Pain, pace and perspective

Posted by Jeanne Barrett on May 7, 2023 in Uncategorized

Being a student or teacher of the Alexander Technique does not guarantee avoidance of limitations in the condition of self.  We age, injure ourselves, have accidents, develop unexpected health conditions, no matter how fabulous our use of self.  Life keeps providing material for a new response. Our Alexander skills provide tools to meet the ongoing demands of living with curiosity.


Several autoimmune conditions diagnosed in recent years affect my formerly easy mobility. Walking has long been a source of delight as well as my primary mode of transport.  What was previously reliably joyous is now, to varying degrees,  laborious and painful.

Focusing on pain does not help me, as I then pull down, narrow my attention, and thus restrict respiratory support, clear thinking and connection to the world.  If I choose instead to include pain in my overall experience, and kindly refuse to attempt to change pain directly, my experience shifts. Pain continues but no longer dominates.  I can’t change disease activity, but I can choose my response to it. Then I welcome the world more, worry less, move along in the moment. Autonomy and acceptance are restored.  Less energy is wasted in fighting conditions over which I have no control.


When pain is moderate to high, my pace changes.  I am unable to walk at my preferred swift pace without limping or lurching, even more so if my attention is narrowed to pain. If I instead prioritize an elastic use of my entire self,  getting there is less important than how I am getting there. I can allow best pace for current conditions of self, respect the limits of pain, and even enjoy and welcome a slower walk. Time passes in its usual manner, but I experience it differently. Frustration reduces as urgency quiets. And, sometimes, I can walk more quickly!


Presetting posture, shape or some idealized perfection of “good use” typically reduces elasticity and the potential of a fluid response.  There is no effective formula to prepare for the unexpected. If I brace for the worst pain, I may not recognize and celebrate new ease.

I want to keep walking, so I walk.