Transcripción original de una charla realizada el 2 de abril de 2004 por Walter Carrington, alumno directo de F. M. Alexander.

What I would like to talk about for a few moments this morning, I think, is the good old perennial problem of the Alexander Technique, the work that we do, and how it affects and is affected by our emotional life. Because so often I hear it said, and read in some of the Alexander literature, people saying that the Technique doesn ́t sort of deal with our emotional life and that always-unless of course the majority of people are much less emotional than I am- and I mean, one can only speak of one’s experience, and so of course, it may be that you are all entirely different from me but I find that my emotional life really is my life. It is my feelings, all the time, that affect so to except of course when happily having some successful attempts in applying the Technique for a little bit. I am actually able to stop for a few moments and when I can stop and give myself a break and a little bit of a pause, then of course things can adjust themselves and sort themselves out a bit.

So, I was thinking, let’s take as a sort of concrete example, let’s take an imaginary situation. Supposing that you are a very busy person and you lead a very full active life and so, in the course of the day, you have lots of things to do and you have got appointments to keep and you have got to remind yourself to do all sorts of different things. So here you are, some time fairly early and perhaps, while you are having a cup of tea or whatever, you fish out your diary and you have a look to see what today has got in sore. You know, I am just imagining it, and now, this is a little foolish in a way but I think you get the general drift of what I am saying. Here you are, you are having your cup of tea and you’ve opened your diary. Well, immediately you are, you know, exposing yourself to some pretty massive stimulus. Are you really ready for it? Because when you open your diary and you look at it you say: “Oh good god I have got to do so and so today, that’s awful.” Well, you know, you weren’t feeling very bright in the first place this morning, you felt you really rather needed that cup of coffee and so on and so forth…And now you are contemplating that you’ve got this awful thing to cope with and you had forgotten for a moment. What does it do to you? Of course, naturally, don’t you pull yourself down? , don’t you find that immediately you are restricting your breathing? Everything is affected by the tension that you make in response to the situation. Now, of course, as you continue to look, you may see that is not all bad, but here is something later on that looks as though, it would be more enjoyable, in fact quite enjoyable, very enjoyable if you actually manage to survive, if you got through the trauma of the earlier part of the day. You actually got something to look forward to. Alexander always used to point this out to people. I remember him concluding a lesson with one of his elderly pupils and he finished and patted her on the shoulder and said: “Now, my dear, just see to it that you don’t stiffen your neck and that you’ve always got something to look forward to.” And of course, the looking forward is just as valid and important an emotional reaction as the negative reaction that we were referring to a minute ago.

Where you know, you have got to do something that you are not at all keen on doing, that you don’t want to do and so forth. In both cases, in all cases, when you stop to consider it, your actual physical state, meaning: how you are actually sitting. Are you sitting pulling down? Are you in balance? Are you, particularly, above all, are you breathing?

Your breathing absolutely mirrors your emotional life. If you use one of these gadgets that the medical people have for measuring breathing rhythm, you can absolutely equate the changes in breathing rhythm, of course, with the changes in people’s feelings, their relative cheerfulness or unhappiness, above all their anxiety. A lot of people live in a state, you might say, of almost permanent anxiety. The anxiety is always there, it is only a matter of sometimes it is a bit less and sometimes it is a bit more. And of course, it is bound to be so, unless you have learnt how to stop.

Now admittedly, stopping is not easy, stopping is really something that takes quite some trouble. It involves, above all, the readiness to accept to learn to be able to say to yourself: “Yes, I don’t like this. Yes, I am unhappy. Yes, above all, I am frightened. Yes, I am anxious.” It is particularly necessary to be able to recognize and accept all these negative things. If you are going to deal with them, you’ve got to accept them first. It is not in the slightest bit of use pretending they don’t exist or somehow or another they will magically go away. You have got to be able to say to yourself: “This is how it is.” And recognize that, that is the case. Now, if you are really very tense and very pulled down and so on, the recognition of unhappy things, of course, adds to your unhappiness very considerable and it can be almost unbearable. But if we face it, we can find the courage to bear most things. You have got to find the courage.

And how do you find the courage? Well, one thing, you stop holding breath and pulling yourself down, those are very important ingredients for finding the courage, when you can then get a little bit of breathing going, a little bit of freedom. Yes, it is perhaps only momentary; you don’t feel that it will last. But it is the moment that you are concerned with, it is the moment, it is what is happening now.

A great deal of our problems arise from the fact that we have either been dwelling so much on what happened in the past that we have allowed that to condition and influence our perception of the present or of course, we are so much anticipating, and of course naturally, anticipating the worse, expecting everything to be terrible and so on…And both those variations from the present of course, well, can be positively dangerous.

No, you have got to accept the present. You have to come into present time and of course, that means that then, acknowledging that, things are as they are. Then you consider what physical effect this is having on you, as I said before, particularly the breathing.

The breathing is something that will tell you a great deal if you observe it, but of course, you have got to be careful about you observation of your breathing. Because it is like everything else, it is terribly easy to do it. And breathing is not something that you want to do. Breathing is something that you want to let happen. If you, instead for the moment think of the breathing, think about your heart and the beating of your heart, of course, you know perfectly well, without

any hesitation that you want it to beat, you want it to beat regularly and quietly and efficiently but you know perfectly well that you cannot beat it, you cannot take positive action to make your heart work differently. So, whether some yoga masters can do, this is another question altogether. But from a practical point of view, you have to recognize that there it is, something that happens and you want it to happen and you hope that it will happen as efficiently as possible. That should be of course, the attitude with your breathing. So, then of course, we come to consider, in a more, what should I say, detached way perhaps, you review the whole situation with regard to yourself. You know very clearly how your emotional life affects your breathing, you may also know how much it affects your digestion, how much it affects your blood pressure, how much in fact, when you really explore it, you find that it reflects all aspects of your functioning. The further you delve into it, the more you realize that of course, everything is affected by your feeling of anxiety, your worry. Equally, of course, if you are fortunate enough to find happiness and joy, pleasure and all the positive things, then you must acknowledge that they affect the issue too.

Well, when you have thought of all that and experienced all that, then where the Alexander Technique comes in, it is drawing attention to something that everybody seems to overlook, everybody seems to forget. The doctors forget it, the trainers forget it, the psychologists forget it, the educators forget it, it is pretty well universally forgotten. And what is forgotten is the simple fact that the basic nature of the human being is the performance on two legs. Being able to stand and move around efficiently without falling over. In other words, to use the dreaded words, the dreaded expression: the Postural Mechanism.

The Postural Mechanism, the way, the efficiency or otherwise, with which people actually move, the efficiency with which they are able to perform with their bodies, all the ordinary actions and activities of life, but all the extraordinary ones as well. When you really come to think about the working of the Postural Mechanisms, the fact that we are able to do what we can do, even when we do it very badly. If you go out into the street and you observe both young and old and see how they are moving and how they are not falling all over the place. It is clearly the working of this mechanism, that we call the Postural Mechanism, must be at least as important as any aspect of our general functioning. You might say more so, because if after all, you cannot stand and you cannot walk and you cannot move, you won’t get a great deal of benefit of the fact that you are perhaps able to breathe quite well or that your blood pressure is quiet good or that you have got low cholesterol and so on and so forth. So, yes it is really central and of course, when you recognize the central importance of it, this of course was what Alexander initially found out.

Here he was, he wanted to act, he wanted to be a performer and so on and he was having all his trouble with his voice and of course, he came to realize that is was not so much the voice as such, it was not the breathing so much. It was the way that he was standing in front of the mirror, stiffening his neck, pulling his head back, raising his chest and so on, interfering with his Postural Balance.

Now, of course, do you think that he was, as he studied all this, that he was doing so without any feelings, without any feelings of anxiety or feelings of, well you know, deep feelings of questioning his own self worth?

He said that, after a little bit of research, he began to fear that it might be something deep inside himself that was actually making it impossible, that there was no chance that he was ever going to be able to speak properly and so on. He must have had very deep feelings in the matter that you could describe as anxiety and so on. Now, I don’t think it would have helped Alexander very much if there had been a psychiatrist around that he could go and talk to about it and explained what he had felt and experienced in front of the mirrors and so on. He might have found it helpful to have somebody to talk to, somebody to share it with. This is another aspect of feeling. We very often do feel a sense of loneliness and there is a great deal to be gained from feeling of companionship, feeling of empathy, feeling of somebody around that you can tell them about it and that they will fell better up to a point, but it is not going to solve any of the problems. In order to solve the problems, you have got to get back in front of the mirror and you have got to present yourself with the stimulus and see how you respond and work out a way of inhibiting or withholding the wrong response.

So, I would like to say that, yes undoubtedly, we need all the help we can get, all of us do. If you could find that it is comforting and helpful to get counseling, to get to talk over your problems with other people and so on. I am not in any way against it, I am all in favor of it so long as you recognize that the fundamental problem is self help and that is what we are teaching and learning in this technique.