One Size Doesn’t Fit

People ask me, “How can I convince someone to study A.T. who I think could benefit from it?”

There are a number of approaches. Make an appeal of benefits, taking into account what is important to the person themselves. The other approach is to relate how Alexander Technique has helped you personally. If they know you, they’ll be impressed.

People do so many unique and confounding things to twist their bodies into strange shapes. This is why many Alexander teachers believe that it’s useless to speculate what could be wrong. Alexander’s technique works to address the root of the issue, but the people need to be present because there is no way to generalize about specific problems. Everyone is a different sort of twisted, although there are common themes. An Alexander teacher would need more of a movie showing in real time the way someone moves, (rather than a photo,) just as a gait laboratory needs someone to be tested in the lab. Quality of motion can be analyzed, but circumstances need to be right for the equipment to work. Many Alexander teachers actually need to put hands-on in order to get this information reliably.

Because Alexander Technique is education, it’s often tricky to show what is going on to the person involved. Everyone is oriented towards a different starting point. Alexander teachers are famous for giving an order for one student to follow, and then rescinding & changing what they just said for another student. This is because everyone responds to commands in different ways. Even if an Alexander teacher can get a student to stop doing what is pulling them out of shape in ways that can be noticed – the way each person can undo that for themselves on the inside can be quite a different route. Often these differences are so subtle as to be unnoticeable to those untrained to spot them. Common experience is: if a person stops doing what they customarily do, they feel strange. Commonly, a shying away from unfamiliarity will make most people immediately pull themselves back into their habit. A tolerance or ability to welcome unfamiliarity is one of the values that an Alexander teacher sells to their students, along with the value of efficiency or effortlessness.

Another surprise to many people, (it is one of the secrets of Alexander Technique) is that kinesthetic information is relative, rather than absolute truth. This means if you change the direction you’re leaning, your perception will only register difference rather than give you the absolute fact of how much or which way you are leaning. Working in front of a mirror to offer proof of what is happening is the most common strategy. But it’s certainly possible, once someone stops doing the things that are pulling them out of shape, for a person to immediately start doing it again. Habits can be instantaneous reactions.

At first you must take the teacher’s word that your senses are off kilter. It’s a hard pill to swallow for some. It’s been a common experience of Alexander teachers that, given enough time, students do experience exactly what is making their bodies hurt or look funny. This is more a question of interpretation of raw sensory data rather than jumping to conclusions of the comparison between ‘weird’ and “normal.” Students have the power to change their reactions with education. Sometimes it is truly a structural problem that A.T. can only mitigate. But most often, the question of how it is possible that a person can improve will be able to be experienced immediately during an Alexander Technique lesson. Given readiness, persistence and motivation, anyone can make those temporary benefits part of their “norm.”

Don’t we have some anecdotal evidence that Alexander Technique makes you more confident and youthfully attractive to the opposite sex? ;o)

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