When a new pupil comes to Moishe, he asks him some general questions; among the questions is this one: What the pupil expects to gain for the money the pupil is going to spend. “Gaining”, “money”; business – give and take – on the basis of using each other. This is the way all of them go. The “teacher” who “knows”, and sells the knowledge to the lay pupil, for good money. The “teacher” sells the knowledge how to do it right. This way is not based on cooperation, not on going together along the same way. For this activity the Conscious Control is not needed; so both – the “teacher” and the “pupil” – can feel safe and secured, as they continue to apply their habitual mental attitude, their habi-tual mental activity, in their Alexander Technique. Illusive realitiy nourishes itself, and by this multiplies itself.
It is necessary to explain the person who comes to “learn”, that there is no gaining – in the sense of looking for results – in the application of the F.M. Alexander Technique. Results are only milestones along the Way. The person should come to experience practically a constant active process, which demands an unconditioned awareness, a total awareness, awareness of the Whole, choiceless awareness. The habitual brain activity, which causes the misuse of the self, which is expressed in the malfunctioning of the body, should be neutralized (inhibited). This is what the “pupils” have to be aware of from moment “A”; they have to hear it from the first moment, and whenever it is needed – again and again. The pupils have to join the person who guides them along the way of investigation, exploration and experiences, in order to make their own discoveries – along the Way (!), while applying the Process. The pupils shouldn’t be told what they should discover or feel. This is sheer End-gaining. To tell the pupil what should be discovered or felt, is retaming, and not re-educating the self. The habitual conditioned mental attitude remains in command of the reactions to stimuli in general.
When a person comes to me and wishes to be cured from something which is considered by the conventional medical personal as an illness, as the cause of illhealth, I explain this person that in the “eyes” of the F.M. Alexander Technique, the complaint presented is a symptom of general misuse of the self as a whole, and that the F.M. Alexander Technique deals with the use of the self as a whole; that it is the re-education of the self via the employment of the Conscious Control, and by taking full responsibility for one self’s reactions to stimuli in life in general. It is the person’s business if he, or she, consulted a medical personal, or not. The F.M. Alexander Technique deals with the total responsibility of the self, not with the prevailing kind of responsibility among the, so called, civilized human beings. It is important to make it clear to the person who comes to get guidance, how to follow the Way (F.M.Alexander Technique), how to apply the Process (Means-whereby) as a whole, in life in general. Anyone who looks for ends and doesn’t give up (inhibit) the End-gainer’s mental attitude, doesn’t have any chance to really benefit from the F.M. Alexander Technique in its fathomless sense.
First of all, Moishe, your task is to apply the F.M. Alexander Technique in your life, in general – for yourself, and not as a job of teaching others something that you “know”. People should come not to be taught “how to do it right”; they should come to be guided to follow a way, by means of a process which the “guide” himself follows constantly, to go together, to cooperate with the “guide”; to be aware of the wrong in general, and to “inhibit” it (give it up, neutralize it) non-stop; to develop ever growing conscious control of the self – as a whole, and not of the body only.
Moishe, if you are really in the F.M. Alexander Technique, you should be aware of the fact that the reactions of the body and the visible movements “mirror” the brain activity – according to our mental attitude and state. The muscles without nerves are like meat in the butchery. The muscles react to the stimuli passing through the nerves from the brain. The reactions to the stimuli are messages from the brain – they are “directions”, guided by our subconsciousness. The Conscious Control should be the replacement of the subcons-cious control and guidance. This should be accepted primarily while dealing through the hands with the Primary Control; otherwise what you, Moishe, do is no more than physical culture guided by manipulation.
And concerning pains, aches, discomfort and bad feelings, as you – Moishe – don’t accept my experience, turn to Lulie Westfeldt’s book and her experience, which she describes there: pains, aches, discomfort, and bad feelings may be part and parcel of the Process; the process of improvement of the use of the self may be accompanied by such symptoms. Did you ever hear about the “Alexander gloom”? I call it “dark tunnels” along the Way. Normally this mental state is not easier to accept than physical pain.
Deep changes, basic changes – not superficial cosmetic changes – almost without ex-ception, are followed by confusion, insecurity, loss of the habitual balance, loss of the habitual knowing “who I am, as I am”. All this happens, unless the process which causes the changes is extremely slow or – doesn’t happen at all; and this is the case with all of you, Moishes of the, so called, “teachers” of Alexander Technique. Your pupils gain a lot – a lot of illusive reality, and they “feel much better” – but they are not better, in the terms of the real F.M. Alexander Technique.
Moishe teaches his pupils a new way of using themselves – so he says. But the way which F.M. Alexander discovered, is as a matter of fact, as old as life is. Human beings left it, ignored it, neglected it; therefore they had to create their illusive reality, in which the pre-vailing Alexander Technique can exist and grow. In this dummy Alexander Technique the acquired habits of use are not really inhibited; they only gain a new cover, a new shell, a new decoration.
Moishe’s pupils gain (!) a lot and feel better (!), if they are using what he taught them, in daily life. So what did they really gain ? What is gaining altogether ? Is it not the “End-gaining” in a new dress ? This End-gaining that should be “inhibited” is still there, “cele-brating” its continuous existence. And what does it mean to feel better ? What about the “Faulty Sensory Appreciation” and feeling good, or better ?
The people who cooperate with me feel better – they feel better what is wrong; they become more and more aware, deeper and deeper, with growing subtlety, of what is wrong. This is due to the development and vitality of their Conscious Control. Your pupils may “feel good”, as the patients of physiotherapists or chiropractors, or masseurs, feel better, or as the followers of Feldenkrais “feel good”.
What are physical pressures and tensions ? Do physical pressures and tensions exist separately from mental and emotional pressures ? Are not these above three connected with the activity of one’s brain ? The competitive society is our creation. “End-gaining” is our creation. “End-gaining”, competitive conditions in life, amibition, all of them are one; they are born and grow in the brain; they are nourished by the general mental attitude of our civilized societies, in all religions – including the Alexander Technique religion, that is practiced by the “church” of STAT, and it’s satellites all over the world. All of them are branches of the same tree: our fixed habitual mental attitude.
So the pressures and tensions that are expressed in our physics, in our body, are ori-ginated in our brain, in our mind, in our mental attitude. End-gaining is not a creation of Nature; it is not a natural “must”. End-gaining is a pervertion of the natural process, and it is a product of our habitual mental attitude, which is guided and controlled by our subcons-ciousness, by our unduly excited fear reflexes, by our uncontrolled emotions and fixed prejudices. And if someone can produce, somehow, the “Directions” properly through the hands and convey them to someone else, these “Directions” will get lost in the “unlimited space around the rigid armour” in the brain of the pupil. The “Directions” in the body can’t develop and continue in the pupil unless the “armour” in the brain is cracked and dissolved, till the pupil actively consents to adapt the Way and the Process. For this the application of the Constructive Conscious Control is needed; the practical intercourse with it is necessary – not intellectual “understanding”. And all of you, in the best case, speak or write about it, but practically work on the body! All of you are scared of the Whole, the Unknown; therefore you continue to apply your old habitual way in using yourselves in daily life, give it “face lifting” and cover it with heavy make up, and call it a new way. But what is really a “must”, is to be aware of the timeless way, the natural way – which is not new, nor old; this way just is.
When Moishe asks the person, who comes to learn from him, to perform it right, to do some physical activity, indeed this person will respond habitually (automatically, as Moishe puts it); it means, by stiffening the neck, pulling the head back and shortening the back. As this person is an “End-gainer”, and is habitually guided by subconscious control, he at once tries to obey and satisfy the authority, to be right, to be a “good child”. And when Moishe asks the fresh pupil, if he knows how he used his body, and not himself – as a whole – there is here a separation which leads afterward to practical Alexander Gym-nastics. The physical interference with the natural functioning of the Primary Control is born in the brain, and this should be explained to the pupil from the very beginning. When the sensory appreciation – which is what the brain does with the data received from the senses – is unreliable, the chance that the common “End-gainer” will be aware of his misuse is nil. No use to ask the pupil such question and to ask to repeat this “exercise”, and to pay attention to the way he does it, when the proper “Means-whereby” are not effective, yet, in the pupil. Anyhow – to pay attention is to concentrate, and concentration is a narrowing activity (see what F.M. Alexander wrote about “concentration”).
No use to try to imitate the pupil in order to show him what happened while he performed the required activity, as the pupil utterly lacks the experience and the observation for noti-cing what happened. Even letting the pupil put the hands on the neck and lower back of the teacher is of doubtful value, before the pupil had some experience of what it is all about. What should happen from the first moment, is to give practical “Directions” through the hands while explaining what it is all about; no shows, not being the clever and the important teacher.
The Primary Control is no more than the relationship between the head and the spine, which dictates the way the body functions in daily life. The Primary Control is not “neck free, head forward and up (forward and away in relation to the whole spine), and back lengthening and widening (spreading all over)”. These are the natural conditions – how Nature meant it to be and function. Human beings, mainly the, so called, civilized ones, misuse themselves in general. This affects the natural functioning of the Primary Control, which affects the functioning of the body. So good use, is not based on the Primary Con-trol; proper functioning of the body is the by-product of the natural relationship in the Primary Control. The interference in the natural functioning of the Primary Control is born in the brain. F.M. Alexander deals with it a lot in his writings, but all the Moishes, Carringtons, and all the rest of them, are eager to ignore it totally. It is too much for them to deal with it, too demanding….
To neutralize the wrong habitual reactions to stimuli in general, when they are just born in the brain – not when they already reached the body – this is the “Inhibition”, as F.M. Alexander called it. This activity should be an endless-timeless-measureless one. This “Inhibition” is not only for the benefit of the Primary Control; not only for the muscle reaction; not for the gymnastics of getting up, sitting down, bending, picking up the phone, etc. We have to “inhibit” the habitual “End-gainer’s” mental attitude in order to allow the urgent change necessary, which is essential for the natural existence of humanity to take place.
It is quite strange that Moishe uses (moves – as he puts it) his hands on the pupil in the first lesson just in order that the pupil will get used to the physical touch… What about “direc-ting” from moment “A” ? And while giving the pupil this new experience of “caressing”, does Moishe “direct” himself ? The touch, the contact of the hands should convey – conti-nuously – the “Directions”, should transmit the “Message”; it means that the Primary Con-trol should be “mirrored” in the hands; it is transmitted through the hands; the touch of the hands is for this purpose, and if a pupil has a difficulty to accept the touch, he will get used to it through the directing hands, or – he will leave.
“Directions”, “orders”, to “direct”, to “order” – in the F.M. Alexander Technique sense, indeed – what really happens, practically, when Moishe “directs”? And what really happens, when W.H.M. Carrington – the eel – “directs” ? I can assure you that both of them totally disagree with each other’s “Directions” – not verbally, but practically; and both are right in this respect. As I experienced practically the “Directions” each of them produce and convey through their hands to the person they “put” their hands on, there is no common denominator between the above two. This is why there is practical disagreement between the different “branches” of the “Alexander Technique”. They can meet and exchange work, learn “tricks” from each other, but at the end the basic disagreement remains – each one of them is sure that the others are not right – though all of them are sheltered within the “paper walls” of the same organisation – the STAT and its satellites. It is a matter of convenience and feeling secured. Chickens live in flocks.
In his book “The Use of the Self”, F.M. Alexander defines “direction” and “direct” in relation to “use” as a process which is involved in projecting messages from the brain to the mechanisms and in conducting the energy necessary to the use of the above mechanisms. These messages are conscious messages, which can be functional and effective only when the habitual subconscious messages are “inhibited” continuously, not just for the sake of performing movements only. So to “inhibit” is to “direct” as well. “Directions” are not only “Neckfreeheadforwardandupbacklengthenandwiden”. To “direct” is to “inhibit” the “cancer” of our general misuse – the “End-gaining”. For this our habitual mental attitude should be “inhibited”. Otherwise another wrong, which is considered as the right, takes place. Another wrong may feel good and produce relief of symptoms – and this is what the people of our civilization look for: not for a way, for a process which followi in it gives the chance to get rid of symptoms. These way and process are not intellectual activity; they are not active in words, not in mantras; and the “Directions” Moishe, and all the rest of them, ask to give in order to allow changes to take place, are no more than words, no more than mantras, no more than “cheque without cover”. So more illusions are born out of unchanged faulty sensory appreciation, out of unchanged mental attitude.
So Moishe mentions in the first lesson most of the “elements” which the Alexander Tech-nique is based on. But the “element” without which the F.M. Alexander Technique is a “body without the brain” is not mentioned: the Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual; in short – the Conscious Control. And not only Moishe does not deal with it, does not consider it, but all of them do so: ignoring the “element”, which dictates the
activity and the functioning of the rest of the “elements”, which “all together” form the real F.M. Alexander Technique – all of them together, and not “most”, or “some”…
And by the way – all what I read, and heard about the F.M. Alexander Technique – and it is a lot – deals very little, if at all, with the Conscious Control; and the little they deal with it, misses the meaning and the importance F.M. Alexander gives to it in his writings. One example can be found in the book of my own teacher – Patrick J. Macdonald.
And Moishe doesn’t mention the Faulty Sensory Appreciation, which causes us to accept and consider the wrong as right. This faulty (or untrustworthy, or unreliable) sensory appreciation which developed and is nourished by our unduly excited fear reflexes, by our uncontrolled emotions and fixed prejudices, is hardly considered and dealt with by the professional “Alexander technicians”.
In a way things don’t become clearer during the lessons. During many lessons – if it is the real F.M. Alexander Technique it becomes clearer that things should be cleared again and again – endlessly. It is like a road in dunes, which to keep it open for traffic, it should be cleared non stop. You can’t know the F.M. Alexander Technique – you have to live it, other-wise it leaves you.