Here’s a quick exercise to demonstrate the essence of the Alexander Technique:
Imagine there’s a water bottle on the table in front of you.
1. Don’t pick it up. Notice your response.
Continue to not pick it up, as you choose or choose not to do something else.
2. Now, stop yourself from picking it up. Notice your response.
Continue stopping yourself, as you choose or choose not to do something else.
What was the difference in the quality of your experience?
I tried this experiment with a friend, and what he reported is that his sentiment in the first instance was one of detachment, not caring — liberty. In the second instance, he found himself thinking about how he would go about picking it up; he was simultaneously preparing AND bracing against. One response conveyed freedom; the other, narrowed focus and options.
It’s helpful to notice the mental engagement as much as the physical engagement in this situation. How does this effect reveal itself in our everyday lives?
The essence of the Alexander Technique is this, the concept of Inhibition — as it is recognized in biology: there is excitation, and there is inhibition (of a reflex). Happening, versus not happening. Attachment to an outcome does not figure in. And this is the world-changing effect of applying Inhibition — not simply to a movement (like sitting down or standing up) — but to the ways we respond in all of life. When my thoughts appear: do I pick them up? Do I choose to not pick them up? Or do I attempt to restrain myself from picking them up? When emotions appear, when a person or situation appears: do I do something in response? Do I not respond, doing nothing? Or do I stop myself, constraining and bracing against a response?
In all of these instances, what would it be like to be genuinely free of attachment to an outcome?