Alexander Technique

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  • Taigu
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
    • Aug 2008
    • 2710

    Alexander Technique

    [youtube] [/youtube]



    Now, let me be very clear. Treeleaf is not supporting this or that, and by all means, everybody here is free to use yoga, Pilates or anything if needed to sit and live better. All I want is to introduce you to what was presented to me by my teacher years ago and made such a radical change in my life.

    The fact is that my teacher, Mike Chodo Cross, fell off with Nishijima and pretty much everybody that disagreed with him at some stage. He comes across as a strong and sometimes quite angry person, cursing this and that. The fact is that, apart from this shadow, the guy is an amazing teacher, a great sitter who not only understands Dogen like nobody else, but also can teach you how to free yourself from this compulsion of being right and wake you up. His hands, his guidance, the endless patience he had with me made it possible to sit and live painfree and also to gain a deeper understanding of Dogen's teachings. Hands on. A good Alexander Technique teacher is a rare find, but once you find one, your life might never be the same again. I owe him sooooo much.

    To cut a long story short I was cursed with back troubles from a very young age and all through my early years of sitting, I often had to stop any activity and just stay in bed. That bad... I once picked up a translation of Shobogenzo from a chap living in England, on the other side of London, and red that he was a Zen teacher and an Alexander Technique teacher. I was a bit familiar with the tecnique through many musicians I met and who learned to play their instrument without all the misuse that generally ends up with major trauma and injuries. I was really searching for something that could help me. I rang the guy. He invited me to come and the story started...

    I often use the Technique and although I never trained I daily follow its principles and directions as much as I can, and fail of course so many times. A few days ago I manage in just a few seconds to stop a huge back ache that was starting to creep and grip my entire torso. Just using direction and inhibition.

    So here are two videos of the older student of FM Alexander who used to teach in America, a kind of Joko Beck of the Technique...
    You might get an idea of what the Technique involves and what it does. Many priests, in Japan, America and Europe have started to discover the incdrebile benefits of this way of moving and being. Of course, you may sit without any difficulty from the start and Zen doesn't need the Technique. Nevertheless, in my clouded eyes, the understanding and experience of zazen as a fluid, changing and dynamic practice are greatly helped by the Technique.

    gassho


    Taigu



    ]

    [youtube] [/youtube]
  • Ryumon
    Member
    • Apr 2007
    • 1706

    #2
    Re: Alexander Technique

    Originally posted by Taigu
    the understanding and experience of zazen as a fluid, changing and dynamic practice are greatly helped by the Technique.
    As I've said elsewhere, I had regular Alexander lessons for about 6 months, back in 1989 (the same year I discovered the dharma), several months in 1993-4, and some lessons after that at different times. I find that the Alexander Technique is a sort of zazen for moving and for posture.

    Like Taigu, I have had back problems - a mild scoliosis, coupled with a neurological issue, have given me serious back pain over the years. While I don't consciously practice the technique regularly, I do have its concepts integrated into my mind. Not that I grok it fully or anything, but the basic concept of the Technique is very zen-like. "Let the head go forward and up..." It's the "let" that is important; instead of doing, you are non-doing.

    I'd recommend that anyone who's really curious read a book by F. M. Alexander called The Use of the Self (http://www.amazon.com/Use-Self-F-M-Alex ... 0752843915). It's old, it's written in a clunky style, but it has some wonderful insights.

    Also, learn the "semi-supine" position to relax your back:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zfgg67dOsro[/video]]

    (A Google search will lead you to other videos and text explanations.)

    It's a powerful relaxation tool, and one I use regularly.

    Also, many Alexander teachers will give a free or discounted first lesson. I'd recommend trying it if you can find a teacher locally.
    ---
    Ryūmon (Kirk)
    流文

    SAT/LAH

    I know nothing.

    Comment

    • Taigu
      Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
      • Aug 2008
      • 2710

      #3
      Re: Alexander Technique

      Thank you Kirkmc,

      The whole thing about the Technique is that reality is ot not what you think reality is.
      Very Zen like indeed.

      There is no clear way of sitting, standing, being.

      The Technique teaches people to act out of I don't know.

      If an alien would ask me what should I do while i am on earth?

      I would answer something like: sit Zen, learn the technique and have fun (whatever...fun means for you).




      gassho


      T.

      Comment

      • Myozan Kodo
        Friend of Treeleaf
        • May 2010
        • 1901

        #4
        Re: Alexander Technique

        Hi Taigu,
        I don't tend to have pain sitting. That does not matter. I'd like to find out more about the Technique. A friend says he has a great teacher. I must go for a consultation some time.
        Gassho
        Soen

        Comment

        • Taigu
          Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
          • Aug 2008
          • 2710

          #5
          Re: Alexander Technique

          The best is to find a good teacher and take a few lessons. Don t hesitate too long, it might totally revolutionize the way you sit ( i am sure it will).

          Gassho

          Taigu

          Comment

          • Kaishin
            Member
            • Dec 2010
            • 2322

            #6
            Re: Alexander Technique

            I do have back/rib pain once I hit the 20 minute mark while sitting. Being overweight and inflexible doesn't help! I did a search and there is an AT therapist in my city, I might check it out. I am always skeptical of "therapies," but I'll trust the source here
            Thanks,
            Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
            Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

            Comment

            • Ryumon
              Member
              • Apr 2007
              • 1706

              #7
              Re: Alexander Technique

              Originally posted by Matto
              I do have back/rib pain once I hit the 20 minute mark while sitting. Being overweight and inflexible doesn't help! I did a search and there is an AT therapist in my city, I might check it out. I am always skeptical of "therapies," but I'll trust the source here
              It is not a therapy; not at all. It can be used to help with physical pain, but the goal is more like zazen in movement.

              Hard to explain... kinda like that zen stuff.
              ---
              Ryūmon (Kirk)
              流文

              SAT/LAH

              I know nothing.

              Comment

              • Dokan
                Friend of Treeleaf
                • Dec 2010
                • 1222

                #8
                Re: Alexander Technique

                I recently started to learn the shakuhachi (bamboo flute). My particular interest is in the honkyoku (original pieces) and am currently learning Kyorei, which, while only about 60 notes can last approximately 12 minutes. So the required volume of breath is quite large. As such, and remembering this thread, I have decided to look into the AT with the quadruple benefit to my suizen, zazen, sewing practice (my back hurts after sitting so concentrated for a long time) and for my job. I found a teacher here in Dallas, Phyllis Richmond. I have asked her about private lessons and am also inquiring with my employer about them covering the cost, being as I sit at a computer 99% of my work day and posture improvements could greatly help.

                Has anyone else recently gone through the training? Thank you Kirk for that book link, I have also downloaded and read a few more on my Kindle to read on the matter, but every one of them says the same thing, that you really need to have lessons from an instructor. So here I am!

                It appears that Mrs. Richmond has a great deal of experience, but I welcome any guidance on choosing an instructor.

                Thanks in advance.

                gassho,

                Shawn
                We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
                ~Anaïs Nin

                Comment

                • Taigu
                  Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
                  • Aug 2008
                  • 2710

                  #9
                  Re: Alexander Technique

                  Hi Shawn,

                  So glad to hear this. There is no training per see, just lessons in which the teacher uses her/his hands and vocal instructions to guide the student through an exploration of his use and misuse. The work or undoing is entirely yours, up to you to be aware of this lifelong habits that restrain your life. Nothing is invasive about the technique, the release is done through an indirect procedure of stopping, wishing, allowing, letting. Inhibition of bad habits, direction are the two most important aspects of the Technique.
                  The most interesting book I red so far is this one:
                  http://www.amazon.com/Indirect-Procedur ... 106&sr=8-2

                  have a great journey and I bet you won't regret it.
                  By the way you will have to start with dropping this heavy endgaining of yours: "the quadruple benefit" will be found if you drop any idea of milking anything from that cow.

                  gassho


                  Taigu

                  Comment

                  • Dokan
                    Friend of Treeleaf
                    • Dec 2010
                    • 1222

                    #10
                    Re: Alexander Technique

                    Originally posted by Taigu
                    By the way you will have to start with dropping this heavy endgaining of yours: "the quadruple benefit" will be found if you drop any idea of milking anything from that cow.
                    Haha! Wonderful. Thank you once again sensei.

                    Gassho

                    Shawn
                    We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
                    ~Anaïs Nin

                    Comment

                    • Dokan
                      Friend of Treeleaf
                      • Dec 2010
                      • 1222

                      #11
                      Re: Alexander Technique

                      Hi all,

                      I've been taking AT lessons for a few weeks now and practicing regularly. Well really, all the time I'm mindful. But specifically techniques like semi-supine (or at rest) before zazen and when I need to 'reset' my spine. I wanted to briefly share with you a book I am reading that I really am enjoying. As being new to AT, there is a vast field of information I'm only beginning to understand, but this book has been wonderful in explaining things clearly and visually. I have both the Kindle version & the soft copy. I would highly recommend the soft copy as the illustrations are wonderful and the CD in the back gives guided training on the technique.

                      While I believe it's most beneficial to have the gentle and guiding hands of an experienced teacher, for those who maybe do not have the financial, time or other capabilities, this book is only $16 USD and so fairly reasonable should you be interested.

                      Body, Breath & Being by Nicholls

                      Again, it's definitely a beginners book and while it has some theory, it's mostly application.

                      Have a wonderful practice,

                      Gassho,

                      Shawn
                      We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
                      ~Anaïs Nin

                      Comment

                      • KellyRok
                        Member
                        • Jul 2008
                        • 1374

                        #12
                        Re: Alexander Technique

                        Hello all,

                        I've been trying to find time, resources, energy...yes, all excuses...to begin this practice. Thank you Taigu and Shawn for these resources and advice! I feel I would benefit greatly from this practice, just need to get over some mental blocks in the starting. I have tried so many things. I exercise daily, I do yoga, I've tried to learn some Qigong from the internet and other resources...yet I still experience back troubles. So I get frustrated, pigheaded, and convince myself that it doesn't matter what I do, that I still will have these issues. That may be so, but maybe this time would be different. Might be a good time to add this to my Ango practices...

                        thank you all for your time and inspiration yet again,
                        Kelly/Jinmei

                        Comment

                        • Kaishin
                          Member
                          • Dec 2010
                          • 2322

                          #13
                          Re: Alexander Technique

                          Thanks for the link, Shawn. I will check it out.
                          Thanks,
                          Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
                          Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

                          Comment

                          • Ryumon
                            Member
                            • Apr 2007
                            • 1706

                            #14
                            Re: Alexander Technique

                            Originally posted by KellyRok
                            Hello all,

                            I've been trying to find time, resources, energy...yes, all excuses...to begin this practice. Thank you Taigu and Shawn for these resources and advice! I feel I would benefit greatly from this practice, just need to get over some mental blocks in the starting. I have tried so many things. I exercise daily, I do yoga, I've tried to learn some Qigong from the internet and other resources...yet I still experience back troubles. So I get frustrated, pigheaded, and convince myself that it doesn't matter what I do, that I still will have these issues. That may be so, but maybe this time would be different. Might be a good time to add this to my Ango practices...
                            It's entirely possible that no matter what you do, you _will_ still have the back problems. Some back problems can be corrected by improving posture, but others can't, and are the result of purely mechanical issues. In my case, I have a mild scoliosis which has led to a nerve being pinched. While improving posture certainly helps, it's wrong to think that it will correct the problem. I think there's a much-too-common belief that back problems are only psychological (in fact, there are a few very popular books that say just that). If you do have problems, it is really useful to see a rheumatologist and get x-rays, scans or MRIs, so you do know if it's something that can be corrected. In my case, getting an MRI led to me realizing that I absolutely _shouldn't_ be doing many yoga poses, that they can be very harmful.
                            ---
                            Ryūmon (Kirk)
                            流文

                            SAT/LAH

                            I know nothing.

                            Comment

                            • Myoku
                              Member
                              • Jul 2010
                              • 1487

                              #15
                              Re: Alexander Technique

                              Thanks Shawn, definitely interesting!
                              _()_
                              Peter

                              Comment

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