“In Pali, mindfulness literally means to remember.” Joseph Goldstein.

Elyse Shafarman

I find this interesting, because all the practices that orient us towards more skillful living are easy. It’s not hard to become aware of the breath, or how the feet rest on the ground. It’s not hard to wish the neck to be free. It’s not hard to contemplate that all beings, like ourselves wish for happiness and peace. The difficulty lies in remembering in the heat of living.

That’s why all the daily moments when we remember to practice are so important. It’s as simple and as difficult as remembering to stop before opening a door, or responding to a text, or snapping at a loved one.

Once we remember that we can stop, we are on the road to greater freedom.






Who is the self that is meeting myself right now?*

Elyse Shafarman

As I go about my life, I catch myself in habitual thoughts and postures, I take out an imaginary mirror and look at myself.

Who am I right now?

Is the reflection in the mirror kind or harsh?

What if I trust that my own attention can create the same space and fluidity that flows from an Alexander Teacher’s hands? What happens if I extend a hand towards myself?

Can I be a better friend to myself?

*Inspired by working with Tommy Thompson. Alexander Technique Workshop for Teachers, Oakland, CA April 14, 2013

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.