The question of whether you should use a mirror in your Alexander work has rolled around for a very long time, pretty much since FM Alexander developed his technique back in the 1890s. He used a mirror; in fact he used several mirrors, and stood watching himself speaking for hour upon hour (boy, did that man have patience!)
Since then, some teachers use them in lessons, others, like myself, don’t. The purpose of the mirrors is to see what it is you are doing, what has improved, and what unnecessary muscle tension is still lurking. Then you can work on stopping it(*). But what happens when you want to practise your Alexander thinking while you are doing the washing up, walking the dog, playing golf or anything else? No mirrors there.
Well, if you extend the definition of a ‘mirror’ into ‘something that gives you feedback on how you are doing whatever you are doing’ then you can find mirrors everywhere.
A few weeks ago I wrote about a small but useful discovery I made when cleaning my teeth. My colleague Robert Rickover made the comment that “my gums were my mirrors”. Sounds unlikely, but he was spot on. The pressure on my gums was exactly the feedback I needed. All parts of your body will register and report back on the amount of pressure whenever you are in contact with another surface. A chair back, the floor, the keyboard, a spoon, it doesn’t matter. Loads of mirrors.
And what about hearing? Robert again:-
‘The floor can be a “mirror” – especially a creaky wooden floor with lots of auditory feedback.’
Your jeans rustle differently when you change how you walk. Often your voice becomes deeper or more resonant.
Then there is sight(†). How close or far away are you? The reach of your arm at full stretch – is it longer than normal? Are you now looking down into someone’s eyes where before you were on the level? Does your driving mirror need adjusting?
All of these provide information; clues as to what you might be doing, what might have changed, and where you might want to take your Alexander thinking next. Don’t restrict yourself to a formal ‘Alexander Technique mirror’. Find your own mirrors everywhere.
(*) the question of whether you need to know in order to stop is another issue for another day.
(†) I’m really not sure about smell and taste.