“Amy Ward Brimmer, an Alexander Technique teacher in New Town and Philadelphia, Pennsyvania again talks with Robert Rickover about her experiences with negative directions and about their usefulness for teachers and students.”
Amy talks about a mindfulness course she took recently. “The teacher, in preparation for meditation, was asking folks to sit with their spines upright…and letting the head balance delicately on top of the spine. I thought, that’s wonderful but most of the people in room wouldn’t know if they were doing that or not.”
Instead, the teacher could’ve advised the students to think, “I’m not pulling my head down” or “I’m not holding my neck” or “I’m not tightening my neck” or “I’m not fixing my head.”
Amy: “A student told me he did this when he [thought he] was late for a meeting and had to walk six blocks to another building. He told himself, ‘I’m not in a hurry.’ He arrived on time for his meeting and arrived in a state of awareness.”
Robert: “Think about what happens when you are in a rush. Typically you distort your walking pattern. You might push your chest forward. You’ll exaggerate the worst aspects of your walking in the same way that people who run often exaggerate the worst aspects of their walking.”
“You can still move as quickly as you want, but just say to yourself, ‘I’m not hurrying.’”
“I find that my students love to use negative directions in a way that was never the case with classic directions.”
The negative direction “I’m not compressing myself” or “I’m not compressing my spine” tends to have a three-dimensional quality for people who use it.