Rosh Hashanah and AT

October 3, 2019 at 12:49 am Leave a comment

I am a teacher of The Alexander Technique.  What’s that, you ask? Well—it’s the most simple and complicated teaching around. On one hand, it involves a heightened awareness of our reactions to the stimuli of life. This can be as simple as noticing a muscular tightening when I open my car door. Or it can be noticing a similar tightening or holding of breath when I encounter a particular person at my workplace. Learning to inhibit, or intercept habitual responses is interesting enough.  There is a richness of possibilities available in these moments that often comes as a surprise.  Who knew so many choices were available—simply by not reinforcing my usual response? And how do I allow for a new response during the most charged moments of my life? Deyanu—it would have been enough. For many it is more than enough to examine these parts of ourselves, to become intimate and honest with our own responses, and learn to allow for new ones to emerge.


But there is more. My mentor, Tommy Thompson, talks about “The Personal Narrative and the Universal Narrative.” Our personal narrative is the story we tell ourselves.  It is the belief we have about us—our potential, our limitations, our interpretation of all the events of our lives that have brought us to the current moment. It is a personal signature that is reflected in our patterns of behavior. It often causes us to operate in conflict with our inherited design.  That design is the Universal Narrative—the story of our evolutionary process. The “us” that lives beneath the created self is the neutral story—a story without judgment, a story without conflict, a story without preconceived notions of what we can or cannot be. We can use the Alexander Technique to tap into that universal narrative by listening deeply to those moments when we suspend our personal narrative in favor of what might show up instead.


As I participated in today’s Rosh Hashanah service I was somehow brought to these ideas of personal and universal narratives. My concept of God is Oneness.  I read the Shema, a defining Hebrew prayer, and interpret it as “our God is One—Oneness–unification of all.”  Our current struggle with climate change exists because we have responded as a people from our Personal Narrative, not the Universal Narrative that would protect us all from our own poor decisions.  The political struggles today are clearly a product of Personal Narratives.  Everyone looks out for number one and in so doing negates the oneness that would unite us in our decisions.  At the same time, every person responding from their Personal Narrative CAN inhibit that response, listen deeply in moments of high tension, release the muscular hold we have on ourselves and in so doing find those remarkable possibilities we never even knew existed. Cain y’he ratzon—may it be so.







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Is direction necessary? What is the Alexander Technique at Boston Conservatory at Berklee?

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