Supposing that the ‘end’ I decided to work for was to speak a certain sentence, I would start in the same way as before and (I) inhibit any immediate response to the stimulus to speak the sentence, (2) project in their sequence the directions for the primary control which I had reasoned out as being best for the purpose of bringing about the new and improved use of myself in speaking, and (3) continue to project these directions until I believed I was sufficiently au fait with them to employ them or the purpose of gaining my end and speaking the sentence. (The Use of the Self 1932, p. 45)
Sending directions is a mental activity of a particular kind which has an effect on the particular parts of the body involved in those directions. One example is Alexander’s primary directions, ‘Let the neck be free to let the head go forward and up to lengthen and widen the back’, which, expressed slightly differently (and using the concept of inhibition) implies inhibiting the tendency to contract the neck and compress the spine. However, it can be much more than just physical.
Directing our mind, body and life amounts to projecting something that is larger than us, stretching the envelope of life and changing our entire self and body image. Once we tap into what is beyond, we can tend in that direction without feeling that we must inevitably ‘arrive’ and without fear of failure.
one student said that she ‘had always thought that my body carried me around, not that I carried my body around or that I could control it’. Lessons allowed her to realise ‘how much easier stuff could be if I lengthened myself and how much freer, how much stronger I could be’.
Another student treasures a particular memory: 'the first time I went on a long hill walk shortly after beginning the Alexander Technique, I followed my teacher’s advice to remember “head, neck and back” as I walked and to be conscious of my body throughout the walk.'
Being present, being engaged directing ourselves ‘toward’ -allows flexibility and grace, fluidity and adaptability in action and in life.