Narrowmindedness

Hello,

At www.forwardandup.com, under the heading “Narrowmindedness”, Maaike talks about receiving the latest quota of emails from AlexTech and how:

“The AT teachers on the list are so absorbed in defending their views that everything that is not AT is seen as heretical. Or at least, that’s what some contributors fear.

Jeez. There are millions of people out there who lead happy, healthy and spiritually fulfilling lives without ever having heard of Alexander technique. And if I ever meet an AT teacher who tells me that AT is the only way, I run.”

I agree, there are loads of approaches to happiness, health and spiritual fulfilment apart from the Alexander Technique. However, none of them utilises inhibition and direction in the very specific way Alexander taught. Although some teachers believe that the world and its ills won’t be solved until everyone has learned `conscious control’, the apparent narrow mindedness of people who champion the Technique before all else is more often a reflection of their conviction that it is unique in application rather than representing the next rung of evolution. Their fervour probably reflects their fear of this uniqueness becoming diluted.

I’m always surprised at how often the Technique is compared with predominantly physical approaches to well being. For me, the Technique is primarily mental. The more I consider it, the more obvious it becomes that the way we are physically is entirely dependant on how we think. Alexander talks a lot about this, but his apparent solution is not the somewhat simplistic, blanket prescription of replacing – or supplementing – our thoughts with `directions’. If the ideal physical `use of the self’, as described by these `directions’, is the natural state for humans, it is primarily dependant on our not thinking in ways that interfere with this. In other words, on inhibition.

Humans think differently to other species. Much of the time, we think `about’ things. This tends to separate our minds from our bodies. We can be in our back gardens, while being `miles away’. As we fantasise, our bodies remain unguarded, with `us’ none the wiser what is happening. The way out of this, it seems to me, is either to stop `thinking about’ things, even if only briefly, to allow our `natural state’ to temporarily reassert itself; or to work at causing our `thinking about’ to be of the sort that interferes with that state least.

Stopping `thinking about’ things is a tricky business. I’ve been asked why serious mediators often have what appears to be poor use – or are in physical pain. I suspect a subtle form of force may be employed in such cases, with `thought’ being subjugated rather than allowed to stop of its own accord. At any rate, because of this danger, and because thought is such a fundamental requirement for living, it makes more sense to me to address the way its nature can be changed.

It is for this reason that I find more parallels between the Alexander Technique and Cognitive Therapy than anything else. I often recommend people read the works of Dale Carnegie – specifically, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living – in order to fully understand how our thoughts affect us. LearningMethods, David Gorman’s offshoot of Alexander work, covers much the same ground.

Why do we think the way we do? Some people believe there’s an energy system underlying us that determines our thinking, which in turn determines our physical state. If our energy body is out of tune, so will everything else be. I find the concept of an energy body difficult to come to terms with, let alone work on; whereas the power and influence of thought on every aspect of our beings stands out starkly, as soon as it is brought into focus.

This is just my view, of course!

2 thoughts on “Narrowmindedness

  1. Hey, another AT blog, what a coincidence :-)

    When I look back at that post, I think it mainly reflects my own sentiments at the time and that I projected them towards what I was reading on the list.

    When I just discovered AT, it litterally was the answer to life, the universe and everything for me, because so many things clicked into place, both mentally and physically. But over time, my own enthusiasm started to turn into dogmatic thinking.

    When you have nothing to lose, it’s easy to learn new things, because you’re open to any possibility that will improve your current situation. But as soon as you’re on to something good, you want to keep it, with the risk of holding on to it so tightly that you cannot see outside your fixed frame, with the risk of losing something that you never had in the first place and missing other possibilities.

    I’m convinced that AT teachers know this, and that it’s something I had to learn at that time. But the risk always remains.

    BTW, have you ever read Daniel Goleman’s ‘Vital lies, simple truths’? He give a very interesting account of how the interaction of consciousness and fear results in self-deception as a defence system in individuals, families and even societies. It’s basically about how come we don’t know that we don’t know.

    Best of luck with your blog, I hope you update it regularly!

    Maaike

  2. Maaike,

    Whatever AT teachers may know, putting knowledge into practice is never easy. It requires courage as well as constant vigilance.

    My blog is going to be largely retrospective. I have loads of things I’ve written over the years that I want to include. It’s not pure Alexander, though a lot of will be.

    I will add new stuff, too. In the meantime, I”ll look out for Daniel Goleman.

    Nicholas

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