1. What did Miss Goldie Understand?
Miss Goldie (1905-1997) worked alongside Alexander for thirty years and he held her work in high esteem. She taught on and then ran his Small School for many years and was part of the first training course. In her later years, she clearly perceived herself as the guardian of his true technique, which few others, in her opinion, had really understood. In this presentation I will attempt to convey my understanding of some of Miss Goldie’s vast knowledge of this profound, subtle level of the technique. We will focus on a deeper level of inhibition; the importance also of saying yes and allowing life to flow; use of the eyes, and keeping the mind in the brain, rather than wandering through the body to check sensations.I aim to show you some of Miss Goldie’s understanding of working on yourself in everyday life; so we, like Alexander, can use everyday tasks as a means of making discoveries about the technique and ourselves.
Miss Goldie considered that only from this basis could we be true teachers of FM’s work.
The emphasis is on really how to stop, and “come to quiet” as Miss Goldie would say. We will explore true stopping, not just pausing; from which an entirely new way of carrying out an action can come about. We will use a variety of activities, including ball catching, vision games, picking things up, walking towards something, to experience this first hand. Through these we will also explore our reactivity to stimuli and our tendency to go into various “Alexander modes” which are not what Alexander was teaching, and which stop us developing the technique for ourselves.
We will also discuss how to introduce this approach with pupils.
2. Alexander Technique as relationship, to myself and my world.
Based on the teachings of Miss Goldie.
Coming to quiet is crucial for us in the modern world, so we can come into the present, relating to ourselves and our surroundings simultaneously. Exploring ourselves and our use is a living process. When I come from quiet aliveness, then coordinated poised action comes spontaneously out of intention, in complete relationship to myself and my environment. Then my use becomes freer, more alive, more real, and I can find my comfortable space with others, neither invading nor being invaded by them, able to meet their eyes with confidence and without fear. This is crucial in a world which is increasingly set up to avoid human contact (communicating by cell phone or Facebook only) or be afraid of each other.
We will explore coming fully present and conscious, with mind in the brain, being fully present throughout my body, yet also totally present to the room. Then we will take this into working on each other, keeping our space without interfering or invading. We will explore face to face contact without being drawn in, or going into social smiling.
3. Working on Others from a Place of Quiet Aliveness.
Miss Goldie was always fully present with her pupil, wherever she was in the room, and yet always separate, never invading their space. In this workshop we will explore this mystery of being fully connected, yet fully separate and unattached, and the subtle power this can bring to our work. Putting hands ceases to be a matter of remembering learnt moves, and more an intuitive flow with the pupil, where their whole being calls what they need from you.
4. Miss Goldie’s Work on Finding a true stop, and Catching a ball.
Life consists of catching or missing all the ‘balls’ that are thrown at us. In this workshop we learn how to come to a true stop, in a place of quiet aliveness and receptivity, from where we have real choice.
When we access this and choose to catch, we can find amazing coordination. The science of this is considered, with the two visual streams theory. Only when we come fully present and quiet do we see in real time and space, in 3 dimensions, and then the rest of the body coordinates amazingly around this. This gives a new experience of primary control.
We can then have a new learning experience of juggling more balls than we are used to, and you will probably surprise yourself. This gives a new model of learning an unfamiliar activity, that is not cortical brain-based, but based on the whole nervous system working together in cooperation. We can discuss this in the context of other learning, such of an instrument or sport.
5. Embodied speaking and Relationship.Irene Tasker*, one of the very first AT teachers, wrote:
“I don’t think too much importance can be placed on the application of the work to speaking… the connecting of the conscious directions especially the preventative ones with the ordinary give-and-take conversation of everyday life. I think it should be part of the training of Alexander teachers. It is true that we teach with our hands to convey sensory experiences, but it is speech which conveys the ideas of which the sensory experiences are the counterpart.”
Embodied speaking is crucial for real communicating, especially in the therapeutic relationship. It helps in calming the pupil (and ourselves) and for creating a safe and caring space for the pupil, in which their nervous system can engage with learning.
*Irene Tasker . “Connecting Links.” The Sheldrake Press, London 1978. P. 22.