What is the difference between a gut-level intuitive, instinctive necessary response – and a conditioned, fearful, self-limiting reactive prejudice?

How can people figure this out what do do about this, without shying away from the intensity of the feelings when they emerge? I believe the Alexander Technique is essential as a tool to get a practical answer to a complex and personal psychological question.

I’d like to tell you how A.T. worked for me to uncover my own underlying motives and assumptions that helped me past a firmly entrenched childhood impasse.

These emotions took some time to uncover. They were completely hidden behind the automated reactions that I was repeating, because the compensation habit in place was working so efficiently. My childish solution was designed to avoid the unwanted feeling. It was such an effective denial that I never even felt the original emotion that drove me to design this habitual remedy. What was in place was a very over-sensitive trigger recognition system that worked splendidly – but this remedy was on too much of an over-sensitive, uncontrollable hair-trigger! Once I questioned whether I needed to implement the reaction in certain situations, I could only temper it or redirect it – until I found its origin. Finding the feelings behind the reaction stopped the problem, as well as revealing an unexpected gift.

To do this, I had to trace the reaction back to right before it started  –  this took some practice. How do you pay attention to something that happens when you’re not paying attention!? Persistence, self-observation and self forgiveness… and noting ahead of time the likely situations where it could be about to happen.

When I finally got to see this unwanted reactive habit of mine about to happen – at the moment before doing the habitual solution – what I found was so uncomfortable that it was extremely difficult to not repeat the solution that I did not want to do. My impasse was expressed in the habitual postural attitude of my body. Oh, was it uncomfortable to hang out there! Having A.T. as a tool allowed me to be able to move out of this impasse physically; my body reflected how I felt emotionally with very physical limitations that I could free up using Alexander Technique. Without A.T. to be able to move away from these limitations, I would be stuck feeling these awful, historic gunky routines of complex hurts. While within these uncomfortable feelings, I realized how ANY remedy would be justified – if the emotion is extreme enough. Wanting to avoid hurting emotionally would be a solid and completely understandable justification for repeating the habitual remedy. This would especially be true if a person didn’t have another tool for dealing with their “stuff.”

But I now wanted to change it. It was childish, unnecessary and an overcompensation for the problem.

Using A.T. allowed me to pop out of the physical reaction of how I was expressing the emotional hurt and to be able to see it for what it was – ancient history. I could much more easily understand and compassionately forgive myself. I could even congratulate myself for designing such an effective coping mechanism when I was just a kid, even if it was something I wanted to change now. Since I could recognize the core emotional motives now for what they were, I could now freshly choose a more global and compassionate ways of dealing with all these factors – not just the self-involved ones.

After this experience, my own soul core motive became positive rather than reactive. Now instead of being coerced by a childhood fear of being excluded, there was the gift of feeling a desire for everyone to play fair, to include everyone present and to nurture feelings of playfully working together to maybe build something that might not yet exist.

So – I would say that Alexander Technique allowed me in that situation to “go deep into my soul.”

Have you used Alexander Technique on a similar issue? Care to talk about what happened?

2 thoughts on “Soulful

  1. Similar strategies could be used at the foundation of all forgotten patterns of posture, but not all habits are as resistant to change as this one was. It’s more common for patterns of physical mannerisms or attitudes to get adopted for innocent reasons making those patterns more responsive to change – such as a child imitating the postural attitude of an admired grownup, who unfortunately was coping with a physical limitation.

    After I wrote this, I learned that David Gorman’s Learning Methods is based on a similar foundation.

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