*This post first appeared on acatnyc.org
Alexander Technique teaches a robust tool to recognize and address habits, including movement patterns, posture and muscle tone; and thinking and behavioral habits, as well.
As a child, growing up in the United States, and particularly as a student in American academia, I developed the tendency to respond to my circumstances with dissatisfaction. I was inclined to focus on what needed to be changed or fixed, how to garner or continue to get approval, and to seek distraction from my habitual internal dialogue and attitude towards my life circumstances. This attitude was reinforced by the people around me, by the media, and in particular, by advertisers. I was encouraged, first externally, and then internally, to strive to be better, to look for the next goal, the next success or win in life, the next project, the next task. What can I do next, so I can better myself and get the next toy, reward or show of approval or love from the world around me? And as a woman, what can I do to be more attractive, and thinner?
At the same time, from a very early age, I knew I wanted to experience contentment, satisfaction and joy in my life, and I had a strong inkling that I was going to need to work to overcome my tendencies to find fault and feel unsatisfied. I first saw a therapist at 18 and then began therapy in earnest for 11 years at around 21, with my primary goal being to love the life I am actually living. I began having Alexander lessons at aged 20, so I cannot be sure, but I believe my Alexander lessons contributed to my growing awareness of my emotional habit of being dissatisfied, and gave me skills to change my belief systems and responses to the challenges of life.
Over these last 32 years. having Alexander Technique as the central tool in my life, I feel like I have woken up more each passing year, and with this alert, aware state, I have gained more inner peace, self acceptance, patience for those around me, and an acute awareness of the dynamic of chronic dissatisfaction in myself, mirrored many ways in the world at large. My process has often been painful and hard won, as I grappled with my perfectionist issues, but I believe without the Alexander Technique, I wouldn’t be enjoying the wisdom that comes with age, and feeling so awake to life. I have learned how to enjoy myself more. This awakening is still a work in process.
One of my great pleasures as an Alexander teacher and a trainer of Alexander teachers, has been the honor of helping my students wake up to themselves and their lives, as well. I am inspired by their journeys, and I learn about myself in the process. At this point, work is play for me, and I feel so lucky that I earn my livelihood doing something I love so much.
If any of this resonates for you, I would be delighted to hear from you about your journey around the habit of dissatisfaction.
Note:The Alexander Technique is a useful tool as part of your self-care regime, but is not a replacement for consultation with a trained medical profession. It is important that you seek the assistance of a trained medical professional for persistent and on-going physical, emotional or mental symptoms, to rule out and/or address underlying causes.