“You’re strong!” my new students often say to me in surprise, as I easily lift them up into a sitting position from lying down on my massage table.This comment never ceases to amaze me, though, because my lifelong habit has been to believe that I am not strong at all. The little old voice in my head immediately starts laughing and saying things like, “Ha! Little do you know! Me? I have no muscles at all! I don’t even remember the last time I exercised! Me? Strong? That’s ridiculous!”etc., etc.
Funny thing is, the more I practice the Alexander Technique, the more I discover a deep, inner strength, which has very little to do with muscle-power, but which has a real, effective power to move and do things in this world that I never would have dreamed were possible. For instance, I remember very well admiring my first Alexander teacher many years ago, thinking to myself: “What an amazingly beautiful profession! He’s so lucky! I could never do that!!…and here I find myself, years later, teaching the Alexander Technique!
The way I see it, there are several essential components that combine with one another to access real, inner strength: (1) a very clear intention/goal, (2) a strong desire to carry out that intention/reach that goal, combined with (3) a strong refusal to do whatever gets in the way, (4) a letting go of the habitual effort associated with the desire…by patiently surrendering and trusting the deepest, most inner part of us that knows exactly how to bring about whatever it is we want done.
Example: When I want to lift someone up off the table, that interfering voice in my head that tells me I’m weak and can’t do it needs to be stopped. When I stop that self-defeating chatter, then I can focus on my goal. When I trust that there is an inner strength in me that can lift my student off the table, I need to surrender to that. I then release my muscles instead of tensing them, find the support of the floor, make contact with my student, and aim us both where I want us to end up, and suddenly, there we are.
- Is there something that you want to achieve in life, but believe it’s impossible because you’re too weak? Whether it’s creating your dream job or just lifting a heavy box?
- What would happen if you stopped believing the thoughts that you’re weak and incapable?
- Can you start trusting that there is a deeper, greater part of you inside (which may be quite dormant at the moment) which does actually have the required strength?
- Can you focus on your goal, stop the self-defeating inner chatter, trust your inner strength, and take the first step to take you in the direction of your goal?
- If you can take one baby step in that direction, can you trust that you can then take the next one?
- Do you see that letting go of habitual thoughts of weakness could potentially reveal a stronger Self?
Jennifer Roig-Francoli is a certified AT teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio. She teaches at the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, and at her private studio, Balance & Harmony Alexander Technique.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net