Mindfulness Is The Alexander Technique
Mindfulness is all the rage these days. But how many people talking about this fashionable concept actually know what it is? Some people equate mindfulness with a form of meditation. Other people speak vaguely about the importance of “being with the present moment.” But almost no one talks about the practical benefits of mindfulness in daily living, or about how to bring mindfulness fully into our ordinary activities. So we could really benefit from having a simple tool to make mindfulness fully functional in our daily lives. The Alexander Technique is exactly the tool we need.
Each day, we spend our time sitting, standing, walking and lying down. We take these “simple” activities for granted. If we notice them at all, we file them away at the back of our minds as the unglamorous support for what really engages our attention. So sitting is just a means for working at our computer or taking a meal. Standing is a chore we perform while waiting for an elevator or riding on a train. Walking is merely a way to get from Point A to Point B while we text our friends or browse the Internet. Whatever mindfulness is, we can safely say it has nothing to do with this unconscious way of going about our lives.
Sleepwalking Through Life
Our habit of treating the acts of sitting, standing, walking or lying down as beneath our notice is quite harmful. First, whether we’re working at our computer or wandering on Broadway, the sitting or walking are what we’re actually doing. If we ignore the way we sit, stand and walk we’re missing a major part of our lives. Second, our proficiency with these “basic” activities may not be what we think it is. In other words, we could be actively hurting ourselves when we unconsciously and habitually sit, stand or walk. The damage from our unchecked habits can lead to pain and functional problems that limit our options and diminish our quality of life.
Waking Up With the Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique helps us to pay attention to, refine and enjoy our everyday activities. With the AT, we can be fully mindful as we sit, stand, walk and lie down. We can savor our experience on multiple levels. Sitting is not a means to an end — it is very much an end in itself, and that end is to not hurt our backs, impair our breathing or restrict our mobility. Standing retains its utilitarian aspect while also allowing us to notice and stop pulling our upper bodies down toward our phones. Walking still gets us from Point A to Point B while also giving us the chance to play with the way we transfer weight and direct our bodies forward in space. This kind of mindful movement can greatly enhance not only the quality of our day-to-day experience but also our functional capacity.