The Habits of Living

Posted by Jeanne Barrett on November 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

In life, as in Alexander lessons, we bring our entire self and manner of use to all activities, be those activities primarily mental, emotional or physical.  F.M. Alexander viewed all aspects of self as inseparable and integrated.  Alexander principles are clear in the gentle, continuous, indirect process of change that attending to the unified self involves.  In the Alexander Technique, we don’t directly change a part.  We use the tools of intention and attention to improve the entire self.  Then, the parts all shift accordingly.

During recent months, I experienced a deeply uncomfortable and distinctly unpleasant set of physically expressed symptoms. Of course, discomfort on any level brings the entire self along for the ride.  I was uncomfortable about being uncomfortable, a state of distress deepened by the fact that my symptoms were visible for all to see. Oy, the spiral of discomfort!

In order to resolve not only the ugly painful symptoms but the cause (read, condition of self), and with welcome expert advice, I made many changes in life habits.  In simple terms, everything that inflamed my system had to be relinquished: many foods, overuse of media, hyper-activity, overstimulation of any sort.  Pain and distress were tremendous motivations to follow given advice, just as injury, pain or performance issues are often motivations for people to seek Alexander lessons.  My symptoms were not immediately reduced by my new choices, and in fact came and went with frustrating frequency.  However, my mind and spirit became calmer.  I became less “inflamed”, more patient, less easy to rile up, less aggravated or fearful, more at ease.  My thinking clarified and a sense of inexplicable ease and quiet became “normal”.

The journey back to full health has become much more about the process than the desired result, although I welcome the desired result with great joy.  I got the outcome I wanted plus so much more.  If I had gone a more “medical” and end-gaining route, I may have experienced reduced symptoms more quickly (and thus less evidence of my unwitting interference), but no sense of process or the resulting joy of improved overall condition of self, and no notion of my participation in health improvement.

This experience has deepened my confidence in the value of the “means-whereby”, the integrity of self, and the rewards of relinquishing a narrow life dictated by invisible habits for a larger, more connected life of conscious choice.  I am still learning, of course, but I can still learn.  That’s the reward, being able to still learn and having the “means-whereby” to continue to do so.