Trainee’s column: Slack-lining with the Principles of the Alexander Technique

As an active person in the first year of my Alexander Technique teacher-training, I have started many new hobbies. New activities allow me to create useful and good habits in the way I use myself versus correcting old, harmful habits in familiar activities. So, I decided to give slack-lining a try. I am not a very advanced slacker, as I have only tried to slack-line a handful of times. Even with so little experience, I can wholeheartedly say that applying the principles of the Alexander Technique have been the means-whereby I have been able to take steps on the slack…

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Sleeping: undoing tension before, after, and in-between sleep

  Many of my students ask me about sleeping and sleeping positions. It’s odd, isn’t it, that sleep—a time meant for rest and rejuvenation—can sometimes become an ordeal fraught with discomfort or even pain, both physical and mental. Even if we sleep soundly, many of us wake up stiff and sore. This will be the first of a 3-part series on making changes in your nighttime patterns. Before you go to sleep, lie on your back for 5 minutes with your knees up and your hands on your stomach. If you are already a student of the Alexander Technique, give…

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Fearlessness and Coordination

I will never tire of watching this video (click on read more to see video). It is truly awesome to behold how perfectly the human organism can work when it is not being interfered with. Watching this child’s mind/body organization brings to mind the phrase “thinking in activity”, which is how John Dewey described F.M. Alexander’s process. Because the baby has naturally good coordination which has not been interfered with, she doesn’t need to do the kind of thinking we do (those of us who need to let go of harmful habits of coordination that have been built up over…

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Trainees’ Column: On Chronic Pain

It’s been six months since the pain in my shoulder started, a new episode in the journey of learning about my unnecessary habitual muscular tension. The event which started the consistent pain happened while trying something new, performing on a very heavy accordion. What followed was a week of not lifting my arm, then going back and forth to feeling better and worse on a daily basis until the present day. There are many processes and experiments that I’ve gone through since the event. First, I just waited to see if it would heal. After a month of continuously hurting…

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Trainee’s Column: Observation-Where True Change Begins

By Michelle Brake, 3rd year trainee Observation was the first step F.M. Alexander made in his journey of learning about his habits and the way he used himself. How can this be the first step, yet the one I most often forget? I remember the first time that it really made sense to me. I was at the University of Denver, in my first years of Alexander lessons when I read something about accepting how you are in the present moment, with no judgement and not wanting to change or fix whatever it is you “think” or “feel” is wrong.…

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Trainee’s Column: the Left Hand and the Alexander Technique

By Nicole Rafferty, third-year trainee. While studying Alexander for the last few years and in the new Alexander training course in Denver, I’ve taken much of what I’ve learned into improving my violin technique. This blog will focus on how I’ve incorporated the technique into analyzing and improving my left hand technique. When I first started taking Alexander Technique lessons I, like most violinists, suffered from excessive tension in my left hand resulting in a pinky finger that remained clenched back in towards the palm of my hand when not in use and a slow and uneven reaction time across…

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A Birthday Blog: Intention and Choice

One of my cats does not have good use of his self, even though he is a member of the animal kingdom. He stomps around the house on the hardwood floors so loudly that you can often hear him coming from 20 feet away, even though he is quite small. “Thunk, thunk, thunk.” More often than not, he goes “splat” on the side of the cupboards when he tries to jump up to the countertop, and I regularly even see him fail to be able to jump up on the coffee table, which is only about 18 inches off the…

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The Alexander Technique: Creating Opportunities for Change

“Human activity is primarily a process of reacting unceasingly to stimuli received from within or without the self.” —Frederick Matthias Alexander, The Use of the Self More than 120 years ago, a very determined Australian actor decided to find out what he was doing to cause himself to lose his voice. The impetus for this project was his love for acting, and his desire to continue unimpeded upon his career. He single-mindedly observed himself for months and then years in front of mirrors, successfully solving his vocal problems, and in the process making discoveries which would become the basis of…

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Tips for Musicians: Experiments (part I)

This is the first in a series of companion blogs for the article about the discoveries of Frederick Matthias Alexander which I wrote for the Colorado State Music Teachers Association. (See my previous blog post or visit https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/54205182/Leathwood_article_alexander_technique_CSMTA%20Notes%20%26%20News%202015%20copy.pdf to read the article). Each blog entry in the companion series will contain an experiment for you to try on your own. Please note that I do not claim to teach you the Alexander Technique by means of the written word, and I highly recommend that you find a qualified teacher who can guide you in your explorations. Since these experiments will…

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Learning through Journaling: a Celebration

A beautiful thing about teaching is the opportunity to witness someone’s discoveries. It is a rare privilege. When people share their process with me through their journal, I am often inspired and humbled. My private pupil Briay made my day when I saw she had written a haiku about her weekend, and I was even more ecstatic when she gave permission for me to include it in a blog! I am very touched by retyping Briay’s poem. The sense of wonder and gratitude she conveys at the discovery that things can change just by noticing and “urging”, and “letting”. I don’t…

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