12 Apr 2010
Last week the question of how long it takes to “get it” came up. The standard answer seems to be forever, or at least a very long time. I have a different view. I think the transforming affect of the Alexander Technique is best thought of as instantaneous.
The problem comes from the multiple and conflicting definitions of the Alexander Technique. By my count, the Technique is at least three conflicting things: a process (a method for evaluating and changing the self), a result (the state of being Alexanderized, of getting it right), and a method for teaching itself (only Alexander lessons look like that). To my knowledge, no one has have ever successfully defined the Alexander Technique, so it is very difficult to define achievement or even know what to achieve.
To solve this problem, I suggest that students of the Technique pick one definition and think of it as a process, a method for evaluating and changing the self. With that point of view, only an attempt is needed for success every time. More than that, thinking of the Alexander Technique as a process is really the only useful option, and the only way to move forward.
The Alexander Technique suggests that although we are subject to habit in movement and action, we can also break habits just by recognizing that and realizing that we can make new decisions and even break habits. If you notice habitual tension (a good thing because you have to identify a habit in order to break it) take that moment and find out if a different choice reduces or gets rid of that tension. There is no need to get it right, just a desire to recognize what you are doing and a willingness to take a chance on a new decision. Every new decision has lasting effects, opens new possibilities, and builds the skill of breaking more habits in the future. Certainly lessons help point the way and speed your journey. But the essence of the Technique is always the same–a desire to observe your self and a willingness to take a chance on new decisions.
See, I bet you feel different already.