People get very surprised when I describe what I do… In order not to get into a big philosophical discussion I usually say I work with ‘body consciousness’. But most of the times the person in front of me wants to know more, and so the inevitable question follows ‘is it like pilates?’ I can never resist answering ‘no, it’s not like pilates, it is a tool for practising BEING PRESENT’. That’s when the surprised look appears…
How is body consciousness related to presence?
What I’ve learnt during my journey of dealing with chronic tendinitis is that pain doesn’t go away without awareness of what’s causing it. If it does, that’s great, but the fear of it coming back haunts you forever. If my body awareness permits me to understand what causes pain or lack of efficiency, I can enter in a healthy dialog with the problem. Working with the problem on that basis will always lead to improvement and new possibilities. Working with the problem in a base of fear will always cause heaviness.
Now, body consciousness is not something I can or want to impose to my body. It is either there or not. What I can do is invite a state of presence into my system. And for that I need a tool, a practice, a ‘strategy’. That’s where the Alexander Technique comes in the picture. This method doesn’t involve specific exercises, we use simple movements, daily activities or THE activity (the main interest, in my case for instance, percussion playing). The objective is learning to access a state of presence WHILE in activity.
How do we achieve that?
By gradually becoming more AWARE of what is automatic response and what is choice in my movement. A nice example is when I’m working at the computer and at some point I find myself in an uncomfortably curved position magnetised by the screen. Where did my attention go during the time that it took me ti get there? That’s what we investigate!
The Alexander Technique doesn’t teach you something to do. It teaches you how to bring more practical intelligence into what you are already doing; how to eliminate stereotyped responses; how to deal with habit and change.
– Frank Pierce Jones, “Freedom to Change”