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WEEKLY STUDY TEXTS   Weeks 1 - 10 

Week 2 



"This is a practice of constructive rest in which calm, quietude and good coordination help you regain energy.


Lie on your back.


Place a support under your head - a small pillow, a folded towel, one or two books. Without this support your head might tilt too far backwards and down, exaggerating the curve of your neck, shortening your spine, and constricting your throat and your breath.


Bend your legs at the knees,  keep the soles of your feet down, and place your hands somewhere on your abdomen. In this position your body is stretched, lengthened, widened, supported and released.


Get into the habit of spending a few minutes, at home or in the office, in such  state of coordination, remaining alert and responsive, savouring the support of the floor and enjoying how your neck releases it’s frustration.


Lie on your back to listen to the radio or to have a long telephone conversation with a friend, to think or to meditate, to memorise a text or a page of music for a concert you must give, to calm yourself after a moment of stress or conflict, to have a good time in the presence of your own sweet self."   


(This extract is taken from the book ‘The Alexander Technique - A Skill for Life’  by Pedro De Alcantara)



“Now, you’re doing yourself harm because you’ve developed certain habits in the way you use your body which are actually destroying it’  (F.M.Alexander)

“The majority of people fall into a mechanical habit of thought quite as easily as they fall into the mechanical habit of body which is the immediate consequence.” (FM Alexander)

“The lure of the familiar proves too strong for us and keeps us tied down to the habitual use of ourselves which feels right. In other words the desire to feel right in the gaining of our ends becomes our primary desire”. (FM Alexander)



For Alexander the habit of body - the movement - is the immediate consequence of the thought that precedes and creates it.

… all of us can be trapped by the dominance of the procedures that we have used before. In the first place, as Alexander pointed out, the movements that we make create feelings. Over time, the feelings that are created by the movements that we make and the way that we make them come to feel familiar. It is this increasing sense of familiarity - not the appropriateness of the movement - that causes the way we have always moved to “feel right”. Alexander believed it was the desire to move in a way that produces this familiar feeling that leads to repeating previous movement strategies.

(Extract the book Reach Your Dreams by Donald Weed)





The word habit merits a little study. Like so many things it means different things in different contexts. We need habits in order to function. Most people have dozens of useful, healthy habits that structure their lives and make them comfortable. Let’s call them habits of attentiveness. They’re wonderful.


Now, we’ll suppose that over time you breathe, you suck in air through your mouth, making an audible sound like a little gasp. Every breath, all day long: suck in air, gasp, speak; suck in air, gasp, speak. This too we call a habit, although it’s completely different from your habits of attentiveness. This habit is an automatic reaction of which you’re not completely aware, and it affects your health negatively. Perhaps it leads to shortness of breath, or to a raspy and inaudible voice. Not so wonderful. Let’s call this a habit of misuse.


And we’ll suppose something else again. Perhaps you hate, hate public speaking of any sort, making a toast - horrible. Addressing two colleagues at a meeting - horrible. Best man at a wedding - horrible, horrible, horrible. It doesn’t matter how small or big an occasion, how important or how insubstantial the speech. You hate it, hate it, hate it. Even thinking about it makes you nervous. You get nervous imagining an imaginary event in the imaginable future where, in your imagination, you’d have to speak to an imagined public. Your discomfort is also a habit, although it’s very different from habits of attentiveness or habits of misuse. Let’s call it a habit of perception and reaction.


It’s said that we are creatures of habit, and this is true. More to the point, we’re creatures of many types of habit. Some habits are useful, some are useless, and some are downright harmful. Some habits are charming, some are annoying and some are disgusting. Some are vital, and some would merit your looking at them and finding a way to lessen or eliminate them.


We’ll zero in on one dimension of habit: the link between perception and reaction. You perceive a stimulus, and you react to it. You perceive a threat, and you react to it. You perceive what you subjectively consider a threat, and you react to it. You imagine a threat that becomes real in your feelings and sensations and you react to it. Reacting intelligently to a threat can be absolutely life-saving. But reacting automatically and habitually to an imagined threat is problematic. And how exactly to tell the difference between a real threat and an imagined one?


This is where non-doing becomes helpful. Perception …non-doing … make the choice … react! When you are experienced in the art of non-doing, this sequence can happen in a second or less. Until you get the hang of it, the sequence may take longer. Perception of a non-life-threatening situation … non-doing for a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a week …make a choice …react! Non- doing is difficult to explain and describe, since it’s so different from what we’re used to. It’s the sort of phenomenon or mechanism that we tend to describe through analogies and metaphors, through symbols and stories.


Your mind is a whiteboard. Non-doing means keeping the whiteboard clear of any writing, so that you can choose what to write. Or your mind is like a subterranean cave. Non-doing means keeping the cave empty of water, light, bats, insects and divers - empty, completely empty, so that you can choose what to let in. Non-doing is the poker face of the mind: it’ a sort of nothing, so that you can choose to bluff or not to bluff according to the situation. You don't want to bluff every single time, do you? The other guys will figure it out. You’ll lose. As I said, non-doing is difficult to explain!


By not letting habitual reactions take place, you can decide between all the choices available to you. Non-doing obviously affects your reactions, since it allows you to choose how to react. Less obvious is the fact that non-doing affects your perception as well. Like reactions, perceptions are subject to habit, and are distorted by it. You may have said of somebody, ‘He irritates me.’  It might be more accurate to say ‘I’m irritated by him.’ Better still ‘I allow myself to be automatically irritated by him.’ Non-doing might get you to this:I don't need to react to him, and if I do react it’s only because I want to.’ And finally: ‘I used to think he was irritating. I was wrong about him. He’s kind of OK.’ You have now changed not only your reactions, but your perceptions as well.


It’s revolutionary to understand that you have choices in the way you react to people, to events, to ideas, to thoughts and feelings. In fact, you have choices in reaction and in perception. I’m not saying it is easy to all the time - far from it. But the amazing, the marvellous, the incredible thing is that you do have choices at your disposal. Non-doing creates the conditions for you to exercise your choices and become your true self.

(Extract from the book ‘A Skill for Life’ by Pedro De Alcantara )





“Breaking habits is hard to do! Our nervous system is so adaptable that whatever we do over and over eventually comes to feel “right” even if it can ultimately be harmful to us. That makes our habits virtually invisible to us because we gravitate towards the safety of what’s familiar. It’s not our fault. It’s part of our survival wiring!”  


(Quote from Mio Morales)

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