By Everett Goldner

The essence of Alexander in my experience is about making choices. The process of Alexander is about breaking down habits inLeland Vall, Alexander Technique the body that keep habits unconscious.

Personally, I have a pretty rapid walk; I always have had. This translates into other habits associated with my body; I tend toward rapid speech, toward rapid gestures. If I have an itch, I don’t want to wait to scratch it; I want to scratch it right away. (Waiting quickly becomes unbearable.)

In my Alexander lessons, and when I allow Alexander to come into my awareness outside of the lessons, I shift modalities a little. I let myself notice the instincts of how I relate to my body, my voice and the world around me. These are not small things to notice, of course; they’re big things, fundamental things. I don’t notice them all the time because it would become too difficult to function and most of the time, these instincts are like the springboards that bounce me into motion. What Alexander does is help me to step back and take a look at these springboards.

The physiology of the body, of course, is so deeply enmeshed and interconnected from head to toe that we cannot possibly notice all of it or even very much of it while standing and being adjusted by an Alexander teacher. But what it is possible to notice gives me a clue about how to move from a “usual” state of affairs into a more holistic place. I think it’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the habit changes in some very noticeable way. After several months of Alexander, my habitual tendencies are still what they were when I began: rapid speech, rapid gestures. But they aren’t as reactive as they were; I don’t engage in them in the same way. The impulse to scratch as soon as I feel the itch is still there, but if I don’t indulge it and let the tension build, I can have a more thoughtful experience of my body that’s more in line with how I really want to relate to myself and to others – even through something as small as an itch.