Why?

A recent insight in BodyChance’s own marketing mix is to strengthen our message that disqualifies people from coming to us. An Editor of a national magazine here complains that Alexander Technique has no guts, no substance – it’s like learning about air. I understand what he means. It’s why I personally believe some of my students get attracted by table and chair work – it gives them something to do, it supplies form. However the real work is unfathomably empty – that requires courage to pursue. It calls for a willingness to wakefully work to principle. How many people want to do that? So if that’s not what you want – go away. Go find an exercise that keeps you happily ignorant. Mean, isn’t it?
quoted from Jeremy Chance, director of BODYCHANCE that trains teachers and presents Alexander Technique in Japan & internationally

Certainly, Alexander Technique has qualities that make the willingness to study and use it self-selecting. The willingness and readiness to use A.T. takes participation, a readiness to learn and a bit of courage to face the unknown. Although it teaches the ability to extend ambiguity and perceptions, it also takes a bit of tolerance for being clueless and foolish.

In a way, my training in being able to see movement mannerisms in body language is sort of a curse. When I look out at the mass of humanity that I see every day, I cannot help but see how pulled down they all are. Knowing how unnecessary it is for them to be so heavy and how little time it would take for them to gain relief from their pain, given how long they’ve been repeating their self-limiting problems, it just makes me cry inside. I hate waste – and I see a waste of potential in people everywhere. I’d like to save another talented genius.  I see so much genius that rises up in people, despite their limitations. It’s such a sparkle that is so admirable. So I am just floored that everyone doesn’t already know A.T. exists. And if they do know, why wouldn’t they want to learn such a handy tool for their life? Don’t they recognize how essential of a skill it is to clear any routine they’ve habituated so it won’t interfere with whatever they want to do next? People have been hit with so much advertising that they are suspicious of being proselytized if I talk longer than a couple of sentences about what I can offer them. 

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Then I remember when I looked like the woman on the right side and what it was like to be in frustrating pain, carrying around my head, drooping in front of my body, feeling as if my head weighed a ton. I’m remembering having a mystery illness at eighteen years old that doctors could predict how long I would have to endure. If someone is in chronic pain, they’ve mostly likely given up because they’ve usually already tried so many other well-meant but ineffective suggestions from folks they knew who couldn’t provide what they needed. Without relief, now they’re discouraged and resigned. Pain can demand a bitter pill of acceptance, as it gradually drains the body’s ability to physically buffer it.

I have so many questions…

  • Why there isn’t more demand for Alexander Technique teachers? 
  • What is it that makes A.T. so challenging to grasp how it could mitigate, prevent and solve problems connected to cumulative, unintentional, self-imposed stress? 
  • Why is it so difficult for adults to be willing to learn their way out of their limitations? 
  • Why does the survival drama of resistance come up so fast and urgently when presented with logical, workable and practical alternatives that require education, hope and practice – and change? (It can’t only be merely because it means change…Can it?) 
  • Are people really that upset about changing because of their historic human nature, culture and conditioning?

It’s sort of depressing how the answers seem to be rhetorical, when I write these questions out like this. They really are real questions. I hope you can discuss them with me.

OK, so A.T. is not for everyone, just the people who are ready to learn. Get over it!

But I still feel a sense of regretful compassion for the others. I just cannot give up on the idea that I believe it’s my job to offer people who don’t know better that they have an alternative. I can do this because I am flexible, innovative and agile; it’s the demonstration of my skill to be able to change my presentation and teaching ability around to reach those people who need to know another choice exists beyond enduring suffering. Of course they wouldn’t be capable of changing themselves – but I am! 

People want to choose and make their own thing, not yours or F.M. Alexander’s. Who are you to know better? Why bother with convincing those who could care less about what has been valuable to you?

It doesn’t matter that from my perspective, people who resist change have their own logic & value bubbles sewn up so tightly that they resist what I have to offer them. The more out of control someone gets, the more tightly they hold onto the little left that they can control. I’ve seen it in older people time and time again, but it’s a characteristic of people who are upset that they have lost some former capacity that they don’t expect to ever regain. It’s also a characteristic of people who have invested and found answers that are valuable to them that they don’t have enough of a reason to let go of. Loss is a risk. It’s true that most peoples’ ways of doing things that they have worked out to get along in life must be respected. 

In order to teach effectively, I have learned that I must surrender that my student might not understand me, even with my own best efforts to communicate. If I’m not able to surrender my own agenda when teaching, my practice of Alexander Technique suffers in quality of my example to them. It’s not about me – it’s about them. Usually people can only take a bit at a time. I must mete out what I have to offer in bite-sized pieces so it can be chewed and digested. Profound change happens gradually in most people. The unknown has a threatening tolerance limit in most people. Most people need lots of reassurance that it’s OK to not go fast – they are not able to make a huge leap of faith and it’s unreasonable to ask them to do so. 

As time has gone on, I know that I must surrender that I can only help who is motivated to come to me. The apprentice must seek out the mentor…and something of value must be sacrificed in order to make it worthwhile to sit up and pay attention. 

Here is A.T. … a tool to open the door of the unknown, a means to progress in directions that a hopeful, imaginative person can only dream is possible. But nobody can seize this brass ring of opportunity unless they supply the motivation.

It’s a rare person who is ready now to make big strides ahead, to take a talent for the ride it deserves.

It’s a rare person who recognizes an opportunity that staring them in the face… 

I wish things were different. 

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2 thoughts on “Why?

  1. I think your point: “something of value must be sacrificed in order to make it worthwhile to sit up and pay attention”, answers your question about why it is so hard to attract some of those people who would seem to have most to gain from AT. I think that the fear of change, which is the way this is often expressed, might not be a clear enough statement of what holds people back. In order for change to happen, something has to be lost, and that something, even when it is unhelpful to us, is often a kind of a crutch; it can be (seen to) be fundamentally important in some way. Human beings want pleasurable/nice/good changes to happen, but often change involves a period of loss and confusion before that has a chance to take place. Sometimes the very thing that is troubling us, happens also to be the thing that is holding us together. I sometimes think that the pain people suffer, seemingly unnecessarily, as a result of their poor use, might be the “least worst” option available to them at the time, and for complex and individually various reasons. AT has the potential to help us all, but perhaps the timing is quite important too…………the trade-off has to be seen to be worth it.

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