11/27/2018 0 Comments
Reactivity, Automation, and Choice
According to Alexander Technique ideas, we have three choices at any given moment of time:
We live in a reactive world, and one that prays upon and is custom engineered to profit from it. From the cable news cycle to the ads in our news stream on Facebook, our world is not only automated but built upon the hope that we will be as well. See a news story? Feel angry. Click. See an item custom designed from an over-intimate knowledge of our google searches? Buy it. Alexander worried about the impact of automation on our lives all the way back in his first book Man's Supreme Inheritance and drew strong connections between this and the turmoil and proto-facism of the first world war.
In this increasingly automated world, it is easy to feel like you don't have control--that you are being pulled inexorably and helplessly down a conveyor belt that is built not for your own happiness but for that of others. And while some of these features are sold as designed for convenience, I do not believe they lead to fulfillment. I believe it is the agency of our exploration that gives us pleasure, not the decisions themselves. It is only with this agency that we can be awake to the miracle of life around us.
So how can you practice this freedom? By questioning your responses and practicing non-reaction.
If you see that political post on Facebook, ask yourself 'what if I am wrong about this? How could I respond differently?' Then try it. If your initial impulse still feels right, then you will know your conviction is sticky and that you are making a choice, and not just reacting. You might discover the new idea opens up new possibilities of empathy and action. You may also ask yourself whether you need to respond at all. Of course sometimes this is impossible, but even a slight pause in response can loosen a reaction to the point where you can make a considered decision. Even if we are right on an issue, we need to ask if our initial response is helpful or part of a system that creates the conditions we abhor.
I cannot emphasize enough that this is not a process of creating false equivalencies between facts and opinions--it is simply a way of distinguishing the difference for ourselves and examining our processes of action.
We do this in A.T. lessons every day. By making simple decisions on whether to move in a habitual way, a new way, or not to move at all, we are subtly strengthening our power of choice over our lives overall. That's why we are called Freedom In Motion.
You may choose to take this advice. You may choose to do something different with it. Or you may choose to do nothing at all with it. The choice is yours.
Thoughts on what is going on in the work and the world right now. Many posts to come.