The other morning I found myself musing on the unlikely topic of cleaning my teeth. I was actually cleaning my teeth at the time, and, as usual, I was thinking about how I go about the process of brushing my teeth. (Doesn’t everyone?)
I discovered something new. Despite thinking many, many times about how hard or soft I was pressing, I had always judged this pressure based on the effort I was using in my arm. But I could also be using the feel of the bristles against my gums. It actually turned out to be a really good indicator of how hard I was brushing. A whole new dimension to tooth-brushing.
But what really got me musing was the question, ‘Just how important is this discovery?’
In the grand scheme of things it is neither big nor important. I don’t have problems with sore gums, so it’s a small thing. I know that people can have huge, dramatically life-changing experiences through the Alexander Technique. I’ve had a few myself, like my very first lesson with the wonderful Estella Cauldwell. But these experiences stand out because they don’t happen that often.
More often the Alexander Technique works incrementally. Baby step by baby step. Little at a time. Gradually. A slow and steady dripping. Pick your choice of words or metaphor.
Sometimes we only register it as significant when we stop and add up all the tiny little things. There’s a famous quote from FM Alexander that reads (*):-
“The evils of a personal bad habit do not reveal themselves in a day or in a week, perhaps not in a year, a remark that is also true of the benefits of a good habit”
Now there’s a man who understood the power of ‘incrementally’.
I’ve never heard anyone put a figure on the number of tiny little things it takes to make a great big huge important thing. Come to that, I’ve never tried to put a figure on it myself. But every now and again I stop and look back to how things were. That’s when I realise that some great big important Alexander Technique things have snuck in without me realising, and transformed my life.
As for the tooth-brushing question, well, it’s prodded me to build greater personal awareness, and to make better use of the information available to me. I think that makes it important, in an incremental way.
(*) Man’s Supreme Inheritance, IRDEAT edition p.16
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