Jul 072016
 
Last weekend was the annual retreat of my local group of Alexander Technique colleagues. We meet at a lovely cabin on Ripshin Lake in Tennessee and enjoy swimming, kayaking, shared meals, and of course lots of Alexander talk and exploration.

A highlight for me was the discussion around Alexander's concept of Inhibition. Here are my notes:

Not reacting in life allows us to maintain. Exercising the privilege of not knowing allows for progress.

Inhibition, part 1 = Undoing; to stop doing something.

Inhibition, part 2 = Prevention of grasping; to give up thinking that I know what's next (or ought to come next). This plays out as giving that Undoing time and space to reveal itself as something new.

Trust in the power of not doing something. Let go of ulterior motives. Let the non-doing have an effect.

Why would it better to let something new, rather than known, happen? What exactly are we trusting to? To what am I yielding, if I allow something outside of what I now know, to operate?

Perhaps this is where the terrain of the psychophysical meets the ocean of the spiritual, where what is known surrenders to the field of possibility. It looks to me like Life has an overarching tendancy toward organization, more than chaos – although chaos or dissolution is an essential part of the transmutation into organization (an example would be how objects combust to yield light and heat; life forms disintegrate to create the substrate for new things to grow). This organization is necessary for things to keep going, and keeping going is what they do – and must do. There's no escape from Is-ness; there isn't anything that isn't.

How is it a privilege to not know?? I believe it's a privilege to acknowledge that there are much, much larger forces at work than my tiny (albeit significant) perspective. It situates me in a context of the Intelligence of this organizing dynamic. Setting aside my attachment to and compulsion for knowing, exercising the privilege of refraining from this unavoidably limiting function, opens me up to experience myself as part of something unfathomable, limitless – and inherently Good.

 

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Jan 062015
 

Everyday slouchToday, I heard someone comment sadly that she’s been “trying to fix” her posture for ten years now; her back hurts all the time, and yet she “can’t seem to remember” to sit/stand/whatever how she “should”. I realize now — after fifteen years of study, three intense years of training to teach, and the deepening yield of my ongoing work — that applying inhibition and direction, what in the Alexander Technique we call “working on oneself,” isn’t the kind of thing you “remember” to do. The true application of this work is really in itself the result of a decision — but for me, it wasn’t so much a decision I made: IT made ME. I wanted to say to this young person, there just comes a moment (sometimes it drags out, but in hindsight you can see the shift), there comes a moment when you’re just done, or ready, or whatever it is for you, for this work to be something that takes you on, that becomes you. Then it simply is who you are. It’s never necessary to “remember” who you are; the world is showing you, always, and now there’s an awareness of it, a sense of Self that stands outside the self you see. You know there’s a You that’s choosing what’s so right now, and you can choose again.

Once you’ve made this first choice, the choice to recognize that choice is possible, the more power Choice-Making has, the more it demands its own activation. I want to admit: I’ve often chosen to abdicate my power of choice. That might not be apparent from the outside, but to me it seems that only very recently am I daring to touch on the true power of choosing — choosing to stop; deeply and and truly STOP. I catch myself in the moment of compulsion, of habit, and though it seems like the worst idea ever, (sometimes) I simply stop, and wait, and watch. Let me be clear: stopping like this is unutterably terrifying. The sensaSpeeding traintion is one of turning to face a speeding train that’s hot on my heels: A grisly death seems unavoidable. Yet asserting my intention to stop (and continuing to assert it! Moment by moment!) seems to sweep me right on top of the train, and if I keep my focus on being with the train, rather than running from it, its momentum slows and the panic dissipates.

I never knew how much stillness was possible, how much freedom. I know I’ve only caught a glimpse of it. Stopping like this isn’t something I have to remember to do; I couldn’t now forget how, not for anything. That does not in any way make stopping less painstaking, Still pondonly inevitable. Although it takes all my courage to stop, the habit of complacency just seems less tenable. Now Awareness is chasing me down, to where I feel a sense of choicelessness, that I MUST choose. The choices are making me. I see myself on an unyielding trajectory of awareness that is eased and pleased by my active participation. I’m going there anyway, to the Deep Quiet Self, but oh how much fullness is allowed when I surrender to it now!!

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Mar 172014
 

No, I'm not talking here about prejudice. One of the mixed blessings of studying the Alexander Technique is that you lose your tolerance for moods and behaviors that don't serve you. Yesterday a student of mine reported that she was full of ease after doing the Constructive Rest practice, when her husband called her over to review some photos on his laptop. As soon as she'd spent a minute craning over his shoulder to see the screen, her shoulder hurt worse than ever. I explained that once we open up stuck places, going back to the old patterns of tension becomes intolerable. Muscles that have finally come even the least little bit free from old tensions are loathe to return — and will let you know! A once-comfortable sofa becomes a nighmare of collapse. Curling up with a book is muddying and unpleasant. Pressurizing (stressing) oneself becomes abhorrent. We can no longer abide our old ways of being, of thinking, of responding.

Of course, we always retain the right to engage in those old habits of thought and deed. But no longer can we claim ignorance of the effects, or our complicity. All the ways we've rationalized or ignored our mistreatment of ourselves, in fact our prejudices against life, just don't hold water.

It may not seem fun to lose the illusion of those old comforts… Freedom is not for the faint of heart.

If we knew that undertaking this work would transform us in ways unimaginable, if we knew in advance that we would lose the self we think of as “me”, who would begin?? The desperate, the enlightened? Pain is a powerful motivator, but there are unseen forces at work too.

My guiding philosphy is that Expansion is the nature of the Universe. We can fight it, a little or a lot, but always it will have its way with us. Surfing is an apt anology here: The ocean is doing its thing, and we can despair at being tossed about, or learn to navigate its powerful ebbs and flows with respect, skill, enjoyment. Learning to go with that expansion — even, or especially, when it unmoors us from the carefully crafted Self we call home — is the game that opens the door for recognizing the limitlessness within.

Truth hath no confines.

 

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