Spring is the time to awaken! This has been an amazing year, would you agree? Who would have guessed that general outdoor communication would be with our eyes only! Masks do that. And have you noticed that it is harder to hear the attendant at the post office too? Either I am going deaf, or I never noticed how much hearing has to do with reading lips. I have renewed appreciation for the senses…our sight, our hearing, our smell, our touch.
We have been particularly alerted to smell this year, as the first symptom to notice whether we have contracted Covid. Smell is definitely a sense I take for granted, (although being a foodie, I know that smell is a huge factor for the enjoyment of food. Just think of a time when you had a cold and couldn’t smell anything!).
I put breath in the smell category too. Like when you smell bread baking, and take a deep wiff of the amazing and tantalizing aroma that fills the air, or the delight of apples and cinnamon simmering on the stove. Or going outside in the middle of winter, and feeling breath deep into the lungs, then taking in the smells all around.
One of the gifts I have received this year has been the ability to go out into the woods and walk. I particularly remember one Autumn day when the falling leaves on the maple trees were bright yellow/orange, creating a canopy of beauty through which to move. That gift of nature mended an otherwise dulled state of being, having been essentially trapped in the house for months with little respite. The sounds were poignant too. My feet walking on the grass, then stepping onto a branch, hearing the little snap of the twigs. Illuminated sound, taking in the totality of the day, myself breathing, walking, feeling air in the lungs, moving to the rhythm of my own walking.
These things have been greatly heightened for me in this year of Covid. My mother likes to remind me that “every cloud has a silver lining”, and I do appreciate her willingness to see the bright side of life. I have definitely felt more, sensed more, become more aware as the days and months have slowly turned. And isn’t this truly the gift that expanded awareness brings?
This is why we meditate, and why we “work on ourselves” in Alexander-speak. After more than 30 years of applying The Alexander Technique for my own well being, and in helping others discover change as well, I can truly say it has been a treasure to connect with the body-mind-being so continuously. Waking up our senses and waking up our expanded awareness is a moment by moment Odyssey that brings so much satisfaction.
Recently, I found interest in the activity of simply walking from my kitchen into the living room and back (yes, pacing has become the new normal!). But something happened in my sensory mechanism that doesn’t usually happen for me. I was breathing and walking, and allowing my legs to swing down into the knees from a slightly different place, deeper into the hip joints somehow. My breath was filling into my back, and arms were perfectly coordinated. It was a sensory experience,
not habitual. I felt like something had shifted and my consciousness was fluid and free, as though I was almost outside of myself. Very psychedelic, yet at the same time totally beautiful, normal.
We talk about how habit is formed in the Alexander Technique. It happens over time, where the experience of use is modified and then creates neuro-pathways in the brain that tend to repeat based on recent, not long term experience. So what feels normal is not based on early movement experience, but instead on habitual, created patterns.
The good news, however, is that the brain is flexible, and new neuro-pathways can be created and freer movement can be re-learned. This is the basis of the AT and why this study is so useful in the long term, for finding a better, more free and balanced coordination. As many AT teachers say, the Alexander Technique is a skill for life!