Give yourself some space
This summer I’ve been thinking about space in the context of the Alexander Technique:
1. New possibilities emerge when you create space
In the gaps between teaching and travelling I’ve been tidying and throwing out, allowing space to ease its way into my cupboards. Without fanfare or angst I’ve let go of clothes, books and once-prized possessions. My shelves, like me, have more room to breathe.
I’ve kept objects that still matter, but I’m clearer now about what I have and what I no longer need. I’ve also been able to integrate into my possessions some small items I’d inherited. These had sat apart uneasily, mine yet still part of someone else’s life. Now I feel at home with them and they belong to me. I also now have space on my shelves for something new to come in.
The Alexander Technique works on a psychophysical level with the body and mind operating as one unit. Release and integration apply at all levels and involve the whole of you.
2. You can learn to step into new and unknown spaces
Walking by the River Derwent I became uncomfortable when I reached the stepping stones leading from one bank to the other. They seemed less safe and certain than the wooden plank at the water’s edge or the narrow stone bridge downstream. The water wasn’t deep or cold and I was in no danger, but the spaces between the stones made me feel uneasy. The space itself wasn’t the problem, it was my reaction to the idea of space and what might happen to me. Dealing with the unfamiliar made me fearful and uncomfortable.
The Alexander Technique can help change our reactions. We can become less anxious and cope better with unknown or stressful situations.
3. Limiting space limits movement
The latest exhibition by artist Olafur Eliasson is all about how, as human beings, we perceive and move through space. There is lots to touch, smell, taste and experience. It brought home to me how important the space between things is to provide us with definition, balance and movement.
Many people have never paid attention to the idea of the space inside themselves before they come for Alexander lessons. They are surprised to learn that the space between their joints can open up as they let go of unnecessary muscle tension. They begin to develop a new understanding of how movement happens and that they can move through space in a more expansive way.
Through the Alexander Technique you can move away from tension and compression and find a greater range of movement,
4. We all perceive space in different ways
We all have our own way of perceiving and inhabiting space. Our sense of proprioception - where we are in space - and the internal map we have of our bodies varies for each of us. I spent a morning at a London mainline train station. Not only did fashion sense and shoe size differ but everyone had a unique way of standing as they waited. The way we understand and use our bodies shows itself in how we take up and use the space around us and between our feet.
The Alexander Technique works with the whole body and with each person individually to increase awareness, move away from habitual patterns and allow change in posture and movement.