Doing and Non-doing

This term refers to the common but unhelpful tendency to physically make changes with our muscles in order to do the Alexander directions. This often results in a person stiffening, tensing and even pushing with their muscles, rather than thinking their directions in order to bring about changes in the way they use themselves.

When we inhibit and give ourselves directions, we then allow the muscles to act. Indeed, the very directions given, incorporate this concept of non-doing e.g. ’ I will allow my head to go forward and up’….

As Alexander found when he tried to alter the way he was using his voice:-

When ‘I tried… to do the new thing which my conscious direction should bring about (such as putting the head forward and up) and speak at the same time, I found I immediately reverted to all my old wrong habits….. After many disappointing experiences of this kind I decided to give up any attempt for the present to “do” anything to gain my end and I came to see at last that if I was ever to be able to change my habitual use…. it would be necessary for me to make the experience of receiving the stimulus to speak and of refusing to do anything in response.….. I therefore decided to confine my work to giving myself the directions for the new “means-whereby“, instead of actually trying to “do” them or to relate them to the “end” of speaking.’

F M Alexander ~ The Use of the Self p.27