Feb 212016

What's amazing to me (it shouldn't be amazing, really!) is on how many levels I've been affected by this ski/film adventure. In our concluding conversation, I loudly declared how absolutely terrified I felt at many points during the week+. I confronted fear in so many ways: I was afraid of feeling sick/tired/sore, disappointing my teammates by doing a poor job filming, leaving more work to them by skipping sessions to rest, wanting to do right by my teacher while feeling sad and scared and out of control… And all this in addition to the death-defying challenge of actually navigating on skis! As if that weren't enough, provoking myself to face these contextual fears illuminated a ubiquitous pattern in my life: I hold back.

I knew that to control my direction and speed down the mountain I needed to lean forward on the front of my boots and let my head lead the way (you can read about that insight here). But I discovered that I wasn't just resisting letting my head lead; my pelvis was actively aiming backwards, which put me in the fearful crouch position that is often taught to skiers but which deprives them of full control. I could see on others, as well as feel in my own self, when I was in fact “hanging back”; I wasn't fully in agreement with myself about moving forward down the hill. I may have believed that I was ready and willing, but part of me (a significant part!) had some serious misgivings.

There's a wonderful dance that happens in bringing the Alexander Technique to any discipline; the dynamic principles of skiing, tango, yoga, acting, making music, whatever are clarified and execution is invariably enhanced. Meanwhile, engaging in any of these disciplines elucidates the principles of the Technique more fully; they need a field of practice to show themselves. Seeing my habit of holding mixed intentions on the slopes — part of me doubting, hanging back, afraid, while my head attempted to override my concerns through sheer will — brought to my awareness how familiar this pattern is. How many places have I been holding myself back in life? The lesson on the slopes was to really, truly give myself enough time to examine all of my intentions, so that I could be sure I was wholly in agreement and ready to “go where I'm going”.

Not holding back is not simply a matter of plowing ahead; that too would be my habit. What it really means is allowing myself time enough to notice, how much do I want to move forward, how much do I want to resist? As Erik pointed out, either choice takes courage. Giving myself space to feel all that I'm feeling, and time to clarify my intentions, is the safety needed to establish the courage to move forward — or the courage to refrain. Enjoying where I am is a precursor to enjoying wherever I might be going 🙂


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