by Everett Goldner
Leland has said to me at least once that “having a conversation with your body is not hard – it’s easier than everything else.”
That having a conversation with your body is easier than having a conversation with someone else may generally be true if you’re not a great conversationalist; your body is what you inhabit; there’s no distance to be crossed if you want to talk to your knee, or your hands, or your neck. And yet our bodies can also, for some of us (or maybe for all of us at times) feel like clothes that don’t fit very well. If you have an itch, you have to take action to scratch it, or just let it subsist, which can feel difficult or torturous. We’re subject to ailments and diseases as well as emotional highs and lows, desires, cravings that some people spend a lifetime learning to co-exist with. People choose to smoke nicotine knowing that it harms the body and the physiology, or take hard drugs knowing what the risks are. Why is this? Why don’t we all just converse with our bodies all the time and solve all our problems?
I‘m going to offer my opinion based on my understanding of Alexander work to this point. We can have a conversation with our bodies at any time to address any problem we might be having: yes, this is true. But people tend to look for a problem in a specific place – to have an expectation of “where” the problem is in other words. If your throat is tight, you may seek to relieve it by massaging it, or by swallowing. But the reasons that your throat are tight are not isolated to your throat, they have to do with your physiology in general.
Alexander deals with things generally – Leland has said to me that Alexander “tells you how to do everything generally and nothing specifically.” But when we *generalize* we tend to think of our “generalizations” as lacking value. Certainly western education teaches us to never generalize, to rather specify. So viewing things “in general” tends to be seen as bad or as frankly meaningless.
Certainly this is a point of struggle for me in Alexander work. If in Alexander I can only generalize about what I experience or how I wish to change what I experience, this can cause some intellectual friction (and I’m sure many people have this experience with Alexander work whether they can articulate it or not): there must be something to DO to “solve” the problem! It’s very easy to fall into this trap of “doing” things. We “shouldn’t” be general, but of course we can no more rid ourselves of generality than we can rid ourselves of our minds, the mind after all being a thing that can’t be located like the brain can be.
We can have a conversation with our body at any time; we just have to remember that it’s okay to have one. So far, Alexander work has definitely helped me “remember” that it’s okay to.