The Alexander Technique was developed in the 1800’s to help actors improve their posture and coordination. Now it’s gaining popularity among meditators.
Two things often go wrong once someone has received meditation instruction telling them how to hold their bodies and breathe. The first is that they receive the instruction in a rigid way and take up a posture that is a narrow imitation of the one they imagine being described. The second is that whatever rigid approach they take up in the beginning then becomes a tightly held habit, one that can take a lifetime to break. This can limit one’s practice and also lead to physical pain and even injury.
The deeper goal is to free ourselves from habitual reactions to the moment-to-moment challenges of our daily lives, whether we are sitting still in meditation or running a marathon.
Step 1: Become aware of the contact of your sit bones with whatever surface they are touching. Notice whether your pelvis is easily upright, or rolled under, or arched with the top tipped forward. Allow any tension around the sit bones to diminish. Let go of any tension holding the legs and pelvis together, particularly around the inner thighs and the tops of the thighs. Try gently rocking slightly backward and forward on your sit bones, with your pelvis and spine as a single unit. Even when sitting still, imagine that there is enough freedom between legs and pelvis that you could rock forward and back.
Step 2: Next, imagine water flowing up the spine from the firm foundation of the pelvis. Let the water support the skull as if it is unfixed from the top of the spine. Let the crown of the head be gently raised up by the stream of water so the head tilts slightly forward and the back of the neck lengthens slightly back and up.
Step 3: As you sense the support from your spine, let your awareness fill the whole three-dimensional volume of your body, then let it expand further so you have a sense of the space around you. Let go of the content of your thoughts and allow yourself to feel your thoughts in your body, so that you experience them as ripples within the energy field of your body rather than as noises in your head. In this way, you can begin to let go of the habitual feeling of your body as a kind of dense, isolated physical object with thoughts going on in a separate mind and tune in to the experience of your body as a living, breathing, open energy field, always relating to the environment around it. This is a part of awakening to your true self: whole, open, and alive.
You can learn more about the Alexander Technique and find local teachers by visiting alexandertechnique.com.