Today a student and I were discussing the learning and discovering that occurs during an Alexander lesson. Delight and pleasure were high on the list this morning - for both of us. The thing I want to share here is the - to me - wonderful few minutes we had in being with a new word.... Well, a new word for an old word - 'inhibition'. That Word that is probably one of the main defining features of the Alexander Technique. But the word that trips so many up - mostly on the path to even considering lessons! Whilst it may have been a Very Good Word in 1920, and it might be a Very Good Word in scientific circles now, it's not a word that has people rushing to book an appointment. "I'm going to my inhibition class" is likely to lose friends rather than gain them! 'Heck, what if some of that rubbed off on me...?!?' might be the thought!
Still here...?! I do hope so; this is magical life-changing stuff!... So, conscious inhibition is the 'non-doing' of anything that prevent us from (in this case) successfully picking up the cup. It's not the suppressing of excess movement, it's the process by which not too much movement happens in the first place.
I often say it like this in lessons: Imagine you're about to drive away in your car. It's stationary, and you're on level ground. You have the engine ticking over, gears in neutral, you don't have your foot on any pedals, and you're just being there - not going anywhere, yet. Or you can be in your car with the handbrake on, foot on the footbrake, and a wheel-clamp on the wheels and a couple of bricks in front of the tyres for good measure. You then rev the car like crazy, slip the clutch, have smoke pouring out of the engine compartment, hear the squealing, uncomfortable engine, and yes, you don't go anywhere, but to what cost!?! The latter is suppression, fixing, resisting. The former is inhibition - the art of doing nothing more than is needed in any given moment.
So, in an Alexander lesson, you are discovering all your 'handbrake ons' and 'accelerator revvings' and letting them come to a stop - metaphorically taking your hands and feet off everything. Then letting them not doing anything at all. Then letting them do only what's needed to have you move off on your journey. It's about 'un-learning the old' - inhibiting the old - living in an absence of excess.....
|Walking in, with, and as humility....|
There, inhibition's not such a scary word after all, is it? Just long, old-fashioned, and cumbersome. So today in the lesson, we were playing with other words, and my student was using one I'd not really thought about before as being 'inhibition'..... "Humility". To sit with humility. To drive as humility, to walk across the room to the ringing telephone in humility. I like this - I love the simple-simplicity, the surrender, the acceptance in it. It reveals this truth: I either walk, or I don't walk - always my choice. And if I walk in humility, I am saying 'yes' to the activity with my whole self; yet walking with only what is needed to walk - no more and no less. I am not "resisting walking to the 'phone, but going to do it anyway, because what if I don't answer and it's important..." I'm not pushing and shoving with my legs, hardening in my body as I walk because I just don't yet know that none of that is necessary to walk to the 'phone... Humility is just the absence of everything that gets in the way of my simple stepping across the room and saying 'Hello'.
Humility - I like you. You have a raft of quite dreadful synonyms in Thesaurus, but I just don't think people 'get' you. However, the one word there that describes you well is 'non-resistance'. So, I still like you. Thank you for being. And thank you to my student for the lovely gift of this word today.