The catchphrase ‘less is more’ is commonly used to describe simplicity, elegance, and functionality in design. It is minimal effort for maximum effect. A great deal of thought, trial and effort goes into good design, and yet the result seems effortless. Nature is full of good design because survival requires efficiency. Life cannot sustain wasted energy.
As living beings, we want to be efficient in order to stay healthy and avoid getting worn out. Yet there are a million ways we get tricked into doing too much. Phrases such as ‘hold yourself together,’ and ‘get a grip’ point to the trap of too much effort. Perhaps seeking to do ‘just enough and no more’ is a better approach.
Try it out. Just ask yourself “Is there anything that I am doing right now that is not needed?”
What extra effort can you let go of, right now?
Everyone who has ever been to a gym probably knows where the trapezius, quads, glutes, and hamstrings are. Many of my clients tell me what they are working on strengthening, where they are tight, what needs stretching…. It seems as if people are targeting bits and pieces of themselves.
What about the coordinated functioning of the whole? Nobody talks about USE unless they have been exposed to the Alexander Technique. Use essentially means how you coordinate yourself as a whole. Strengthening and stretching (and of course massage) help reduce the tightness and pain that result from poor Use. Why not go to the source and improve your Use before problems arise?
By changing the way you deploy all of your muscles you prevent tightness and pain at the source: your USE.
Most people are familiar with the three finger salute, or Control Alt Delete. It’s what you do to reboot your cranky computer so that you can start afresh.
Our backs get cranky too. Holding ourselves upright leads to tension, knots, sore places, and fatigue. And our reactions to the discomfort lead us to strain even more to try to find the right position. Ow!
Instead of straining, try this method. Find a quiet place. Lie down. Yes, that’s it! Support your head with some books so it’s not tilted forward or back. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor. Fold your arms so your hands can rest on your abdomen. Leave yourself alone. Rest for 5-10 minutes. Voila!
This is how you reboot your back.
What is a habit? It’s what feels familiar. We develop habits because they are more efficient than thinking through everything we do as if for the first time. Our habits are comfortably familiar, but they can be flawed. For example, it may feel normal to brace your legs when you stand. But always bracing your legs can lead to reduced mobility and joint issues later in life. We need our habits in order to function, but sometimes it is a good idea to leave the comfort zone and explore our options.
Here is a common motivation for leaving your comfort zone: Mother Necessity. Something is wrong and you want to fix it. FM Alexander had voice problems. This led him to invent a completely unique modality. You have back pain? Doing things the same way you usually do them is not going to yield better results.
Mother Necessity is calling for you!
driving with the emergency brake on
I was driving the other day and my car started making the most awful noise! Uh-oh, I thought. Time for another expensive repair. When I pulled into the parking lot and removed my seatbelt, I saw that I had engaged my emergency brake and forgotten about it. Embarrassing! This was not the first time, either.
I’ve learned that I do the same thing with my body. I forget that I am tensing the muscles of my hips, butt and pelvis, and am unpleasantly surprised when my low back starts to hurt. It is harder to sit upright and to stand up and move when I have the brakes on!
The Alexander Technique is all about disengaging the brakes that we have forgotten about in ourselves.