Alexander Technique Workshop for Teachers


Elyse Shafarman

Tommy Thompson taught a 2-day workshop for Alexander Technique Teachers.  Here are a few highlights – paraphrased  – I did my best to capture Tommy’s poetic flavor, but these are not exact quotes.

  • If we look for what’s right, if we assume the primary control is always working, then teaching becomes a much more peaceful process.
  • Put your hands on the potential of the person not the habit. Then Alexander Technique becomes a non-critical, non-judgmental, compassionate way of letting go of patterns of behavior that are not essential.
  • You have to be very careful walking through your life thinking you are wrong. Faulty sensory appreciation is useful, but you have to use it to help you.
  • When students ask what to do without your teacher’s hands to help them: “You can’t do it for yourself (yet), but you can learn how to notice what you are doing.”
  • Frank Pierce Jones maxim – Once you become aware of what you don’t want to do, you are already on your way to doing less of it.

A colleague commented, “I know that writing is only the tip of the experience, but what you write about the workshop makes me think of the Buddhist idea that our Buddha nature is always there, like the clear blue sky, but we don’t see it for the clouds (habits). Universal truths are just that, universal…”

  • Primary Control – The dynamic relationship between the head, neck and torso that organizes our movement and our alertness.
  • “Being Wrong” is common language in the Alexander Technique lexicon. It refers to the ways that our body sensations, which feels so true, can be inaccurate due to habit. For example if we have the habit of leaning backwards, being upright can feel like we are pitched forward.
  • Frank Pierce Jones pioneered scientific research in the Alexander Technique at Tufts University between 1949 and 1975.