I had a lot of anger to deal with on Friday. On the phone to a well-known life-insurance company, I was shocked to find out that my mum had been misled about her policy. In her lifetime, my mum had done her best to make sure she was leaving all her affairs in order, and she had been assured that a scheme she’d paid a lot of money into would cover her funeral expenses. I discovered on the call that this was not the case. Despite my mounting anger, I was able to ensure I got the information I needed, to calmly but firmly make my case, and to take the matter further.
When people begin Alexander lessons, they don’t usually anticipate the all-encompassing nature of the technique. They often come for a specific reason – perhaps back pain, or stress, or for posture-related problems – and they’re pleasantly surprised to discover additional benefits in seemingly unrelated areas of life.
Understanding the fundamental nature of the Alexander Technique takes time. At the beginning one might assume that the core skill of learning to ‘not just immediately react’ might entail a suppression of emotions. With time it becomes clear that this is not in any way true – rather, we discover how we can best express our real feelings.
As I was listening to the person telling me why the policy would provide no money to pay for mum’s funeral, I was also noticing my (mounting) reaction. I was feeling a tightening in my chest, my brow became even more furrowed than usual, and my attention was narrowing in. I was beginning to hunch over my desk, gripping the phone hard. Oh, and I was holding my breath. So, as the conversation proceeded, I simply and repeatedly reminded myself of the support coming up through my sitting bones, and of the space around me. As I did this, I gradually became more aware of the room around me, and began to breathe more freely. Rather than spitting out the first words that came to me, I took a few seconds to regain my calm. In those moments, the right words came and in a tone that required to be taken seriously.
I’m still angry at the situation – even just writing this now, I can feel my jaw momentarily tighten. But I’m not turning the same thoughts over and over. That is what I would have done before and it would have harmed no-one but myself. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to let the matter drop. I accept the real feelings of anger and frustration, and in accepting them they begin to lose their power.