Expanding Awareness

Essays

Essays are my more thoughtful, polished longer-form writing. They're 1500+ words in general. For the newer pieces this means I've put more thought into structuring and editing them. Some of the early ones would now be notes.


To rush is to try to compress time
I'm fascinated by the felt experience of rushing, because It seems that rushing can be a sneaky two for the price of one type of deal; we may mean one thing by it, but we usually get something extra as well, something that's easy to miss. We usually use rush...
How to dance without trying to dance
There’s a particular way of being we inhabit when dancing. Dancing is a kind of availability, a capacity to respond to the invitations of each moment in a receptive, fluid and open way. When dancing without a partner, say in a club or at a concert, the music is...
Disengaging your parking brake
A few years ago — during a road trip from Boston, MA, to Burlington, VT — I noticed the engine of my hire car was working quite hard and the steering was heavy. When I stopped at a farm to investigate, and to sample some maple syrup and cheese, I realised that...
Non-doing or non-forcing?
I want to unpick a challenge that was presented to me: why do I say non-doing, which can confuse people, instead of something more clear like non-forcing? Non-doing or non-forcing? Indeed, Alan Watts himself [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzaUGhhnlQ8] preferred the term forcing in translating the ‘wei’ in...
Non-judgemental awareness is curative
This is one of the lessons from my Fundamentals of Alexander Technique course [https://expandingawareness.org/courses/], which I'm reproducing here because it's something I want to be able to link to on the public web. There are times in life where we catch ourselves ‘doing’ things that perhaps we...
Activism is a societal awareness trigger
I’ve wanted to explore the intersection of awareness and society for a long time. I have a hunch that there’s a rich and valuable line of inquiry here, and it seems that the best way to mine it is to simply start digging, so here we go. First,...
The journey back to conscious naturalness
What does it mean to be truly natural, to have that quality of spontaneity we had as children? Most of us have lost access to that state and would like to have it once again, but there is no turning back now. We can only go forwards and find it...
Student experience: Kofi Baah
Notes from Michael While I can say many things about Alexander Technique that I think will be helpful, I think it's often more accessible to hear experiences from students who are earlier on their own journeys. Kofi Baah [https://twitter.com/k3baah] kindly shared this great post in the forum...
Unleashing the right hemisphere
I'm working my way through The Master And His Emissary, written by Iain McGilchrist, which I expect one day will be considered one of the most important books of all time. You may know that the brain is lateralised into two hemispheres, left and right. This has unfortunately become co-opted...
Notice your 'getting ready' habit
I don’t mean preparation, like for a public lecture or test. I mean the moment by moment experience of bracing yourself for the next moment. Yes, I’ll explain. There’s a very common experience in Alexander Technique lessons, particularly for beginners, where the student ‘gets ready’ to receive...
A single integrated field of awareness
I’ve started re-reading one of the best Alexander Technique books out there: Freedom to Change by Frank Pierce Jones. When I have a reading list, this book will be on it. I want to share a few really interesting excerpts from the opening chapters with some commentary. > “It was...
Could online teaching be superior?
I’m re-reading one of Alexander’s later books at the moment: The Use of the Self. He notes in the introduction that many people write to him complaining that they can’t ‘do it themselves’ by reading his books. Let me give you a sense of his not great...
Public speaking with the Alexander Technique
Let’s talk about one of the most tangible benefits I’ve seen from applying my Alexander Technique skills: dramatically improved public speaking ability. I used to be absolutely terrified of public speaking or of ‘performing’ in any way. I would get huge stage fright, feel intensely uncomfortable, visibly shake...
Learning to say no: experiments in inhibition
Consent lies at the heart of Alexander Technique. I mean two things by this. One person giving permission to participate in some activity. This kind of consent is vital not just when teaching Alexander Technique, but in all domains of life. The experience of giving consent to respond to stimuli....
Unleash your supercomputer
New metaphor: Alexander Technique is the art of unleashing the power of the supercomputer within you. In A Pattern Recognition Theory Of Mind [https://fortelabs.co/blog/a-pattern-recognition-theory-of-mind/] (paywall), Tiago discusses the key ideas in Ray Kurzweil’s book, “How To Create A Mind”. There’s a good intro here...
Getting unstuck - physically and philosophically - with Alexander Technique
I want to open with a quote from Frank Pierce Jones regarding John Dewey, who was an early proponent of Alexander Technique: (John) Dewey considered that the Alexander Technique provided a demonstration of the unity of body and mind. With progress as a pupil, he reported an improvement in his...
Awareness is a User Interface
In What is the Alexander Technique? [https://expandingawareness.org/blog/what-is-the-alexander-technique/] I defined awareness as "the space that attention can move around within; the capacity, moment by moment, to be able to notice things that could be noticed." Let’s play a game. First, please look at this optical illusion....
What is the Alexander Technique?
You’re probably familiar with this well-known, yet misattributed, quote from Viktor Frankl: > Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.Not Viktor Frankl But… how? At its heart, Alexander Technique...