After a year or so of dealing with chronic neck pain, my lowest point came after a short trip to the mall with a friend (we were probably there for maybe two hours at most). When I got home I was in such lot of pain, I just felt hopeless and I wept. How could such a normal activity as going to the mall do this to me?
A few weeks later I was on the phone with my mum in England and she recommended I try the Alexander Technique (which she had just started herself, also for neck problems). I really had no idea what it was, but at that point I was willing to try anything. I looked it up and found that there were two teachers in Richmond, VA (where I lived at the time) and called them both up. One had openings so I booked a first lesson.
In my first Alexander Technique lesson my teacher worked with me to help me let go of tension and improve my overall coordination (not just in my neck, but everywhere) so that my whole body was working together more efficiently and with less effort. Part of the lesson was spent doing what’s called “table work” – I lay down on a massage-type table while my teacher used both words and her hands to encourage me to let go of habitual holding patterns. She used a very light touch which was inviting rather than manipulative. With her hands-on guidance we also worked on sitting and standing and the movement of getting in and out of a chair. I was moving in a very different way from usual, and I felt lighter and freer, though I didn’t really understand how it was happening.
What really made an impression on me was that this was something I could learn for myself. I felt immediate relief and hope that there was a way for me to gain control; that I didn’t have to be subject to the whims of my unruly body; that I could learn, as I understood it then, a way of moving that was lighter and used less effort; I saw a way out of my downward spiral. I spontaneously gave my teacher a hug at the end of that lesson (very unlike me) – I was so grateful!
Have you ever known immediately that something could be the answer to your problems? Or found something, after months or years of trying many other things, that finally offered the real possibility of changing the situation for you? Let me know in the comments below.
And you can find out how my story continues in my next blog.