Illeism

I’m not sure why I thought it would be ok to teach after a dental extraction. Mind over matter only goes so far. Why do I think it’s a good idea to push my own body through pain and exhaustion when I am constantly counseling my Alexander Technique students to listen to the body, find the ease, and practice self-compassion? It it our cultural conditioning that we all need external permission to rest lest we be perceived as lazy? Right effort gets lost in the intoxication of brute force.

Pushing beyond self-perceived limits is part of the performing arts culture* that I have taught/participated in my entire life. Professional and aspiring artists are encouraged to work through extremes of exhaustion and pain to achieve a sought after catharsis – and sometimes that’s necessary – and there’s a cost – and that level of pushing becomes a habit and a cultural norm.

Or is that, locked as we are inside our own brains, imbibing our inner cocktail of giddy stress hormones, we can’t make sense of things? A recent Aeon article advised adopting an ancient Greek practice known as illeism (i.e. speaking about yourself in third person) for a scientifically validated uptick in well-being and decision making. I think of my Alexander Technique Teacher Frank Ottiwell saying, “Sometimes, I really wish there was an Alexander Technique teacher around, and then I realize I am that.”

I am that.

So today, I am listening to my inner Alexander Technique teacher, letting my neck be free and taking the afternoon off. We can all provide wise council to ourselves.

*and academic culture, and medical culture, and sports culture, and really any environment where “good enough,” is tantamount to failure, and only the exceptional win.

 

 

Duck Feet?

Here’s a Reembody Method sequence that I used to help a duck-footed (feet turned out) saxophonist with sore feet and low back pain. If you have similar issues while standing, you might try it too. But what is the Reembody Method, you might ask? It’s a new somatic modality that looks at how our inborn tendency to be right or left handed predicts the way that force moves through the body. Said more plainly, you can use the Reembody Method to unwind habitual holding and power up habitual weakness.

Here’s the sequence:

Note: Internal rotation is towards the center of the body, external rotation is away from center of the body.

  1. For the non-dominant foot, leave ball of foot on ground, lift your heel and rotate your thigh internally until your foot comes to parallel.
  2. For dominant foot, leave heel on ground, flex foot, and spin shin and foot internally to bring foot to parallel.

You might find that collapsed arches are more springy and hyper-extended knees are no longer locked.

Let me know what happened to you!

Advanced: As you play with this sequence, consider that perfect positions don’t exist. The reason is that position, action and intent are always linked. You’ll waste time and get stiff if you try and sculpt your body into a perfect shape. As you evaluate your habitual duck footed stance, it’s more effective to consider what you are doing, thinking and feeling in that moment. If your answer is, “I’m not doing/thinking/feeling anything,” then you can be sure you have discovered a habit!

#reembodymethod #alexandertechnique