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  • Writer's pictureEve Bernfeld

It's the HOW

Updated: Jan 9, 2020

It’s the season of Resolutions. I look forward and think of all I want to accomplish this year—more hikes, more vegetables, more writing, being more present with my kids.

These are very good WHATS to focus on. But let me not forget to spare some attention to the HOWS.

“What,” people have been asking for 125 years, “Is the Alexander Technique?” And recently a colleague of mine suggested that this is the wrong question. The Alexander Technique isn’t a WHAT, it’s a HOW. It’s an opportunity to improve HOW we do…everything.

It’s lovely to have ideas of what I want to do this year, but I’m setting myself up for disaster if I don’t also give a little thought to HOW I’d like to do it all. I’m more present with my kids if I don’t even try to work when they are around. Better to get up at 5 am than to attempt to accomplish anything after they get home from school. This resolution makes us all happier.

Setting aside time when I actually could hike is a very good step. And vegetables need to start making more of an appearance at breakfast.

This is the stuff of any decent wellness blog. The Alexander Technique invites me to go deeper and look closer. The minutia is just as important as the big picture.

HOW am I typing this blog? Am I in a hurry? Am I hunched toward the computer? Or maybe overcorrecting and arching my back? Am I holding my breath? Have I pulled my feet off the floor? Am I staring fixedly at the screen—eyes protruding as I rush to type the words—or am I able to soften the muscles around my eyes?

This New Year I want to remind myself, I want to remind you, that there is great power in noticing the little things. Paying attention to the HOW can make the WHAT so much more possible and satisfying. My ability to manage the HOW is the difference between feeling steamrolled by my life and feeling like I can (just) manage it.

You can start to incorporate a bit more HOW into your life right now.

Take a moment to pause. Ask yourself:

Am I making myself small?

Am I holding my breath?

And if the answer to either of these questions is yes, feel free to stop that. You may find you’re right back at it 10 minutes (or 10 seconds) later—it is a habitual behavior, after all. But the more we interrupt those habits, the less they dominate our lives.

Any WHAT, from washing the dishes to working at the computer to playing the violin to having coffee with a friend to climbing a mountain, is a lot easier when we spare a little attention for the HOW.

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