In a very intimate and intense way the Alexander Technique is concerned with how we use subconscious information which comes to us through conscious experience. I find that the Alexander Technique tells me that I will never get to understand this process in the sense of fitting thoughts to facts. My understanding lives in, consists of, how I am active. All the schemes and models I use to understand how I sit down on a chair matter only to the extent they help me enliven the act with beauty and meaning – even just sitting down on a chair!
So, I don’t believe I can nail down what is happening, but I can use insights and pictures. In the Introductory Notes to his last book, F M Alexander speaks about wholeness as “an act – not a belief or a conjecture or a theory”. So far we have focused on the wholeness of the human being more as a structure in stillness or movement. Thinking of wholeness as an act leads me to try to live into the wholeness of ourselves in time, or through time: the wholeness not of mind and body, but mind and movement. Think of a time-body, experience yourself more vividly as an integrated whole through how you live with time. We often have this experience with music, with dancing and rhythm; with the Alexander Technique it usually begins with something more conscious and clear. It often begins with a moment (or longer) of clear self-awareness, of me, connecting with something sensed physically, in myself or in the immediate environment. We use this immediate sense of self awareness, of the physical, to place ourselves in a stream of time, past and future, memory and desire, meeting and mixing around our present-space self.
I think, in the Alexander Technique, we reach out into the past and the future, extending this present we inhabit, giving us the possibility to be more aware and in control of the goals and wishes drawing us into the future and the memories, in the widest sense, influencing us from the past. The present grows wider and richer and gives us the time in which we can act. This picture helps me to see that in the performance of an action, even a simple one, I can both be where I am going before I set off, and be able to give my attention to the immediate next step in fulfilling my purpose. I can feel as comfortable in time as I do in the familiar space of my own room, able to ‘move’ between now, and the imagined future, and the experienced past. Our lives are not just defined by the places and distances I move through but by the quality of the time I live in; its deadlines and rush and timetables, its rhythm and pauses. If I feel myself not at home in my experience then that will be likely to find expression in myself, in not feeling at home in my physical self. That first act of coming home to myself now is the beginning of that more subconscious sense of belonging in time. This brings a peacefulness into our purposeful motion through space.
We make our own time.