Archive for April, 2020

Summer Alexander Technique Retreats

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As we navigate this new world we live in, everything is becoming an online experience.  So many people have questioned the feasibility of learning the Alexander Technique (AT) online.  After all, it has historically been a hands-on teaching. This may surprise you, but learning and teaching the AT online is not only doable—it has advantages. Recently in my AT for Musicians classes at the Conservatory, I asked the students about the benefits of learning online.  As far as learning AT, they agreed that being able to have class at home meant that they were applying the AT principles more often in their lives than they had done while taking the class at school.  Fascinating– and not surprising when you think about it.  I also believe there is an empowerment that they did not expect.  There is much less sense of needing me there to help them.  I have always weaned my students from hands-on work.  So at this time of the semester we would have been relying much less on hands-on experiences than we did in January. But this empowerment came a little early and it works. Another benefit I had not previously considered is that some students may be reticent about the hands-on aspect of the teaching.  By studying online any fear of being touched is obliterated.

Now we are approaching the summer.  Usually there are several retreats to explore.  But the coronavirus pandemic means these retreats will be online.  Not “but”—AND! What an opportunity to study this amazing work, to learn about the patterns of behavior you may not have even known you had — and to learn that they need not be permanent.  I am teaching on several retreats.  You can visit my workshop page for more information and you can Google Alexander retreats to find more.

Happy AT study!

April 24, 2020 at 2:18 am Leave a comment

The New NOT-NORMAL

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Like so many of my colleagues across the globe, I have been plunged into the world of teaching remotely for a good part of this semester.  Fortunately, I have taught the Alexander Technique (AT) via Zoom before– so I felt equipped to do so. But these are not the usual circumstances under which I have taught it. And the circumstances are the main event. A predominant pattern I’m seeing is that students feel as though they should be really productive.  They have more time and fewer distractions. Doesn’t that translate into more practice time? If only it were that simple.

One of the fundamental tasks of our organism is to find safety.  While our recent past has not required us to work very hard at that, we are now faced with safety –searching as a full-time job. It takes a lot of energy to feel safe which means there is little energy left for our to do list. I happen to believe we need to nurture that part of us that is lost, tired, confused, sad, and generally not feeling safe. Maybe nesting—cleaning out my closet and baking cookies—will make me feel like I am creating a comfortable environment at home. My senses want to be filled with things that are soothing. Seeing a clean space, smelling baked goods, listening to music—this will all help me orient to my new not-normal. These things will help me make peace with where I am. They will help define where I am in ways that are acceptable to me—and are within my control. If I do not contribute to creating this environment, I will feel out of control and terribly conflicted over trying to do things I think I should do in a space where I don’t really know where I am.

In AT we sometimes use a bit of jargon e.g. psychophysical unity. This is a word that attempts to express our wholeness rather than all the parts often used to describe our experiences. We are not a mind separated from a body.  We are one person with all the fascinating attributes that make us “us.”  One of my favorite AT articles is one written years ago by David Gorman called The Rounder We Go, The Stucker We Get.  

In this article Gorman describes the moment we are naturally brought to conscious awareness by some symptom—pain, tension, anxiety etc.  When this happens we try to change things to make the moment feel better.  But because we are not deeply acknowledging the reality of what is happening in this moment, we are creating conflict in our system.  Psychophysical unity is not possible.  Accepting what is happening because it is the reality of the moment brings us into harmony with all our seeming disparate parts—psychophysical unity.

What do I advise?  Clean your closets, bake your cookies, don’t practice or don’t practice the music you think you’re supposed to be practicing.  Create your safe space. I am sure that the passion you have for creating art will be revealed again and that you will have all the necessary energy you need to do what you want to do. Embrace the new not-normal, accept that it is not normal.  And please have compassion for yourself as you do so.

April 3, 2020 at 9:42 pm 5 comments


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