When we ‘refresh’ our Inbox, we are inviting new email messages to appear. Similarly, when we refresh our kinesthetic systems by pausing, we are doing the same thing – letting the old habits dissipate, leaving the door open for new messages to instruct our nervous system. To pause is not foreign to most of us. The phrase “sleep on it” is a form of inhibition. It means do nothing and be open until a later time.
I first learned about this pause when as a child I was told by my mother to count to ten so as not to morph into a full blown temper tantrum. As I remember, most of the time I counted to 10 as though it was part of the tantrum – not exactly the nervous system calming pause that Alexander devised. But somehow the idea became imbedded into my unconscious and I referenced it during the first part of my training. What I learned though, was that it is possible to pause and stiffen, tensing unnecessarily. The pause that Alexander wrote about is different, it is the stopping of the energy going down the wrong pathways (as in compressing), requiring a form of ‘non doing’, or being quiet with oneself (definitely not what I did as a child and to be fair, on occasion in my adult life!). With that space opened up, something new can happen; something more expansive and in accordance with our inherent design. The Alexander Technique is a rich source of self-care education combined with gentle touch designed to facilitate mind/body change – with pausing central to the process.
The next time something or someone stimulates you to become anxious, angry or tense, stop, check your neck muscles and notice what happens if you release them .