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Have a Lesson, Change Your Life

Updated: Jan 1

Notes: 1 This post was written a year ago when I was still studying. I've now graduated and I'm taking students. 2 The Developing Self USA is alive and well. I'm looking forward to joining the discussion next week.

It’s often said that life changes after your first Alexander Technique lesson. Invariably you learn something that makes you think and prompts a change in how you move.

My first lesson definitely changed my life, since I’m now training to become a teacher. I remember asking how I could train to teach. I’m sure my teacher didn’t take me seriously, since I didn’t know anything about the Technique at that point. But it felt like a calling, akin to the comment to my dad on the ride home from kindergarten when I announced that I would grow up to be a teacher.

Discussion in class today centered around how the Technique has changed our life priorities and required us to stand for principles that have been shaped by our AT training. In my case it was related to students I’m working with, while my classmate is having issues in her university course work. The amazing coincidence was how the reading from F. M. Alexander’s second book Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual also dealt with the subject. Yesterday we read a chapter in the same book about the problems with education (written after WWI and revised after WWII) that were eerily similar to discussions among my school’s faculty and staff in the past few years.

F.M. Alexander’s point is that nothing can be learned until a student is ready with body and mind to learn. Changing teaching methods is helpful, but changing the way the body works so that the mind can work better involves a change in the way a student thinks and uses his or her body in the process of learning. This is far beyond the scope of most educators.

However, there has been a solid connection between the Alexander Technique and education of children from the beginning. There was The Little School in Kent, England run in the 1920-30s by Irene Tasker, a Montessori teacher and Margaret Goldie, an AT Teacher. During World War II an Alexander Technique contingent came to the United States with the children from the school and continued their education in Stowe, Massachusetts then moved just west of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For about a decade The Developing Self has organized and trained AT teachers to work in various school settings. They recently launched The Ready List Website to provide information for the general public. The concept has crossed the pond with the first meeting last week of teachers in the United States.

The point in class today was that as we learn to live with a different awareness of time and space, there is less tolerance for stress and a stronger desire to prioritize a smoother life flow. It’s less important to “get it right” than it is to follow the process, whether we’re thinking about attaining knowledge, creating a schedule for the day or week, or cutting veggies for soup.

A popular concept now is the polyvagal approach to life, with its emphasis on regulating the nervous system. Practicing the Alexander Technique is definitely one way to achieve that! Between giving AT directions and inhibiting habitual movements, thoughts and behaviors, the Alexander Technique can certainly make powerful changes in life! And it can begin with the first lesson!

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