18 minute A.T.

One thing I’ve learned is that giving people the benefit of the doubt works well to educate. Treat people as if they are smart, and they will rise to the occasion. This works even if they must build entirely new contexts and environments in which to park an entirely new genre of thinking ability.

Respect works wonders. This attitude came from my experience in first learning to write about Alexander Technique in 1980. Before anyone else I knew was doing so, there I was, sticking my neck out in a field where people said “it couldn’t be described.” It was definitely true that I needed some time to learn the craft of writing itself. But I was also attempting to describe a discipline that was subjective and mysterious. I wrote, and then I had people read it, and edited it again and again. Had over 400 people read and give me feedback on what I was doing. When people stopped pointing at the same spots in my writing, I figured I was done. It was very surprising how many people told me, “Well, *I* get what you’re saying, but would others?” They were imagining that the concepts were so new and so advanced that other people would not be able to understand.

I took this comment as a request to simplify what I was presenting. But as time marched on, people began to be able to understand easier what I had been saying all along. Essentially, the social climate changed.

The more people who give you feedback, the better. Listen up if they can articulate better ways HOW to say what you’re writing about. But don’t take their suggestions on what to do to “normalize” the content of what you’re writing. Write about what you know, tell your own story. Ignore their efforts to make what you say resemble what they already know about. Go ahead and be strange. The world will catch up to you eventually, even if you’re “ahead of your time.”

I’m not sure it’s possible to teach the Alexander Technique in eighteen minutes, but I’d be willing to attempt it. Since pictures are worth a thousand words, came up with the idea to make a mind map to help that happen. This actually came from a very successful class series. In only five days, pretty much everyone in this Alexander Technique class learned the ability to come up with their own experiments that worked to uncover their own habits of what they were up to. The most amazing part was they learned how to re-direct themselves to get out of the rut too! Not sure if this sketch will make any sense to someone who hasn’t been to my Alexander Technique class series or hasn’t had Alexander Technique lessons. But I”m willing to put it out there so I can find out what you might have to say about it.

Notice that blank spot under “priorities.” That’s where you fill in yours. Where it says, “What are you routines? That’s where you list your favorite habits. Love your habits, they’re just there to serve you well, (even if you don’t want them any more.)

Hey, if there’s anyone out there reading this, give me some comments on how this mind-map affects you. How does the content compare to what you know or have already learned about Alexander Technique? Talk to me.

Procedural tips on using Alexander Technique
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4 thoughts on “18 minute A.T.

  1. Yeah, sometimes the more wide of a range of people you try to please or communicate for, the more you must deal with your assumptions about what these fictitious people can or cannot understand. Very odd when other people try to caution you to second-guess what these fictitious characters will or won’t understand! Guess that meant I stretched their brain a little by what I was talking about. I’m still talking about the same content, but people are understanding it easier nowadays. Can’t tell if it’s the times, or if I’m now a better writer. :o)
    Agreed. Mind mapping also helps you to see where you did make nonsensical jumps by association or non-logical ability. – Then these jumps can be traced in hind-sight and “filled in.”

  2. This is the idiosyncratic nature of mind-mapping. It’s a shorthand for the person who made it, or for the experience of people who took the class to remind them of the content of the presentation. Perhaps each little part of the mind-map could have a post written about it?

    Ask me about any part of the mind-map you’d like me to talk about, and I’ll do that in my next post.

    Yes, one of the interesting things about Alexander Technique is that it doesn’t work to teach it, unless the teacher is also in the act of practicing it while they put “hands-on” the student during teaching. Hands-on is a form of guided modeling that works in a unique “non-doing” way. The A.T. teacher eliminates their own dominant but unnecessary habits of motion with awareness of their own “Living Anatomy” while putting hands-on. Without doing anything, (in fact, it works by undoing) the student gets the message of how to eliminate their own unnecessary habits by a mystery form of osmosis. A.T. teachers have speculated the reason this does work has to do with mirror neurons.

  3. Wow this is CRAZY. I like that you say “Go ahead and be strange”? “Strange” doesn’t have to be bad, it can just be different, and being different is what sets some people apart from others.
    I have to admit though, I’m still lost! Is the mindmap you posted represent what you did personally for yourself? I like the introspection it requires, though. Looking forward to more.

    Best,
    Michelle

  4. “But don’t take their suggestions on what to do to ‘normalize’ the content of what you’re writing.”

    So true! It can be tempting to over-revise what you’ve written to be in line with feedback from others, but then you run the risk of loosing your unique aproach or interpretation.

    I think mind maps are an interesting and suprisingly useful tool. Maybe it’s because they reflect our brains’ natural tendency to jump from idea to idea(?)

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