Self-help Alexander

This is a copy of a letter I received some time ago:

“I want to thank you very much for the information posted on your website, but specially for the “Self-help dialogue 2”

http://www.dodman.org/index.php/Writing/Alexander/Self-help

I got a very valuable insight by reading it.

For many years my intellectual interest was shared between 2 completely opposite areas: business & computers, and the oriental approach to life. My search in the second path, led me to the synthesis represented by traditional Buddhism + Taoism = Zen.

On the other hand, more than a year ago, I discovered the Bates Method which helped me a lot to improve my eyesight, to the point that I decided to publish my personal story on the web http://www.batesmethod.gossimer.net/

Then the site received more than 500 visitors in a short time, which encouraged me to join a few discussion groups related to the subject. One of the exchanges I had, was with a person living in England (I don’t remember the city or his name) who recommended me to try AT to further improve my vision. That was the first time I even heard about the very existence of F.M. Alexander !

After that, I started a dedicated research about the subject on the Internet, made some surprising discoveries about my own twisted body, got my copy of The Use of the Self, etc. etc.

2 months ago I decided to search for an AT teacher in Buenos Aires, and finally found one (graduated in Amsterdam) close to where I live. I had 10 lessons and 2 weeks ago I decided to suspend to continue on my own.

The lessons went pretty well as they provided me with some practical insights I was seeking, and I felt very motivated by what I had learned so far. My decision to work by myself was based on considerations about the limited time I could afford with a teacher; but more than anything else it was the increasing feeling that perhaps due my own nature, the teaching environment didn’t allow me a quality connection with my own consciousness to inhibit and direct beyond words.

I was already familiar with the “think of” vs. “think about” distinction, however reading about it in the context of your “dialogue 2” was a powerful insight, specially as I connected “think of” with “3D / depth awareness” and its opposite ” think about” with “flat screen mode”. The 3rd. important element I was able to integrate in a single perception was all you said about breathing.

I’m getting into semi-supine around 20 min. almost every day, but the important fact is that I feel AT is helping me to be more conscious here and now in my normal activities.

I believe that my ability to inhibit and direct works better as a mental process beyond words.

Thanks to the increasing awareness about my “thinking and seeing mode” at any time, including awareness about my breathing, seems able to help perception of muscular tensions largely unconscious up to that point. Once a “tension spot” is under light I just tend to let go perceiving how it looses strength with no other effort form my side.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this msg., I started to learn about AT when I was pursuing vision improvement with the Bates Method.

At that time, I reached a point were I knew that I needed to further release some eye muscles to allow more freedom in the subtle ocular movements that form the basis of normal eyesight (Saccadic movements, elicited to place an object on the fovea, they can be voluntary, but in a large extent they are performed as a reflex response)

Learning about AT made it clear that considering the body as a whole was the answer !

So I this is how I ended to integrate AT in my daily live. AT means to me a way to better connect with my body. On the other hand Zen Buddhism provides a path on how to deal with my mind and being more conscious here and now beyond words, which seems something very unusual in our accelerated modern western culture.

Both approaches (AT and Zen) seem to be complementary, to the point that the detailed Zen instructions for body position during meditation are largely in line with AT principles. AT provided me with a “more western” explanation (addressing the causes rather than effects) about why this state of the body helps to clarify the mind.

If I remember well, Alexander said something like “every thought or emotions reflects in muscular tension” I like to think that this could be seen in both ways, this is : releasing muscular tension reflects in a clearer mind.

Some people might prefer to understand all I say in “practical” terms in line with seeking better quality of life.

For me it also has a deeper meaning which is beyond words (no end gain but no absence of end gain either :-)

Sincerely…”

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