Saturday, 1 February 2014

On 13:44 by Victoria Stanham   No comments
A few days ago I was reading through an old diary and found the following quote by Ivan M. Granger of the poetry-chaikhana website.

Pure, compassionate,
and devastating honesty
with yourself
is the only way.


In those few deep words he neatly and movingly sums up my whole approach to the Alexander Technique and to Life.

I was reminded of this quote by events of the past few days. 

Most of the time I don't take the time to acknowledge why I want what I want. Even more frustrating is acknowledging that I have several layers of wants, which sometimes are in direct conflict with each other. No wonder my coordination is in shambles! I'm trying to accomplish several opposing goals at the same time. In my AT practice, as in my daily dealings with the world at large, I have discovered that self-honesty in this respect frees me up tremendously in my choice of the goal I'll choose to honour, and in the choice of the best means-whereby to accomplish said goal.

Let me give an example from the last AT workshop I attended. 

At one point during the workshop I found myself in a state of complete uncoordination; my thoughts, emotions and body were all over the place and I was getting very frustrated with myself, with the workshop, with the other people present. So I stopped to re-evaluate the situation. I had to get my priorities in order. 

I realized I was "should-ing" myself in every possible direction: I should be able to do this procedure with good coordination, I should be nice and open with the people around me, I should be enjoying this, I should, I should, I should... The funny thing about expectations is that they generally have no basis in reality as we are experiencing it in the moment. My true truth at that present moment was that I wasn't able to do all those shoulds, no matter how much I pushed and shoved myself in their direction. Some deeper want was trumping all those other superficial wants.

I knew from previous experiences that I was capable of being in a different state of psychophysical coordination; I even knew how to get there if I really wanted, what things to say no to, what places to release. But lo and behold! I didn't want to! Acknowledging that was the first step to liberation from my self-inflicted torment. Next came the next step in awareness: consciously CHOOSING to use my habitual pattern of response.

Consciously choosing a habitual pattern, whose consequences I already know, means acknowledging responsibility for those consequences, and hence no complaining later that I didn't get a different result. Alexander himself said quite clearly that we can't expect to get different results if we keep using the same means-whereby! It's not a question of "try harder" but of "try different". 

What I would add to the latter is to first and foremost get clear about what we truly want. For me, in that workshop, it meant acknowledging that I didn't want to change, not right then, not right there; I just didn't feel safe enough to take the plunge under the given circumstances.

Still, making a conscious choice felt truly liberating. I wasn't a victim of the situation anymore, I was its mastermind! Every consequence I anticipated would result from my choice I was already fully accepting, because I had chosen it.

And the best part was that I actually changed! By taking full responsibility for my choice I was in truth doing something different and not my habitual response. I had taken an indirect step from the known to the unknown.


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