‘Lean on me …. We all need somebody to lean on’ – A lyric! A truth?
What happens if someone leans on you? Can you look after yourself? Or will that leaning push you over, cause you to crumple, to collapse? Will you feel resentment or stress from the pressure of someone leaning? And what if you lean and the support is taken away, or not there? Will you fall? …
Teaching the other day, I noticed, as my pupil talked about the stress she was feeling from her friend leaning on her emotionally, that physically her whole structure de-powered too. Literally, within the thoughts of the emotionally difficult situation, she lost her inner power, her poise, her balance, her solidity, her ‘self’. She described herself as crumpling and withering under the strain of the relationship. She looked in pain.
I have been developing my teaching over the years based on understanding the simplicity, power and application of Alexander’s direction ‘forward and up’. Much of this teaching is done hands-off, and came about from teaching Alexander Technique to children in a school context, where traditional ‘hands-on’ Alexander Technique is not possible.
As we took the ‘forward and up’ lessons into the consideration of the difficult situation, she became clearer and clearer about what was happening psycho-physically, observing the effects of the unbalanced relationship with her friend. There were several ‘Aha’ moments. I then spontaneously decided to physically lean on her from the side. What happened? Well she started to collapse of course. I asked her to push back, to do what was needed to look after herself and not let herself be leaned on.
Something amazing happened.
As she pushed back and uprighted her own physical structure, mine righted itself too. We both stood side by side perfectly in balance. As the leaner, I literally ‘popped’ into balance as she came into balance.
We swapped roles, to observe how it felt being the leaner and the leaned upon. We noticed that it takes a real mental and physical decision to decide not to be leaned on, but to look after your own balance instead. And that decision brought with it poise and a feeling of happiness.
It was a wonderful physical metaphor and moment, because it was so clear to us both that it is by learning to look after ourselves we truly look after another. We both felt whole and complete. (I am looking forward to doing more experiments with this, and wanted to write this blog as much for myself as anything so as to not forget.)
So those lyrics, perhaps rewritten would be ‘don’t lean on me if you need a friend’, let’s help each other stand in our own truth, balance and power instead, even if it takes a bit of sustained conscious psycho-physical ‘effort’, a bit of a push from ground level to think ourselves up!
I came out of that teaching situation thinking for the umpteenth time that the Alexander Technique is wonderful – so simple and profound, an ongoing journey of self discovery.
(Funny that the song ‘Lean on Me’ was written by a man named Bill Withers!)
If you have never had an Alexander Technique lesson, I would recommend it as number 1 on your 2018 bucket list! Find a teacher in your area.
Lessons and workshops available
Media downloads on my website
or join my blog
Chimps, Oil on Canvas by Kirsten Harris