• Peter Nobes

The Alexander Technique - the secret to happiness.

I have just discovered that today, March 20th, is International Day of Happiness so I thought I would write a quick blog post. Why? Because the conclusion of my book – Mindfulness in 3D; the Alexander Technique for the 21st Century - is that the Alexander Technique is the secret to happiness.

I said in Mindfulness in 3D that small children have “lightness, balance, liveliness, litheness, buoyancy, effortlessness, movability, energy, flexibility, fluidity and grace” that we tend not to have as adults. Children also know how to be happy, but part of our “fall from grace” is that we are increasingly prepared to accept boredom and unhappiness.

The benefits of the Alexander Technique, of three-dimensional mindfulness, include “an upsurge of creativity, rising energy and confidence, a new and childlike spontaneity and playfulness.” It also gives us back something else we knew as children: how to seek out things that make us happy.

One of the benefits of the Alexander Technique is that it shows us how to be in the here-and-now. FM Alexander came up with the concept of “end-gaining”, which is when we allow ourselves to be focused on a goal instead of living through the process of achieving the goal.

When we are end-gaining we are being organised by something in the future, or by something “over there”. We are working towards somewhere else in time and space. So what FM Alexander called the “means-whereby” involves being organised by the here-and-now.

Ever heard the saying “happiness is wanting what you’ve got”? In my experience, when I’m in the here-and-now I’ve got what I want. Living “the means-whereby” leads to happiness.

Another benefit of the Alexander Technique is that it shows us how to get off autopilot and make new choices. I quoted FM Alexander in my last post as saying “…the vast majority of human beings live very narrow lives, doing the same thing and thinking the same thoughts day by day…”

For Professor John Dewey, who was one of FM’s pupils, the greatest benefit he got from lessons was the ability to stop and think before acting. Dewey was talking about pausing and consciously making new decisions; new choices.

When you are free to make choices, it is easy to choose to do things that make you happy and to be with people who you want to be with. You can choose to stop doing things to satisfy other people’s agendas and stop judging yourself by other people’s standards.

You find you have the freedom to choose to stop doing that job that you hate, to end that relationship that is dragging you down, to spend time doing things you love.

Everyone is responsible for their own happiness. Alexander gives us a means-whereby to achieve it.

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I teach the Alexander Technique at the
South Bank Alexander Technique Centre, Blackfriars Rd, London SE1.

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