“It’s no use giving orders whilst you have an idea at the back of your brain of doing something”
FM Alexander Teaching Aphorisms
Preconceived ideas really get in the way of learning anything new. Fortunately when we decide to stop and prevent ourselves from doing something, we start unlearning these preconceived ideas. Preconceived ideas are basically judgements that we stick to. We fix on them. They can be physical, mental or spiritual. And we use them repeatedly to avoid thinking for ourselves.
Most of us choose to tense up and repeat our physical experiences instead of stopping and listening to what our bodies are telling us to do. The human race is perfectly content to hand out such physical dogma as “bend from the knees and keep a straight back” with no consideration of individual interpretation. And this is widely open to many different degrees of behaviour. One person's hips tipping back could be another's hips tipping forward.
How these ideas start carries more influence than definitions. Although definitions do help. Because no matter what the definition is without the understanding that we need to stop first there will always be an undercurrent of doing the preconceived idea first. Anyone can make observations and criticisms about the body. It doesn’t take very much knowledge.
For years FM Alexander knew all the problems, all the misdirection that was happening in his body when he was about to perform. It only made a difference when he made the decision to leave himself alone and not react to the stimulus to speaking (because of his stage fright). The same problem exists for many people who through various disciplines; core posture, Pilates, yoga, or tai chi for example try to dominate their bodies into performing a movement.
The posture you can hold at the beginning of most tai chi forms is a good example of a dominating influence, even though it’s carried out in a gentle or slow way. It’s difficult to throw away these preconceived ideas because it feels like they are part of who we are. It can feel like you’re attacking the very essence of yourself. But you’re not. Our ego gets all of this tied up together and mixes up many things. This is how we end up competing for things we don’t want. It makes us feel empty even when we’ve won. We haven’t really satisfied our needs.
This isn’t an excuse to go back into the past and regret everything you ever did! You have to stay in the present with yourself. But you do need to become aware of past thoughts learned or not, influencing your thoughts now. It’s not that you have to throw them away completely, but you might need to do that to see that you do have a choice not to do something the way it’s always been done.
So what are some good examples of preconceived ideas? It could be anything for example how we use a computer. Usually fitting ourselves around it instead of it around us. Comedies usually depend on preconceived ideas being torn down by stark opposites.
I can remember when I first handled a golden eagle, I had to put on two layers of leather hand and arm guards to handle him. I thought he was going to grip my arm very hard. But my experience was very different. Most of the time the eagle kept his talons remarkably soft and unflexed. Only when he became off balance did he show a slight grip on my arm. This is because he was constantly sizing up pigeons for lunch. I could tell he was wildly strong and was only showing a small flex of his full capability. Stronger than just about anything else I’ve come across. But the experience was very different from the expectation. So when something surprises you, allow yourself to be surprised.
Hi, I'm Edward Fisher and I believe that everyone can have a life free from back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and many other musculoskeletal pain related conditions. I recovered from slipped discs and sciatica. I spent 10 months being unable to walk. After 3 months of Alexander Technique I was walking again. Now I show others how to overcome their own pain related conditions for themselves.
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