31. Watching and doing

It is not uncommon for new students to have three or four lessons with me and then to stop coming, perhaps to return some time later, often not.  There can be many reasons for this decision, but one common motivation involves, I believe, a combination of an increase in consciousness with raised but unfulfilled expectations.  The first few lessons often bring an exhilarating sense of release and freedom.  The student can enjoy being a beginner, with no expectations, and without the consciousness that easily becomes concerned with success and with trying.  One of the basic attitudes of the Alexander Technique is to not mind being wrong, to not be concerned with performing well.  Beware these negatives!  What is the positive which warms the beginner’s heart?  First, I think there is a place for letting go into full-blooded activity without a thought for getting something right, if the activity is not going to be dangerous.  The other positive replacement for trying to be skilled is – the stopping, the not reacting, that is the core skill of the Alexander Technique itself.  This stopping is not freezing: you live into the planned movement, into the environment in which the movement would take place.  But you don’t move.  Confidence is about feeling trust, about feeling bound together with something outside one’s point of awareness.  Once you allow connection, you can also step back from it and enjoy the pause, enjoy the quality of the connection.  That quality of enjoyment, I think, is the key to getting through this period when consciousness brings disappointment, and I know that I as the teacher have a big responsibility to keep the atmosphere light and open to laughter and fun.  If the student’s consciousness is directed towards interesting problems which the teacher is presenting, then, actually, a new sense of personal trustworthiness, of confidence in oneself, can emerge out of this trying time in which one can get caught up in not being able to get it ‘right’.  You observe yourself and you place your own specific movements in a wider context of you as a whole, in the wider context of where you are.  You get interested in yourself in a sufficiently detached way to give yourself some room to move.  Self-conscious frustration will always return but it becomes less concerning, less interesting.

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