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 the years). She doesn’t need to inhibit any reactions. She is in a condition of perfect mind/body coordination. Her actions are exploratory: there is no hurry or fear of failure, only a total absorption in what she is doing at each moment. She is never forcing things or trying too hard to reach the next hand or foothold. She is never working too hard in a way which makes her stiffen her neck. “Just do it” is not part of her philosophy. She is not afraid. She is not overthinking or over-analyzing what specific move to make next. The path simply becomes clear to her as she waits and explores. She does not miss an opportunity to stop and find a better way when something isn’t going to work. Even when she is millimeters from the top, she can stop when it is not working easily, turn back, and explore a new path that will help her attain her goal.

At the training course today after watching this video, we talked about some of these things, and members of the course commented on how free and expansive her back was, how her limbs came out of her expansive back, how the movement of her hands and feet reaching out for the holds reminded them of “putting out feelers”, how she wasn’t in a hurry, how she looked like an expert climber, how she looked like she was simply crawling on the floor if one didn’t know it was a vertical wall. We also talked about how for an older child or an adult, fear of failure and over-analyzing specific movements could get in the way of this easy coordination.

One way of “thinking in activity” consists of NOT “doing our Alexander Technique” and NOT “trying to figure out what to do next” but simply noticing if we are about to do something which will interfere with our overall ease and poise, stopping before we interfere with this poise, and doing something different which will allow us to maintain ease and poise in our head/neck relationship and thus our whole self. People often injure themselves by ignoring the sense that tells them they are doing something in an awkward way.

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