How Alexander Technique messes with your head

Simon Gore

To blog or not to blog?

Before you dive enthusiastically into my blogs, I need to warn you that they aren’t really “blogs” at all.

For a very long time I have believed, and said to anyone who would listen, that “blogging” about Alexander Technique is impossible.

It seems to me that his ideas form such a complex, interconnected, self-supporting, holistic, constantly evolving system of left-field concepts that a short, easily accessible explanation isn’t likely to help you.

Don’t get me wrong, after 18 years teaching and studying Alexander’s work, I have learned a tremendous amount of valuable information and benefited both mentally and physically through this process, and I can’t wait to share it with you. 

My problem is the nature of the “blog”. As I understand it, the point of a blog is to take a subject within your field and, without using too many words, write something intelligent and informative about it from your (supposedly expert) perspective, and then, very importantly, to give away some of the goods. 

In other words, you give your readers a recipe, an exercise, a chapter from your new book, some practical advice, or maybe a small tester pot of your face cream if they subscribe.

People tend to come to a blog for your top tips rather than your profound wisdom.

But in Alexander’s work there are no exercises, there are no tips or tricks, and there is no cream. 

Definitely no cream. 

I can’t teach you Alexander Technique by writing words at you. I have to be able to analyse your movement behaviours and thought processes before even beginning to design a lesson. And a brief description of one aspect of the work – inhibition, for example – is of very little use to you in isolation.

On the other hand, this is the age of the blog. If you want to communicate important ideas to people, you have to be in the game. So, what to do?

The blog that isn’t

What we have here, then, is a kind of experiment. I’m going to call these things “articles”, not “blogs” (maybe they’re blarticles). I’ve decided to simply write about Alexander and his amazing work. I’m going to throw his ideas out there, just as he did, and see who catches them.

I can’t teach you from the comfort of my keyboard, but I can share with you the things that excite me about Alexander’s work.

I can try to bust some of the myths about the human condition that he himself busted, but which, for whatever reason, still persist today.

I can share some of the revolutionary ideas that he presented and, with luck and a tail-wind, give you a sense of the extraordinary process that he created.

I hope you will join me on the journey. I hope it will be fun. I hope it will mess with your head, just a little.

The blogs

(The views expressed in these posts are entirely my own and do not necessarily represent the views of any particular organisation or professional body)

What do you have to do to do?

The other “do” Alexander’s work is full of apparent contradictions. It drove me nuts when I started lessons — I was convinced my teacher had told me one thing and then, after I had made some progress, told me something else entirely.…

The primacy of thinking

A personal note. It has been a while since I published my last post and I would like you to know why. The Alexander world — at least, the part of the Alexander world that I inhabit — has been shaken by…

Try Easy

Parlour tricks It is said that F M Alexander kept a large, heavy looking suitcase in his teaching room, which he would sometimes use to demonstrate a very important idea. Allegedly, he would ask a student to do him a huge favour…

Concentration (true)

Alexander vs. the ‘mainstream’ – part 3(c) In recent posts, we have been looking more closely at the concept of concentration and the “unusual condition of the body” that almost everyone adopts when they think they’re concentrating. We also looked at some…

Concentration (actual)

Alexander vs. the ‘mainstream’ – part 3(b) I suggested in my last post that Alexander’s writings describe at least three different kinds of activities that go by the name of “concentration” (You can read that post here). So, today we find ourselves in…

Beware concentration (so-called)

Alexander vs. the ‘mainstream’ – part 3(a) In the last post we saw Alexander’s list of fixed ideas that need to be eradicated before a student can learn his work. One of the items on that list is our subject for today.…

Devoted to doing

Alexander vs. the mainstream, part 2. Last time, I began exploring the theme of mainstream ideas that stand in the way of the general acceptance of Alexander’s work.  It was true for Alexander and it’s still true for us today that we…

Gravity is innocent

Alexander vs. the mainstream, part 1 As I may have mentioned in a previous post, when I explain to someone the nature of the problem that Alexander identified, and the nature of his solution to that problem, it makes complete sense to…

What’s a “primary control” and why should I care?

Alexander’s new toy. In most conventional Alexander Technique schools, you will encounter a concept known as “primary control”. This is a term that Alexander introduced into his teaching in the 1930’s and used extensively in his book The Use of The Self,…

The solution to a cunningly concealed problem

The little drummer boy I recently had the dubious pleasure of watching an old video of myself at 15 years of age, playing drums.  Having played professionally for more than 30 years, I have, of course, seen and heard myself play many…

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