• Eve Bernfeld

Red Light


Red Traffic Light
Photo by Mehmet Ali Turan on Unsplash

I hit every red light on the way to work the other day. And I wasn’t exactly running early. But eventually, after about the fourth red light, the forced pausing in my forward motion worked its magic. I stopped being frustrated, willing the light to turn, stiffening my neck and thrusting my head forward, as if that could help me get there sooner. I just…stopped.


And by about the sixth red light (Jeez, how many lights are there? 8. I just counted on my fingers.), I was able to enjoy the moment of pause. The opportunity to breathe, to look around, to mentally prepare for my day, rather than scurrying toward it like a rat in a maze.


This is the gift of what F.M. Alexander calls Inhibition. Nothing to do with being repressed or stifled. Just an invitation, a provocation, to see what happens if we stop for a moment. Trouble is, traffic rarely provides it for us and we actually have to stop ourselves. Be our own red light, even (or especially?) when we’re rushing, when we are harried.


The other day in a lesson, a student came up with two terrific words to describe what Inhibition does for her: it gives her a cushion of time and space in order to improve her composure. I invite you to join us in playing with pausing. What do you observe at the red light. How does the STOP effect the GO?

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