Just Right


Feels good + Simple = Self-motivated change and results

I can't remember where I read this, but it's a great goal for the learning process. The truth that people don't always mention (as anyone knows who's tried), is that changing habits of movement at times be more like:

Feels strange ( 'not normal or habitual') + Confusing (complex habits) = Real life

So how to deal with this?

The key is matching your present state and ability with your level of challenge such that you (at least) start each day in the first one (Feels good + Simple). This removes a large initial obstacle from which you can then ramp up the challenges from there.  Many people have spoken along these lines and I would recommend checking out the following if you're more interested:

Flow - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


As you get going you build skill/confidence and tackle more complex, sometimes strange challenges. In some ways, as you build up and up you gradually turn complex challenges into simple ones.  Furthermore, overtime you train yourself to feel great when performing movements/behaviours that feel un-habitual and often strange.  That's when things really start to happen.

So start in a place that feels good and is simple..then ramp it up.

Deliberate Practice vs. Application

The Alexander Technique is meant to be applied. Dependent on your stage of learning (and life circumstances) you can speed up your development with Alexander Technique 'deliberate practice'.  You can think of this like the difference between practicing your instrument (deliberate practice) for the show, and actually performing the show (application).

Now you could just practice in your basement and never play a show, but then you'd never develop your ability to handle and enjoy interaction with other people and environments. On the other hand, you could play a whole bunch of shows and never practice but you simply might not give yourself enough clarity to improve on the mistakes you keep making. Thus, you ingrain bad habits and slow your progress.

What your balance should be between deliberate practice and application is something you have to determine for yourself on an ongoing basis. Typically, more deliberate practice is helpful when you get started or need to re-fresh, then application can take over. The key is to not completely either one for too long.

My balance this morning is at about 5% deliberate practice and 95% application.  These days when I'm really 'On and UP' it's probably more around 10-15% deliberate practice and 85-90% in application; I shift my balance this way so that when I teach i'm definitely 'On and UP' when I work with my students.

When I've gone through big learning jumps (especially in the beginning) I was likely closer to 40-50% deliberate practice and 40-50% application; and usually I took deliberate practice too far. This was part of my learning process. But this isn’t about me, it’s about you and your process.

So what's your balance between deliberate practice and application?

Posture Without Bracing?


Forcing yourself to sit or stand up straight simply doesn’t work well. We've all tried (myself included), yet despite this strategy failing to work we pretty much continue to do the same thing.

Sure, a select few people with will-power of steel have successfully 'fixed' themselves upright.  Unfortunately this consistently results in a stiff bracing with limited freedom of movement, restricted breathing, and elimination of the sense of ’naturalness’ in posture or poise.

Einstein supposedly said ...'insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result'.  So are we all insane? Maybe, but I think we've actually got quite a few tools to re-imagine this problem.  Here's one:

Re-imagine Posture as Readiness For Movement


The science behind how posture works is tricky business and there’s still much to discover.  Sometimes what’s found seems counter-intuitive to our normal approach.  For instance, some research suggests that overly bracing yourself may actually work against your own automatic (largely subconscious) postural control; sort of like interfering with your own postural auto-pilot.¹

Excessively contracting your trunk muscles to hold good posture may be causing more ’noise’ in your system, limiting the ability of your brain to do this skilled balance work for you.¹

One idea to re-frame what ‘good' posture means in your own life is to view it as a state of readiness for movement.² If you’re slumped, collapsed, or (it’s opposite) stiffly braced, then you’re less ready for movement in any and all directions.  If you’re balanced, engaged, and lighter on your feet or seat, you’re more ready for movement in any and all directions.

In standing, sitting, working at a desk, and everything in-between, a fuller expression of ‘good’ posture is often a simple by-product of being more ready to move.

 So the next time you catch yourself ‘fixing’ your posture, instead of ingraining a worn out old strategy, turn an old idea on it's head: Re-imagine posture without bracing and test out a new state, position, or set-up to access your readiness to move.

Resources/ People/ Ideas related to the Alexander Technique in this post

1. Reeves, N. P., Everding, V. Q., Cholewicki, J., & Morrisette, D. C. (2006). The effects of trunk stiffness on postural control during unstable seated balance. Experimental Brain Research, 174(4), 694-700.

2. Jones, F. P. (1997). Freedom to change: The development and science of the Alexander Technique. London: Mouritz. *"posture as a phase of movement”.

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