You’ve probably heard of the three Rs. You might know “reading, (w)riting, (a)rithmetic,” or perhaps “reduce, reuse, recycle.”
As school starts again in my part of the world, I was inspired to create my own short list of Rs for the Alexander Technique.
1. Rest to Restore
Constructive Rest, that is. (And yes, that’s two words, but they go together!)
Using the semi-supine rest position on a regular basis is a reliable way to restore your body-mind unity and release unnecessary tension. It helps to sort out the pulls and strains of daily life so that you can come back to a baseline level of ease, energy, and connection.
Practice Constructive Rest for 5-10 minutes at a time, any time of day, preferably at least once a day.
...but don’t relax! Why?
Often when we think about “relaxing,” we completely drop all muscular activity. Picture a cat lounging in the sun…totally relaxed! Like a puddle! But puddles don’t sit, stand, or move very well. Releasing unnecessary tension is just turning off any added effort. It’s not stretching, or pulling, or dropping, or anything forceful. It’s simply “not-tensing” that extra, unhelpful* tension.
*Is there such a thing as “helpful tension?” You bet. We couldn’t walk, dance, or play an instrument without appropriate muscle energy! The Alexander Technique helps us redistribute and rebalance (two more good R words) our muscle action, so that we use just what we need for the given activity. Chronically tightened muscles, or tension that interferes with the free and open use of the whole self, is the unhelpful kind.
Just as you would “refresh” a webpage to get the most up-to-date information, we need to refresh our self-directions frequently throughout the day, as conditions, situations, and demands on us change.
For example: Have you been sitting at your computer for a long time? Refresh your directions: look up from your screen at whatever is directly in front of you, notice the support of the chair below your sitting bones and the floor under your feet, and think about the space behind and above you.
Or perhaps you’ve changed activities, such as from sitting while you eat lunch to taking a walk. The overall idea is the same as above, but you can refresh your directions for this new orientation to gravity and movement: Allow your feet to be supported by the ground, as you allow your torso to unfurl into the space behind you and from side to side, as you let your head lighten up from behind your eyes. Then give a direction to your hip sockets to release back, as you let your knee release from behind the knee joint to step.
Refreshing your directions lets you choose how to apply your whole-self directions for any activity. When in doubt, notice the space below you, around you, and above you, giving a gentle wish for expansion.
Simple, constructive attention to your whole self throughout your day can not only help your body feel better from the release and rebalancing of muscle tension, but it can offer renewal to your mind and spirit. It literally takes the pressure off!
I love the phrase “I have time” to remind myself that rushing to my goals isn’t usually effective — and it’s rarely enjoyable.
Try exploring one or more of the first three Rs above (that’s Rest, Release, Refresh) and see what kind of Renewal you might experience. Or simply say to yourself right now: I. Have. Time.
The Alexander Technique process is reliable, and can be used anytime, anywhere. I have spent most of the last 20 years exploring how this work applies to various aspects of my life, and I’ve yet to find an area that doesn’t benefit from the process I’ve learned and practiced. What is this extremely reliable process?
- Non-judgmental self-observation (Awareness)
- Taking time, the positive “stop” (Inhibition)
- Direction, or thinking constructively in activity (Direction)
It’s also reliable because you get to rely on yourself! While working with a teacher gives you the initial experiences of change and awareness that start your learning, YOU are the one who can choose to apply this process in your daily life.
(See what I did there?)
- Rest to Restore
Did you try out any of these ‘R’ concepts or practices? Or have others you’d like to add to the list? I’d love to hear from you!
And of course, scheduling a 1:1 lesson can be the most effective way to learn the reliable Alexander Technique process. Please reach out or book a Free 20-minute Zoom or Phone Consultation for more information!