General Benefits of the Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique is a form of self-care. Since >>YOU<< are the means by which you gain your ends, taking care of yourself and using yourself better can improve your functioning and give better results.
One Alexander teacher compared the Alexander Technique to nutrition: just as learning better nutrition will result in a wide variety of health benefits, learning to use yourself better with the Alexander Technique will result in wide-ranging benefits. Below are seven ways the Alexander Technique can help you be your best.
1. The Alexander Technique improves sensory processing.
You take in and process proprioceptive and environmental information constantly in order to survive, thrive and achieve your goals. But certain conditions are more conducive to accurately assessing a situation than others. For example, when stressed, your ability to process information and make good decisions diminishes dramatically. The Alexander Technique helps you to inhibit specific muscular patterns associated with stress and panic, which improves your judgement and helps you to be your best.
2. The Alexander Technique improves motor control.
The Alexander Technique has been shown to change how your brain controls postural behaviors. Although the Alexander Technique is a way of consciously modulating your motor control by inhibiting activation of certain habitual patterns and then “directing” to encourage new patterns, the effects of lessons go deep, and bring about dramatic, long-term changes in motor control, which have been measured in controlled experiments carried out at OHSU. See studies at www.amsatonline.org/research.
Improved motor control is considered to be a basic mechanism behind the Alexander Technique’s impressive results, demonstrated in controlled studies, in alleviating back pain and some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
3. The Alexander Technique is a smart way to deal with stressful situations.
Don’t put your foot in it — giving in to your first impulses in a stressful situation can make a bad situation worse. The Alexander Technique improves your ability to reduce automatic reactions that often occur in stressful situations, allowing you to better regulate your reactions.
4. The Alexander Technique strengthens your ability to say ‘no’.
Many people have difficulty saying ‘no’ to other people, and ‘no’ to themselves. Think of the benefits of self-control (ever hear of the ‘marshmallow experiment’?). Consider too that social change is often brought about essentially by saying ‘no’ (despite pressure to acquiesce) when the time is right.
5. The Alexander Technique is a way to live more consciously.
Learning to say ‘no’ to automaticity and to the urge to rush to the ‘next thing’ means that you are more in the present and able to attend to what is going on around you. By turning down automatic pilot, you can stop and more consciously consider the best way to go about meeting your goals. It has been said that ‘mindfulness’ is a natural side-effect of the Alexander Technique!
6. The Alexander Technique helps you to learn.
Many people who practice the Alexander Technique report an improved ability to attend to their chosen activity. Also, in order to learn or improve a skill, it is often necessary to stop your old way of doing something, even if it has worked (more or less well) in the past. This requires checking your habitual inclinations, keeping an open mind and doing ‘the harder thing.’ This is self-control is cultivated by the practice of the Alexander Technique.
Also, in many skills, including writing, typing, using chopsticks, martial arts, and doing math, we often believe that we should “feel” that we are working, that we are making a big effort. The Alexander Technique questions this implicit assumption about how it should “feel” to learn. In applying the technique, we find that as far as the amount of muscular effort that should be brought to bear in a specific activity, “less is more.”
7. The Alexander Technique improves spontaneity and creativity.
By learning not to interfere with your coordination, your coordination improves and you can paradoxically worry less about the mechanics of how you carry out an action — you can learn to trust yourself more.
John Cleese, of Monty Python fame, says “I find the Alexander Technique very helpful in my work. Things happen without you trying. They get to be light and relaxed. You must get an Alexander teacher to show it to you.”
Bonus: in the Alexander Technique, you are your own laboratory.
Lessons in the Alexander Technique will pique your curiosity about how the connection between thinking, intention and action. It invites you on a journey of self-discovery how your thinking, coordination and beliefs are interconnected.