Expectations and AT lessons

Common reasons for beginning AT lessons are: desire for better posture; improved performance; and relief from pain. Few people are looking for a re-education of the self (the inextricably linked mind-body) and that’s fine as they probably aren’t aware that it needs re-education in the first place. (I certainly didn’t think so when I began lessons.)  While the AT helps tremendously with the above issues–if it didn’t, it would never have gotten off the ground–the issues are not directly addressed.

Instead, the AT teacher focuses on the general use of the self, usually through the primary control*, before looking at specific concerns.  Pain is taken into account (and palliative relief is not scorned), but it is the focus of the session.  The primary control remains the heart of an AT lesson even as the other issues are confronted.

This can be initially frustrating to new clients; a singer might ask ‘Why doesn’t the teacher work on my vocal range instead of fussing about where my hips are or whether my skull is perfectly balanced on top of my spine?’ But to the teacher this is a bit like bringing your guitar to a repair shop and complaining that a string needs replacing while ignoring the broken neck.

None of this is to say that the teacher ignores a client’s concerns.  A teacher might watch a violinist play in order to see how the client functions while doing something critical to her livelihood.  But the focus is still on improving general use (a good thing in itself) in order that the playing will also be improved.  In addition, the improvement of the playing can flow into a backwards means of improving the general use; we never really get away from it.

FM states that the direct approach fails to bring the desired end whereas the means-whereby uses the indirect procedure to gain the end: This belief is at the core of his work and is beyond the scope of this sparse post.  It is better experienced than talked about.

And once you’re off the direct path, the unanticipated benefits of a well-functioning psychophysical self will dwarf your initial, impoverished expectations.

*The relationship between the neck and the head and the back; this relationship coordinates, or more commonly mis-coordinates, the psychophysical (mind-body) self.

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