The Alexander Journey: A Group Participation Poem

by John W. Creswell, Professor of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Author and Poet

Dedicated to Robert Rickover, Lincoln, Nebraska

ID-10068024To step out of my body
A journey back in time
To a natural poise
Like a baby
Sitting erect on the floor
Playing with a toy.

My teacher of the Alexander Technique
Asks me to assume this baby-like poise
Unlearn the bad habits of slumping
That cause my back to ache at the piano
That cause sleepless nights with stiffness in the morning.

His hands gently glide my neck upward
While he asks me to invite my neck to be free
Telling me that just thinking about a loose neck will free it
An unfamiliar mind-body connection
Learning to tune in to what my body says.

You can go on this journey, too
First slowly move your head forward
Until you feel the pressure in your chest
Then move your head slowly backward
Until you feel your neck muscles tighten
Then move it forward – ever so slightly –
Until you find a midpoint, a natural poise
Where the pressure neither binds backward or forward.

Or you may start dancing like Fred Astaire who gracefully led with his head
Or any graceful dancer, and feel the connection between your head and neck
You starting noticing these things:
The comfortable chair that keeps you erect without slumping
The piano player perched sitting on the front of the bench, bending from the hips, playing
with ease,
Or the golfer with relaxed hands barely holding the club and rotating easily through the
swing
The writer at a keyboard sitting on a high stool looking down gently at the monitor with
words flowing lightly,
The runner gliding long with light steps thinking not about the race but the neck,
The bareback horse rider with angled legs sitting erect,
Or the pregnant mother lying down to stretch out with a large
pillow under her legs and two books about four inches high propping
her head in a slight forward position.

It is a journey looking at all of these people and myself
To step away from our body and gain a greater awareness of it
To trust that we can ask it to be free
To know that a teacher can teach us
To see the world and ourselves differently
To journey to an unknown place.

Image courtesy of [akeeris] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]