Change, choice, and freedom… that’s how I got into the Alexander Technique.
When I was 20 years old and studying acting in London I was first introduced to the Alexander Technique.
I felt like I didn’t fit in my own skin. I was self conscious, awkward and not connected with myself.
As part of our acting curriculum each week we had three Alexander Technique lessons. We were told that all the great British stage actors studied the Technique. It helped make them great actors! (Hey – I thought if helped them, it would help me.)
We were also told that acting students at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts were required to take lessons, so of course it must be good.
I dutifully went to my lessons. I enjoyed them. I always felt better afterwards but I could never really explain why. To be quite honest this whole Alexander Technique seemed vague and unimportant, until one day…
This day I was walking out of the door of the basement studio where we had our lessons and there was this tree in front of me. Now I know that this will sound trite but it is true. It was as if my world went from black and white into Technicolor. This tree with green leaves and grey bark was more vivid and more alive than anything I could ever remember. The sky was bluer. The space around me was more profound. Time had slowed down and I felt more whole and more real than I had ever remembered feeling in my entire life!
It was an epiphany for me. I knew that my experience with that tree and that moment was because of the transformation I had gone through in my Alexander lesson. I will never forget the rest of my walk back to my student hostel where I lived. The world seemed more full, more alive, more vibrant as if it was humming. I felt more alive more energetic more buoyant and I wanted more of it! Who knew that releasing unnecessary habitual patterns of muscular tension could completely change my relationship with the world?
When I got back to the states my father, a skeptical orthopedic surgeon, said to me “I don’t know what you have been doing but keep doing it.” He could see that I was more comfortable in my skin. I wasn’t slouching and round shouldered like every teenage photo of me depicted. I was more confident and less awkward. I had changed and in a good way!
I graduated from Northwestern University and became an actress in Chicago’s hip off loop theatre scene but I kept coming back to the Technique. Hoping to support my acting career I decided to train as a teacher. But once I started teaching I realized that really I am a teacher and that my reasons for acting were actually my reasons to teach. I had wanted to be an actress to be able to give voice to human truths like justice, family, love and hurt. I took myself way too seriously and especially loved Greek drama. (Hey I was young!) I liked to do theatre that was thoughtful and could be a vehicle for change. Luckily I was a member and president of a small acting troupe where we presented these kinds of plays. When I started teaching the Alexander Technique I recognized that this work provided a deep and profound way to bring about changes in people’s lives. I could bring changes similar in scope and magnitude to my own transformation to other people who needed help! I had found a new voice. I had found a new calling and I loved it!
I have been teaching now for over 20 years. I could never overestimate the impact this technique has had on my life. As I get older I don’t have to opt out. I don’t suffer from any of the most common maladies like a sore back or stiff neck or painful knees. I don’t get migraines. I am very physically active and I have never had a sports injury. I’m in tip top form, rarely see the doctor and certainly never ever have had to go to a chiropractor. I often say that the Technique is a template for my life.
The tools that I have learned (and you too can learn) have brought depth and clarity to me and to my understanding of myself. Learning the Technique is really about learning about yourself.