Have you ever had the experience of being in so much of a hurry to get out the door that you dash out without your bag or your keys, and have to come back to get them? Or you’re in such a rush to get that email out, that you forget to attach that crucial document, and end up having to resend it. Did you ever bump into something, or trip, because you were in so intent on getting where you were going you weren’t paying attention?
There are countless examples of how rushing actually causes us to make mistakes, take longer (the opposite of the purpose of hurrying!), or even get hurt.
In Alexander Technique terminology this concept is referred to as “end-gaining,” and is used to describe that blinkered focus on the end result that takes us out of the present, so we’re not actually paying attention to the process of how we get there. To be honest, I think “end-gaining” is the human condition. Most of us are so driven this way, we don’t even realize we are operating like this most of the time. It’s only when the hurrying becomes extreme (when we forget something, bump into something, make mistakes) that we might realize we were rushing too much. Through our intelligence and awareness, however, we can consciously bring ourselves into the present, so we can pay attention to the process, ensuring we go mindfully through all the steps necessary to fulfill our goal.
The Alexander Technique teaches us to notice when we are rushing ahead, and how it affects our entire way of moving and coordinating ourselves – how, in that rush to just “get on with it,” we pull and push our body into all sorts of unnecessary contortions and tensions. Even the simplest of tasks, walking across the room to get a book for instance, can pull us out of shape in our unintended hurry to reach the book. We’re so focused on getting that book we might unknowingly tense our neck, jut out our chin or push out our chest in our unconscious effort to get to the book quicker. The Alexander Technique helps us slow down internally, pause, notice that pull to rush ahead of ourselves and consciously decide not to go with it. Instead we can choose to stay present and move as a whole as we walk across the room, no one part of us getting ahead of the rest. This doesn’t mean we can’t move quickly, but that we can remain present while in process, moving consciously as a whole person.
Next time you’re dashing around in a blur to get something done, see if you can take a moment to pause and give yourself time! Make a mental note of the tasks you have to do, and stay present as you do them. The concept is simple – the practice can be anything but easy. What do you think? Have there been times in your life when rushing has actually lead to taking more time than needed? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.