By Everett Goldner
I’m going to touch on the idea of laziness in this post, which has come up at times in my Alexander lessons with Leland. To let the ribs hang, as you stand, to let the back expand, to let the breath occur – these are all phrases that have come up often in my lessons. A key word here is “let” – not to do these things, but to let them come about.
To allow something to happen is hardly synonymous with laziness, and “allowing” is a key concept in some martial arts I’ve practiced in the past. In Aikido, for instance, we allow the opponent’s energy to come at us, and then use their momentum to send them past us. The practitioner remains centered and undisturbed.
By letting the body be centered and its component parts lie easily and naturally, we can also quell disturbances. In my Alexander lessons, momentum doesn’t really come into it – as far as I know, no one’s running around in Alexander work; we’re just standing, sitting or lying on a table.
The big difference here is between being engaged in activity that has some objective, as in martial arts, where the objective might be to hit the opponent, send them flying or pin them, and activity that has no objective, only process. This “goallessness” of Alexander is a point I’ve written about before.
If we want to let things happen with ease, we do have to allow them to happen. If we begin to talk about “laziness” instead of ease or in place of ease, there are some differences. Allowing means allowing something to occur – the breath to be easy, the ribs to hang, etc. Laziness means simply letting go.
Both of these can be useful in dealing with one’s body and voice, and the key is, I think, to know which is appropriate to use at any given point. If you have a lot of excess tension in your body, it may not be useful to “allow” the tension to flow through your body – it doesn’t have any useful conduit to go to. Better to be lazy and simply let it go.
On the other hand, if you want to move from a state of excess thinking – like a state of stress where thoughts are running around in your head to no end – and change into a state where you can feel and connect more, to your body or to another person, then you may want to think in terms of “allowing” yourself to open up.