A Mandala of Mindfulness
I found that this was not so and that if I wanted to be both an Alexander Teacher and possibly teach as a Breathworks trainer then I would need to be clear in my own mind about the differences and difficulties and teach appropriately. It was out of this concern for clarity in my own practice and a wish to teach others as effectively as possible that this research project began.
There are three ways we can learn about primary control.
First there is "listening" and observing it in others. Second, there is a direct experience of experimenting and exploring ourselves - what does it mean in our own experience? Third, there is learning about it through teaching others to explore and refine their own primary control through Alexander lessons or teaching in other contexts.
In the first category of "listening" I include reading books and reflecting on the teaching and facts within them. We may hear a talk, or simply the enthusing of a friend or acquaintance about how they have changed through Alexander learning. Maybe a health professional suggests we have Alexander lessons. It is also through these ways that we may first learn about mindfulness based health resources.
Although books can be a wonderful resource and I will be drawing on some of them shortly, one thing that both Alexander Technique and mindfulness training have in common is that they are very difficult to learn simply through books. To gain new experience of primary control we need direct experience, helped by the skilled hands of a qualified Alexander Technique teacher.
To learn mindfulness based health strategies it helps a great deal to learn in a group context. This creates a basis for individual practice at home. They are both capable of infinite degrees of refinement and exploration and in the long term can complement each other very well. Frank Pierce Jones, an American Alexander Teacher, researcher and writer wrote regarding the philosopher and educationalist John Dewey:
"The reason Dewey continued to study the technique long after it had "made him over" physically was that the lessons kept enlarging and sharpening his experiences. 'As one goes on' he wrote in (the preface to) The Use of the Self 'new areas are opened, new possibilities are seen and then realized; one finds himself continually growing, and realizes there is an endless process of growth initiated.' " (Jones, 1997: 99-100)
Alexander Technique has a great deal to offer those familiar with mindfulness based health care and I will demonstrate this by means of the three distinct ways of learning about primary control. I will be using some of the literature available, sharing my personal learning as I progressed through the training course and some findings from the pupils I have taught.
To read more download A Mandala of Mindfulness as a pdf file