Let’s say that you’re in a situation of conflict – say, an argument with a colleague or a co-worker who has a position that you absolutely disagree with. In situations like this, most people tend to be unaware of what their body language is: whether it’s toward the other person (aggressive or searching for common ground), away (disengaging or retreating) or otherwise. Now, it’s reasonable to say that the (unaware) body language of both of the people in this situation is insecure; shifting subtly, heart rates higher than normal. In situations like this, people look for some way to anchor themselves to something familiar, which they will usually either find through the verbal exchange, or not.

However: it’s interesting to consider that the body’s kinetic search in this situation for something to anchor itself to for a sense of safety and familiarity is itself quite pointless, just an evolutionary vestige that’s hit a dead end. Physically, there’s only one way for the body to actually anchor itself, and that’s by planting one’s feet on the ground. That done, you’ve secured yourself as firmly as you can to the position you’re in; everything else is a matter of personal choices or preferences.

In Alexander, we begin by standing, feet planted, in front of a chair. We also say, in Alexander, that one’s head and one’s feet are going away from each other, and in a certain sense all of the parts of the body are expanding (or at least that’s our intention), giving one the notion that the body should in some sense balloon out toward fulfillment of our desires (whatever those might be), or toward resolution of a conflict, and so on. One does not “do” the Alexander technique; rather one releases into it; by letting go of what we “think” we are doing, in the same way that water seeks its own level, we can find a better, more intentional way of doing anything.

Could Alexander be an aid in conflict-oriented situations? The next time I find myself in one, I think I’ll find out.