Pioneering a New Frontier / by Ariel Carson

Did you know that all students of the Alexander Technique are pioneers? The journey is just like the Oregon Trail video game, except the supplies you have to gather before your journey are already inside you, and instead of moving out West to strike it rich, you are moving into the rich land of a more upright, expanded, resilient you. Also, you won’t have to ford any rivers, and no one will contract dysentery…Okay, so maybe studying the Alexander Technique is not exactly the same as the Oregon Trail game, but stay with me here.

photo credit: Paulette Omura

photo credit: Paulette Omura

The best Alexander Technique students, like the best pioneers, are brave souls who fearlessly explore unknown territory with open eyes and open minds. They come to the Alexander Technique because something is no longer working in their lives, and they’re ready to make a change. Often they’re fed up with being in pain, or they’re tired of feeling anxious every time they have to do a presentation at work, or perform on stage. Or perhaps there’s just a voice inside of them saying, “Maybe things don’t have to be as hard as I’m making them.” They want to leave behind unhelpful habitual patterns of tension, collapse, restriction, and rigidity. They want to quiet the hamster wheel of annoying thought patterns filled with, “I should do this,” and “I have to do that,” and “I better get this right or else,” or my personal favorite, “I don’t have any time!

Alexander Technique Pioneers learn new ways of coordinating themselves, so they can choose to be free from their old habits. And in order to experience this new coordination, these pioneers cannot be afraid of failure. In fact, they have to give up any notion of trying to get it “right,” because if what you were doing before is no longer working for you, you have to be willing to do something new. You have to be totally open to a different experience of how you organize your musculature, and that requires bravery. And the new experience of how you coordinate yourself will feel different, which is great, because if it feels familiar that means you’re not really changing.

Change can be intimidating. New frontiers can seem overwhelming. I totally get it, because I’m on this journey too. But luckily you don’t have to explore this new land all at once, and you don’t have to do it by yourself. In your Alexander lessons, you and your teacher will just take it one step at a time. And as you progress you will begin to experience and understand that this new territory, this new ground beneath you is endlessly supportive. And as your feet begin to open and spread in contact with the ground, and you learn to free up through your ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, neck, and head, that fertile support will travel from the core of the earth up through your legs and spine, and out your head toward the sun for continuous growth and expansion. The new frontier of you is waiting to be discovered, so journey on my fellow pioneer. Onward ho!