Alexander Technique Myths #4: If I don’t know what I’m doing, I can’t stop it.

It’s time for another Alexander Technique myth (I have a collection*). A hotly debated myth, it goes like this:-

“I can’t stop it if I don’t know what I’m doing.”

It also appears as “I have to know what I’m tensing in order to let it go”; while the wording varies, the intent is the same.

To pull apart this particular myth, I would like to recount one of my group classes:-

Student 1 is working on bringing her arms behind her back. We chat about it, I do some hands on.
STUDENT 1: “I’m holding on with this shoulder, aren’t I?”
At this point she stops holding on, without any help from me.  Her arm moves much further and more easily.

Then comes the next student.
STUDENT 2: “I want to look at stooping, I find myself stooping all the time. I know I’m doing it
and I can’t stop.”
Hmmm. If it were true that once you knew what you are doing you could stop it, then Student 2 would not have come with his story.

Student 3, does walking. We work a while, I do some hands-on and she walks some more.
KAREN: “Same or different, class?”
SOMEONE IN THE CLASS: “Her arms are moving less” (murmurs of general agreement from the
STUDENT 3: “I didn’t know I was moving my arms!”
She didn’t know she was doing it. She didn’t know she had stopped doing it. But to everyone else in the group that was a clear outcome of the process of Alexander thinking. What does that do to the assumption that you can’t stop it if you don’t know what it is?

I’m not saying there is no correlation between knowing and stopping. As student 1 proved, knowing can be a powerful tool in the process, but as student 3 proved, it certainly is not essential. Don’t let yourself be limited in this way. ‘Knowing’ is a variable creature, so approach with caution.

(*) Myths #1
Myths #2
Myths #3

Image courtesy of Becker1999 via

CNHC and ITM registered Alexander Technique teacher.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in feeling, myths, stopping

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