Self Control Costs

Have been looking around the web for more information concerning Alexander Technique and timing. Sustained practice in a new skill that challenges one’s abilities to exercise their version of “control” takes a toll, because people thrash around while they are learning and do not apply themselves skillfully – yet. It’s obvious to most people that sustaining a state of “special” awareness is taxing.
Found documentation that proves applying self-control is something that makes people tired by itself. Now we know that exercising self-control is taxing to the brain.
People know this instinctively. If they don’t have experience with how much A.T. helps their stamina, they could imagine A.T. would make them tired because it requires awareness and resisting one’s habitual routines. People who do A.T. know that toll becomes less by learning to apply the skill of learning efficiently.
So, how can those of us who teach Alexander Technique describe how it is different or “better” for this application? Here is a blog reply to the issue:
Let’s go a little further – such as “Studying A.T. makes continuing to learn easier” Or “A.T. shows a template for using awareness for noting progress of improvement that increases stamina.”
But HOW do we do this? Certainly part of it is purely practice and gaining the ability through doing it, getting tired, doing it some more and so on. Like any form of exercise, practice enlarges one’s abilities.
There’s an even more selective way to practice that yields results painlessly. My experience in teaching this is to recommend applying Alexander Technique in a very selective way. So, rather than just sustaining a “wide open” sense of awareness with the volume knob turned to “up,” you strategically apply A.T. when it’s most effective. This most effective time to apply some A.T. thinking and directing is right before an activity is begun. How you start something has quite a bit to do with how you may continue to do it. In effect, it’s the “set up.” Then use A.T. periodically as you notice yourself dropping down in a sort of expiration date of timing as the original intention fades out. Once you know what you tend to habitually do, then renew the directing of yourself with a rhythmic sense of timing…
It also works really effectively to set regular break times and stick to using them for a five minute semi-supine lie-down break. This works best when it is regularly scheduled and used even if you do not feel tired yet. As humans we forget to do this until we start to feel tired, and doing so is akin to “closing the barn door after the escape.”  Lying on your back with your knees in the air and some head support for a a five minute break every hours or so is one of the most effective tips the Alexander Technique has to offer. It works!

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