The car alarm honks outside your bedroom window for hours at a time.
Around every corner another computer screen glares in your face.
Advertisements infiltrate your dreams.
We are a culture bombarded by stimuli.
So when we need to rejuvenate we tend to close our eyes.
Meditation, Savasana, and sensory deprivation chambers all involve closing our eyes, or shutting out the outside world to let external stimuli pass us by. We turn our attention inward to access a deeper sense of peace and quiet in our mind-body-selves.
These useful techniques provide a private intimate space for internally quieting down, but when we want to carry our meditative state into the rest of our lives, we need a different approach.
In the Alexander Technique we work with our eyes open.
We utilize all of the sensory input from our environment to help release excess tension, open us up, and ground us even more.
Walter Carrington, a great teacher of the Alexander Technique, once said something like this: If you want to know where you're going, you sure as hell don't look inside.
Seeing out into the world orients us in space, and helps us move about more safely.
Using our vision also broadens our sense of perspective, figuratively and literally. By avoiding over-focusing, we keep the whole of ourselves in mind.
So instead of bracing in response to the guy screaming on his cell phone next to me by shutting my eyes, furrowing my brow, tightening my neck, holding my breath, and attempting to block it out, I allow the stimuli to pass through me. I surrender to What Is instead of compromising my well being to try to make it something else.
By choosing to respond in this way, I do not take on the screaming man's tension and anger. I maintain my own balance, stability, and calm.
Heck, if I'm doing really well, I may even be able to generate some compassion for him : )
This takes time to learn, and will be helped by practicing daily 10 minute Alexander Technique lie downs (also called constructive rest) in a relatively quiet peaceful place.
By practicing the specific Alexander Technique way of releasing and decompressing in response to more benign stimuli, I am primed for the rest of my day to have a similar response to greater more stressful demands. Through the Alexander Technique we allow our environment to energize and rejuvenate us rather than exhaust us.
The same quiet mind-body space we aim to access through meditation, Savasana, and sensory deprivation chambers, with the Alexander Technique, becomes less separate, and more easily integrated into the rest of our lives. Simultaneous awareness of the inner and outer abounds.