This is an indirect procedure, and, as has already been shown, it involves the inhibition of familiar messages responsible for habitual familiar activity, and the substituting or these of unfamiliar messages responsible for new and unfamiliar activity. (The Universal Constant in Living, p. 12)
But instead of employing inhibition, he adds to his difficulties by renewing his efforts on the old basis to put right what he is told is wrong, and he actually employs increased force in accordance with his own estimate of the amount needed to perform the act. And why so? Chiefly because the ordinary human being has lost the habit of inhibition, and because he is guided here by his sense of feeling, in this connection the most unreliable guide. (Mans Supreme Inheritance, p. 158)
The Alexandrian sense of the word inhibition should be distinguished from the rather negative one which has become lodged in popular usage. It refers, simply, to a restraint on habitual, unthinking reaction. The process is a two-stage one. Firstly, we need to make a pause in our activities; we then need to identify and prevent any harmful habit associated with the action we are about to undertake.
Keith Hawkins, who describes himself as ‘a rather excitable sort of chap’ with difficulty speaking, says that if he forgets to pay attention his voice ‘goes pear-shaped’. ‘I must,’ he says, ‘remind myself to momentarily STOP talking, allow my breathing to normalise, relax my palate and use Alexander directions to regain my composure.’
Far from being restrictive, it becomes a liberating influence. in one case, occasionally ambushed by ‘emotional gusts’ in her Alexander Technique teacher training as she releases physical tension, learns to recognise these gusts as ‘yet another stimulus, yet another opportunity to inhibit and direct’. In our stories, saying ‘no’ to habitual patterns of response opens up a range of unexpected possibilities.