Heather Stegmaier, M.AmSAT

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Entries in life skill (1)


Practice and Performance

Any musician knows that it takes hours of practice to prepare for a performance. Athletes call it training. Students call it studying.  No matter what, in life’s great activities there is practice, then there is performance. 

These two things feel different. Practicing has elements of exploration, repetition, and incremental growth. Performance is all about adrenaline, trusting your skills, and letting go of fear.

Life is about 90% practice and 10% performance. Practicing the Alexander Technique (AT) is like having the ultimate tool in your arsenal when you need it the most.

The Alexander Technique is a set of skills that allow you to live better in practice and performance. When you learn the skills of the Alexander Technique by taking lessons, you are being guided through the experience by your teacher and then asked to practice these skills at home. I always encourage my students to practice in a quiet, safe environment such as practicing inhibition while lying in Conscious Rest position. This helps to build a strong foundation for the cognitive skills of the Alexander Technique. That way, when “performance” time comes, you have your AT skills at your disposal.

Alexander Technique in performance, what does this mean? Yes, there are daily activities in which AT helps tremendously: driving, working at a computer, and playing a musical instrument. But then there are those moments in life where the heat is on, you are experiencing something very unique, and only have this moment to make it right. For example, a deer runs out in front of your car while you’re driving. In this moment you must react. But how? You may be frozen with fear. Or, you may call upon inhibition to not react in fear, get out of your own way, and allow your body to do the right thing.

Recently, I gave birth for the first time. Leading up to the birth I educated myself about childbirth and did everything I was able to in order to have a healthy pregnancy. I used AT to help my body make room in itself for the growing baby and manage the ten million other changes. I knew I would use AT for the birth, but man, I didn’t know how vital it would be!

Childbirth is life’s ultimate performance.  You have no clue how it’s going to go down! Don’t worry—I will spare you the gory details. But I will share with you that the Alexander Technique was my anchor and I could not have had a successful birth without it.

The Alexander Technique gave me the power to:

  • Not allow fear to dictate my childbirth experience;
  • Free my neck and consciously not let my neck and shoulders do the work (which they so desperately wanted to do);
  • Direct my energy where it was needed at any given time, and let go of the rest;
  • Truly rest when I was able— meaning in the 30 seconds between contractions I was able to stop completely and rest, rather than continue to react to the pain inefficiently;
  • As a result of all this, my endurance increased.

Bottom line, the Alexander Technique allowed me to not react in fear, get out of my own way, and allow my body to do the right thing.

I want to hear from you in the comments below! What ultimate life performance has AT helped you with? Have you had a moment in your life where you wish you had the skills of the AT to help you? Please share your experiences below!