Doing It Right

Last time, in , in Ask Better Questions, I promised to explain why my very first question to avoid is, “Am I Doing It Right?”    After all, “doing it right” sounds like a perfectly reasonable approach.  Doesn’t it?

39 doingitright pic1

If someone is asking That Question, they are usually concerned about getting it wrong.  Very concerned.  Anxious, even.  In fact, the fear of being wrong fills their mind and leaves no room whatsoever for Alexander thinking.

If something is right – be it a position, an answer, a procedure – there can be only one.  The Right One.   If you’ve ever tried on a ‘one size fits all’ garment, you will know that actually one size fits everybody really badly.  Life tends not to come in One.  It tends to be infinitely varied.  Any one answer that tries to fit all the variety of life is not going to do a very good job.

Remember the limpets from last week?  If a teacher tells a student, ‘yes, that’s the right answer’, the student will cling to that answer like our friend the limpet.  They will not consider any other.  Not for one moment.  Sometimes I slip up, and it takes me, on average, six months to undo the clinging caused by one thoughtless ‘yes, that’s right’.

Chances are you want to get better at doing this stuff.  Which means change, and a growth in your Alexander abilities.  So, no matter how good the answer you come up with right now, it will be superseded by something better.    If it’s not being superseded, you are not improving.

First technical point; the core of the Alexander Technique is not about “doing”, it is about stopping the unnecessary stuff.

Second technical point; mostly people judge whether something is right by using their feelings.  Feelings, in the sense of awareness of movement, are unreliable, and really not a good criteria for judging.

These are my (and FM Alexander’s) reasons.  You may have more.

One final word of caution for those of you thinking  “if I can’t even try to do something right, that means everything I do will be totally wrong.”   Avoiding “doing it right” is not the same thing as deliberately setting out to fail.  There is a large gap between those two positions, with lots of room to manoeuvre.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

CNHC and ITM registered Alexander Technique teacher.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Alexander thinking, asking questions
11 comments on “Doing It Right
  1. Geetha.d says:

    Hi karen,
    i liked very much this blog.

    Is ‘right’ right?
    What a good question this is!

    Where to keep the shoulders rightly?
    Ans@ pulling the shoulders forward and back ward both are wrong.
    Both shortens and narrow the back.
    Oh, god! Where to keep my shoulders?

    Where to keep my head?
    Ans@ back and down, forward and down of the head both are wrong.
    Then where to keep my head?

    Where to keep my pelvis?
    Ans@ anterior and posterior pelvic tilts both are wrong.

    Then where to keep my pelvis?

    Where to keep my torso?
    Ans@ slump and too much straight of the torso both are wrong.

    Then where to keep my torso?

    Karen, every thing is wrong then how to do the right thing?
    Please answer my questions.

    • Hi Geetha. I think there is one very simple answer to all your questions. Not easy, but simple. It all comes down to FM’s idea that if you stop the wrong thing from happening, the right thing will happen by itself. Put another way, if you stop pulling yourself out of shape, you don’t need to even consider where to ‘keep’ yourself – your body will align itself naturally. Alexander’s advice: “I don’t want you to care a damn if you’re right or not”!

    • Geetha.d says:

      Hi karen,
      thanks for your information.
      I used to remember your previous answers when ever iam DOING too much.
      And these answers are really helping me.

      Thanks for your faith ful answer.

  2. Minna says:

    Hi Karen, Thank you so much for this writing and also two previous ones, the whole “Questions-series”! Really useful things to investigate. I also want to thank you – cause I didn’t do at the time – for your post ‘Can You Really Measure It’. That was brilliant too! 🙂 – Minna

    • Hi Minna, I’m really glad they are proving useful. Sometimes the AT can be just too big to fit in all at once. The trick then is to balance have something more definite to move you along with holding on too long to that one thing. Good luck with your investigations! Karen

  3. geetha.d says:

    Hi Karen,
    iam once again happy to discuss our old comments.

    in the previous comment you told ,’ if you stop pulling yourself out of shape, you don’t need to even consider where to ‘keep’ yourself ‘.
    this is excellent suggestion.
    but, i have one doubt.
    we may lead to DOING by maintaining and preventing our shape?
    iam thinking in alexander terms this may be DOING THE RIGHT THING, for getting the shape and DOING the shape.

    iam imaging if your comment and suggestion is like ,’if you stop pulling yourself out of DIRECTION, you don’t need to even consider where to ‘keep’ yourself ‘.

    the prevention of shape, and direction both seems me comfortable, and your suggestion helped me very much.

    which is the best? preventing the SHAPE OF THE BODY or DIRECTION OF THE BODY?
    please answer my questions, to get knowledge of the alexander technique.

  4. geetha.d says:

    Hi karen,
    FM told some where ,’ there is no proper position or posture but right direction is there’.
    is this same as,
    ‘ there is no proper shape of the body, but right direction of the body is there’.
    is this sentence correct?

  5. Hi Geetha, you’re asking some brilliant challenging questions. At this point, I think the best thing I can do is ask you a question in return. A question about “direction”. Are you referring to direction in the sense of a mental instruction or order; or are you referring to direction as a physical plane, eg up, down, left, right, forward, backward? And do you have clear in your mind which FM is referring to? Try those, see if it helps! Karen

  6. Geetha.d says:

    Hi Karen,
    first of all i would like to thank you for the support you are giving to me.

    Karen, in previous post the prevention of body shape idea is excellent ,it gives immediate results if some body tries with a stimulus of sit,stand,walk etc.

    But, my idea of prevention of DIRECTION was born, from your idea of idea of prevention of shape and poise of the body.

    Here, i want to compare alexander DIRECTION with a running train.
    The train had 10 compartments, and engine(head) and each compartment is linked with shock absorbers(joints).

    The train moves forward direction. The
    10 compartments moves forward direction.
    I say to some body the compartments moving back ward direction also.
    Means, if they move forward direction alone they will collide each other while train is running.

    In the same way, i think the body moves naturally in alexander direction(neck free head forward and up torso back and up hips back knees forward) even though we are in any type poise,position,posture and in any activity.

    But, the prevention of pulling out of shape in different activities is excellent.

  7. Geetha.d says:

    hi karen,

    my answer for your questions are,

    1. Iam referring a mental instruction and order working with physical plane.

    while bending actually the torso goes forward and down direction naturally.but,
    I think the alexander direction ‘back lengthen and widen’ or ‘back and up’ of the torso.

    while going to sitting to standing position from a chair, the knees goes back and hips goes forward.
    But, i think the knees goes forward and hips back.

    If you ask some body who not know alexander technique,
    like where knees are going?
    He answers knees are going backward.
    actually our knees are going forward in any posture,position,and activity.

    I will try this concept, and i hope it works for me.

    If not! What to do?
    Go for another cunning idea , by using the principles of fm alexander.

  8. Geetha.d says:

    Hi karen,
    you can ask me , why iam thinking the opposite?
    Ans@ to activate my antagonistic muscle tone(flexors extensors) , which gives me a natural breath.

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