Let’s say that one day, you were doing something that required goggles: perhaps painting, woodworking, swimming, or officiating a Nerf battle (yes, this is a real example from my life!)
And let’s say that after the activity was over, you didn’t take your goggles off. You left them on so long that you forgot you were wearing them. Your view got more blurry, and there were specks of dust impeding your vision, but because you didn’t realize you were even wearing the goggles, you thought: “That’s just how life is. I’ll just deal with it.”
Wouldn’t you want someone to tell you that you still had them on?
As a teacher of the Alexander Technique, that is exactly my job, and I’ll not only tell you: I’ll teach you the powerful process of taking those goggles off.
The Alexander Technique gives us a whole new way to see.
The Goggles of Habit
I recently encountered this powerful idea in a social media thread. The author wrote:
“I had a French professor who once said if you just did something like go to the supermarket and experienced it fully without the goggles of habit and categories you would go crazy with pure sense and joy.”
The goggles of habit! What an amazing image!
Why do we wear goggles? To protect our eyes. To make our work easier and safer.
Why do we develop habits? Often in an attempt make our lives easier. To feel safer. To protect ourselves.
Distortion and Discomfort
Have you ever worn goggles? Could be swim goggles, or goggles for the lab or workshop. Think about the last time you wore goggles. Were they completely clear, or did they obscure and distort your vision in some way? Did they fog up (like those the swimmer in the image above is wearing)? Were they uncomfortable or painful over time?
Our habits are the same. They keep us from seeing clearly what’s happening in our bodies and minds. They can distort our sense of what’s going on, and prevent us from using ourselves freely and openly. Habits can be a fog settling over our lives, dimming our senses, and making us less available to our work and the people around us. With time, they can become uncomfortable, even painful.
Take Off Your Own Goggles First
If you want to bring the powerful practices of the Alexander Technique to your work and your life, the best place to start is in learning to remove your own goggles.
When you start to see clearly, without the distortions of habit, you work differently. You teach differently. You think and you move differently. You notice things that you might have previously ignored. You’re more present, and more creative.
Learning to remove our habit-goggles takes time, and it’s not a linear path. In my case, while I felt immensely and immediately freer after my very first Alexander Technique lesson, here I am nearly twenty years later continuing the discipline: identifying when I’ve put on my goggles of habit to protect myself, and gently, consciously inviting myself to let them go.
A New Way to See
The Alexander Technique process has three main steps that support the unlearning of habits: non-judgmental self-observation (“awareness”), taking time (“inhibition”), and conscious choice (“direction”).
- Self-observation allows us to begin to acknowledge our habit-goggles
- Taking time gives us the power to stop and create the space for change — rather than just putting a different set of habit-goggles on top of old ones
- Direction offers us the opportunity to consciously see clearly, so we can choose how to move forward without distorting habits interfering with each step.
In an Alexander Technique lesson, we practice kind, non-judgmental application of these steps, to help you experience the centeredness, whole-self clarity, and freedom that comes with letting your habits go.
If you want to see clearly, first be kind to yourself.
Kindly, stop to remove your goggles.