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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Getting That Feeling Back Again

"The way the self is rearranged from within. How would you describe the difference between feeling self rearrangement and imposing that arrangement to one's self?"

By asking the question that way - you've got bits of the answer. It's how go from one to the other that you want to learn to do in a new way.

How do you "get" something you know? Perhaps it's a kind of filing system that you use to go and "get" an experience again. That way of "getting" the experience only works if you know where and how the experience can happen again that will work. You'll find that if you've just had a new experience - your ways of retrieving a filed system of feeling won't work to retrieve that new experience.

That's why Alexander teachers will say - observe what happens as you go into action without giving yourself the order to "do something." It's as if you're going to doing something before you've gotten "ready," because "getting ready" is actually revving up the habit to fire off. I've written more about this before in a previous post called "magic words."

To see your thinking/actions in motion, it helps to practice leaving off imposing your idea of what you should be doing from what you're observing. In Alexander Technique, we have tricks - we like to trick our habits and confuse them, so they give up and stop coercing everything we do. To do that, you would tell yourself you're not going to "do it that old way." Instead, you tell yourself that you're just going to sneak by those old habits and do only the little parts of the action, bit by bit - In AT we call that the "means whereby."

As an example, instead of "I'm thirsty, I'm going to grab the glass and drink some water"... You could direct yourself to move your whole head... Follow with your whole body... Move your eyes to turn your head... Move your fingers off the table... Move your elbow behind your back... Move your shoulders wider... Move your body to follow your head.... Swivel your hand across the table... Cradle the glass with your fingers... Move your head and body... Decide how much the glass weighs... Let your elbow move as your arm moves... Reassure yourself that you're not going to drop the glass with your light touch of it... Raise the glass off the table... Feel how much the liquid weighs... Bring the edge of the glass to your lips...and now feel your thirst. Strange process, huh? Essentially, we're doing all that to completely bore our old habit into giving up.

After we do that enough, the habit becomes a little empty. The glass becomes lighter. The habit loses its urgent necessity and endless blathering justifications of how it's so essential. Meanwhile, we've trained a completely new way to drink water, or type words, or whatever we practiced without our habits in the way.

Golden Gate Bridge In Alexander Technique, we call that suspending your goals, or using a willingness to experiment. Recreating your feelings that happen after you're experimenting is a trap - because if you're going where you haven't been before, how can you use your habits to get you there again? You can't. Instead you're going to be using your strategic thinking, your observation and you're going to suspend doing what didn't work before. Just leave it out. Drop it. Give up. Admit you don't know. (You'll be happy about not knowing. It means you still have something fascinating yet to discover!)

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