I was a good student in school, a good girl, in the days when we sat silent and still at our desks, legs together, hands folded. We raised our hands to speak, though I seldom did. I thought wisdom came from the head, the head of the classroom, a leader outside myself.
Yesterday I had my fifth Alexander Technique session. I should know by now that there is no “right” way to do things but I still want to be a good student, and the brain, my brain, loves control.
It isn’t that the brain doesn’t have a place in this, as obviously it does, but it’s integrated into the whole being. Our whole being leads. In Alexander Technique, developed over 120 years ago by F.M. Alexander, it is to “think” up. When I allow the head to be loose and pivot at the height of the ears, and think up to rise, I rise, effortlessly and with pure ease. I rise and come down, no energy or effort at all.
And then I want to do it right, which is the habit. I’m learning to “inhibit” the habit, so the organism can respond in the moment as it is, new and alive.
I’ve studied and practiced Sensory Awareness for twenty-six years. I know there are experiments that allow and invite us to notice, and in noticing, return to the wisdom of the organism, to the natural functioning of a baby and young child, so how is this different?
My practitioner, John Baron, literally guides me up and down, suggests with his hands, and then on the table, goes through my physicality, stretching, pulsing, suggesting. I walk out floating, expanded, free. I come home to absorb more clearly this re-organizing permission in my being, though John says the intention is to carry this everywhere, in all situations, and I believe and understand while also preferring to give myself time to absorb, receive, integrate.
Of course, in my sensing group we’re working with just this. We may have a wonderful experience in a workshop or class, but we’re working with how to carry it out into the world, and as I write this, a sense of ease comes in. Just carry it out into the world. There is no “trying” in Alexander, no “should”, no “work”, simply rise, and nourished, and nourishing, replenishing, be.
Working with John, I see how it is effortless until I put pressure on myself to be more fluid, whatever that means, to do it “right” and again, I know clearly, there is no “right”. A tree grows, responds to water, air, nutrients, space, light.
Like a tree, I “rise”, rooted in energy flowing up through flexible ankles, feet, and knees.
The Alexander Technique has been described as “the use of the self, psycho-physical re-education, kinesthetic re-education, proprioceptive training”. I can tell you that, and still not convey what it is to feel my cells expand out and become the sea, not individual lakes.
In this moment, I’m living in waves. Trees, fog, sky, computer, books, air, waves flow in and through, and this “me” is free, free of history and habit, which allows even more connection with memory and what comes. There is a beckoning and uniting of present and past in honoring this moment that contains All.
Yesterday I posted about a “living wall” outside a grocery store in Sausalito. I, too, am a living wall, living in and out, permeable and living, moving light.
Perhaps what I’m saying is described by Denise Levertov in her poem “Freedom”.
Perhaps we humans
have wanted God most as witness
to acts of choice
made in solitude. Acts of mercy,
of sacrifice. Wanted
that great single eye to see us,
steadfast as we flowed by.
Yet there are other acts
not even vanity,
or anxious hope to please, know of —
bone doings, leaps of nerve, heart-
cries of communion: if there is bliss,
and will be; out-
to itself, flooded
~ Denise Levertov ~