  These are physical indications of some process which impedes performance.  The process creating interference is rooted in thought.  It is not sensations which come to us that create an interference, but a neurological response we have.

Judgement

Usually, some sensation comes and we immediately start to assess it as good or bad, like or dislike.  The very process of judgement creates interference.  When our attention gets drawn towards assessing a stimuli, attention to performance is compromised.  In order to stay ‘in the moment’ and attend to performance, we need to resist the compulsion to judge and assess.  This is a process FM Alexander called ‘inhibition’.

What happens if we perceive the environment, our pains, discomforts, limitations and so on, but then don't start conversations with them?  To find out is to take a leap into the unknown.  There is potential for disaster, but also potential for revolution.  Since our bodies are intuitively seeking co-ordinated movement, I propose that the potential for positive outcome is greater.

A safe environment and some courage is needed to begin this kind of experiment.  An Alexander Technique lesson can provide the training ground.  Then the aspiring student must apply the processes in activity to appreciate the principles.

Expectations

If there is some belief, prejudice or predisposition in our thought, this becomes a limitation.  It is human nature to create some expectation.  Expectation creates a parameter for performance, and sets a standard which we may meet or fail.  Resisting the tendency to predict is challenging, but is a valuable tool to keep us ‘in the moment’, curbing thought from interfering with our performance potential.

The body is always striving to fulfil the intentions of the mind.  Believing that a performance will bring pain, or be dissatisfying primes the self to seek out or even create pain and dissatisfaction.  The belief that a performance of unprecedented ease and fulfilment is possible will predispose the self to find such success.  Such a perspective is not ‘positive thinking’ in the way it is presented in pop psychology.  Rather it is a thinking process which disallows for a persistence of limiting belief.

Compromised performance is characterised by interference

Anything which compromises performance is an interference.  The interference we can influence is that created in thought.  Thoughts are transient and malleable.  They can rapidly be modified, directed or dissolved.  Because every thought will manifest in some movement, and so many thoughts are precipitated by sensory input, managing thought and body together presents as a logical solution.

Alexander Technique offers a method for just this.  Inhibition cuts off the engagement in interfering thoughts, and Direction positively channels our attention back into performance.   Without interference, the skills we have trained in become accessible, and concept flows into performance.  

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