There is a phenomenon in the Alexander Technique that pops up every once in a while. I don’t have a name for(*) it, so I’ll have to just describe it. To start with, the student has chosen their activity for that lesson, tried it out, and the teacher has done some hands-on work. Then the student tries the activity again, and, here’s the important part; THEY REALLY DON’T LIKE IT.
Something has changed, and it genuinely is not entirely positive(^).
Maybe the student is stepping very slowly, or lifting their leg unfeasibly high, or bending too far forward. The exact ‘what’ doesn’t matter. What does matter is the fact that ‘this is worse than before’. If you are good at visualising images, you can probably see the look of dismay on the student’s face. Maybe ‘dismay’ isn’t a strong enough word, maybe we should be using ‘appalled’. If you are more of a verbal person, you can just about hear this student muttering to themselves “What on earth has this (******) woman got me doing now!”
However, the teacher is rather content with progress. She (or he) will agree that this latest change is not positive and still be happy.
Because she is taking the longer view. Having seen this phenomenon many times before, she knows perfectly well that it is just one part of a process of experimentation and gradual change. Uncomfortable, but necessary.
Plenty of authors who have thought about what it’s like to be human have written with compassion and inspiration on how you get over this sticky patch.
Take the well-known diarist Anais Nin:
“You live out the confusions until they become clear.”
Or successful businessman and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar:
“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you learn to do it well.”
The idea that ‘you are not really going backwards, it just feels like it’ is not unique to the Alexander Technique. But it does pop up very strongly in lessons, and it forces the student to make a significant choice.
Do you allow it to derail progress, get disillusioned and maybe even give up completely? Or do you accept that this is not the final stopping place, and you are just passing through? The choice is yours.
(*) if you do have a name for it, please let me know.
(^) I’m not talking about faulty sensory perception here.
Image courtesy of Felix Mooneeram at FreeDigitalPhotos.net