Lately, I've had great success explaining that the Technique is about the behavior chains of building habits, which is how we adapt and learn. Building habits are what makes skill possible. Trouble comes when a person forgets the habit is there, or trains a short-sighted building block of habit, which is a "pitfall" built into adapting & learning. The building blocks of skills are usually designed to disappear and become innate. If things aren't working out as intended, people assume they need to train themselves to do another thing "opposite" to an already innate habit they forgot that they're already doing, instead of training themselves to stop. With repeating a nuisance, most people see how handy it would be to stop, but they don't know the first things about how to stop.
People also do not realize the problems that old conflicting habits can create over time. People know whatever a person practices, they'll get better and better at doing. In this case, a person can be practicing unintended habits that pull themselves apart. Their normally sensitive ability to sense what they are doing becomes flooded.
Alexander Technique shows a person how they can change the way they practice and learn, as opposed to having to give up any particular troublesome activity. How useful it can be to know how to subtract what is in the way, to prevent habitual conflicts from running the show!
So when beginners want to describe what they are studying, I have them describe it as something that teaches how to uncover and undo innate, out-of-date habits that have turned into self-imposed limitations. Most people who hear that immediately remark how useful that would be to know. There are many innocent situations where a need to unlearn habits becomes obvious:
1. The self-taught who get into doing counter-productive
foundation habits from learning without a proper teacher;
2. Those who learn skills or movement compensations with
built-in pain, fear or stress from a challenging teacher;
3. Someone with arm pain who has had to train
themselves to hold up a cast; they then hold onto
the compensation indefinitely.
4. A kid who never figured out their unique size and
shape, or how that shape changes during growth.
I'm sure you can think of more of these!
> --- John Coffin wrote:
> > Unfortunately, trying to describe the Technique
> in language the non-student will find attractive is
> an immediate paradox. How do you interesting someone
> in changing something they don't know exists, and
> whose influence they cannot imagine?
> > John Coffin