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Once and Future Teacher

One of the hardest things about leaving my life behind to study for a couple years in another state is losing the “normal” activities I did. For example, I used to teach children every day. I sang and moved most of the day—it wasn’t unusual to get 13K-15K steps just from an average work day. And the kids brought such a range of emotions and reactions to each day!

Now my daily routine is much more calm and “grown up”: class 4 days a week, homework and exercise, cooking and housekeeping, a little music making, and work at the mall. Part of the Alexander Technique is employing “inhibition” (not in the Freudian sense of being timid about doing something unfamiliar, but in the sense of stopping yourself before doing something habitual). So every day is a series of decisions about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. On the training course it’s all quite accelerated as we work daily to explore mechanical advantage and encourage more coordination in our bodies. We’ve worked on standing and sitting, walking, bending, rolling and other developmental moves, singing and speaking, and probably things I’ve already forgotten without looking at my notes. But it’s been 15 months since I’ve been able to sit on the floor and make music with children!

After a 2-week summer break where I practiced very little Alexander Technique, I decided it was time to bring the two parts of my life together—partly in response to a conference presentation on early childhood music and movement that I needed to prepare. I started thinking about how to sing with my autoharp, and how my body would demonstrate movements to fit the songs I would share while keeping my AT principles going (thankfully my teacher had lots of helpful suggestions!). I also started contacting local preschool centers and found one that would happily let me come in and volunteer a monthly session for their small class. WOW! What a gift! So now I’m able to do what I love (and hope to do much more after graduation) while I’m integrating what I learn in my course work both for myself and my students.

While I’m thanking my husband for the clever title for this post, I’m also thinking about how to bring all of this together. The point of studying AT is to explore changes in how you use your body to make life work better: less stress and more ease! For me, applying the principles to 30-year-old habits has been quite challenging! I’ve learned that it’s not about expecting instant change or perfection. Instead, it’s about being aware of my habits and thinking through how to use AT principles to allow my activities to flow more easily. It’s becoming increasingly clear that this will be a life-long process!

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