These short pieces between the long essays are meant to give you something graspable to think about or to do so that you feel more aware of, and more able to influence, how you move, how you are active, how you go about the business of your life with all its plans and purposes, constraints and possibilities. I believe many of the experiences I will describe or point you towards can most satisfactorily be explored with the help of a teacher, perhaps a trained teacher of the Alexander Technique. I will try to limit myself to things which words can cope with, with, for me, the background hope that you will want to deepen your experiments, on your own or together with a teacher.
I will begin with our instability. We are tall creatures, standing, sitting, walking with no more than two feet on the ground, and often less. A dog walking along on his four feet can stop at any moment and be stable. Our narrow height, with the joints which allow us to move, faces us with a basic choice about how we live with our unstable structure. We can retreat with our awareness into our heads and cope with our instability through tension, contraction – all the actions and strategies of holding yourself up, standing straight, pulling yourself down: compression. Many features of modern life – screen-watching, fast mechanised transport – encourage this separation into busy mind and locked body. The instability, though, can also lead us into a sense of wholeness and connection which the walking dog will never know. This requires the opposite of compression: it asks of us to widen and lengthen, to expand into wholeness. If we live into our elastic instability then mind and body are drawn into one another: our sense of self expands into being a body.
As an Alexander Technique teacher I will be awakening my student to appreciation of the support of the floor, the path, the grassy field, the chair, which is always there. To find that support, to use that support, needs us to inhabit our bodies right down to the feel of the ground under our feet. I will often try to help my students feel balanced, at ease in stillness. That balanced state allows you to know you are supported. But it is not a fixed condition; it is hovering on the edge of movement, of the next steps in the ongoing flow as we move from one place of support to another. So, notice what is supporting you, let that awareness draw you out of confinement in your head – so that you have a wider and more immediate experience of where you are and what is happening.