thinking

What we have to do is to learn to think in activity

Frederick Matthias Alexander

Touch is the main teaching tool of the Technique. However, few seem to know that the Alexander Technique is first and foremost a thinking technique. The student learns to improve the way in which he uses himself by recruiting his greatest resource, the power of thought. The critical moment at which a person begins to direct this inexhaustible resource inward, in order to improve his or her use of him or herself, and thinking begins to replace instincts and automatic habits that no longer serve; quiet but significant changes gradually begin to occur as if on their own.

This is not about miracles: the Technique does not deal in miracles, and the learning process teaches us that what appears today to be miraculous tomorrow turns out to be the natural outcome of learning and perseverance. It is about the unlimited power of human thinking when one purposefully and accurately directs it towards a task one finds important. All the more so when this inward directing allows body and mind to re-unite so movingly it is sometimes hard to grasp that this union is not really new, but simply unconsciously forgotten in the race we make of life.

As a result of this re-union, something interesting happens: the main tool of the practice, thinking, becomes sharper as we learn and develop with the Technique. Just as the builder’s muscles grow stronger as he builds his house, so the student’s thinking grows more refined as he builds himself. Moreover, these old-new directions waken, enhance, and imbue thinking with a new freshness, which indicates a return to its natural home.

 

I asked Dewey about his early experiences with the Alexander Technique. He said he had been taken by it first because it provided a demonstration of the unity of mind and body. He had always been physically awkward, he said, and performed all actions too quickly and impulsively and without thought. "Thought" in his case was saved for "mental" activity, which had always been easy for him. It was a revelation to discover that thought could be applied with equal advantage to everyday movements.

Prof. Frank Pierce Jones, a teacher of the Alexander Technique, in conversation with the philosopher and educator, Prof. John Dewey, Alexander’s student