The Alexander Technique is a conscious based technique.
It requires conscious attention and intention in movement, stillness, and action.
It does so to influence (not control) unconscious aspects of movement, ways we hold ourselves (posture), our responses (behaviours), and the way we sense and perceive ourselves and the environment.
As students, we learn to direct attention on specific things to help us observe and influence the connection between thought and physical responses or anticipation.
For example, we might place our attention on a series of intentions such as:
Allow my neck to be free of excess tension ....
To allow my head to move forwards and away from the top of my spine ...
To allow my back to lengthen and widen...
What many students don't realize is that the quality of how we consciously place attention matters.
Division Vs. Unification
To simplify things, you can imagine that the way you 'talk to yourself' either creates division between mind and body, or unification between thought and action. For instance
Division: Commanding yourself to change as if your mind is in full control of your body.
Unification: Observing the affect your attention has on your actions and physical self.
Division: Barking orders at yourself or begging to make specific muscle tensions release.
Unification: The use of kind, but persistent intention to influence your whole self; observing the physical changes in muscle tension and how they may relate to each other in the process.
It's all a game of attention, and thus the quality or kind of attention we use matters.
In my personal practice I've tested out various approaches for long periods of time.
I've found that although change can occur with both approaches (divisional or unification based ways of placing attention), one approach works far better than the other in getting the kind of results we want to show up in our Alexander Technique practice.
Kind Persistence requires both kindness is how you observe and 'speak' to yourself, and true persistence to do so in a constructive way. Kindness without persistence won't work - and persistence without kindness is divisional in it's approach, and thus less effective.
Change through the Alexander Technique requires both together - Kindness and persistence.
What approach did you use today?