~by Kristen Fryer
For those of you who have barely even heard the term Alexander Technique, you are blissfully unaware of our trade organizations and our differences. To you we are one TINY Alexander family. For us, there are wonderful realms and chasms to explore within different organizations, teachers trained by other masters and teachers who apply the technique to other modalities. For instance, I am an Alexander Teacher who applies The Alexander Technique to her Pilates’ clients and energy healing modalities and one of my good friends applies the technique to musicians and stage fright.
In October I had an opportunity to study with the founder of Alexander Technique International (a different Alexander organization from my own) in Boston. Tommy Thompson, a well-known Alexander Teacher on faculty at Harvard, teaches grad students from the drama department and has taught over 400 workshops in 14 different countries AND he’s warm, hysterically funny and great to be around!! I was glad to get out of my own interests and see and hear new perspectives on the Technique that I love so much.
As I look back over my notes from October there were many things that I gleaned from Tommy’s approach to this work. However, the concept that I took away with me that I hold dear to my heart is the level of COMPASSION he brings to the technique. I have no idea what I was expecting but it wasn’t what I received. I just left feeling easier on myself and on my students. As teachers we can get caught up in wanting to give our students a lesson to remember- life changing, thrilling lessons– and the more we get caught up in the end result, the less the lesson is about the student and the MORE it becomes about the teacher!! Ultimately your lesson ends being rated a “meh”, or “okay”, but far from life changing.
So according Tommy, when Alexander teachers put hands-on their students they must first have trust in themselves so that they can trust their students. We are beings first and foremost and we deserve not to be manipulated or made to feel less than by any teacher. Tommy says, “The Being precedes the doing.” This statement captures a compassionate approach to the Alexander Technique along with other Tommyism’s such as, “Withold definition of what you SHOULD be doing.” In other words just “be” for a minute. My greatest experience at the workshop was being gently supported by Tommy while my body led itself through an unwinding process. My perfect body knew just where it needed to go to unwind my back injury that I’ve lived with for 21 years. I have not felt any weakness or pain in this spot since October and so for me it was a miracle. I did it myself, I knew the answer all along, but I hadn’t been focused enough on “being”. Tommy created the space, was patient with my process and allowed me to open up. I am eternally grateful and excited that he is coming to Cincinnati this April and I’m looking forward to whatever tricks he has up his sleeves.
If you are looking for your own experience with Tommy, he will be in Cincinnati, Ohio April 4-7. He’ll be teaching a workshop to Alexander teachers the 4th through the 6th and private lessons on the 7th. Check out this website if you are interested: https://sites.google.com/site/tommythompsoncincinnati/