How to Learn The Alexander Technique?

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Lessons

Lessons, Practice, Experimentation, Reading and Thinking — The Alexander Technique is not a passive treatment, but is rather an active exploration of how we process information and improve our manner of reaction and performance in everyday situations. Here’s how to do it.

The Alexander technique is learned through taking a series of lessons and practicing what you learn in the lessons on a daily basis.

Since the Alexander technique consists of non-endgaining, inhibiting and directing, these are the skills that are practiced during lessons. These are cognitive skills that enable a pupil to improve his or her ability to think in activity and change how he or she reacts to a stimulus. A lesson is a series of challenges (stimuli) designed specifically tailored to the pupil’s skill level to give the pupil a chance to practice the cognitive skills of the technique and change his or her manner of reaction.

A teacher cannot read thoughts, but the extensive training of certified teachers enable reading “thought on muscle”, and thus evaluating whether or not the pupil’s thinking has brought about the desired change in reaction. The “challenges” posed to the pupil during a lesson also serve to illustrate and provide a basis of discussion of the principles of the Alexander technique.

How to Learn AT, Lessons and Reading

Solo Practice

Solo Practice and Experimentation

Anyone can do what I did, IF they will do what I did.

FM Alexander

Just like any skill, lessons are greatly enhanced by practicing every day what was learned in the lessons — activities accompanied by specific thinking (“directing”). By taking time each day to think through and do the procedures, the student of the Alexander technique will gain experience, notice new things, and think of questions for the teacher. He or she will also be bringing about change by thinking in the new way. This also facilitates the process of understanding our own mechanisms, changing our thinking to change indirectly how we organize ourselves in activity in everyday life.

While taking time to practice is important, the goal of the Alexander technique is to be able to think in activity during our daily lives, that is, in all the activities that we normally engage in. Thus, the goal in taking lessons is to gradually integrate our new thinking (and new use) into our daily lives.

One specific activity that can be practiced even by beginners is the lie down. Here is a brochure explaining how to do it! [[link to lie-down brochure]]

Thinking and Reading

Western society is deeply end-gaining and dualistic [[links]].

Therefore, it is important to recognize these tendencies in our society and to take time to reevaluate our understanding of how to get things done and of ourselves. Specifically, when practicing the the Alexander technique, we must give greater consideration to the means of achieving our goals than to being fixed on the goals themselves (see the section on non-end gaining); and, instead of seeing ourselves as a separate mind and body, which leads to following separate prescriptions for the mind and for the body, we learn to more readily adopt the scientific viewpoint in which we are a unified organism reacting to the environment in a well coordinated or mal-coordinated way. These concepts take considerable effort to understand, and in my view, the best way to understand and re-calibrate our thinking about how we get things done – and how we think of the thing changes how we approach the thing – is to read the books by FM Alexander, and possibly select other books about the technique. This page contains reading recommendations for the student of the Alexander technique!

Thinking and Reading

This is the reason that Alexander wrote his four books: to enable a reader to learn his technique. However, you will notice that his books are not exactly a traditional “how-to manual”. Alexander’s books do not describe exercises to do, but rather concepts to guide self experimentation in thinking differently, which indirectly lead to improved use of the self. If Alexander spent 10 years learning his technique, perhaps this could be accomplished with several hours a day of intensive study of his books over a period of 5 years. By sticking to his principles and challenging oneself to rethink one’s view of oneself and how one carries out actions, it is probably possible to learn the Alexander technique without a teacher.

However, for all practical purposes, we are unaware of how we go wrong, and even when we are made aware of how we go wrong, are very strong impulse is to correct what is wrong immediately. In contrast, the Alexander technique instead teaches that we must stop before we go wrong, send our orders to organize our thinking, and then re-decide whether or not to carry out the original action or another action.

In a lesson, the teacher facilitates this process. Through the teacher’s manual guidance, we can be made aware at a very early stage when we go wrong, and are encouraged not to go wrong in the first place. When we do go wrong, the teacher’s gentle guidance prevents us from trying to correct this, you creep

“Supposing that the “end” I decided to work for was to speak a certain sentence, I would start in the same way as before and

(1) inhibit any immediate response to the stimulus to speak the sentence,

(2) project in their sequence the directions for the primary control which I had reasoned out as being best for the purpose of bringing about the new and improved use of myself in speaking, and

(3) continue to project these directions until I believed I was sufficiently au fait with them to employ them for the purpose of gaining my end and speaking the sentence. At this moment — the moment that had always proved critical for me because it was then that I tended to revert to my wrong habitual use — I would change my usual procedure and

(4) while still continuing to project the directions for the new use I would stop and consciously reconsider my first decision, and ask myself “Shall I after all go on to gain the end I have decided upon and speak the sentence? Or shall I not? Or shall I go on to gain some other end altogether?” — and then and there make a fresh decision,

(5) either

not to gain my original end, in which case I would continue to project the directions for maintaining the new use and not go on to speak the sentence;

or

to change my end and do something different, say, lift my hand instead of speaking the sentence, in which case I would continue to project the directions for maintaining the new use to carry out this last decision and lift my hand;

or

to go on after all and gain my original end, in which case I would continue to project the directions for maintaining the new use to speak the sentence. ”

“I would point out that this procedure is contrary, not only to any procedure in which our individual instinctive direction has been drilled, but contrary also to that in which man’s instinctive processes have been drilled continuously all through his evolutionary experience.” from Use of the Self

Please enjoy reading about the Alexander Technique on our website! Feel free to contact us for more information or to try out a lesson with an AmSAT-certified Alexander Technique teacher today.