Notes on Alexander Technique, etc. Alexander Technique is a way to reeducate one’s mind-body in how to use oneself in accord with the dharma. The result is constant joy in learning and wisdom. It is a skillful means to develop mindfulness-awareness which is the whole point of dharma. Usually, we pay very little attention to our lives and how we use ourselves. We end up with lots of inefficient and unhelpful habits of self use. These result in pain and endless problems (samsara). It is a way to apply the principles of the dharma in a more thorough and comprehensive way to both meditation and post meditation. The main point is to practice this stuff. If you do not practice it nothing happens. If you practice it every day, it will transform your life. What Alexander is saying is sort of look before you leap. Bring awareness to the situation. His full meaning is to introduce you to a little gap that always precedes everything in the dharmic person. It is a moment of non aggression and lightness, a little like the tao. Cheer yourself up. Let go a little bit. Alexander calls it inhibition. He says he wants to teach you how to think. My teacher calls it noticing. It can get a bit heavy handed if one in not careful so we emphasize a light touch, the same as in meditation. So, to begin, we just stop our normal routine and practice somewhat slower, perhaps subtle movements of which we ordinarily are ignorant; how we use ourselves in the most basic ways. We think the thought, “My head is going toward ease.” Then we move our head very slowly side to side. We can go a long way side to side very slowly or just a little bit. We notice any ease in the movement or any tension that seems possibly extra. Perhaps one can begin to drop the extra part. We can with practice become very interested in how we use ourselves and find it fascinating and very useful. Perhaps the most useful thing we could do. We begin to reclaim our innate kinesthetic (and every other kind of) wisdom. It is all tied up together. If we are cut off from our kinesthetic wisdom, we are cut off from wisdom. We enter into the path properly. We enter with the right attitude. We discover gentleness. We discover humility free from aggression. We discover openness. We learn the meaning and the primacy of drala, “above aggression”. We very simply rise above the ordinary struggle. We emerge out of this hardened shell we once encased ourselves in. We see basic goodness. One could work this way with the head and neck. Alexander says, the head leads and the body follows. If the head is leading us into fight-flight then that is where we go. If the head is leading us into the truth of freedom from suffering then that is where the body goes or tends to go. One might next direct oneself to one’s shoulders. One way is just to move one’s shoulders the tiniest bit forward and then back. Maybe 4-5 millimeters (1/16 inch). Slowly. Pretty much everyone’s shoulders are completely frozen but you can slowly unfreeze them. It is easy to become too serious or pushy with all this. We like light and playful. Beginner’s mind, as they say. Really you want to be like you were when you were a little child. Curious. Not goal oriented. Playful. Joyful, really. Rediscovering the joy of learning. Next we like to bring in the whole back. The best thing is really to practice bowing. First it could be just a little back and forth. You could let yourself move forward in the chair as a precursor to standing but you just work on the very first part of the movement. The ease directed at the head leads the movement. The body begins to follow that. Go back to the back of the chair in the same way. Gradually, you can make the movement bigger until the whole back is involved. Learning a proper buddhist bow is excellent also. One learns to give and to awaken at the same time. Alexander’s full statement was, “my neck releases, to let my whole head go upward and forward, to let my whole back lengthen and widen.” We always love length and width everywhere. We love that letting it happen. Alexander says, “If you tell the body to do something gently, it will do it”. Alexander says to practice three things every day, please. Little movements like I have described. The possibilities are endless, arms, legs, any human activity. The second is to practice breathing. The third is to take a little Alexander walk. Five minutes each in the beginning or you can build it up and also do it anytime you think of it and have a minute. The second thing to do every day is to practice one’s breathing. One could combine this a bit with meditation. There are a lot of subtle points here but I will just say a very few things. The main point here, which is also one of the main points in meditation is a letting go on the breath, particularly on the outbreath. Alexander says to practice the whispered “aaah” on the outbreath. Practice a letting go on the outbreath. To me, it is almost a given that if I can hear a little sound or a sound on the outbreath, I am letting go and, if not, then not. The subtleties and further applications and implications of this are endlless and encompass a good bit of vipaysana practice but that is a start. The third thing is to do an Alexander walk. The idea is to walk with no other purpose than to practice Alexander. One frees one’s neck and lets one’s head go toward ease. Just walking without trying to get anywhere is a complete revelation. There is a gentle spiral with different parts of the body. The upper body can swing freely and kind of spiral open. The whole back can lengthen and widen. We look always for length. Let the legs be long from the knee. The knee can sort of lead the step. Try to orient a bit toward forwardness and away from holding back or a slight backward tilt in the back. It’s a long process but very healthy and interesting. Anything we discover about how we use ourselves and how we might free and lengthen is great. All of us are sort of cramming our limbs into our body. We could reverse some of that. Our limbs can spiral open outwardly. We could wake ourselves up to Basic Goodness in ourselves and our environment. 1. 3 EZ Questions
The Three Easy Questions (3EZQ) are: 1. 1. How easy is my neck? 2. What's happening to me as I ask "How easy is my neck" ? 3. What happens to THAT change as I go into my activity? The key is to pay attention to whatever specific part of your body has changed as a result of asking question #1. THAT change in ease will either continue/increase in which case you simply continue as you are doing or THAT ease will decrease and then you simply ask Question #1 again and start the process over. I'm glad you're finding 3EZQ useful. It's very powerful and real easy to teach to any students from absolute Newbies to grizzled veterans. These teachings are from Mio Morales, an AT god.
URL's AT + mindfulness
Some urls from googling meditation and alexander technique http://markjosefsberg.com/alexander-technique/alexander-technique-and-meditation-2
http://www.constanceclare.com/meditation http://alexandertechniqueboston.com/practicing-detachment-alexander-technique-and-meditation/ 3. Clear Short Explanation of AT
"The Alexander technique is a way of learning how you can get rid of harmful tension in your body." Although certainly not a full definition of the Alexander Technique, this is a good start. "The Alexander Technique is a way of learning to move mindfully through life. The Alexander process shines a light on inefficient habits of movement and patterns of accumulated tension, which interferes with our innate ability to move easily and according to how we are designed. It’s a simple yet powerful approach that offers the opportunity to take charge of one’s own learning and healing process, because it’s not a series of passive treatments but an active exploration that changes the way one thinks and responds in activity. It produces a skill set that can be applied in every situation. Lessons leave one feeling lighter, freer, and more grounded." "The Alexander Technique is a method that works to change (movement) habits in our everyday activities. It is a simple and practical method for improving ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination. The technique teaches the use of the appropriate amount of effort for a particular activity, giving you more energy for all your activities. It is not a series of treatments or exercises, but rather a reeducation of the mind and body. The Alexander Technique is a method which helps a person discover a new balance in the body by releasing unnecessary tension. It can be applied to sitting, lying down, standing, walking, lifting, and other daily activities..." "The Alexander Technique is an intelligent way to solve body problems." I forgot where on the internet I got this.