In the first several weeks of my Alexander practice, the focus for me was on taking away a sense of the practice and working with it during the week. Now, we’ve begun to progress into ways of looking at the work that are more minute and concrete, that I don’t have to “find” again because they are modalities that are not abstract: for instance, while walking, to pay more attention to the leg that’s on the ground than the one in the air; to actively care about the connection to the ground when you stand, since in a tangible sense, it’s all you have.
In our sessions, Leland will often say that there’s a whole world that occurs between sitting and standing, and I feel that I’m beginning to see this. From sitting, there’s first the decision to stand up. Then there’s (probably, depending on how you’re sitting) a reconnection to the ground. Then there’s the part where your head rises away from your feet and various muscle groups rotate. And then there’s the part where you choose to go “up” rather than forward-and-up or back-and-up.
Why does this matter? Most people are used to standing and sitting in ways that don’t necessarily feel very good, but that we don’t notice out of long habit. That standing up and sitting down can be frictionless and effortless is an idea most people are not used to, and of course, it has to be practiced and experienced repeatedly before it can become a reality. It’s quite simple to say, “let’s care about our relationship to the ground,” but until a fair amount of work has been done on establishing where the ground is and where the sky is and how the parts of the body which are closer to each are in some sense “reaching” for the ground and the sky, to “care” about the ground would have no meaning.
As always, I continue to find that Alexander articulates things that are intuitive but are not given actual attention or study in other movement and artistic disciplines: to “go up” from sitting to standing. And from standing to sitting… to take the chair out of the equation, and in some sense, to, again “go up” or hold oneself upward (counter-intuitive until you realize that there is no such thing as “holding yourself down” – gravity takes care of that).
I’m hopeful that as my Alexander work continues, my understanding of Alexander will expand to a point that grants me a sense of freedom in movement (and in other modalities) that would have been inconceivable before I began the work.