37 goodplace pic1I’m going to make an admission:-
Sometimes when people first start the Alexander Technique, they get a little bewildered.

There are so many new ideas, such big ideas, so different from what they are used to.  Quite naturally, they want something small and solid to cling to.   A good place to start.  Fair enough.


I don’t mean ‘life, the universe and everything’ questions.  I mean questions about your activities, and the movements that make up those activities.  It’s what Alexander did(*) when he started the Alexander Technique.  Three of the very best questions are these:-

    1. Do you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve?
    2. What is the best way to go about it?
    3. Are you doing something that is causing trouble while you’re doing it?

A few examples:-
You’re about to walk to the car: what is your best route?  Can you avoid bumping into the table?  Do you need to pick up your car keys on the way?  Do you really need to raise both shoulders in order to put one foot in front of another?

You’re about to brush your hair: can you see into the mirror?  Do you have all you need – brush, comb, hairwax, scrunchie etc?  Do you need to raise one or both hands?  Just how hard is it to lift a hairbrush?  Do you have to grip the brush tightly enough to turn your knuckles white?  Do you have to clench your feet in order to move your ams?

You’re about to pick a book up off the floor: have you stepped close enough to the book before you start? Is it big enough to need both hands?  Are you going to bend your knees or your hips or both?  Are you using the full length of your arms to reach?  Can you bend down without sticking your chin out and clenching your neck?

Who do you ask?  Yourself.  Who gives the answers?  You do.  When do you ask them?  Right now.  What if the answer is “I don’t know”?  That’s fine, keep asking.  What activities can you use these questions on?  Anything and everything.  When do you stop asking?  You don’t.  The reason for these questions?  To stop taking your movements for granted, and start thinking about how you move.

As a place to start, you can’t beat it.

Image courtesy of Master isolated images/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
(*) All my questions are paraphrased from the first chapter of “The Use of The Self” by FM Alexander.  Unfortunately, the way he writes the questions is so bound up in his story that they can’t be easily quoted.  But do go read the original for yourself.  You’ll find all these questions and many more.

CNHC and ITM registered Alexander Technique teacher.

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Posted in activity, asking questions, change
2 comments on “A GOOD PLACE TO START
  1. Lovely essay, Karen. Very thoughtful and to the point. I hope you don’t mind my sharing it, I really appreciate this kind of simplicity and candor. Thank you so much for writing this.

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