Expanding Awareness

Couldness as a way into aliveness

By Michael Ashcroft | 4 min read
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

In a recent YouTube video talking about his experience exploring Alexander Technique, Tasshin came up with the term couldness as a way of capturing a way into a particular way of being that my own Alexander Technique teacher calls 'aliveness'.

I like this term, because it gives a sense of what you need to change in order to bring aliveness about, since the word 'aliveness' on its own doesn't give you any clues about how to get there.

Couldness refers to a kind of moment by moment knowing that you could go anywhere, and do, say, think or feel anything.

Right now, for example, you're engaged in reading this note. Since reading is a thing you probably do a lot, I imagine that you are in a familiar, habitual 'reading mode'. These habitual modes usually close us off to other choices though. While reading, it probably doesn't occur to you that you could go for a walk, so it's not an option that's available to you.

But let's play with that for a moment.

Keep reading, and don't actually go anywhere, but just remember that you could move in any way right now. You could vocalise, you could sing and dance, you could put the device down completely. Really know it deeply, as if you were just about to do any one of these things, but not actually doing any of them.

How does just knowing that change your experience right now? Let's go further within the frame of movement (keep reading).

As you read, I'd like you to expand the field of places it feels conceivable that you could go to right now. Is it just a few steps? What about the end of the street? Could you go to some landmark in your town? What about a different town? Ignore practicalities, what we're doing here is reminding you that more of the world exists and also that you have the agency and capacity to act within that expanded sense of the world.

As you did this, were you able to notice the 'move' you made associated with increasing your couldness?

If you noticed this, were you able to notice the increase sense of dynamism, clarity of being and perhaps vividness of the world? Did your body seem a little more fluid and moveable than before? That is aliveness.

We habitually constrain the set of things that we believe we can do, which has the effect of reducing the vitality with which we show up in the world. One way to undo this is 'merely' to keep remembering, moment by moment, that you could go anywhere, do anything, think anything, say anything, and so on.

That doesn't mean you will do any of those things. It just means that those things would be available to you should you want to access them.

It also doesn't mean scrolling through an infinite list in your mind of things you could do. This is an embodied Knowing. Play with it spatially, with movement, first and then you can watch it unfold into more and more adventurous domains.

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