As an Alexander Technique student, learning the Buddhist practice of Metta (Loving kindness) Meditation, gave me, for the first time ever, enough self-compassion to look at my habits without shame. When I learned to watch my thoughts in Buddhist Vipassana (Insight) meditation, I gained an understanding of what it might mean to “allow.” Meditation gave me the skill to work with my thoughts and emotions. Alexander Technique helps me explore the embodiment of thought.
I believe that practicing Metta meditation can help you free your neck and expand your body – in addition to expanding your capacity for compassion.
Here’s the Metta practice:
May I be safe and protected from inner and outer harm
May I be peaceful and happy
May I be healthy and strong
May I be at ease with the conditions of my life
Traditionally you direct these thoughts to yourself, then a mentor or benefactor, then a dear friend, then a neutral person, then a difficult person, and then the circle can be expanded out to all beings everywhere.
Metta creates the inner climate that allows the neck muscles to release – although please note this is my idea, and has nothing to do with traditional Alexander Technique teachings.
The Metta phrases and the Alexander Technique directions can reinforce each other when thought one after the other. For example:
Metta (M): May I be safe and protected from inner and outer harm
Alexander Technique (AT): Allow my neck to be free
Isn’t neck tension the first thing that happens when we feel threatened? A free neck is almost synonymous with safety.
(M): May I be peaceful and happy
(AT): Allow my head to balance forward and up
Isn’t a poised head the physical expression of peace? I’m imagining a Buddha statue.
(M): May I be healthy and strong
(AT): Allow my back to lengthen and widen
Isn’t an open back that allows the free movement of breath and the decompression of organ systems the expression of “health?”
(M): May I be at ease with the conditions in my life
(AT): Allow my legs to release away from my hip joints, and my shoulders to expand to the sides
Isn’t physical expansion the gesture of ease?
You don’t need to say all the words in the Metta phrases. You can generate the feeling of Metta and project the Alexander Technique directions simultaneously. I encourage you to experiment.
There’s a bi-directional loop between body positions and emotions. We can create the feeling tone of safety, peace, health and ease, from the mind down and from the body up.