Every day we’re faced with multiple challenges to overcome, small and large − from opening a new jar of jam, to striving to meet a looming work deadline, or perhaps finding it difficult to get up from a chair through age or illness. If we don’t immediately succeed in a task we will tend to respond in one of two ways − either we give up, or we try harder. But what does ‘trying harder’ entail? In a nutshell, excessive muscular tension. Even something that seems purely theoretical in nature, like working out a tricky maths sum, will tend to find us holding our breath, tightening our lips, frowning and gripping our pen. Trying harder becomes ingrained in us from an early age − we’re encouraged to do it!
There is a famous quote, usually attributed to Einstein, that doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting to get a different result is one definition of insanity. ‘Trying harder’ is just doing the same thing with more effort.
The Alexander Technique enables us to approach our everyday challenges with more practical intelligence. It teaches us how to learn, giving us the embodied skills to be able to discover for ourselves the best way of approaching any given problem. It requires being clear in our intention and, rather than focusing intently on the immediate aim, instead using our Alexander thinking to prioritise ‘looking after ourselves’ in the process of attaining that goal. If we’re in balance, breathing freely and coordinating ourselves for optimal movement and strength we’re more likely to succeed, whatever the task, so we’re generally more effective in life. Oh, and I’m pretty good at getting the lids off jam jars − magic!