When we learn there is often a great deal of attention paid to whatever it is we would like to know. But rarely do we pause to ask: “What conditions need to be present in order to learn?”
Some answers might spring to your mind: A quiet room, an engaging teacher or subject. These are all external factors. What about the conditions within yourself?
The Alexander Technique sets out to answer that question. It begins with the insight that our thoughts and our bodies are inextricably linked. Our thoughts effect our bodies, and how we use our bodies effects how we think. This can be illustrated if you pretend for a moment to be super excited about visiting this website. You might notice that even pretending to be excited had an impact on your expression, maybe even in how you are holding your shoulders, or how you are sitting in the chair. This type of response is occurring within us all the time, whether we pay attention to it or not. You might begin to see how important it is to ask the question: “What are the internal conditions that need to be present to learn?”
Working with an Alexander teacher can help reveal the answer. Lessons in the technique will increase your kinesthetic awareness, allowing you to become more aware of your environment, both internally and externally. It will also provide tools and strategies for letting go of physical tensions or collapses and particular ideas or beliefs that aren’t serving you. By letting go of these things, you become free to meet the present moment more fully. This in turn opens the opportunity to learn something new.
The technique reveals important questions about how to learn and provides powerful tools for cultivating the conditions where learning is possible. The philosopher, educationist, and student of F.M. Alexander, John Dewey, noted that the Alexander technique “bears the same relationship to education that education itself bears to all other human activities.” The best way to understand the profound benefits of the technique is by experiencing it yourself. Please reach out for a lesson! More information regarding the technique can be found here. For further reading check out the books The Elements of Skill by Ted Dimon and Indirect Procedures by Pedro De Alcantara.