Alexander Technique teachers have said to me: “See if you can do less here”, while touching my lower back. To a degree I interpreted that to mean “don’t do anything”. After all, the Alexander Technique is a non-doing technique, right?
But if I really don’t do anything I’ll stay right where I am; right, smack, dab in the middle of my habit. At the very least I have to think, and thinking is doing because there is no split. If I really did nothing I’d stay in bed.
I’m reminded of that famous cartoon where an Alexander teacher keeps saying to her student: “Do less”. In the very last panel the student is collapsed on the floor, and the teacher says: “Ok, you can do more now”.
In my particular case, I needed to do a few things. First I needed to free my neck, consciously guiding it into more of a primary curve. But I’ve known about that for well over a decade. I made significant strides years ago, even avoiding cervical spine surgery. My severe neck pain is virtually gone; I would say a 97% improvement.
But lately I’ve been feeling a little bit of lower back discomfort and here’s what I’m realizing that since I’d been focused almost exclusively on my head/neck relationship, the awareness of my lumbar spine faded into the background. My exaggerated secondary curve in the cervical spine was accompanied by an exaggerated curve in the lumbar spine. In fact, I’m doing it right now…..But not now.
I will create a new habit.
I will think more of a “C” curve in my lumbar spine—a long, lengthened, easy “C”. Others may need more of a “J”, an “s”, a ”p” or a “q”. The Alexander Technique doesn’t revere one shape over another.
Some muscles may need to do less, some muscles may need to do more. You gotta do what you gotta do, and you gotta don’t what you gotta don’t. The Alexander Technique doesn’t always function as a relaxation technique, and one size doesn’t fit all.
Mark Josefsberg—Alexander Technique NYC
Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net “Brown Bear lying” by David Castillo Dominici