an educational method

Like all new beginnings, my early experience with the Technique was not always easy. I came to it (through my Kung-Fu teacher, Ben Tal-Shahar) discouraged and rather skeptical after failed back surgery, a recommendation for further, more complicated surgery and disappointed in a significant number of conventional and alternative therapies.

Moreover, the realization of the simple connection between use and function made me feel guilty. After all, if I am the cause of my chronic back pain, then I am the main culprit and not, as I used to think, external factors like the weight I carried during military training, the doctor who operated on me and failed, and so on.

But in time, as I examined this connection more closely, I realized that it was actually a lifeline for me. The Technique does not focus on what happened in the past or look at things in terms of guilt, neither my own nor that of others. It prefers to gently let go of the past and burdensome guilt feelings and look at things from the perspective of willingness, maturity, and the courage to take responsibility: If I am responsible for a problem in my functioning, it means I myself can resolve it by improving the way I use myself as I learn the simple, rational concept at the heart of the Technique.

So, little by little, I became curious and the curiosity woke me up.  The discovery turned from a burden into a challenge and from a patient I became a student. Since I loathe being ill and love to learn, I set out on a new journey of learning and self-exploration, as outlined by the developer of the Technique, Frederick Matthias Alexander.

I also began to understand why Alexander stressed that over and above being an exceptional therapeutic tool, it is first and foremost an educational method. According to the Technique, when we decide to make deep, meaningful and lasting change, it would be difficult to find an alternative to a learning process. The critical moment at which a person turns from patient to student is often worth far more than the most advanced medical technology and can bring about changes that difficult and complicated surgery may not.

Moreover, a learning process has additional values that are priceless: First of all, it brings one to take responsibility for oneself and, after all, no meaningful life change can take place without taking the requisite degree of responsibility. Secondly, because of its inherent difficulties, a learning process makes a person believe in him or herself and his or her ability. Third, as long as one perseveres, the learning process is limitless. To this day I have yet to meet someone who chooses to persevere with the Technique and who is disappointed with the results, no matter the reason that brought him to study it. As for me, the excruciating pain I had as a result of my back problems and which for years cast a shadow on the quality of my life has become a thing of the past.

For in the mind of man lies the secret of his ability to resist, to conquer and finally to govern the circumstances of his life.

Frederick Matthias Alexander