Applying Alexander principles to a charged situation

Posted by Jeanne Barrett on July 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Alexander Technique provides skills for response to stimulus, and the potential for consciously considered response in any situation.  F.M. Alexander viewed the individual as integrated and inseparable in mental/physical/emotional use.  He viewed the self as a whole, and the use of the self as an entirely integrated response.

In my current involvement in effecting release of zoo elephants to sanctuary, many of my habitual reactions are challenged.  I am required to shift my use to a new level.  The urgency to assist the elephants stimulates my habitual reaction to push, rant, and insist.  My habit of response, however, is quite ineffective in achieving my desired results.  Thus, I am learning to inhibit (allow a dynamic pause and an internal quiet) to welcome a new, as yet unknown means-whereby.

Today, I went to the zoo to observe the elephants and their keepers.  I had the opportunity to engage a zoo docent in conversation.  Rather than impose my habitual mode, based in urgency, of confrontation, I quieted and listened, asked questions and listened, engaged instead of confronting.  This yielded much information that would have been inaccessible if I was doing my habitual confrontation mode on a subject of urgency.  I learned of the docent’s sincerity, and she learned of my sincerity.  I did not present myself as an adversary, but as a person who is informed and deeply interested in elephant well-being.

Believe me, I had to step back and quiet myself numerous times during this conversation, but since my priority (like the priority of having a free neck, a long wide back, etc) is in the elephants’ release to sanctuary, it was a necessary choice. Do I want to be right or do I want to be effective?  Clearly, being effective is my choice, and thus the best use of myself is required.

Is this easy?  No, it is not!  Just as in my long, arduous recovery from patella fracture which required 2 and 1/2 years, this project requires patience, willingness for the means to reveal themselves, and a continued dedication to applying Alexander principles to activity.

I learn new ways to quiet and to endure emotional distress, and find new skills in response for a larger priority.

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