Free Won’t – Your Key to Fulfilling New Year Resolutions

~by David Nesmith~

The Alexander Technique is a practical pedagogy for recovering your natural potential for ease, efficiency, balance, and choice. Nature endowed us with the capacity to reason and to choose. This capacity is found at a neurological level in our brain. For example, the cerebellum, which is largely responsible for coordinating muscle movement, contains around 20% of its neurons for volition or excitation (doing) of movement and 80% for inhibition or stopping (non-doing) a movement or action. (Ask your friendly physiologist!) Therefore, there are more neurons for NOT doing, than doing. This realization ought to cause us to pause and consider, hence inhibit and think for a change!

Another very interesting thing to note is that at the moment we are conscious of the desire to do an action, our brain has been mobilizing for doing that action perhaps a half second BEFORE the desire hits our consciousness. (Ask your neighborly neuroscientist!) So perhaps we have less “free will” than we think. Maybe our capacity for choice ought to be called “free won’t” because what we are really doing in a vast majority of cases is saying, “no” to a neurological motivation already in progress. The key is to pause long enough to consider our options, while establishing our poise. Here’s a way to practice this.

The Inhibition Game

  1. Pause and notice what’s happening right now, without judgement, and think:
  2. Easy neck, easy eyes, easy breath
  3. Recognize or introduce a stimulus, for example:
    1. I want another piece of chocolate
    2. But say ‘no’ to reacting immediately
  4. Easy neck, easy eyes, easy breath
  5. To truly have choice, consider at least three options:
    1. Eat the chocolate with full consciousness and poise
    2. Select a do-able alternative, such as eating a piece of fruit with full consciousness and poise
    3. Do nothing with full consciousness and poise, perhaps realizing you aren’t really hungry or that you have other primary values in that moment.
  6. Easy neck, easy eyes, easy breath
  7. Decide and carry out your choice with full consciousness and poise
  8. Easy neck, easy eyes, easy breath

Practice this at least three times per day for 21 days to gain confidence and mastery. Of course you could even play The Inhibition Game with the stimulus to play The Inhibition Game, however . . .

Constructive Rest

Constructive Rest

Another very productive way to practice inhibition, the power of choice, is to do Constructive Rest. We can all use more constructive pauses in our day. CR is a great way to slow down, clarify intentions and restore balance. Over the last several years, I have created and produced a progressive series of high-quality audio guides and apps to help you achieve balance and choice in your life through Constructive Rest. These guides were specifically designed to be used in the comfort and privacy of your home or office and are available on iTunes®, the App Store℠, and Google Play™. To learn more about Constructive Rest and find easy links to all the audio guides, visit:

New Year resolutions don’t have to be regrettable. Slow down, lie down, and truly think for a change!

David Nesmith photoDavid Nesmith, BM, MM, ATI Certified, is a professional musician and has been teaching The Alexander Technique since 2001. He is the author of The Breathing Book for Horn and the creator/producer of Constructive Rest: The Audio Guide Series. He teaches at Denison University (Granville, Ohio USA) and maintains a private teaching practice at Columbus, Ohio USA. He is available for lessons (in person and via Skype) and group workshops.

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