Over the past eighteen months, due to injury, I’ve been neither teacher nor pupil. During lockdown I could have seized the opportunity to learn and teach online, but having appointments with my computer seemed a waste of an opportunity to stop, pause and reflect – core principles of the Alexander Technique.
I started asking the question ‘what is the Alexander Technique beyond that of either teacher or pupil?’ I asked a few teachers. No-one seemed to know.
So, after six months mulling, here is my answer.
If you step out of the teacher pupil paradigm, what is left is self care and imagination. One leads to the other. Imagination is the gift at the very heart of the Alexander Technique.
The wonderful lessons learned in the traditional teacher pupil relationship are steps to free the imagination. So many amazing things are learned on the way.
Which begs the question what is the imagination?
Imagination is the ability to create pictures, to be able to see something that has not yet happened. Imagination is related to the word aim. Imagination is considered one of the most advanced aspects of human mind development.
So, the answer seems to be paint inspiring mind pictures and then have the courage to follow your vision. Visualise and go for it. Visualise directions.
Imagination has a voice, it whispers all day guiding us forward. Do we have the determination and courage to follow our imagination? Or do we override inspiration with rationalising, socialising, self doubt, anxiety, fear of missing out, comparison with others or any of the other myriad of distractions that make up life?
We argue for our limitations but how often do we champion our potential?
When I ride my horse I imagine amazing Para – Olympian riders balancing without legs or arms and riding beautifully and I know that I can overcome injury. I am inspired.
We wonder in awe at the spirit of people who transcend problems yet we stay stuck in our own smallness – in the paradigms that we create and accept without question. Frustration and disappointment threatens to engulf us. We call it normal and don’t change. Familiar becomes comfortable.
A skilled Alexander Technique teacher allows a pupil to float from a chair, seemingly by doing nothing. The teacher sees in her mind’s eye the movement potential. She has experienced it. Flowing, the body simply follows. The pupil is changed, learning another way to experience life. The imagination fired by the potential of something unknown, spacious and easy.
Being injured or a pandemic, for example, are invitations into the unknown. The things we took for granted feel in jeopardy. Life is no longer familiar and comfortable. Do we cling desperately to our habits hoping for a return to normality or allow something new?
More than ever we need to use creativity and resourcefulness. It is within us. It is who we are. Our imagination is creative, resourceful and free, unfettered by constraints – physical, financial, emotional or any others you would like to argue for.
The imagination is brave.
The imagination asks us to pursue our truth and light. It wants us to fly, yet we control it, refusing to even take off.
The imagination knows to choose freedom not fear. Creativity, courage and love are its banners.
The imagination invites us to know we are whole, no matter what.
No-one can rescue me from myself. The imagination is a key to opening the potential of self. Dwelling in the imagination to find new pictures, ideas to explore, aims to guide, takes a decision, that’s all, simply a decision.
To access imagination it is not to make yourself ‘do’ or ‘try to be creative’, but quietly wait and listen. To be present to space and see what emerges.
It’s OK to be scared, unsure, uncertain… sometimes we wobble. It is a wobbly world. Better to wobble than be fixed and stuck. Uncertainty and certainty together balance creativity. All creativity asks is that you make a start. Start by stopping to listen. Answers come. It’s an extraordinary gift to simply dwell in that potential.
It sounds so easy! Yet we impose limitations or let others impose limitations on us? We blame. We put ourselves down or let others.
The imagination is not about the confines of ego and so-called success. The imagination is not a people pleaser. The imagination is free, yet we cage it and thus imprison ourselves. There is no success in that.
It has taken me six months questioning the teacher pupil paradigm to begin to release myself from boundaries and roles that I have loved and find what is at the core of thirty years Alexander Technique practise.
‘Use your imagination!’
Not exactly profound is it! Or is it?
So many people sell self improvement, hurry up, limited offer type things these days. Imagination doesn’t need improving, it needs time spent with it. It wants to be trusted and will respond. Riches are in store.