• Eve Bernfeld

Shaking the Snow Globe


Photo by N. on Unsplash

It’s 7:42 am and we’re driving to the pediatrician’s office for an annual check-up. I’m seething with anger because I wanted to leave 10 minutes ago and I adjust my visor against the bright morning sun with my fingers curled into a fist.


“It’s not the car’s fault,” my son points out.


I’m all shook up. And yes, something about the way things go in the morning has to change in order to get out the door in a timely fashion. (We discuss that once I’ve calmed down.) But even more important than that, I (still!) need to work on my own reaction.


Lately I’ve been picturing a snow globe. You know how, when you shake a snow globe, the flakes whiz out in all directions, helter-skelter, and then they slowly begin to settle down to the bottom? It occurred to me that much of the time—like this morning—I (and maybe you too?) am like the shaken snow globe, my frantic, stressed energy zooming in all directions.


A more concise word for this phenomenon, supplied by one of my students: I am dysregulated.


And as another of my students pointed out the other day, it seems to be an automatic response to keep shaking the snow globe. It’s as if we’ll do anything to maintain our current state, even when that current state is miserable. (Case in point: when you get angry with your partner, say, do you wish to cool off as quickly as possible, or would you rather nurse your injured feelings and fume and steam for awhile?)


How do I stop shaking the snow globe?


Stop.


Pause.


No.


I have time.


See where I am.


Let the breath out, so it can come back in.


Change my perspective (literally) by lying on the floor for a few minutes.


These are the simple, time-honored, hard-as-hell to implement, incredibly powerful, sneakily radical tools of the Alexander Technique. They are what I teach and what I am constantly trying to learn for myself. Alexander Technique is a form of self-regulation. A way to pause and let the snowflakes settle. Over and over and over again.

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