Doubts about “the right thing does itself”
In the Alexander Technique, there is the idea “the right thing does itself”. Because of this idea, the ideal state can be achieved through “non-doing” process. However, I have doubts about whether “the right thing does itself” is truly accurate.
Certainly, this could be one approach. Existing AT has had a certain effect. However, in this case, two things can be said.
First, it takes time for an individual to reach an ideal state on their own. Achieving a state of non-doing is probably not easily attainable for an individual alone. It would likely require hands-on guidance from an AT teacher. And as commonly mentioned, around 20 to 30 lessons may be necessary.
Secondly, it is difficult to obtain certainty about whether one is in an ideal state, which leads to insecurity or anxiety. What makes it possible to know that one is in the ideal state in this case? One would constantly question oneself, “Have I inhibited all unnecessary actions?” While it is relatively easier to confirm if one is doing something, confirming if one has inhibited completely all actions becomes inherently challenging due to the increased number of verification items. From a logical standpoint as well, it is extremely difficult to present all possible counterexamples compared to presenting just one counterexample.
Uncertainty and anxiety
I can set aside the issue of time for learning, but I don’t want to set aside lingering anxiety.
When I first started learning the Alexander Technique, I didn’t fully grasp what was happening during lessons for the first six months or so. However, as I received hands-on guidance and went through some procedures with the teacher, my state improved to some extent. Then, I spent four more years studying in a teacher training program. I certainly found myself becoming more capable in various activities. I gained a certain level of self-control. However, the underlying anxiety persisted. I constantly questioned whether I was truly in the optimal state. And this didn’t change even after I started teaching others.
However, when you take on the role of a teacher, that anxiety becomes a hindrance. If the teacher is hesitant, it becomes problematic. So, what teachers do is to suppress (or conceal) that anxiety and uncertainty. Or, teachers will interpret the state of uncertainty as if it were an ideal state.
When I grasped something, I was told the following: “Don’t try to seek the same sensation as now. It will be a new sensation tomorrow. There is never an exactly same sensation.” Another teacher told me, “Even if you think you’ve grasped something, let it go. You just repeat that process.” I have to wait for the right thing to do itself, and I pray for it.
Perhaps those of you who are AT teachers or trainees have also received similar explanations and may be conveying similar things to their students. I used to do it. It’s like accepting the uncertainty or considering being uncertain as an ideal state.
“The right thing” has been found
In the Alexander Technique, trying to set a clear goal and obtaining it is referred to as “end-gaining,” and it is considered unfavorable.
I have been contemplating following questions both before and after becoming a teacher. Is “the right thing does itself” truly accurate? What exactly does “the right thing” refer to? Can we provide a rational (highly plausible) explanation that everyone can understand? Is it possible to actively lead to “the right thing” rather than relying on the process of elimination (inhibition)? And is there a way to obtain certainty that one is achieving “the right thing”?
After ten years of being a teacher, I have come to a clear understanding of “the right thing.” There is indeed an actual state of “the right thing,” and it can be rationally explained for others to understand. Rather than arriving at “the right thing” through a process of elimination, it is possible to reach it directly and actively. Moreover, we can be sure that we have reached that state.
Now that I understand this, my anxieties have disappeared. The other issue of “taking time” has also improved. Clients are now able to facilitate their own improvements with fewer lessons.
Of course, the ease of using the body remains. It can be readily applied to various activities. It can be applied to fast and powerful movements in sports, for example. Compared to when I carried the anxieties, my current level of satisfaction is significantly higher.
Teaching has also become concrete and clear, without convoluted explanations or Zen-like riddles. This has been big to me. It was extremely stressful for me to pass on something that I wasn’t genuinely convinced about to my clients.
Is the Alexander Technique simple?
Some teachers say, “The Alexander Technique is very simple.” But is it truly so? Could it be that the reason the Alexander Technique hasn’t become mainstream even after a hundred years is that it was “difficult to understand”?
One of the initial major challenges for teachers might have been, “How do I explain the Alexander Technique?” I believe every teacher has struggled with this aspect of explanation. That’s how challenging it is to grasp the thinking behind the existing Alexander Technique.
If we continue to hold onto the idea of “the right thing does itself,” we will likely be ignored by professionals in fields like physiotherapy and kinesiology. Comparative research studies have shown that the Alexander Technique is effective for lower back pain. However, if asked about the theory behind the Alexander Technique, the answer will inevitably include “the right thing does itself.” But individuals with a scientific background would immediately find this suspicious.
The ideal state sought through the Alexander Technique is indeed valuable and beneficial for us. There is no doubt about that. However, the theory (or the principles) behind it is the problem. Due to this, it seems that even the value of the AT is being compromised.
I would like to appeal to the teachers and trainees of the AT to question themselves once again. Is “the right thing does itself” truly correct, and is the method of relying on it the optimal solution?
The geocentric theory vs the heliocentric theory
Copernicus compiled the heliocentric theory, which replaced the previously believed geocentric theory. Although the geocentric theory was able to explain the movements of celestial bodies, it became increasingly complex. In contrast, the heliocentric theory provided a simpler explanation. As a result, the heliocentric theory came to be recognized as correct.
If one strives to explain something, it can be achieved to some extent. However, if it is not based on truth, there may be aspects that cannot be explained or the explanations may become complicated. The existing principles and concepts of the Alexander Technique, which are derived from F.M. Alexander’s ideas, may be complex, difficult to understand, and potentially not representing the truth. In my opinion, there could be alternative explanations that are closer to the truth, at least in some aspects.
An alternative hypothesis
I do not use the expression “right or wrong.” I use the terms “advantageous or disadvantageous.” There are advantageous ways of using the body, and they can be articulated concretely and clearly. You can practice them in various activities. There is a clear goal, and you simply move towards that goal. There are full of directions (intentions), but there is no “non-doing”.
What do you think? Isn’t it simpler? And you can achieve effects equal to or greater than existing Alexander Technique. You would be amazed at how wonderful it is to be free from uncertainty and suppressed anxiety.