Friday, 7 February 2014

On 12:33 by Victoria Stanham in    No comments
I’m a planner. I love lists and being prepared. I make perfect plans and then… and then Life Happens.

There’s a nifty little phrase that goes “No plan survives contact with the enemy”. Well, I’d expand that to “No plan survives contact with real life.”

What to do about it? Throw all planning out the window and just improvise your way through life?

Strange as it may seem, I found the answer to this dilemma within the Alexander Technique and the whole “Posture” issue.

The answer: keep calm and remember your direction

Allow me to break that up for you.


When Real Life meets my Pretty Plan and proceeds to run amuck with it, my first reaction is to go into a frenzy trying to patch it up. Useless. I’m stuck in tunnel-vision running in circles, fixing irrelevant bits and forgetting the most important part.

Take 90 seconds and breathe. In out, in out, in out. The world IS NOT coming to an end and all the terrible things you’re imagining right now don’t necessarily need to happen. You cannot appraise the whole situation if you’re already doing stuff about it.


Once I get my heart-rate down, I can give my higher cognitive powers a chance to help out. I may be very upset about my ruined perfect-plan, but perhaps I can still salvage the most important bits.

What was the main objective of your plan? Where was it taking you? Is there another way to get there?

Once you know where you were going (and why you were going there in the first place) you can improvise other ways of getting to your destination. This is where your original preparation comes in really handy.

If you’ve been planning and preparing for so long, you really know your stuff, so you can re-shuffle the information to make it fit the changing circumstances.

This is true improvisation. It is using all your cognitive and intuitive abilities, and your full stash of experience and preparation, to respond to something in the NOW. You’re not trying to squeeze the situation into a pre-made mold (the perfect plan) but neither are you being blown about by the winds of change.

How does this relate to posture?

Perfect Posture is like my Perfect Plan: useless when confronted with real life. There is no One Posture to fit all situations.

I cannot tell you something like “your head should always be here, and your shoulders there, and keep your pelvis thus, and avoid doing this with your leg”, because chances are Life will put you eventually in some situation where you’ll need to break all or some of those rules.

What will you do then?

I’ll tell you what you’ll do. You’ll keep calm and remember your direction.
You’ll keep calm because you’ll know that you will eventually get out of this situation that requires such a terrible deviation from the golden-mean of perfect alignment; so there’s really nothing to fret about.

And you’ll remember your direction: good posture is about creating space. So your objective in this oh-so-uncomfortable-situation is to create as much space for yourself as you can, given the circumstances, and then enjoy the show.

If you’ve been taking Alexander Technique lessons you probably know all about creating space within your body; you’ve been practicing it at every lesson! You’re well prepared to improvise.

You don’t need to wing it, you can actually fly!


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